Posted in coaching, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, Stress management

Boredom can lead to brilliance…

It is true that daydreaming and being bored can ignite our best thinking. I have always had my best ideas in the shower or on that walk in the sun.

Manoush Zomorodi author of “Bored and Brilliant” explains in her Ted Talk how boredom can lead to brilliance.  She asks the question imagine if you never got bored.  Some of your best ideas come from, folding the washing or walking to work.  We enter a default mode, the brain goes from conscious to sub conscious.  The brain begins to create different connections, even tapping into autobiographical planning.

Good boredom is staring out of the window when the mind can get into the default mode.  Bad boredom is when you are multi tasking, checking your phone whilst staring out the window or on that beautiful walk.  Everytime we look at that phone we are depleting the neurological resource we have.  Even chilling out on the sofa while watching TV and checking email is still bad boredom. The purity of the chill is the good boredom.

Doing nothing is being creative, and boredom can lead to brilliance.

Please do get in touch for a workshop on creative thinking or 1:1 coaching bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

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

Rituals and superstitions…

How much do rituals and superstitions influence performance?

It is a clever deflection from performance as in the example of Serena Williams in the French Open in 2008.  She made her exit in a shock third round defeat, and when she was asked what went wrong, she gave the surprise answer:-

“I didn’t tie my laces right and I didn’t bounce the ball five times and I didn’t bring my shower sandals to the court with me.  I didn’t have my extra dress.  I just knew it was fate; it wasn’t going to happen.”

Why are so many top sports people deeply superstitious?

The answer is to be found in the world of pigeons.  B F Skinner the man widely regarded as the father of modern psychology studied the behaviour of pigeons.  In 1947 Skinner placed some hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automated mechanism that delivered food at regular intervals.  He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of food with whatever chance actions they happened to be performing at the moment it was first delivered.  They kept on performing the same actions even though it had no effect on whether the food was delivered.

The pigeons were acting as if they could influence the mechanism, a random connection between a particular kind of behaviour and a desired outcome.

If superstition does not influence the outcome, why are we all so  keen to ritualise are actions.  The routine may help people relax and feel comfortable so therefore aiding clear thinking and reducing anxiety.  The actions may therefore influence the performance and not actually secure the outcome.

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

 

 

 

 

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 Change management, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, motivation, personal impact, Stress management

The right attitude…

Last Monday I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by James Shone from the charity

“I Can and I Am”.

James has an amazing story from being a House Master to applying to be a Head and in his words landing the “dream” job.  Part of the selection process was a medical, where James discovered he had a brain tumour.  Surgery and a journey of recovery began with the “dream” job disappearing, James found a new purpose.

He set up the charity, “I Can and I Am” to inspire confidence in secondary school children through inspirational talks.

He started on Monday by sharing his own story and then talking to us as parents about how we can work with our children to give them the confidence to believe they can do anything.

His first top tip UFO Vs DBI, the abbreviations stand for Up, Forward and Out and Down, Back and In.  If we always look up and forward and out, we can see the big sky with all the possibilities.  Down back and in, begins that self limiting inner dialogue and where we over analyse events.

As a teacher he was keen for us to understand the progress made by teaching being evaluated by outside influence e.g. Ofsted.  However we are still focusing very much on a funnel all the good stuff goes in, however the system only focuses on that very tight tube at the end of the funnel, academic results.

Teenagers today are spending so much time on their phones which as we know releases the addictive Dopamine in our brain.  We need to unlock other passions and all of this can start at 14 years of age.

As parents we can look to a 3B continuum:-

  • Between – controlling (when they are young and dependent)
  • Beside – journey with them (understanding their life and the gradual steps of independence)
  • Behind – I am here if you need me – the ultimate interdependence

Every child needs a confidence boost and James used the example of an ordinary balloon.  We can either choose to inflate their confidence or deflate, knocking their self worth.  If they are constantly deflated it is like driving a car with a flat tyre, progress is slow and damaging.

There are four things we can ensure:-

  1. Belong – do they feel part of something, do they have a role
  2. Valued – embedding a growth mindset (Carol Dweck) “I can’t do it” should become “I can’t do it yet…”
  3. Good at something – look at the multiple intelligences by Professor Howard Gardner.  We all have strengths in areas that need to be uncovered by the people around us
  4. Future secure – setbacks are viewed as a springboard.  We may fall down but how quickly do we get back up and focus on the future.

We must give our teenagers authentic praise by ensuring we say:-

  • “I noticed…
  • “I heard…
  • “I saw…

Firsthand commentary of what they are doing well and it is our job to build those affirmations in their heads.

We have responsibility to demonstrate our own love of life be the role model with the right attitude.

We might not have a story as big as James Shone, however we can ensure that we smile and dance when we put the dishwasher on.  Talk about your work with passion and share your life with your teenagers.  Behaviour is contagious lets get them talking and off the screen.

 

 

 

 

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

Getting “stuff” done

Your best work gets done when it needs to be done, you have to want it and be ruthlessly intolerant.  With clear priorities and focus you work on the right things at the right time.

Only YOU are accountable for getting “stuff” done.  We find it easy to set monetary targets however we need to give the same priority to time targets.  Unproductive people have no idea where their money has gone.

Success is about our behaviour and how we manage the time we have.  Your goals and your achievements are compatible to your behaviour.

Each week think about what you want to achieve and put that as the heading of the week.  Achievement underpins motivation and having one big goal for the week, will be you identifying what matters most that week.

David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done describes the process.  If we can put all of our stuff in buckets, nothing gets lost and it is out of your head and into a system.

The buckets:-

  • Daily – the to do list, only what you can do that day (be realistic)
  • Weekly – what is the biggest thing you want to achieve in the week
  • Monthly – headings that give an indicator of how effective you were in the month
  • Annually – year to view on one page, with your holidays and key dates
  • Projects – present and future so that everything is captured

Please do get in touch for a practical approach to Time Management bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk 

Posted in Bite size learning, Decision Making, Emotional Intelligence, Goals, Relationships, Stress management, Time management

Getting ready for the “C” word…

The “C” word being Christmas.

The countdown to Christmas begins this Friday and it is like any other project it needs to be managed and the focus of what it means to you, must not be lost.

Stephen Covey’s time management exercise “What matters most” is a great way of looking at Christmas.  Covey invites delegates to squeeze big rocks into gravel.  The big rocks represent “what matters most in life” and the gravel is just “stuff” e.g. work.

The only way the exercise works is to put the big rocks in place first and then pour the gravel on top.   Delegates have been known to sweat profusely trying to squeeze rocks into gravel.  This feels uncomfortable and to be honest is how life feels when you lose focus on the things that matter most.

Focus on Christmas and work back, ensure you are spending it with the people who matter most and get all the “stuff” into perspective.

We have all done the Christmas Eve shop and regretted it afterwards when the person you care about most is surprised and disappointed.

The biggest rock at the moment is Christmas, so therefore make it your priority.

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