Surfing

Gain a greater sense of control and reduce your stress

Well, unless you have been camping in the Gobi Desert, you will no doubt have been psychologically affected by the coronavirus. There is a lot of uncertainty and change in the air which is naturally unsettling and can cause us stress.

The question is, how do we minimise the impact this global situation is having on us?

Well, one way is to increase our ‘perceived’ sense of control over this situation.  The research in this area is fascinating:  If we have a greater ‘perceived’ sense of control over any situation, it lowers our cortisol release, (our stress hormone), and that is good for our health.

Here are my top seven tips to help you get a greater sense of control back in your life:

Learn to say ‘no’.

  1. This is my number one tip for you to have a greater sense of control in your life. Say ‘no’ to non-priorities and put yourself first.  Saying ‘no’ is liberating and actually frees you up to saying ‘yes’ to the things you really want to do.“Really successful people say no to almost everything” – Warren Buffett
  2. Keep a sense of perspective, it’s all relative. When we look at a problem and hyper-focus on it, it can feel overwhelming.  Take a step back, look at things from a different perspective.  Here are my views on the coronavirus, firstly the world is operating on a more united front (about time I’d say), secondly, we have brilliant scientists that are working on a cure as we speak, thirdly we understand this stuff so much better than we did in the past, our communication is quicker, we can get tested quickly, we have access to masks, hand sanitisers and Kleenex toilet paper is made in Australia!
    If you want to keep a sense of perspective limit the amount of news and social feeds you watch.  It’s one thing to stay informed it’s another to overdose on ‘bad’ news. You have control on what you choose to fill your brain with.
  3. Keep doing things that are good for you, such as keep exercising, just find other ways, even if you have to exercise at home. I can remember Jane Fonda videos, showing my age I know, but there are stacks of ways you can keep up an exercise regime without leaving your home, how good is that?
  4. Write a plan. Consider all the things you are worried about; security of your job, your son’s school closing or your elderly parent getting sick.
    Now, being objective not panicked, write out all the contingencies, think laterally.
    If we look at your job security.  Was the job security? Or did it seem like an anchor weighing you down, day in day out, maybe this is the perfect time to think about setting up your own business, be your own boss.
    Having your son sent home from school well if he is anything like my son was he would be delighted to stay indoors for two weeks it would be gaming, gaming gaming, and as he would have said to me ‘ Mum, you need to chillax’
    Regarding your parents health, maybe you could get your parents set up with skype or zoom so you can regularly chat and see them without visiting and compromising their weaker immune system, set up family zoom meeting.
    Writing a plan gives you a sense of control it helps you be objective.
  5. Declutter – decluttering reduces stress, so if you are spending more time indoors get rid of the stuff you have been hanging onto for years, clear out your cupboards and feel calmer in the process and importantly feel a greater sense of control.
  6. Keep a gratitude diary with a buddy. I have been keeping a gratitude diary with a friend of mine for months.  Every evening I capture things I’m grateful for that day and send it to my friend and he does the same.  You start off with obvious things, family, cute pets, but because you shouldn’t repeat items you have to start scanning your environment for other things that you are grateful for.  It changes the way you view your world it shows you have control on how you choose to see things.
  7. Finally, if you are feeling overwhelmed, admit that firstly to yourself and then ask for help. Asking for help is empowering, not weakness and again demonstrates you have control in your life.

You have control of your life, you have got this x

#traceyward #mojomakeover #coronovirus #womeninbusinss

What is your connection to the story

Differences are good

I was out and about on Saturday wandering along a row of shops waiting for a girlfriend who was running lateand I am always early. 

I walked past a man with a clipboard raising money for UNHCR a refugee agency. I’m embarrassed to say my first judgement from afar was this was a scam when I got closer his warmth of greeting made me feel bad with my initial negative assessment. 

He asked if I was interested in finding out more about UNHCR, I said I had numerous direct debits to various charities already in place and rattled off the ones I could recall, I was ready to move on… 

He then gave me the best smile and said how delighted he was to meet someone like me who had so much compassion, brilliant way of handling my objection I thought, he seemed so lovely and flattery does work in my world and now I’m feeling even worse about my scam theory. 

