Posted in coaching, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, Problem solving, Stress management

Writing your way to calm…

On Saturday I went on a two-hour writing for well-being workshop.  I had no expectation and went with an open mind.

The facilitator a former English teacher set the scene by explaining the bulk of her work was with children who had been excluded from school.  She told a story which led to the work she does.

A mother and boy arrived for a session and were asked to tell their story.  The mother somewhat overpowering led the conversation.  When the child was left alone he was asked to tell his story and he proclaimed “Mum just told you”.  The facilitator said you tell it again and we will write it down.  As the process began the boy spotted many embellishments and facts that over time his mother had added to the story.  The process of writing made the story become his and his words.  After several alterations he had his story and his physicality and social interaction totally changed.

Writing is all about telling stories and we all have a story.

This concept of writing for well-being is well researched at the University of Texas and there are several books around the power of journalling.

The first exercise we did as a group was to write non-stop for 6 minutes.  Initially I went into work mode thinking about what subject and how to structure it.  However when you know that there are no boundaries your other senses become very apparent and I found that I was able to write about what I could see and hear.  It is very important to go back to basics and have a pen and paper and even that exercise in your hands felt strangely familiar and alien all at the same time.

As a group we reviewed what we had just done and similar experiences to my own occurred:-

  • Tuned into your surroundings
  • Aware of other senses
  • Mindfulness – in the present

The 6 minutes is crucial as it is the tipping point before your sub conscious kicks in, so the writing does not go to deep.

The second exercise we had a choice, there was the “12 Stepping Stones” or “Two characteristics”.

The stepping stones was to identify 12 times in your life that were pivotal and then just choose one to write about.

Lot of the group struggled to know what to put in and leave out with the 12 stones.  However the most impactful story was one lady chose a stone that was about a visit to Thailand to see her cousin and she said writing about it made her remember that person who she was at that moment.  She was confident and brave and she was excited to have found her again.

The two characteristics exercise was writing in the third person and creating actual characters but the two characteristics belong to you.  By giving the two characters names it meant the removal of you, even though it’s about you.  It was a subtle way of getting to know yourself and the relationship was just between you and the paper.

The facilitator never asked us to share our work as it was all about the process of writing not the content.  This helped enormously, that you had no fear of “show and tell”.

We rounded up the two hours with a final exercise only 10 minutes of writing and I was delighted how calm and happy I felt at the end of the two hours.

I always advocate “What gets written gets done” however now with my coaching sessions, I will encourage my clients to journal their thoughts.

Please do let me know if you are interested in the Writing for Well-Being and we will pass on your details. bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Bite size learning, coaching, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, motivation

The journey to success…?

It is long and hard and intoxicating, you really want it, and it is personal to you.  You are in it on your own and success means many different things to everyone, only you know when you have it, and only you know how you got there.

Defining the word success we would assume “result, outcome”.  Some definitions elaborate further by saying accomplishment of desired end and happy outcome.

We know it feels good, as we already know achievement underpins motivation.  However the journey to success is often more important than the end point.

If we measure how good success feels, look to the weekend with the England football team.  The euphoria of winning the penalties on Tuesday, England Vs Colombia was infectious.  It was a psychological journey to an outcome that was very much desired.  The route on Saturday was straight forward and the focus was not on the match just played but the result that England are now in the semi-finals.  We our now looking to the next journey, which gives the adrenalin rush of expectation, this can be exhilarating even without the result.

When you pitch for business and the Client is hard to convince it is often more satisfying than the straightforward meeting.  We like to be challenged and we learn more on the route to success than we do at the end.

Always look back at how you got their as you will relive the highs and lows and more importantly create the formula and the recipe for success.

The habits, rituals and behaviours that manifest in continuous journeys to success are what you need to replicate.  You can be successful in running your business, your relationship with your partner, your parenting skills, your writing and even your interactions with strangers.  All of these can be ritualised and practised and are the effectiveness tools that lead to success.

Please do get in touch for 1:1 coaching bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

 

 

1530s, “result, outcome,” from Latin successus “an advance, succession, happy outcome,” from succedere “come after” (see succeed). Meaning “accomplishment of desired end” (good success) first recorded 1580s.

