A Hidden Saboteur that Holds You Back

As you know by now, I love sharing great articles that I come across in journals, magazines, e-newsletter and so on with you. This one from Pat McDaniel of Wise Insights struck a chord with me. He introduced the concept of hidden saboteurs who undermine our efforts to get ahead and reach our goals and dreams.

In this article, he draws attention to an invisible saboteur that is easier to see in others than in ourselves.

“In 1967, researcher Martin Seligman conducted a series of experiments to see if someone could be unknowingly persuaded to believe something their own eyes were telling them wasn’t so.

In the first experiment, two groups of test subjects were individually placed in their own personally confined area where they could not easily escape. They then experienced a series of uncomfortable conditions that made them want to escape the confinement.

  • Test group A (control group) participants wasted little time in escaping their confinement once the discomfort got to be too much. As expected, none stayed until the end.
  • Test group B participants were each placed in their own, more rigorous enclosure and could not escape despite their efforts. They just had to endure the discomfort, even as it got worse.

In the second experiment, group B members were each moved to another personally confined area similar to the first but with an important difference: there WAS a way to escape if they looked for it.

Researchers witnessed that when group B participants were again subject to the same discomfort experienced in the first experiment, they just sat there and didn’t even try to escape, even though it would not have been difficult in the new area.

What was going on? 

This group had reached a point where they were conditioned to believe they were powerless to escape the misery, despite the evidence they could see that there was a way to escape (if they looked for it). They had gotten to the place of concluding, “why even try?” because they believed the outcome was fixed.

This research confirms the anecdotal stories of baby circus elephants who are tethered to a stake in the ground and are unable to pull it out (because they are small). Later, when they are fully grown, they don’t even try to pull up the stake (even though an adult elephant could easily do it) because they believe it is futile to try.

Researchers called this conditioning “learned helplessness.”

Learned helplessness can affect you and me in select areas where we have seen repeated failure (e.g. losing weight, getting a promotion, getting married, etc.).

Because we have been conditioned (learned) to believe we are powerless to change the situation, we either don’t even try or quickly give up.

If left unchallenged, this unseen force can ultimately influence multiple areas of life so that a single failure in one area draws the same conclusion (why even try again?) even if the reality is that another try would succeed.

Sooooo many are missing out on much greater success toward their goals and dreams because of this self-induced hopelessness.

What Can You Do?

There is a proven, 3-step process you can use to fight against learned helplessness (and many other self-limiting beliefs):

1. Awareness of the lies – you need to be tuned into the messages you tell yourself.

If your tendency in one or more areas of your life is not even to try (or quickly quit trying), you need to be on the lookout for your faulty conclusions. If you watch for these self-limiting thoughts, you will easily see them.

2. Challenge beliefs with the truth – you need to tell yourself the truth forcefully and persistently: You are not helpless. It is not hopeless. You can do much more than you think you can, especially if you persist.

From my experience, in the early stages, it is hard to convince yourself of the truth when the lie has seemed true for longer than the truth.

That is why you also need the next step (which many fail to use). 

3. Lean on external input – seek input from the outside (those not affected by your distorted perception and see more reality than you can for yourself).

It is important to seek input from those who “believe in you… and have been there”. They can help you feel hope for a different outcome. You can even derive strength from their confidence in/for you.

One other type of external input is particularly helpful: a group working together to overcome a challenge (particularly one guided by someone who has seen success).

For example, weight watchers type groups see great success because (a) you don’t feel alone, but instead are in it together, and (b) because you see others making progress. Combined with their encouragement, you can believe progress is possible.

Learned helplessness can be unlearned with persistence and outside encouragement.

Source: https://www.wiseinsights.net

God and Lawn Care image

God and Lawn Care

There is nothing like laughing at ourselves to get us in the right frame of mind to tackle the year ahead. So here is a little story with an interesting insight at the end:

GOD & LAWN CARE
You will chuckle as you read this …. Because as stupid as it may sound, this is exactly what we do!

GOD to ST. FRANCIS:
Frank, You know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds, and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colours by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS:
It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers’ weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD:
Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colourful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD:
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD:
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS:
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD:
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS:
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD:
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:
Yes, Sir.

GOD:
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:
You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD:
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS:
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD:
And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:
Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE:
‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about…

GOD:
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis…

So while this story seems funny and crazy, it demonstrates a critical issue that I see all the time in coaching – the blind spots, biases, and limiting beliefs that we bring to our every-day life that just don’t make sense. These biases and beliefs stop us from achieving our goals and the outcomes we seek.

Often we can’t articulate our own biases or blindspots – it takes an outsider to hear them so that they can call them out. Remember that each of us wears our own rose coloured glasses which may not allow us to see the clearer picture.

If there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey, please send an email via the contact form. I will respond within 24 hours.

Business Anchors

Budget Anchors – Exalted Numbers

In business, some numbers take on special status.  The cost of capital.  The rate of inflation. The market average.  Last year’s results.  The industry benchmark.  Six sigma. These and other numbers are so exalted, we rarely question, let alone notice, their unintended consequences as mental anchors.

