Never Miss Twice – Cultivating High Performance Habits

Image created by Bristol Artist Rachael Johnson – Instagram @rachael.johnson20art

Building high-performance habits into your routine and working environment can serve both you and your team professionally and personally. Different leaders need and want different things from their schedules, so this post will look at how you might incorporate reflective activities into your routine to ensure greater long-term productivity.

Looking from the outside in

Dedicating time to planning your business strategy will allow you to establish productive parameters going forward. This is what we call working ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business. An effective way to approach this, is to make a list of the activities that you might deem ‘in the business’ which will often be delivery of services, sales and marketing, administration, and direct managerial work.

Working ‘on the business,’ however, might involve thinking about where you are going next, to ensure you are headed in the right direction and have the best tools to get you there. Assessing the processes your business runs on and thinking about streamlining them will help here.

Bringing your team in to work ‘on the business’ is a fantastic way to pool ideas, although be sure to keep your vision at the front of your mind, and to ensure your long-term plan fits with your employees’ wants and needs. This might be done by building in a regular monthly 1-1 with the team, a wonderful way to encourage inter-team communication at the same time.

Working on you

Taking time to work on self-development tactics will also benefit your productivity. A personal habit that comes up a lot in my client sessions, for example, is building in certain routines. Incorporating exercise or meditation into your day will benefit you on a personal level and begin to flow into your working productivity. Having a repeated morning routine is also likely to bring clarity to your day. Taking regular breaks through the day is important to keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Using a habit tracker can be a useful tool to make sure you carry out these activities every day, and after a while they will have become instinctive and routine. Having an accountability buddy who is either trying to cultivate the same habit or another habit but also wants to be held accountable for embedding it – you can buddy up and keep each other accountable for your progress.

Scheduling time

It is important to block time out in the diary for these reflective activities and the building of high-performance habits. It is extremely easy for tasks that are not short-term priority to be pushed behind those that produce immediately visible results. In the long-term, however, building strong routines based on habits that take a bigger picture approach, both to the business and to yourself, will be of great benefit. Establishing patterns is the most important thing here.

Joining one 20-minute yoga session or spending a lone hour thinking about your business strategy is not likely to make any difference. Practicing yoga every morning and blocking out a few hours per week to working ‘on the business,’ however, will ensure these positive activities are conducted. Of course, days are busy and adding anything more to the to-do list might seem overwhelming. But often, even small chunks of time dedicated to activities that are frequently repeated in a regular way, can make it easier for the rest of your time to fall into structured place.

A recent quote that resonated with me concerning habits was from a new book entitled High Performance – Lessons from the Best on Becoming Your Best – Jake Humphrey & Prof Damian Hughes https://amzn.to/35lgleq “Above all remember this simple motto: Never miss twice. Yes, on some days your habits might slip. But if high performers miss one day, they never miss a second.” Page 183. This quote was originally from Atomic Habits by James Clear https://amzn.to/3hw4Jr A another excellent book on this subject. Also check out The High-Performance Podcast https://bit.ly/3HBgYxo – listening to inspirational podcasts another habit to embed into your week.

Reframing Imposter Syndrome

One phrase that has come up in many of my coaching conversations over the past few months is “I think I am suffering from Imposter Syndrome”. This has been mentioned by leaders who are looking for new roles, individuals who have been in their existing role for some time, and people who are new into their current position.

One of the main barriers to leaders reaching their full potential is not a lack of skills and experience, but instead a perceived lack emanating from low self-confidence. In a 1970s study on the impact of this work-centred around self-doubt, it was coined ‘Imposter Syndrome’. From here on this phenomenon has been understood as a limitation by which skilled workers doubt their competence and believe they are not talented enough to belong in their position. In 2014 study of 116 executives, 60% stated that imposter syndrome had an impact on their leadership.

When understood in this way, as a disadvantage, imposter syndrome can have huge consequences on peoples’ attitudes towards and behaviours at work. Some might overwork and refuse to ask for help to meet impossibly high standards, with the aim of combatting imposter syndrome by gaining proficiency in the workplace. This response often leads to burnout which can have hugely detrimental effects on wellbeing. Others lean into the insecurity and begin to avoid feedback and opportunities for promotion, believing that they don’t deserve to be given any merit.

