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

Press the button…

What does “press the button” actually mean?

In classic experiments on stress, people performed tasks that required concentration, like solving puzzles, whilst being blasted at random intervals with uncomfortably loud sounds.  The individuals started sweating and their heart rates and blood pressure climbed.   They struggled to concentrate and made mistakes and many just gave up.  Searching for a way to reduce the anxiety, researchers gave the participants an escape.  If the noise became too unpleasant they could press a button and make the noise stop.  The button allowed them to stay calmer and make fewer mistakes.  The most surprising result was that no-one pressed the button.  Knowing they could stop the noise gave them a sense of control and allowed them to endure the stress.

This story comes from the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.  In the book they put the button into another context.  Grant  a lecturer sadly had a student who committed suicide and he regretted he had not spotted the signs of stress earlier.  He struggled for a long time to overcome any guilt.  To move forward he started every lecture by ensuring his mobile number was clearly displayed in the class, in effect this was the button.

Do you provide a button to your team, do they know that support is there.  Think how you can instigate the button within your organisation.  Coaching and mentoring being formalised could provide buttons.  Buddy schemes for new recruits, and always ensuring your team members have a line manager who conducts regular 1:1 meetings. Larger organisations have well being help lines and by ensuring the number is displayed provides the button security.

At home we now all have our mobile numbers, however do we provide a “button’ service in other ways.  How often do you sit around a table and ensure you really listen to each other?  This is the best “button” you can ever provide.

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

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Posted in Bite size learning, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, personal impact, Relationships, Stress management

What does social media do for our confidence…?

We bring our children up to believe they can have everything.  In schools we now give medals for partcipating, so the shock of hard work and results in the world of work are a surprise. What has eroded confidence before we enter business…?

Many of our children are gaming and constantly interacting with social media.  We know that the addictive dopamine keeps their interest and whilst they compete for results they are rarely shared.   In order to feel good instead of face to face feedback they are counting the number of likes on a post.  Turning to a device instead of a person, means they lack the ability to form deep meaningful relationships.  The approval of their peers to grow self esteem is coming from an electronic perspective and not a human.

In order to believe in ourselves we have to be happy in real life and not on our social media platforms.

Genuine praise and recognition takes time and is not an instant when we are in the work place.  The younger generation have not learnt the ability to wait for anything, everything can be obtained immediately.  You don’t even have to wait for the next episode you can download the whole box set.  Instant gratification rather than waiting for a reward which would give us pleasure and contentment.

Job satisfaction is arduous, you have to work hard and build new relationships, you have to have patience.  We find a lot of the younger generation want to quit straightaway as they have never had to wait before.

To survive in work we need a good self image and lots of feedback to grow our self esteem.  This needs to be authentic and genuine.

Corporates are not helping to create the right environment for this generation.  Companies are still very number orientated and there is very little investment in helping people to build confidence.  We lack good leaders taking time to guide their direct reports.  We need to  develop social skills by role modelling, the little innocuous comments that make all the difference. “How’s your Dad?”  Through these little asides trust is formed.

Social media plays with our confidence across all generations, watching your friends and family having a lovely life on a screen rather than being with them.  We are social beasts, put down the phone and go and have lunch with a colleague.

Please do get in touch with nuggets on developing confidence “Fearless motivation” bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

Posted in Bite size learning, motivation, Relationships, Stress management, Time management

I’m a celebrity teamwork…

Last night in “I’m Celebrity get me out of here” we saw the most amazing team work.  They were all involved in a challenge and there was no-one who did not have a role and no-one who did not perform.  Albeit very different to an office situation we can learn a lot from a group of people who come together and focus on a common goal.

The 7 hallmarks of a highly effective team give you an idea of how those random celebrities are learning to work together:-

  1. Shared vision – food seems to be the ultimate vision instead of focusing on winning as an individual this group seem to be motivated by enjoying decent meals together.
  2. Clear objectives – the trials are all about getting stars and the instructions are very clear.
  3. Team resources used to their best – sometimes they don’t get a choice as to who to deploy, but when they do, they think about the physicality and the enthusiasm of every member of the group.
  4. Open atmosphere – the camp is surrounded by cameras although in previous years we have seen whispering, the team at present seem very comfortable with sharing all their stories and some of their more intimate rituals.
  5. The team regularly reviews its progress – there is a lot of encouragement during a trial and a lot of commentary as to how much time you have left.  They chat about their experience and review their own performance.
  6. The team builds on experience – the trials get more horrific but the team know which critters are worse than others and seem tougher every time from learning from the last interaction.
  7. The team can ride out storms – when there are no stars or a camp mate is particularly down the group rally and morale lifts them.  Last night showed how they can work together with tight time constraints.

The office might not be the jungle, however how many of the hallmarks can be applied to your team.  As an exercise get each team member to give a score out of 10 as to where you are currently on each of the hallmarks.  Revisit the score in 90 days to see if you can come up with actions to improve the score.

For a team workshop please contact bev@nuggetsoflearning.co.uk

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

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