One number stands out in every organisation. 

 It is a number we fear and venerate.  It is a number that is fluid and then becomes a stone.  It is a number that defines the limits of what’s possible.  The number is, of course, the budget.  

Our colleagues at Advanced Competitive Strategies in the USA conducted a business war game for a major company.  They divided the company’s managers into teams to role-play their own business and their competitors. They were told that they had to allocate their marketing budget among various messages that they could deliver through multiple media. Their market share and gross margin numbers would result from how much they spent and how well they spent it, compared to how much their competitors spent and how well they spent it.

Advised what their budgets were, they were free to spend more or less than those budgets. There were no limits to how far their spending could diverge from their budgets.

Every team, in every year of the business war game, spent within a few percentage points of their budgets.

In most companies, the budget is rather like Goldilocks’ porridge scenarios.  Spend less than your budget, and your bowl shrinks next year.  Spend more than your budget, and you get burned.  Spend very close to your budget, and you are just right.

Unfortunately, the meet-your-budget imperative collides with the competitive challenge. If you are constrained by your budget when an unexpected threat or opportunity pops up, then you are restricted in your options to respond to the threat or exploit the opportunity.  

If your competitors work the same way (and they probably do), you might not suffer too much.  However, when new competitors (or newly aggressive existing competitors) charge in, your (real or unconscious) constraints can produce a debilitating competitive disadvantage.  

This competitive disadvantage can trigger a downward spiral that’s hard to wrest from a heavy budget anchor.  A competitor takes a share, so sales go down; as sales go down, budgets go down; as budgets go down, the ability to respond to the competitor goes down; as responses weaken, the competitor takes more share; and so on.  A strategist in a large company described this conundrum: We have enough money to buy bullets, but not enough to buy a scope for a rifle that will let us aim accurately.

The downward spiral isn’t the only way budget anchors can taint strategic thinking.  

In another business war game, a budget anchor led managers to assume their strategy would work.  They knew they could cut their costs, which would give them pricing flexibility; they figured that because their competitors couldn’t cut their costs, their budgets would force them to either cut spending or maintain a higher price.  They were wrong.  When their own managers put themselves into their competitors’ shoes – one of the main benefits of business war gaming – they figured that their competitors couldn’t afford not to match a price cut.  Of course, they couldn’t guarantee that their competitors would behave that way.  Nonetheless, the insight led them to a major change in their thinking, which led to a major shift in strategy and a major improvement in performance.

Why do upstarts beat incumbents?  

Remember articles in our previous issues of MindShifts Matters?  Upstarts supposedly “think outside the box” or “break the rules.” What are the boxes, what are the rules, that bind the incumbents?  The budget anchor is one.  An upstart thinks investment; an incumbent thinks budgets.  The different word reflects the different boxes and rules.

What to do:

One of my wise colleagues refuses to talk about “budgets.” He talks about “spending plans.” It helps us think more expansively and more creatively.

Watch the thinking that goes on in your company’s strategy sessions.  Are there unstated assumptions about the inviolability of the budget?  Is there an important opportunity, or threat, that people are trying to fit inside the budget, rather than thinking about spending what’s necessary to deal with the challenge?

What you can do if you believe that the budget does not reflect the needs of an opportunity or threat is to show how a different level of spending would be of benefit.

Finally, note that anchors and other assumptions partly influence budgets themselves.  We should spend X% of sales, this year’s budget is last year’s plus an adjustment of Y%, we’ve got to keep spending to $Z to boost the stock price.  Other strategy-related issues have anchors of their own: a new-product launch costs $A, it takes B years to become profitable, the pricing sweet spot is $C.

A ship moves only after it raises its anchor.

For more information about how you can improve your competitive intelligence capabilities get in touch!

Source:  This article is adapted from Mark Chussil’s blog post, ‘Exalted Numbers: How Good Numbers Produce Bad Decisions’ 

10

ARE YOU HELD UP BY YOUR PAST?

People talk about fate, destiny, or past mistakes as if there was and is a set pathway we are each walking. The thinking is that if in the past you didn’t take a particular action or you made those mistakes, it inescapably changed everything in your life.

This thinking condemns you to a future that can’t be changed.  That forevermore you will be burdened by the chains of your past choices.  

And that is all wrong!  

It’s true we all make mistakes. Sometimes because we’re unaware or ignorant; sometimes because we’re so fearful of the consequences of the present (or the past) that we run in a direction far more damaging.

The truth is you don’t have to live with your past actions, decisions or choices, because in truth you only have the present.  You can’t change the past and you can’t control the future. Right now is a new moment that’s completely yours to action as you see best.  

Learning from experiences is a critical goal, but to say you’re chained to what happened yesterday only inhibits you from enjoying the experiences of THIS day. Don’t let anyone or anything from your past stop you from achieving your dreams.  

Today IS a new day.  Take action now toward your goals. Do not let your past slow down your progress.  

