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Entries from July 2014

Enjoying Weekdays as much as Weekends?

31st July 2014
If your answer to the question is no – read on, you may be
able to identify what you can begin to do to change that.
Even if your answer is yes there may be some areas of your
life you could enhance to be even better…
I very recently revisited Wellbeing – The Five Essential
Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter and it spurred me to re visit how I live my
life holistically against their 5 elements.
If you have the book and haven’t revisited it for a while I’d
encourage you to do so, and if you don’t have the book here is a thumbnail
sketch of the key themes.
The Five Essential Elements
Founded on comprehensive research they found there are five
interconnected elements that shape our lives and wellbeing:
  • Career Wellbeing:
    how you occupy your time, or liking what you do every day.
  • Social Wellbeing:
    Having strong relations and love in your life.
  • Financial Wellbeing:
    Effectively managing your economic life.
  • Physical Wellbeing:
    Having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis.
  • Community Wellbeing:
    The sense of engagement you have with the area where you live.

They describe wellbeing as:
“the combination of our love for what we do each day, the quality of
our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical
health, and he pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities….
It’s about how these five elements interconnect.”
From their research they found 66% of people are doing well
in at least one area, only 7% were thriving in all five. I’m not sure if I’m one
of the 7% however, my results were pretty good. If you’re interested the website
address is: www.wbfinder.com. If you are one of the 7% I’d love to hear from
you.
We’re our own worst enemy
We tend to get in our own way of succeeding in all five
areas through in the moment decisions like, having the extra portion of food
when you know you shouldn’t, deciding not to get up and go to the gym today,
spending money on something you don’t really need.
The book is full of hints and tips to improve your life in
each area such as:
  1. Use your strengths everyday
  2. Spend 6 hours a day socialising – this includes work,
    email and phone communication
  3. Spend on others instead of on material possessions
  4. Sleep enough to feel well rested (7-8 hours)
  5. Opt in to a community group or event

What one thing can you start to do regularly that will
improve your wellbeing?
Post your comments below.
“Those who can’t change their minds can’t change anything.”
George Bernard Shaw

Mind Full or Mindful? How present are you in your Leadership?

24th July 2014
How often are you actually present?
By this I mean in the moment, 100% here, now both
physically and mentally. Simply being present, in
your body, immersing myself in the here and now, and suspending any habitual
ways of thinking,
  • More than 50% of the time?
  • Less than 50% of the time?
Being in the moment is more than being there in person. It’s
about truly bringing your whole self
into the room: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. It’s about clearing
your mind and not being distracted by your own thoughts and stories and being
‘still’.
In this way you are more open to observe any situation from
a position of objectivity. To observe feelings and actions being transmitted
and picking up on what may not be being transmitted. For me this is about being
really centred and grounded so you can truly connect with the person or people
you are working with.
It’s about being engaged in the relationship, connecting and
then noticing what comes up.
When you are really present you:
  1. Are more flexible giving you the ability to ‘ebb and
    flow’ in the moment. Because   you are not pre-occupied with your own thoughts you are
    more able to respond (as opposed to react) to what is happening.
  2. Are more able to access your own intuition and “trust
    your gut.” Your mind is clear and therefore you are able pay more
    attention to what is going on in your body and how you feel.
  3. Are more open to not knowing and exploring what might be. 
  4. See more options to work with those around you and
    choose, in the moment, what is most effective. 
  5. Can shift perspectives and experiment with new
    possibilities.
  6. Will be more confident in working with strong emotions
    without being    overpowered
    by other’s emotions. 

 But how do you do it?

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an intellectual process.
It’s not; it’s a physical process. It’s about bringing the whole of you to the
room and to the moment – each and every moment.
This requires you to let go of your conscious thought, to be
comfortable with not knowing and trusting the wisdom of your whole body.  It also means letting go of all those
models that we may hold onto in our head to find a solution or make a decision.
By paying attention to your whole body you are more likely
to tap into your intuition. When you are truly present you are able to attune
to EVERYTHING that is going on: emotions, mood, physiology, concerns and
yearnings of those around you.
Listening to your intuition and ‘inner knowing’ you can
choose the moment to act. This may mean taking a risk and shifting the
perspective of your audience.
So how do we get good at it?
Mindfulness practices help as they will help you quieten the
mind, for example, meditation, yoga, tai chi, relaxing and paying attention to
the breath. For those without one of these mindfulness practices I would
suggest practicing getting grounded and centred every day. This is how I
started and I promise you it works!
I have found practicing the more I practice the easier it
gets.
You can practice in many situations and I encourage people
to find moments in the day to be really present e.g. walking down the street,
on the train or tube, shopping, in the shower, putting your children to bed.
There are endless opportunities when you start to think about them.
If being present is a challenge for you give me a call and
we can explore this further to determine what action you can take. I believe
everyone can do it. It just takes practice.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
Gandhi