Posted in Bite size learning, coaching, Decision Making, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, Stress management

Change how you think about stress…

We have believed for a long time that stress makes you sick and that stress is definitely the enemy.

Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal blows this myth for us by her illuminating TED talk.  She explains that “If you believe stress is harmful to your health it will be”.  If we think and act differently when stress occurs different things begin to happen.

We know that when our anxiety rises our heart beat gets faster and then our blood vessels contract.  This leads to less oxygen in the brain and we feel the stress which has a direct impact on our health and our biology.

Upon entering a stressful situation we could think and act differently to alter the responses.  If we feel the heart beat increase is our body feeling energised then our blood vessels relax and whilst we still have an increase heart rate we will not restrict the oxygen to the brain.  Your body can rise to the challenge this is the biology of courage.

There is statistical evidence to support the way we think and act around stress can have noticeable differences.  We should make life choices around what matters most not around whether there is more stress involved.  So when making your next career choice you must decide whether the new position gives more meaning to your life and you will cope with added stress levels.

Please do get in touch to book a workshop on Managing Pressure with nuggets of learning.  bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Goals, mindfulness, Time management

Book summary of “When” by Daniel Pink

The scientific secrets of perfect timing

 “We all know that timing is everything. Trouble is, we don’t know much about timing itself.” Daniel Pink

 Pink explains that we use our gut to make decisions on when we should eat or sleep when in actual fact there are scientific answers.

The book covers three main lessons:-

  • Our emotions run through the same cycle everyday
  • Knowing how you “tick” will help you do your best at work
  • Taking a break or an afternoon nap is not counterproductive, if anything it helps you save time

If you divide the day in three parts the obvious answer would be morning, afternoon and evening. A global study by Cornell University analyzing 500 million tweets in 84 countries with 2.4m users. The sociologists used a linguistic inventory word count to ascertain the dominating emotion for each of those parts of the day. Their findings were:-

  • Morning peak – Whether its right after waking up or 1- 2 hours later, most people feel pretty good early in the day
  • Afternoon – the tough period after lunch
  • Evening rebound – after work you have a gear change and enter recovery mode

The same variant pattern applied across genders, race and age. Pink described this as Peak, Trough and Recovery.

Similar studies produced the same results, they looked at standardised testing of Danish students. Every hour later in the afternoon produced a decrease in the students score, so not only emotions but performance alters according to time of day.

The results would suggest that in business we would be best allocating tasks accordingly:-

  • Peak – analytical tasks – intensive thinking and vigilance
  • Trough – administrative activities
  • Recovery – creative activities less intense focus

Corporations don’t focus on when only the what and how and yet the variance in human performance has an impact.

Even with this study in mind you still here people say “I’m a night owl” or “I love to get up early”.

Other studies can analyse your chronotype whether you are a Lark, Owl or something else which Pink describes as Third bird.   Larks are the ones that love to get up early. The Owls can get to work at 9.00pm and don’t like getting up early. The Third Birds are the people who are neither early or late just follow the standard pattern which is the largest group.

The old fashioned view that breaks were a waste of time is changing with the spotlight on mental health. A time tracking company DeskTime did a study using millions of data points determining the ideal break to be 17 minutes for every 52 minutes of work. That means one hour down for every three hours.

The other study Pink shared was the “nappuccino”, you have a coffee after lunch and then set a timer for 20 minutes. It takes 7 minutes to fall asleep, you wake up a little later refreshed with the caffeine kicking in.

Viewing human performance through “When” could alter the way you manage your time and your life.

Please do get in touch for a workshop on Time Management bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

 

 

 

Posted in Bite size learning, coaching, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, personal impact

Being socially savvy…

Social intelligence is just like regular intelligence, some of it we are born with and have a natural predisposition and the rest is learnt from good and bad experience.  Some people  it comes intrinsically with their personality and they are more charismatic, likeable and socially intelligent.

However if social situations are more tricky for you it does not mean that you cannot improve.  Like any intelligence you need to learn and practice.

Being social savvy is about making fewer obvious mistakes than others.  Knowing when to tell a joke or make a comment that is right for the audience.

Poor social skills can often be more of a failure than merely an intellectual one.   The memory of a bad impression will last longer than a positive impression.