The only way forward in life is by taking responsibility for our own life and identifying ways to improve your lot today.  Here are some “truths” that might help you on your journey:

  1. Life is never perfect! There is no such thing as “the right time” – the time to face your lot is now.  Yes, it is scary. But its life.  Sit down, review all your choices and opportunities and take action!  If you worry about taking action, have a look at the next truth…
  2. You might fail – and continue to fail. The reality is whenever you try something new or set a goal, there is the possibility of failure. However, it is by failure that most of us learn. Only through failure can we have continuous improvement. So ask yourself what can you do better next time?
  3. The past is done.  It is over!  You can have regrets, you can wish things went differently but it is the here and now that counts.  So shift your attention to the present and move forward to a better future.
  4. Tomorrow is not guaranteed – this is a powerful truth. There may not be a tomorrow.
  5. No-one is going to “fix” you – you need to take personal responsibility for your own life. Once you do that – you will realize how much power you really have!
  6. Being busy does not guarantee you are doing something useful. The tip here is to focus on one thing at a time before moving on to another task.
  7. You have more time than you think you do.  Have a look at how you actually spend your time – record it on a piece of paper.  On another piece of paper write down your priorities.  Do the two lists match up?  How you spend your time is a choice so spend it wisely.

And if you need help moving away from the past or addressing some of the truths above, contact me – That’s what I’m here for.

 

Top Concerns 2019 Survey

Top Concerns for 2019

In December last year we decided to undertake a short survey (only 6 questions) with our readers to see how people felt about 2018, and to determine what each of you was seeking in 2019. We promised we would share the survey results!

Well firstly, thank you to the many people who undertook the survey. I so appreciated how many people took the time to respond. Humbled indeed.

Secondly, wow, over 62% of you do not want 2019 to be like 2018.

So what are you looking to change this year and what are your areas of greatest concern?

The issue was not with family, partners and friendships but with careers, physical health/wellbeing and financial situations.

In fact the two top concerns for 2019 in order of highest responses are:

1. Finances
2. Career

The next markedly lower category of concern was around Health and Personal Ageing.

When we asked if you did 2019 like 2018 would you be satisfied, 62% replied No! Not surprising.

However, the next question asked what changes would you make in 2019. You would have thought people would address their top concern of Finances and Career, right?

Well, the top three answers were: improve my health; go on a holiday; and improve my relationships. Interesting isn’t it!

As a group we listed our top concerns as Finances and Career – and yet what we want to change in the year ahead relates to Health, Holidays and Relationships!

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make change to these three areas, but I do think it’s interesting that we don’t seem to want to prioritise the things that are really worrying us.

Let’s go a little deeper.

The final question of the survey addressed the future, identifying your big question moving forward. We broke up the responses here into the categories of finances, career, and let’s call it wellbeing to fit in with the top concerns.

Result – 60% of you had questions around work and careers, the remaining 40% were equally split between wellbeing and the bigger life questions like “Will there be peace in the world” or “What is my purpose?”

In summary, the majority of you don’t want to repeat 2018 in 2019, and your big questions for 2019 deal with issues related to your work and careers.

You can see that as a group we seem unclear on how we should deal with the issues that cause us most concern.

This begs the question – what will you do differently in 2019 in light of your concerns?

If you address just one of your questions, 2019 will not be like 2018;

  1. Who will you ask to be your coach and / or mentor this year?
  2. What professional development or program will you undertake in 2019?
  3. What network(s) will you become more actively involved in?
  4. What magazine / reading material will you subscribe to? Think about how you can access information about future trends, innovations that will help you to prepare for the future. Some links to Book Lists.
  5. Whats the one thing you will do differently and be held accountable for?

Ultimately making change is up to you.

SPECIAL COACHING OFFER TO HELP YOU CHANGE 2019:

If you’d like help to ensure 2019 looks different to 2018, I am offering 20% off my coaching and mentoring programs until 31st January 2019. Get in touch via this link. Or, via the Contact Us page.

 

Keep In Touch: subscribe to our monthly newsletter for tips, advice and insights that will improve the decisions you make in your life and career.

Are you Future Ready?

How to become future ready

As a competitive intelligence practitioner – what does it mean to be future ready?

If I look at this question from a competitive intelligence (CI) perspective my response must provide options for actions for being future ready. So where to start?

Let me start with the original question itself.

  1. Does the question relate to individual future readiness or organisational future readiness?
  2. What are some critical uncertainties around the future that would impact anyone’s readiness?
  3. What are the assumptions or biases inherent in the question?

This means I need to be clear about these factors and any others facing the decision-maker before I drive through the plethora of information. And, talking about the plethora of information…. It is not just the information that is available on the internet or has been published that is important. When it comes to the future, it is vitally important to talk to people.

Yes, I know you can ask people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for answers however I wonder how many people would really be capable of providing insightful comments to such a question?

This means we need to go out and seek answers from people who may have an idea of what any plausible future will look like.

From an organisational perspective, that could mean talking to academics, journalists, futurists, customers, suppliers, distributors to just name a few. Many of them may not have published their future intentions on the internet for you to find via a single simple search on Google! So let’s say I now have a lot of information at hand and am well informed about an array of possible futures. Does that make me future ready?