First step to moving forward – open up communication

To tackle this exhausting feeling, opening up communication around imposter syndrome will allow the insecurity to be humanised and understood as a necessary and universal part of professional progression. Self-doubt can lead to rich and valuable reflection but should be balanced with positive reinforcement regarding what you have already accomplished and using this to move forwards and build self-belief. Changing the focus from the feeling of Imposter Syndrome as being a limiting factor, look at the evidence of what you are good at and can bring to your role and move towards a reframing of your situation as a natural phase of personal growth which you can easily move through.

A huge barrier to overcoming imposter syndrome is the feeling that you don’t belong in comparison to others. Breaking the silence on these thoughts, therefore, can help you understand how widespread they are. But this can only start with you, and openly acknowledging these feelings will give colleagues the opportunity to do the same. Imposter syndrome has been found as one of the top fears for executives, so there’s no chance that you’re feeling them alone. Take the first step by talking to a trusted peer, line manager or external coach/mentor and move forwards from here.

If you need any further help please reach out using sandra@sandrawebbercoaching.com for an initial free consultation.

Sandra works as an executive coach for a multitude of businesses and private clients. She has over 30 years of experience to draw from in her work and has a particualar focus on creating high performing leaders.

7 Stages of Lockdown Working

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Well when I wrote the last blog at the beginning of this year I could not have imagined what lay ahead for us all. There were the beginnings of headlines coming on the news about a virus called Covid-19 in China but as our family returned from a Christmas holiday spent over in Palma Majorca we were blissfully unaware of the big changes ahead.

Even as we all continued to work during the first two months of the year I don’t think we imagined that life was literally going to come to a pause phase as the UK Lockdown was announced on March 24th 2020  I remember the date clearly as my birthday was on March 25th and it was celebrated as one of the first of many lockdown birthdays that quickly became the norm amongst us all.

Continuing to work with both business and private clients over the past few months it has been interesting to observe how we have all (myself included) coped with these changing times that came about so suddenly. I have identified a few common stages as the weeks have progressed:

Stage 1 – Wow this has actually happened, we are all based at home (shock)

Stage 2 – Adjusting to working from home (immediate knee jerk reactions)

Stage 3 – New routines develop (how can I make this work for me)

Stage 4 – Am I optimising this situation as much as I should be? (guilt/doubt)

Stage 5 – What do I enjoy and not enjoy about this (reflection/evaluation)

Stage 6 – How can I integrate the best bits moving forwards ( new ways of working/living)

Stage 7 – Prevent just slipping back into old habits that didn’t serve you (embed changes)

For me personally there have been good days and bad days with both clients and friends sharing that they have experienced the same. A lot of good has resulted with time that would have normally been spent commuting, stuck in traffic and extra long meetings being spent either on more meaningful work, projects that needed to be completed or getting to know others better. Funny moments have included people having meetings with me in cars on drives to get away from young families to my elderly neighbours checking that I am ok as they haven’t seen me for days due to endless Zoom meetings!

Productivity has been good even getting book two published hence the image to this post – now on Amazon https://amzn.to/3gh95jw and streamlining social media strategy. Both of these things had been on my to do list for many months. I walk daily now easily meeting my 10K steps a day compared with 4k prior to lockdown. I have polished up my process of online coaching now that it is 100% virtually delivered compared with 25% before plus it feels good to have more meaningful relationships with my neighbours rather than going for weeks without even stopping to chat! The challenge is to keep the good stuff going!

Why Am I Not Happy In My Job?

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When someone initially approaches me to explore coaching the phrase I often hear is “I don’t like my job anymore or a version of this such as  “I think I am in the wrong job can you help?” 

This isn’t a good place to be, wondering whether you are on the right path or worse dreading going into work every Monday morning. I always vowed from early on in my career that if I ever got into this position I would take action to change it as life is too short to be unhappy in our work especially as we spend so many hours of our week doing this.

So if this is you thinking any of these thoughts then it’s time to set time aside to explore what is going on ,either through your own self reflection process or with the help of a mentor or coach who has no vested interest in your final decision. This is why your line manager or a relative may not be the best person to work with on this.