Here are some top tips as to how you can begin developing the skill:-

  • Listening versus speaking – you need to understand the mind of the person you are speaking to so that you have the intended effect
  • Read the signals – Be in sync with the room, how is the mood and atmosphere
  • Understand the whole person – watch out for leakage in their body language
  • Comfortable eye contact – engaged and not intense
  • Welcoming posture – some-one you want to approach
  • Warmth – through your voice and your physicality
  • Be inclusive of others around you
  • 80% Listening – aware of social context and empathetic listening
  • Feedback – ask your peers or work with a coach to gauge your impact

Please do get in touch to develop your social skills by a nuggets workshop or 1:1 coaching.

bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, Time management

Taking back control…

Don’t just be a follower in the office world, start to lead your behaviours and your thinking.  Take back control of your time and your mental well being.

Challenge your attendance at meetings by ensuring you know the purpose before you attend.  If you are chairing the meeting keep it short and memorable. More than three participants will it really give you the answers you need.

Manage your email by booking an appointment with it, don’t drift in and out of your in-box, a lot will be irrelevant and take your mind away from work.

Type messages on a proper keyboard, nothing is that urgent that you have to resort to a tiny phone key pad or use emojis for real actions.  Everyone can wait.

Always have a proper to-do list and rank the items in order “what if…?” If that task was not completed what would be the worst that could happen.

Be realistic and only write down the tasks you will really complete that day.  Create buckets for the other tasks, e.g. weekly, monthly and overall project list.

Pick up the phone more and speak to a “real” person, often quicker than the email, to get your view across takes many written words.

Ensure that you do not have your phone with you at meal times, enjoy the ritual of eating again. Go a stage further and ask that there are no phones at your meeting, (it will be a lot faster with no distractions).

Give yourself space and time for thinking, book an appointment for it.

Take back control and lead your life.

Please do get in touch for 1:1 coaching or a Time Management workshop bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

 

 

Posted in Decision Making, Leadership, mindfulness, motivation

Being a Washington Correspondent…

The St Catherines School auditorium was packed with political enthusiasts waiting for the interview with the BBC Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue.

We were only two minutes in before President Trump was mentioned. The special relationship between the UK and the US in Trump’s eyes was helped with us leaving the EU. Although Gary did say it is very hard explaining to everyone in the US that we haven’t actually left yet…

The next term or election in the US will be key to the political landscape. Names to be aware of are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and of course Trump himself. The encumbancy carries force although there is a feeling that Trump may simply get bored.

How serious is the Muller investigation for Trump, and the answer was not necessarily the Russian collusion, but more importantly the obstruction of justice by firing the Head of the FBI.

The constant turnaround of Advisors and the ability to second guess Trump’s thinking makes for constant instability.

Understanding the gun culture in the US and the 2Nd amendment is hard for us in the UK.   The beliefs for the right to own a gun are engrained. A constitutional amendment will not happen. However awareness since the Las Vegas mass shooting rose to 40% and then more recently with Florida to 50%. There have been and will be more changes around gun control.

“Black lives matter” has been amplified by social media however statistically there is much disparity with length of life still in the US.

The US is polarised on so many fronts, whether it be north/south, black/white, Democrats/Republicans…the list goes on.

Gary was asked how he coped with his blindness in regard to his job. He admitted to falling off 3 train platforms but was still here to tell the tale. He wore down many girlfriends in the early days by getting them to read press cuttings out loud. He is now very liberated by the use of his iPhone.

He explained how he started as a freelancer for the BBC through a friend of his fathers. Commitment and new ideas are the ingredients to being a successful journalist.

How does living as a blind person in the US compare to the UK. In the US you can plug in headphones to cashpoints in the UK you rely on honesty and kindness. Gary showed his notepad which he described as his 2nd right arm.

Cane or Guide Dog is evidently like the marmite question to a blind person. Gary favours cane at this stage in his life, with his job and travel.

Before we led into the numerous questions – Gary introduced the charity for the retiring fund – Clear Vision. The books are for sighted and unsighted individuals so the joy of reading can be shared by both at the same moment in time.

Gary said that politicians in general aim to “simplify and exaggerate” and he certainly as a journalist demystified for the audience the US, The White House, Washington and being blind. It was a privilege to be a member of the audience.