In my opinion, absolutely not! It does not answer either ‘so what does this all mean for me?’ nor does it tell me ‘now what should I be doing?’

We need to analyse the information in light of our current situation. Based on over 25 years of business experience, this is without a doubt one of the weakest steps that managers and individuals face. Analysis is the cornerstone for insights yet far too often we see summaries instead!! From an organisations perspective all the information needs to be analysed in context of the organisation’s capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, etc to identify the gaps it needs to address to be future ready, irrespective of the future that plays out.

Some suggested analytical techniques that would help here would include techniques such as

  • Scenario Analysis
  • Critical Success Factors
  • Driving Forces Analysis
  • even SWOT (done properly mind you – not the silly little four boxes!!).

Conducting a SWOT would be equally valid for an individual. The output of these techniques would identify options, opportunities, and threats that an organisation or individual could address to make itself future ready.

This approach would provide real insight, and outlines what should be done to best prepare for the future. To be future ready for me is not just about knowing what future may likely play out but about being prepared and alert to meet any future with the best possible advantage. What do you think?

If you would like assistance to become future readyget in touch with MindShifts.

Babette Bensoussan is the CEO and founder of MindShifts and was appointed a Fellow of SCIP (Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals). In 2006, she was the recipient of the SCIP Meritorious Award, which is the most prestigious award within the international CI community. As a qualified counsellor and MBTI practitioner, with certification as a business coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in the U.S.A, Babette is well placed to assist executives and organisations to improve their future performance and success both personally and professionally.

 

When I look at me, who do I see?

My wonderful colleague Jack Speer from Delta Associates http://delta-associates.com wrote this wonderful post. I just had to share it with you. It is about how you really see yourself when you look in the mirror.

Are you happy or horrified? What is your self concept when you look at yourself? Some people can’t get enough of their own face in the mirror, others avoid looking at all. Where do you sit?

As an executive coach one of the most important aspects of coaching is working on what a person sees when they see themselves—their fundamental self-concept. You have to get self-concept right for anything else to be right. The ”Me” in the mirror is fundamentally a reflection of how you perceive life. What you see will literally be what you get in your life.

The health of your self-concept is almost as important as your physical health. It is so fundamental and foundational that no matter how smart you are, how many degrees you’ve earned, your work experience—self concept trumps everything else. To a great extent your self-concept will determine your station in life, your wealth, your happiness and well-being.

Do You Accept False information about Yourself—Why!?

My father was not a self-disclosing person, so it surprised me one day when I was a teenager when he told me that he would have been happier and more successful in life if he hadn’t been so ugly. Nothing could have been farther from the truth as revealed by his childhood photos. Later in middle age, he was a very good-looking and distinguished man. He simply accepted false information that he was given about himself.

You may be carrying around false information that was given you very young, and you still believe it.

The Wrong Kind of Humility Can Ruin Your Life—Stop It!

Religious upbringing, parents, and culture have a lot to say about how you’re likely to see yourself. I grew up hearing sermons about being humble, and my West Texas parents told me and my brother over and over again—”don’t get the big head.” If I had ever told my parents I wanted to grow up rich and famous, they would have sat me down for a good talking to. It was out of the world view of my West Texas relatives. The opposite of humble is not really haughty. It’s a belief in yourself to be self-confident and to serve those around you.

Change Ideas that Will Change Your Life—If You’ll Do Them!

Here are some thoughts for you every day when you look in the mirror—they will change your life, but not all at once—changing your self-concept is as difficult as anything you’ll ever do. So here it is . . .

 1. Be true to you–your very own guru. When you look into the mirror, you’re seeing in you a unique individual, never ever to be repeated in the history of the world. There are many guides and sources of knowledge and inspiration—but you are the only one capable of evaluating what you receive, and making the final decision.

People spend a lifetime looking in the mirror and trying to dress, speak, and style themselves like someone they have seen and admired. What they say is what they think people want them to say. When they walk into a room, they wonder who they should try to be.

You certainly must remember you’re not God nor Superman. At the same time, you must trust yourself ultimately. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon your belief, faith, or respect for authority—nothing further from my point. It simply means that you are the last word. Otherwise, you run the risk of drinking someone else’s Kool-Aid—not healthy!

2. Be your own hero—There is no one else you should admire more. When I became my own hero people around me began to look at me differently—like a leader they depended on. Previously, nobody ever beat up on me and put me down like I put down myself. When I was victim of my bad self-concept, everyone responded to me accordingly. Every time I tried to take a role of leadership, I got the feeling that people were saying, “Who do you think you are?” The reason they responded that way was I didn’t believe in who I was. When I believed in myself, others believed in me.

3. Don’t let anyone put you down or limit you because of physical appearance—there’s no “Leaders Look”. At 5’8” inches, I’m getting shorter every year as people grow taller. I go to the gym several times a week and pass by young people who are anywhere from 6’5” up to approaching 7 feet. I am a dwarf compared to these people. Yet short people are doing some really tall things. One of my favourite personalities is Meet the Press host, Chuck Todd, 5’3”, who beat out a lot of very tall people for that position. So if there is something about your physical appearance that you can do something about, work to change it, certainly. But short, tall, fat, homely people who believe in themselves are achieving huge accomplishments every day.