It is not always the case that you need to leave your job ,so the setting aside the reflection and evaluation time doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up job hunting.

Once you have found some dedicated time ask yourself the following questions and note your responses

  • How long have you felt unhappy… sometimes there is a specific date, event or person that it can be traced back too. If you are a feelings person (see some of my posts or listen to podcasts regarding Myers Briggs  personality types ) then there may be an underlying resentment that needs to be processed through so you can move forwards. This might mean your acceptance of what happened or you being assertive enough to have a follow up discussion with those involved to understand what could have been done differently and to make others aware of the impact their actions may have had on you.
  • What is your ultimate career goal short and long term? Is being in your current role helping you achieve this or have you got enough from the role and need to find the next step on your journey.
  • Does the current role match your motivational mix ( again you may need to work out what this is) if it doesn’t there may be other projects or responsibilities you could take on to make it more enjoyable or you may indeed need the challenge of a change in role or organisation or type of employment.
  • Are you working for an organisation or leader that “ fits” with your value set? Do you like what they stand for and can you get behind the overall direction and what you are being asked to do in your role? 

The bottom line is to find out what would need to change to make you happy in your role and is this something in your control or not? 

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

Career Management Challenges

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This is the first blog post I have written for a while as I wanted to take a break until I felt inspired to write another one!

The many clients I have been working with over that last few months have inspired this reflection on the area of career management and the many different challenges people face at any age and at any stage of their career.

These are some of the thoughts or questions people are having or asking themselves and indeed some I have asked myself over my career

  • Why am I not enjoying my job anymore?
  • I don’t get on with my boss very well is that a good reason to leave?
  • I have been in the same role/company for a few years should I stay or should I move?
  • I don’t feel appreciated anymore – am I valued?
  • I don’t get any feedback at all and other people seem to be getting more opportunities to progress than I am
  • I haven’t got a development plan or any real objectives
  • I need a change
  • What I really want to do is work for myself
  • I need to get back into the world of work after a career break where do I start?
  • When is a good time to retire and then what do I do?
  • I want to do something different but unsure if I should look for another job in the same company or look at different companies
  • Should I get more qualifications?
  • I am having a tough time at work at the moment but is this just temporary or should I start looking for something else?
  • If I eventually want to work for myself should I just be brave and make it happen or shall I set up a “side hussle” while I am still in work?
  • I like what I do but I am not inspired by the industry or the company I am working for
  • My work life balance is out of control can I improve my situation in my current role or do I need to change?

Just reading through the list above how many of these have gone through your mind over that last few years? Is there one particular one that resonates currently?

What I am going to do over the next few blog posts is look deeper into a few of the areas and from a coaches perspective illustrate the type of work and further questions you can ask yourself to determine the next steps or possible options you can consider taking to explore further the correct course of action for your personal career management.

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

 

Continued Personal Development

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As part of most professional qualifications or to secure and maintain membership of a professional body we are required to source, attend and document Continuous Professional Development (CPD). I first encountered this requirement when I became a qualified management account many years ago and I now have a similar requirement with my International Coaching Federation (ICF) accreditation.

Depending on your personality you will either have put a plan in place to evidence all the CPD requirements by the required date well in advance or if you are more of a last minute person the reminder of this CPD renewal will suddenly arrive in your inbox and there will be a mild sense of panic resulting in this going on the mental to do list.

Every time such professional requirements appear on my horizon I have mixed emotions. The first initial one is “oh no how on earth am I going to find time to do this” quickly followed by a second thought of “this could be really onerous and boring” and a third one of “this is going to cost a lot of money”. As I am a naturally structured plan in advance person I haven’t got the additional pressure of having to find something last minute that I can complete or attend to get the right number of hours under my belt to submit.

As I approach this requirement now I am very lucky in the fact that a fellow coach had done a lot of research (during a spell of enforced illness) and researched the most cost effective, time efficient and interesting programmes available on the market. This has proved invaluable to me as all I had to do was look at the recommended course and verify I could commit the time, money and that it would be of value to both myself individually and my client base.