OK, I said, tell me about UNHCR, he started to rattle off depressing facts about the plight of refugees, showed me some horrible photos of the camps, I was fascinated by my thoughts, I was numb, are we too overloaded with these images and facts? We have seen them on the news for years… out of the corner of my eyes, I caught a glimpse of a nearby fancy shoe shop I was appalled, ‘How could I go from starving families to strappy heels? 

Then everything changed… 

He said ‘I was a refugee for 5 years in Ethiopia, I stayed in a camp like this, I had no idea when I would be able to leave, I feared for my life as I watched children die around me through malnutrition…’ 

Now it was his personal story that got me hooked, it was terribly moving, I felt his pain and his fear and now I understood why he was standing on the hot pavement trying to sign up people to the cause UNHCR, this organisation had not just transformed his life but given him his life back. 

We chatted about his sales pitch I suggested he start with his story. 

On the way home I reflected on the power of sharing something of ourselves in the material we present,  I feel so often we hide this connection and it leave us wondering why are you talking about this topic? 

This was highlighted last month when I was working with a group of forensic accountants, helping them create more compelling presentations which they absolutely did! During the training, I asked one woman, Sarah, why she did her job? Her answer was she had always loved puzzles, loved the challenge, right from when she was a child, when everyone in the family had given up Sarah would take over the mission to solve the puzzle and now as far as Sarah is concerned being a forensic accountant is like being paid to do her hobby. When you hear her passion for her work, you instantly believe she must be good at it and if I wanted someone to look for evidence of fraud in my company books she would be absolutely my first pick. 

Help us understand why you are presenting the material and we will be more likely to buy your ideas. 

#unhcr #fundraising #traceyward #mojomakeover

Differences are good

In workshops I love using my Conversation Style Game, M.O.D.E.  We all have different conversation styles: Minders, Organisers, Directors and Enthusiasts and in my workshops, in between the laughter, there are so many comments; ‘that explains so much!’, ‘Now I get you!’ as everyone starts to understand the different conversation styles at play, it’s Emotional Intelligence at work and it’s wonderful to see.

I created M.O.D.E. after my experience working with a boss called Trevor.  Now Trevor like me was also originally from the North of England and when we were in the pub together, outside of work, we got on like a house on fire.  Working together less so…

Over a weekend I would come up with a new idea, (I’m an Enthusiast, Director, I like new stuff and think quickly). First thing Monday morning I would rush into Trevor’s office arms waving saying something along the lines of…

“Trevor, I have this fabulous idea for a new marketing initiative!!!” There was no plan, no numbers, just lots of arm waving and energy.

At 8.30 am Monday morning this was Trevor’s response.

“Tracey, I have not had my coffee or planned my day, go away”

It wasn’t a great working relationship. 

A couple of months later Trevor and I attended a program around behavioural styles it was then I realised we were the complete opposites of each other, (Trevor, is an Organiser, Minder, he’s is measured and likes time to think).  

All I had to do was make some small changes in the way I spoke to Trevor for my ideas to be heard and this is what I did.

Firstly, I went in after 10 am that way he had time for planning and a coffee.

Secondly, I approached Trevor in his communication style which is calmer and without arm waving.

Thirdly, I gave Trevor time to think, I put some numbers on a one-page document, (I’m unlikely to ever go beyond one page) and left it with him to think about.

IT WAS LIKE MAGIC!  

Every time I approach Trevor in this way, I got my ideas across, Emotional Intelligence works!

It turned out once Trevor and I understood and appreciated our differences we become a really powerful team. 

Differences are good

In workshops I love using my Conversation Style Game, M.O.D.E.  We all have different conversation styles: Minders, Organisers, Directors and Enthusiasts and in my workshops, in between the laughter, there are so many comments; ‘that explains so much!’, ‘Now I get you!’ as everyone starts to understand the different conversation styles at play, it’s Emotional Intelligence at work and it’s wonderful to see.

I created M.O.D.E. after my experience working with a boss called Trevor.  Now Trevor like me was also originally from the North of England and when we were in the pub together, outside of work, we got on like a house on fire.  Working together less so…

Over a weekend I would come up with a new idea, (I’m an Enthusiast, Director, I like new stuff and think quickly). First thing Monday morning I would rush into Trevor’s office arms waving saying something along the lines of…

“Trevor, I have this fabulous idea for a new marketing initiative!!!” There was no plan, no numbers, just lots of arm waving and energy.

At 8.30 am Monday morning this was Trevor’s response.

“Tracey, I have not had my coffee or planned my day, go away”

It wasn’t a great working relationship. 

A couple of months later Trevor and I attended a program around behavioural styles it was then I realised we were the complete opposites of each other, (Trevor, is an Organiser, Minder, he’s is measured and likes time to think).  

All I had to do was make some small changes in the way I spoke to Trevor for my ideas to be heard and this is what I did.

Firstly, I went in after 10 am that way he had time for planning and a coffee.

Secondly, I approached Trevor in his communication style which is calmer and without arm waving.

Thirdly, I gave Trevor time to think, I put some numbers on a one-page document, (I’m unlikely to ever go beyond one page) and left it with him to think about.

IT WAS LIKE MAGIC!  

Every time I approach Trevor in this way, I got my ideas across, Emotional Intelligence works!

It turned out once Trevor and I understood and appreciated our differences we become a really powerful team. 

Follow your instincts

Our instincts are our best guide in life yet for many of us we have stopped listening to our instincts (our gut feel) and instead we have let our rational mind (or not so rational mind) over ride.

Case in point, I was coaching Roberto a leader in a pharmaceutical company, he had several new reps join the company in the last year and was stressing out that they weren’t going to make the grade

‘What do your instincts say?’ I asked.

Roberto started a rambling conversation around the three new hires, targets, knowledge tests, politics, bosses, facts.

‘No’ I said, ‘what do your instincts say?’ I looked him straight in the eye. 

Roberto took a deep breath…

‘They are no good and they all need to go’ he replied. 

It was interesting seeing the difference in Roberto, when he tapped into his instincts, he was crystal clear on the answer, there was no waffle, no uncertainty.

I wonder in our busy lives have we lost the art of listening to our instincts? Have we allowed our rational mind to override?

Before you make your next decision, take a breath and pause and see what your instincts tell you.

Mean World Syndrome

With the aftermath of the New Zealand massacre still being felt it’s hard not to feel depressed when we hear the news.

I noticed that the news has crept back up in my life, I avoid watching it on TV but I’m listening more to it on the radio in the car or walking the dogs. Last year I was much more disciplined about barely listening to the news at all and you know what…..

I was happier!

And the research has found I’m not alone. The concept Mean World Syndrome was coined by George Gerber and describes the phenomenon where violence-related content of mass media makes viewers believe that the world is more dangerous than it actually is.

We were good at censoring what our children watch but like the typical women we are, we don’t consider the impact this negative news can be having on us.

To balance this out I want to share some good news stories and for more information check out the link. Enjoy 

https://tinyurl.com/ya8kb4rh

GOOD NEWS STORIES

  1. India increased its already massive 2022 clean energy target by 28%. 
    It plans to add 150 GW of wind and solar in the next four years.
  2. Ireland became the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament.
  3. Spain committed to shutting down most of its coal mines by the end of the year, after the government agreed to early retirement for miners, re-
    skilling, and environmental restoration.
  4. The Journal of Peace Research said that global deaths from state-based 
    conflicts have declined for the third year in a row, and are now 32% lower 
    than their peak in 2014.
  5. After a decade long effort, Herat, Afghanistan’s deadliest province for landmines, was declared free of explosive devices. Nearly 80% of the country is now mine free.
  6. Following the collapse of ISIS, civilian deaths in Iraq decreased dramatically. 80% fewer Iraqis were killed in the first five months of 2018 
    compared to last year.
  7. Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace treaty, signalling the end of a 20-year war, and reuniting thousands of families.
  8. Malaysia abolished the death penalty for all crimes and halted all pending executions, a move hailed by human rights groups in Asia as a 
    major victory.
  9. Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2012. Murders have decreased by half since then, more than any other nation.
  10. Crime and murder rates declined in the United States’ 30 largest cities, with the murder rate for 2018 was 7.6% lower than 2017.

 

Let’s celebrate the good stuff x

To smile or not smile that is the question

I spend a lot of time coaching people on developing their personal brand and helping them make great first impressions.  So much of it is around body language and facial expressions, the stuff we often don’t even think about.

In workshops when people are conscious about their body language they naturally stand or sit taller, which instantly makes they look thinner and fitter and when I get them to connect with each other I get them to smile, not a half-baked smile that hides your teeth, no, one of those big smiles that yes, does and should crinkles around your eyes.

Smiling not only makes us look more attractive, smiling makes us stand out in a room and the smile triggers our brain to release endorphins which makes us feel happier AND if we smile at others they will naturally smile back, even if they don’t know you, it’s a great social experiment you can try out walking give a big smile and eye contact to someone walking by and I guarantee they will smile back and that will give you such a lovely lift and you will want to keep smiling ☺

P.S.

OK I have just told you to smile and it’s important BUT not all the time.  When you are telling someone something of importance, something you want them to believe you need to lose the smile.  Women are notorious at smiling when delivering serious news messages and it confuses the recipient and dilutes your message.  This happened to a friend of mine years ago. He was in a performance management meeting with his boss, he was basically crap at his job.  When I met him that evening he said the conversation he had with his boss was weird “she just kept on smiling” he said. “I didn’t know whether I was being sacked or asked out on a date”.  If you want to be taken seriously with your messaging be congruous with what you say and how you say it.

Stop helping you're making it worse

Tired, exhausted feeling like you are doing two jobs?  Well you might just inadvertently be doing that.

There seems to be an endemic of employees at the moment, who are really good at doing not only their job but the job of those around them.  In fact, they take on so much work it’s almost the work of two people and then they wonder why they are tired, exhausted and their family complains that they never get to see them.

Three common reasons why people take on the work of others, they want to help, they want it right, they don’t want it to fail.

The helpers

This was exactly the case for a client of mine, David.  David is a director of a finance organisation, although a founder and senior in the organisation David was really friendly and supportive towards all his staff.  David had an ‘open door policy’ which meant everyone wandered into his office throughout the day hoping he’d solve their problems which of course he happily did. Several complications manifested over time, David struggled to get his work done and ended up working late, he took on the emotional and mental burden of seemingly all the problems within the organisation which caused him stress and everyone around him was learning to become incompetent, they didn’t need to solve their problems David did.  It was only after David’s second heart attack did he realise change needed to occur and I was brought in as a coach.

We made two changes:
1) When David needed to work on his stuff David closed his door and he had a sign saying come back and talk to me after a specific time.
(David was under strict instructions not to reward any interruption even if someone said, ‘just a quick one’).
2) We put a bright yellow banner on his computer saying ‘ask for a solution first’ this was to remind David EVERY time an employee came to him with a problem he asked them: ‘What do you think the solution is?’  Initially no one had a solution, why would they? This meant they had to go away and think about it when they actually engaged their brains most didn’t come back, they had solved their problem themselves, those that did David guided them to find the right solution by asking questions not giving solutions which firmly kept the problem with its’ rightful owner THEM.  

Understand the best way you can help someone is to teach them how to do it themselves, not do it for them.

The perfectionists

Our gorgeous perfectionists, I love working with you, you spot my typos, attach my attachments and write comprehensive plans.  The challenge for you is your standards are so high you don’t believe we can achieve those standards, and you are right by the way, we don’t think those standards are realistic or necessary especially in this fast paced world we live in.

So, what happens is when you are meant to delegate work out, even if you do delegate, you will redo their work, your thought process will be along the lines of ‘see, I knew I should have just done it myself in the first place, this is just rubbish’.  You will tell yourself this over and over again until the rest of us give up trying because whatever we do it’s never ‘good enough’ and you end up doing all the work.