Truth or Fiction?

17th July 2014
“ We
don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” 
Anais
Nin
What does this phrase mean to you?
For me I interpret it as how we see the world is based on our own experiences and beliefs we’ve developed over our life time. It therefore means that our own view of a situation will not always be the same as someone else’s.
When we come up against this it can cause conflict either with others or, within ourselves, and these can often be uncomfortable experiences.
Our perceptions, how we view the world, become our reality and we can make lots of assumptions which are often untrue. 
When working with coaching clients this will often arise as a difference of opinion. If unexplored it can become an obstacle to progress.
If you are faced with this scenario it’s worth looking at what you actually know as fact
  • What has actually happened? 
  • What has actually been said? 

Ask yourself; 
  • What assumptions are you making? This may be about the other person, the situation or yourself.
  • What stories are you making up about the situation?
  • Knowing this what if anything do you need to do to move things forward?

Leaving situations to fester can make a mountain out of a mole hill, so make a habit of asking yourself these questions whenever you begin to feel uncomfortable or think a misunderstanding in brewing. 

Time to Breathe

4th July 2014
As we firmly enter into summer and the holiday season most
of you will be looking forward to some time off and the opportunity to unwind
and relax……… And some of you will have already done it!
More and more in business this is a time to de-stress and I
hear many people talk about how long it takes them to unwind which got me
wondering…………… Do you know how stressed you are? Are you stressed at all or
simply tired? Are you taking responsibility for how you feel?
Stress is often caused by ‘feeling’ out of control and yet
there is very little we are actually in control of other than ourselves. So,
maybe the place to look is at ourselves to answer the question How can I be
more comfortable at handling ambiguity?
Just asking this question of myself lands very differently
to how do I stop getting stressed or how can I be more in control?
Taking Stock
It is our brains that create our very own stress response
and is based on what we perceive as a threat. When we feel under threat the
brain releases cortisol and adrenalin that floods the prefrontal cortex and
stops us ‘thinking clearly’. The cortisol goes straight into our nervous system
and affects our breathing. When we ‘feel’ stressed this is what is happening
and there will almost certainly be other physiological reactions in each of us.

If we are under stress for a prolonged period of time higher
levels of cortisol is produced which can cause the immune system to shut down
and an increase in blood pressure and your heart rate.
So you can see how prolonged periods of stress can affect
our health.
Doing something Different
So, the first step is to decide to take responsibility and
choose to do something about it. The second step is deciding where to start.
Where would be the best place for you to begin to be more comfortable with
ambiguity? I would suggest you start with a situation that creates mild stress.
This way you are creating a higher probability of success.
Here are some things to practice:
  1. Become aware of your physical response. Where do you tense
    up? What sensations do you feel in your body? What happens to your breathing?
  2. Breathe. Take a deep breath and breathe into your diaphragm
    – you may even need to take several! This actually affects your parasympathetic
    nervous system and begins to calm you down.
  3. Determine what you can actually do about the situation. Do
    you need to walk away? Do you delay the conversation? Do you have to approach
    things differently?
  4. What stories do you have about this? Are they true or is your
    imagination running away with you?
  5. What’s the reality of the situation?

We are hardwired to react a certain way, so any change will
require a focus on something different, which is why the question you ask is
key, such has how can I better cope with ambiguity. You may well come up with a
better question for yourself.
The brain likes things to stay the same so tackling one
thing at a time and being focussed to create a new neural pathway is important.
As a great friend of mine says ‘practice makes permanence’.
Take one step at a time and focus on what you want not what
you don’t want.
“I follow four dictates: face it, accept it, deal with it, then
let it go.” 
Sheng Yen 

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