So, a few months ago I committed and enrolled on a Positive Psychology Coaching Programme run out of the USA. It is my first complete experience of a worldwide distance learning course which involves webinars, peer coaching via Skype or telephone and written work. This whole way of learning was the first benefit for me as my immediate reaction was that I prefer face to face work however to date this multimedia and distance approach is working just fine.

Regarding financial commitment yes, it is a lot however if I choose to be aligned to the most highly recognised Coaching federation this is non-negotiable, and the investment must be made. As always, the time slots required I have managed to integrate into my already busy diary, I have mad at least one new great connection to add to my network and the subject matter I am already using in my work.

So, for anyone reading this who is required to do similar CPD work, have you got this sorted yet? If not, it may be a good idea to plan out what you intend to do meet your specific professional requirements and commit. In addition find activities that met the requirements but are also of personal interest and benefit for personal and professional growth.

 

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both business and private clients. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or in her book Own It available from Amazon  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

Manager, Mentor, Coach

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The importance of having either a mentor or coach (ideally both) has always been apparent to me from the early part of my career. When I was qualifying as an accountant in my twenties I was lucky to be working for some great role models who encouraged personal development and growth both from a technical and interpersonal standpoint.

I have a clear distinction in my mind between a persons line manager, a mentor and a coach however for others sometimes the lines can get blurred. If you can create strong relationships with all three of these people at any one time different things can be gained from each. At the same time you will feel both challenged and supported if you surround yourself with the right people in all of these roles.

As well as having all three of these people in your life if you can get the opportunity to act in all of these three roles to aid the development of others this is also very rewarding work and allows you to experience what I think are the differences between the roles. Let’s take each in turn and I will explain how I have experienced them

Line Manager – the most obvious in that organisationally this is who you report too if employed, if self employed this won’t be in place and makes the other two roles below even more important to avoid working in a void. A good line manager will ensure you have complete clarity about that is required from your role, give you feedback on whether you are heading in the right direction performance wise while in addition set you stretching objectives and devise a meaningful development plan.

Mentor – this is someone who has walked the path you want to take and has learnt from experience and willing to share how these experiences may help you follow a similar path. They should be inspiring and enjoy helping you proceed in your journey in your way but with the benefit of learnings they may be able to pass on. This relationship normally is in place for a relatively short time until you have discussed their journey. A mentoring relationship can last for about a year however if there is a big gap between where the mentor is and where you are now the relationship may last longer and move into a more infrequent checkin over a longer period of time.

Coach – this is someone you meet with again over a set period of time anything from 3 months to 9 months typically. The coaching sessions act as safe spaces for you to get clear on your goals (work and non work), explore options for action, any barriers you may be struggling to overcome and any patterns of behaviour or thinking that are either working for you or against you. A coach will use established tools and techniques that include powerful questions to unlock the answers that are already inside you. A qualified coach does not need specialist knowledge about what you want to work on or technical expert subject matter.

My recommendation would be to have at least two of these people in your life and to at least get the opportunity to act as a mentor for others in either a professional or personal area.

 

Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both business and private clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

Going It Alone

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Linking back to a previous blog post on scary goals and being brave one area that frequently comes up in my career coaching work is when an individual is trying to decide whether to leave paid employment and enter into the world of self employment.

I remember when I made this move leaving a very well paid corporate job in 2000 I walked out of the office door for the very first time “unemployed “ thinking what I have just done is either very brave or very stupid. There wasn’t a plan on what I was actually going to do I just knew that the job I had been in was making me miserable and had been doing this for about eighteen months. I had got to the point where I dreaded going back to work after a holiday and I had always vowed if that happened to make some changes.

Within the first couple of weeks had I heard a few of bits advice from mentors who had a similar path and were a few years down the line at that point. The advice I gained in these early weeks I still pass onto others as I believe them to be very true in my experience

  • It takes 3-4 years to get used to being self employed and if you last this long without returning to a regular salaried job them you are likely to be successful and also become fairly unemployable as you get used to the freedom of being your own boss and the feast and famine nature of this path.
  • It’s all about who you know and who you surround yourself by. There will be many doubts in these early years and pragmatic encouragement from authentic inspirational people who want to help you succeed is a critical success factor.