Now, I’m not saying we throw standards out of the window, absolutely not, but you do need to reconsider your standards to avoid burning yourself out, burning others out or burning your relationships.  Your new mantra to help you thrive in this busy work should be;
‘good enough is good enough’

To help you do this think about how you title your work.  Imagine you are writing a marketing proposal for a specific product. You are presenting your ideas to the Head of Marketing, Head of Sales and the CEO.  You will start this project thinking you need to get this ‘right’ and therein lies the problem because trying to get it right perfect means you will need to get into the brains of all three executives for it to be perfect, you know they are all going to have views and they will want to give their input.  So, the word I want you to put in front of the title ‘Marketing Proposal’ is ‘DRAFT Marketing Proposal’ which will give you permission to do a good enough job to start the discussion. 

The fixers

The final reason people take things on is they don’t want things to fail, they have a view of ‘Don’t worry I can fix that’ without considering the impact that has.

Imagine you are at a circus and there are two people spinning plates up on long bendy poles, (I loved this act as a child, seeing the plate wobble wondering if the man would get to the pole in time before the plate fell crashing to the floor). In this act you are spinning six red plates and believe me that’s no easy feat in itself and your partner, Bob, is spinning six blue plates.  You notice a blue plate near you starts to wobble, that’s OK you think, ‘I can fix that’ so you shake the blue pole, over the next 10 minutes you have notice even more of Bobs plates are wobbling and before long you are now spinning all the plates and Bob is having a cup of tea and chatting to a colleague. When it comes to review time on how many plates were broken you and Bob get the same review, zero dropped plates but unlike Bob who has built great relationships with his colleagues, you get the feedback that you appear stand offish and are often very abrupt (stressed perhaps?) and would you make more of an effort to get on with the team.  Do you get the picture? Sound familiar?

Sometimes we need to let things fail for organisations to work out where the weaknesses are, be it a system, a process or an individual, but by doing the work of others we simply mask these problems and instead improving the situation we unwittingly make it worse.

Sick and Tired of Employees That Are Sick And Tired?

Leaders lead humans, not machines

I’m sick and tired of employees that are sick and tired, leaders you need to step up.

I often refer to the term ‘human leadership’ in the workshops I run.  As the title suggests it should be obvious leaders are leading humans but I feel this humanistic focus for leaders is sadly lacking.  This results in exhausted cultures or, even worse, toxic cultures.  I feel many organisations are still going through the motions by having the ‘correct’ policies in place regarding looking after employees.

A Workforce Performing In Survival Mode

Case in point.  I recently ran a series of debriefings for a team of leaders using the personal development tool LSI by Human Synergistics.  I love the tool.  It gives such rich insight into the individual, how they are feeling at a particular time and how they are perceived by those around them.  The reason why the debriefs came about is there is conflict in the team.

At first pass, it’s the problems of a couple of individuals…

Dig a bit deeper…

I would say the majority of the team are showing signs of severe stress…

Dig a bit deeper…

Most of the team are working around 65 hrs per week!

No wonder they are stressed.  No wondered there is conflict.  They are all in survival mode!  They are exhausted by a culture that says it’s OK to send work texts late at night, emails at weekends and hold evening meetings.  But it’s not OK to push back on deadlines, that would be a ‘career-limiting’ move.

Leaders Need To Embrace A Wider Meaning of ‘Health and Safety’

As a leader, there is a duty of care – both a legally and morally – to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

When we think of ‘safety’ we tend to think of a workplace like a warehouse or factories with machinery.   If an employee has been retrenched and had to reapply for their job three times in the last year, do you think they feel safe at work?  Nope, they are in survival mode.

When we think of ‘healthy’ it goes beyond supplying apples in the kitchen area.  The mental health of your employees is included in the legal and moral responsibility of a leader.  If your team are working 65 hrs a week as a norm, they are not going to be healthy on any level both physically and mentally.  And, by the way, work-life balance isn’t a complicated concept, just work LESS!

We all know the stats: sick employees cost us money and happy/engaged employees are more creative and productive,  Why then I am still coming across sick and tired employees?

I know there are brilliant leaders out there who are truly motivating and caring to their teams and I salute you.

But I say as I reminder to all leaders, you are leading humans, you have a duty of care, take your responsibility wisely.