4. Develop your own style that works for you. Leaders come in all kinds of wrappings. I have also known leaders who are incredibly shy, physically unappealing, take-charge people, don’t make any waves folks, sharp elbowed, aggressive personalities, quiet, talkative—all who were successful within their own styles. These people see themselves as leaders and when they walk into a room people often ask, why? It is because of their own self-concept and belief in themselves. Every day you are auditioning for the leading role in the greatest movie of all—the stage play about your life. As the star of that play, you don’t want to walk out on the stage, forget your lines, and fall on your face. It’s not easy to be a star, but you’re in that role. Play that role to the hilt. It’s worth the performance.

 

Find out how you can improve your self-concept. Get in touch for a complimentary coaching session – click here.

Positive Energy

Creating Positive Energy With Your Words

One of the ways we generate energy is as a result of the words we use. Every word spoken or read creates an image and energy in our minds.

Did you know that we actually remember positive words better than negative words!

Here’s an example: Don’t dump rubbish here! Sounds OK. It communicates! But in your mind something amazing happens when you read this – amazing but not good. Why not good? Well, when you read an instruction that is worded negatively, you have to switch tracks from “I can’t dump rubbish here” to “where in the world AM I supposed to dump the rubbish!”

What’s better and more effective to say is: “Dump rubbish here.”

Eliminating one word turns the negative order into a positive order that can be easily followed and avoids having to switch around in a thought dilemma, which wastes time and creates negative energy!

Here are a couple more to consider:

 

So think carefully about the words you use and the positive energy they bring to you and to those around you.

This month, practice using positive words and let me know how you go. You could always share how you are going on the MindShifts Facebook page.

THE POWER OF LISTENING

Many years ago I learned an invaluable life tip. One of my teachers always stressed how we have one mouth and two ears; and that listening is far more valuable than just talking.

Have you ever asked someone to do something and they nod their heads and “yes, yes” you only to have them return with a result only remotely related to what you asked for?

There are a number of reasons for this:  they may be distracted, you may be distracted, they may not understand what you’ve said, and/or are afraid or “too cool” to ask for clarity, or you may not have explained it well – all of these have to do with weak listening skills.

So what are some tips to help us all be better listeners?

  • One of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People©” was to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Put listening before talking, it’s the key to communication.
  • Let others know you’re listening by rephrasing what they’ve just said. It also confirms what you think you’ve heard.
  • Avoid putting words in someone’s mouth and never finish someone’s sentence (nothing is more annoying and rude!)
  • If you’re talking in a place that’s noisy or your phone keeps dropping out, be sure you clarify and confirm what you’ve heard rather than filling in the missing blanks yourself.
  • If you’re face-to-face with someone, maintain healthy eye contact!
  • Focus on what they’re saying. Multitasking is highly over-rated and some research has found it results in being about 40% less effective. Certainly this is true with listening. So don’t be watching for a text or ordering coffee while someone is explaining something. Stop and listen!
  • Let someone finish what they’re saying and learn the art of asking sensible, clarifying questions.

 

Communicating well takes skills in both talking AND listening. Major in listening and you will never go wrong!

Take some time to reflect on this month’s Motivation and how it might apply to you, and get in touch if we can help.

Choose: One habit At A Time

We all struggle with our habits — sticking to them, staying motivated, getting started, dealing with disruptions, it can become a big struggle.

And yet, to change our habits is to change our lives. If we can’t make habit changes, we will be stuck in our current way of doing things, which might not be so helpful.

If you want to lose weight, beat procrastination, write a book, get fit, live mindfully … you have to develop habits.

Luckily, the process is simpler than most people realize. Simple, not easy: you have to be committed and really want to make the change. Otherwise you’ll just quit when things get difficult.

Here’s the first thing to keep in mind: just choose one habit for now. Yes, you’ll want to change a bunch of things. Don’t ignore my advice. Later, you can form more, but for now, focus on just one.

With that in mind, follow these simple steps:

1. Start super small. I’ve said this a million times on this blog, so you might gloss over this one — but don’t. It’s the most important thing. Do one habit at a time, and do it super small. How small? Just meditate for 2 minutes. Just write for 5 minutes. Just do 5 pushups or 5 sun salutations. Just eat one vegetable a day. If you start small, you remove the resistance to starting, which is the hardest part. I used to tell myself, “Just put on your shoes and get out the door,” and that’s how I formed my running habit, and I ended up running several marathons and an ultramarathon because of this small habit. For meditation, I tell myself, “Just get your butt on the cushion.” For drawing, just get out your pad & pencil.

2. Remove choice. Don’t think about it — make a decision ahead of time to do it every day at the same time for at least a month, then each day, don’t make it a decision. Just start. Have a trigger that’s already in your daily life (like waking up, or showering, brushing your teeth, starting the coffee maker, eating lunch, whatever) and use that as the trigger for an when/then statement: “When I wake up, I’ll meditate for 2 minutes.” Put written reminders near where the trigger happens. The main point is: make the decision to do it every day, and then just do it without thinking.

3. Get some accountability. Have at least one person you report to — an accountability partner. Or a group of friends. Or a walking/running partner. It doesn’t matter how you set it up, but having someone to report to means you are much more likely to push yourself past resistance when it comes up.

4. Make it fun, find gratitude. Don’t just do the habit as if it were a chore. See if you can enjoy it. How can you make it fun, play, joyous? Can you find gratitude in the middle of your workout? The habit is much more likely to stick if you focus on the parts you enjoy, rather than mindlessly try to check it off your to-do list.

5. Be committed. Why are you doing this habit? Reflect on this during the first week, as you do the habit. What deeper reason do you have? Are you doing this habit to help others? As an act of self-love, so that you can be healthier or happier? If you’re just doing it because you think you should, or because it sounds cool, you won’t really push past the resistance.

You can start with just the first item above, but I would recommend adding as many of the other four as you can during your first week or two, because you’ll be increasing your odds of success with each one.

This is doable. You can change your old ways by consciously doing something new repeatedly, until it’s a habit. Take small steps to get started, remove choice so you don’t think about whether to start or not, get some accountability and understand your motivation so you push past resistance, and find gratitude in the midst of the action.

One habit, done daily. Small steps with intention, support and a smile. It can make all the difference in the world.

Source: This above article was written by Leo Babauta, “The 5 Keys To Forming Any Habit”, April 21, 2017.

Top 10 Self-Limiting Beliefs

…that silently sabotages us in life…

1. I’m too old

2. I’m not smart enough

3. I am not educated enough

4. I’m afraid of trying and failing

5. You have to have money to make money

6. I’ve already tried everything

7. I can’t do that

8. I don’t feel I really deserve it

9. I’ll never be able to do that

10. All the good ones are taken

Maybe you can relate to some these statements? If you are subtly making yourself a victim by your unconscious thought, try exchanging some of the things you say by more positive, actionable and responsible things which gives you control. You can choose.

Some positive statements:

1. I’m too old – You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream

2. I’m not smart enough – I am good enough. I am smart and I can do anything I put my mind too

3. I am not educated enough – I am intelligent enough to succeed

4. I’m afraid of trying and failing – Yes I might fail but I don’t try, I’ll never know

5. You have to have money to make money – Just start, take actions, embrace uncertainty and create your future

6. I’ve already tried everything – Try again or try something new

7. I can’t do that – What have you done successfully in the past?

8. I don’t feel I really deserve it – Am I being fair saying that?

9. I’ll never be able to do that – Well never is a long time.

10. All the good ones are taken – They are still lots of interesting and kind people out there

 

Key Steps To Blitzing Tough Decisions

When faced with a tight deadline, many leaders just go with their gut. How can you avoid bad moves in decision-making, and feel confident that you are making the best decision?

  • Don’t rely on intuition alone. Overconfidence in your own intuition, can lead you to select data that supports your initial conclusion, rather than looking at the broader picture. Be more analytical and fact based in your approach.
  • Be aware of bias and realistically assess your knowledge of the situation, by bringing a range of data to the table. If you don’t have the time initially to get all the facts, be aware and open about this and factor it into your decision – allowing a review once a clearer picture is available.
  • Do a pre-mortem to deal with pitfalls before they happen. Look at why your decision may lead to failure, listing all the possibilities, and use this information to tweak the decision to avoid this outcome.
  • Review whether past experience offers a reliable platform to move forward from. Actions already taken can anchor subsequent thinking. Avoid the emotional response to believing previous decisions were correct and look from an outside perspective when addressing a new situation.
  • Be aware of emotional platforms that may sway your decisions. Open your eyes to blindspots. Understand who or what are the major sources of influence that may affect your objectivity.

 

Taking these extra steps when facing tough decisions can mean the difference between success and failure.

Leaders need to be aware that they may have surrounded themselves with people who think as they do. Everyone needs a challenger – so don’t shy away from opposition: embrace and encourage it for better decision-making.

If you are looking for a creative and ethical challenger give me a call on +61 (0) 2 9411 3900– The Decision-Making Maverick.

How To Influence Decision Makers

Here is a wonderful article from Marshall Goldsmith, giving advice on how to be more effective in influencing up. Maybe there is an answer there for you too.

 1. Accept the facts

 Every decision that affects our lives will be made by the person who has the power to make that decision, not the “right” person or the “smartest” person or the “best” person. Make peace with this fact. Once we make peace with the fact that the people who have the power to make the decisions always make the decisions and we get over whining that “life isn’t fair,” we become more effective in influencing others and making a positive difference. We also become happier.

2. Realise You Must Sell Your Ideas

 When presenting ideas to decision-makers, realize that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy. In many ways, influencing ultimate decision-makers is similar to selling products or services to external customers. They don’t have to buy–you have to sell. No one is impressed with salespeople who blame their customers for not buying their products. While the importance of taking responsibility may seem obvious in external sales, an amazing number of people in large corporations spend countless hours blaming management for not buying their ideas. A key part of the influence process involves the education of decision-makers. The effective influencer needs to be a good teacher.

3. Focus on contribution to the larger good – not just the achievement of your objectives

 An effective salesperson would never say to a customer, “You need to buy this product, because if you don’t, I won’t achieve my objectives.” Effective salespeople relate to the needs of the buyers, not to their own needs. In the same way, effective influencers relate to the larger needs of the organization, not just to the needs of their unit or team.

4. Strive to win the big battles

Don’t waste your energy and psychological capital on trivial points. Executives’ time is very limited. Do a thorough analysis of ideas before challenging the system. Focus on issues that will make a real difference. Be willing to lose on small points. Be especially sensitive to the need to win trivial non-business arguments on things like restaurants, sports teams, or cars. You are paid to do what makes a difference and to win on important issues. You are not paid to win arguments on the relative quality of athletic teams.

5. Present a realistic “cost-benefit” analysis of your ideas – don’t just sell benefits.

Every organization has limited resources, time, and energy. The acceptance of your idea may well mean the rejection of another idea that someone else believes is wonderful. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea.

6. Challenge up on issues involving ethics or integrity – never remain silent on ethics violations

The best of corporations can be severely damaged by only one violation of corporate integrity. Refuse to compromise on company ethics. Take action immediately.

7. Realise that powerful people also make mistakes

Don’t say, “I am amazed that someone at this level…” It is realistic to expect decision-makers to be competent; it is unrealistic to expect them to be anything other than normal humans. Focus more on helping them than judging them.

8. Don’t be disrespectful.

While it is important to avoid kissing up to decision-makers, it is just as important to avoid the opposite reaction.

Before speaking, it is generally good to ask one question from four perspectives. “Will this comment help 1) our company 2) our customers 3) the person I am talking to, and 4) the person I am talking about?” If the answers are no, no, no, and no, don’t say it!

9. Support the final decision.

 Treat decision-makers the same way that you would want to be treated. If you stab that person in the back in front of your direct reports, what are you teaching them to do when they disagree with you?

10. Make a positive difference–don’t just try to “win” or “be right.”

We can easily become more focused on what others are doing wrong than on how we can make things better. An important guideline in influencing up is to always remember your goal: making a positive difference for the organization. Focus on making a difference. The more other people can be “right” or “win” with your idea, the more likely your idea is to be successfully executed.

11. Focus on the future let go of the past.

One of the most important behaviors to avoid is whining about the past. Have you ever managed someone who incessantly whined about how bad things are? Nobody wins. Successful people love getting ideas aimed at helping them achieve their goals for the future. By focusing on the future, you can concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow, not what was not achieved yesterday.

In summary, think of the years that you have spent “perfecting your craft.” Think of all of the knowledge that you have accumulated. Think about how your knowledge can potentially benefit your organisation. How much energy have you invested in acquiring all of this knowledge? How much energy have you invested in learning to present this knowledge to decision-makers so that you can make a real difference? My hope is that by making a small investment in learning to influence decision-makers, you can make a large, positive difference for the future of your organization.

Source: This above article was written by Marshall Goldsmith, “11 Ways to Influence Key Decision makers”, April 30, 2015.

Leadership Decision Making in a VUCA World

Today’s business environment is best described as VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. VUCA is, quite simply, the expression of the fact that the rate of change is outpacing our ability to adapt.

As a result of this, businesses, industries and careers are disrupted faster than ever before. We have to seriously rethink about how we lead ourselves, others and our organisations. Old ways of leadership have to give way to newer mental models based on agility in decision making, critical thinking, adaptable learning, people orientation and responsiveness to change.

Whilst none of us is really in control of our environment, most of us are working hard to anticipate the changing conditions of our business.

In his series of blogs in HBR late 2010 – early 2011, the late former US Army Colonel Eric Kail outlined adaptive leadership tactics for operating in a VUCA world –

For Volatile Situations…

  • Communicate clearly
  • Ensure that your intent is understood

 

For Uncertain Situations…

  • Get a fresh perspective
  • Be flexible

 

For Complex Situations…

  • Develop collaborative leaders
  • Stop seeking permanent solutions

 

For Ambiguous Situations…

  • Listen well
  • Think divergently
  • Set up incremental dividends

 

While his advice was constructed within the context of small-unit combat activities in the military I believe it is easily convertible into applications for all organisations.

The antidote to VUCA is about moving from Volatility to Vision, from Uncertainty to Understanding, from Complexity to Clarity and from Ambiguity to Agility. This means exercising leadership in every aspect of our lives and exercising leadership means making wise decisions.

Adapted from: “Adaptive Leadership for the VUCA World: A tale of Two Managers”, Paul Kinsinger, June 6, 2016, Global Business Magazine

 

Crazy Busy or Just Crazy?

Here is a wonderful letter and answer from my friend Dr. Sylvia LaFair giving advice on how to achieve a healthy balance. Maybe there is an answer there for you too.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

It’s summer and all the ads show people sipping lovely drinks at a pool or beach. Except me. Now, I shouldn’t complain. Life is good when you are busy? Right?

It’s just that I am over-scheduled, over-committed and overextended.

I am proud that so many people want so much from me. And yet, I am desperate to get some down time.

Now, don’t tell me to just stop and smell the roses. Actually, I have allergies so I would then just sneeze my head off.

What I need from you is a strategy that will go with my busy lifestyle. I need some kind words from you to tell me that life without stopping is normal and really a good thing. I need you to tell my wife and kids to leave me alone, that I am making the money so they can sit by the pool and sip lovely drinks.

I need you to tell me to keep doing what I am doing because it is the right way in business these days.

Can you please reinforce my crazy busy life model as a good one?

Signed,

Pooped

Dear Pooped,

You, sir, are on INTERACTION OVERLOAD. And the signs of this are to be both filled with pride and desperation at the same time.

The only thing I can do to be helpful is to give you the results of research that will prove you are truly crazy by being so busy!

Look, we are built to both spend and then renew our energy. Think of a pitcher full of clear lovely water. It is meant to be used and used up. Then when the pitcher is empty it needs to be refilled to replenish us with what is needed for growth and health.

Here is my BIG QUESTION for you: when you are left alone with your thoughts in a quiet time what do you think about?

For so many crazy, busy individuals there is a mighty fear about reflection and solitude. The fear is that what we will bump up against is the deeper, negative feelings we so often push away with work and food and all the other addictions that abound.

Here’s the bad news, dear pooped. Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power. Get busier and busier to avoid them. I think that may be what you and millions of others are doing. These feelings are like stuck plumbing (funny you named yourself ‘pooped’) and sooner or later they will build up so much muck they will eventually spill over and create a huge mess.

Better learn to live with yourself, with the solitude, with reflection time, with memories.

Mindfulness to the rescue. Learn to meditate and my dear friend Chade-Meng Tan has written a marvelous book to help you learn to look inside yourself, titled Joy On Demand.

Meng could have become a crazy busy guy, since he was one of the first engineers at Google. Instead he learned about balance and meditation and mindfulness, and he shares his wisdom with all of us.

And here is one more thought. If you are worried about some awful thing happening when you take time to be still, not to worry. Research by Kerri Smith in Nature magazine states that even in a do-nothing state the brain is still active. It is completing the task of integrating and processing your experiences.

So, take a break and let your brain do the work while you relax.

Best,

Sylvia

 

Work Life Balance Banner

10 Steps To Seize Control of Your Life

Are you feeling that your life is spiralling out of control? Not sure how to get yourself back in control.

Listen to my podcast where I share 10 practical steps to help you get yourself back on track. 

Meditating Business Partners

10 Reminders To Live In The Now

1. Remember that habits are changed by practicing new behaviour. By practising new thinking every five minutes, you’ll soon began to master the art of present-moment living.

2. Do an honest assessment of your “problems”.
You’ll very likely discover that almost all your problems are really in your head and not located in reality.

3. Take time to be mindful of everything around you. Begin to look at your entire surroundings in a new light. Observe every detail on every face, every building and every project. If you do this often it will become a habit that will facilitate your being alive in every moment of the year.  

4. Change your attitude. Begin an attitude-redevelopment plan. That means practice enjoying everything you do.

5. Be specific about what you want and take action. Decide on one thing you would like to work on and do it today. Work at it daily, rather than making it a long-range objective.

6. Create a self-improvement agenda for yourself. Put on your agenda whatever activities you’ve always thought about but never had time to do. Do them now.

7. Rid yourself of mundane chores that are not really that important. Spend more time making your life a pleasure.

8. Eliminate procrastination as a lifestyle. Instead of talking to yourself about what you are going to do next week or even tomorrow, use this time to start a new task.

9. Don’t give up control of your life to others. You cannot enjoy the present moment if you are busy trying to make everyone else like you. People respect you more when you operate from a position of strength and self-reliance.

10. Feel good about yourself. You are a magnificent human being. Always feel good about that self that you are always with.

Source: Adapted from Hay House – Dr Wayne Dyer newsletter, 3rd January 2017

What Causes Job Burnout?

What Causes Job Burnout?

According to the Mayo Clinic job burnout can result from various factors, including: 

  • Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job – such as your schedule, assignments or workload – could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.
  • Unclear job expectations. If you’re unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you’re not likely to feel comfortable at work.
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. These and related situations can contribute to job stress. 
  • Mismatch in values. If your values differ from the way your employer does business or handles grievances, the mismatch may eventually take a toll.
  • Poor job fit. If your job doesn’t fit your interests and skills, it may become increasingly stressful over time. 
  • Extremes of activity. When a job is always monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused – which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
  • Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you may feel more stressed. 
  • Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you may burn out very quickly.

Can you relate to any of the above? Take action now and seek support before your health and relationships are affected. Remember, you have the power of choice, and it is your choices that will lead you out of situations that lead to burnout.

Job burnout is not to be handled lightly. To help turn things around, I’m offering the opportunity of an initial free 30 minute session where we can identify how to take control of your life and work towards a healthy and positive future.

CLICK HERE NOW!

This one off is only for my subscribers and valid until the 15th April 2017.