I certainly underestimated the length of time it takes to

  • Refine what you want to specialise in
  • To work out the correct pricing model
  • To set up the operational infrastructure working out what you want to do yourself and what you want to pay others to do for you
  • Work out the elevator pitch when people ask the classic “ what do you do?”
  • Polish off an authentic sales and engagement process
  • Develop a support network to encourage you when the going gets tough but also challenge you when something needs to be discontinued and you don’t see it yourself.

What you get in return however after persisting through these initial years is immense personal growth along with a sense of achievement and freedom along with the by product of meeting some great new people on route.

 

Sandra works as a coach with both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon click here http://bit.ly/1JhAkst

 

Career Health Check

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As we are still at the start of the year it’s a good time to take some time out to review career health alongside any lifestyle or well being audit you may have already done.

In my work as a career and performance coach my discussions with clients often centre around how they can either

  1. Change careers
  2. Get more enjoyment out of their work
  3. Get better at their work
  4. Minimise the amount of stress they are experiencing at work
  5. Hand some difficult characters at work
  6. Raise their profile at work
  7. Progress to the next level in their company, industry etc
  8. Be brave and make some drastic changes e.g. like number 1 above or setting up their own business

The people who I love to meet are those people who really love what they do in both life and work. As most people spend a large percentage of the week at work its important that if there is something not quite working right in this aspect of our life that you first identify it and then put in place some actions to make improvements

So, in this first month of the year ask yourself the following questions?

  • Looking back at 2017 how happy am I with my work out of 10 (1- not happy at all, hate it to 10 – happy and enjoy it a lot)
  • Which bits of your working life do you love? Make sure you keep doing this.
  • Which bits are you unhappy with – what action can you take?
  • Do you feel you are using your full potential at work? If not, which skills are you not using? How can you plan to utilise these more?
  • Did you undertake any training or development work for yourself in 2017? Have you got anything else planned for this year? Often leaders spend so much time developing their team they forget about themselves.
  • Do you have clear goals or areas of focus for 2018? If not identify at least one
  • How is your work/life balance and stress levels – any work needed here in 2018 – what small habits can you change.

Take an hour out this month and conduct a mini career health check on yourself, pick a couple of actions and then repeat the process half way through the year.

 

Sandra works as a coach for Businesses and Private Clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of the self development book Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

 

 

How Many Rays of Sunshine do you know?

 

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You may have heard the phrase “we become an average of the five people we surround ourselves by” Personally I believe this is so true and can have a massive impact on how you live your life and whether you reach your full potential and live the life you want for yourselves.

 If I remember back to my early family life I wasn’t born into a family who inspired me to achieve anything other than average. Looking back for the first 21 years of my life the people I was surrounded by were using my own definition of weather character cloudy skies. They were good people and some days were better than others but until I started work for an American computer company Hewlett Packard my aspirations for my own life were average and ordinary.

As I started right at the bottom of this growing American multinational they type of people I found myself spending time with started to change. There were still the cloudy skies folk amongst the people I began to interact with however the big change for me was that I started to come across a more inspirational type of person who was operating on a different level. These people exuded infectious energy, they worked hard, they were professional, they were fun to be with as they knew how to play hard as well! When the company was growing rapidly in 1980’s we certainly worked and played hard sometimes staying behind in the office to reconcile the month-end accounts until midnight and being back at the desk by 8am the next day. I learnt about the importance of teamwork, setting stretch goals and continually improving both processes and taking any opportunity that came my way to attend learning and development events. Some of the course tutors on such training events were also pivotal in my own learning.

 Without really realising it at the time my world had expanded and now I was surrounded by some ‘Rays of Sunshine’ These people were impressive professionally but also authentic and approachable at the same time. Not everyone I met was like this but there was enough of them in my life now to know that there was a different way of approaching life. There was another level beyond Cloudy Skies and I wanted to learn how these people lived their life in this way.

 So, look back over the last few weeks, list who you spent your time with, how many Rays of Sunshine are in your life? Enough or do you need to find some more?

 Learn more about how important it is to understand who you surround yourself by in Chapter 8 of Own It Book available using this link amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl