Young Minds

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I have just finished watching a programme on TV where a group of celebrities undertook an experiment where they tried to reduce their physical and mental ages over a period of three weeks 100 years younger in 21 days

It was fascinating to see how the aging process was affecting them all very differently due to either current habits or prior lifestyle bad habits having taken their toll. Throughout the three-week period some individuals needed to focus on their mental capacity while others had more health and physical challenges.

The physical challenges where they were encouraged to exercise more and eat better weren’t surprising as most of us know what we should and shouldn’t eat and that we need to keep moving. What I learnt most were the changes that occurred that radically improved some of the participants mental health scores in such a short period of time.

There were dramatic improvements in mental ageing in fact reversing the effect resulting in three key activities the celebrities were made aware of

  1. Meditation
  2. Learning new skills
  3. The sense of belonging that came from being part of a group

If we take each I turn there were just a few take home messages that I think are useful to us all.

Meditation doesn’t appeal to everyone and certainly in the programme the person that benefited the most initially demonstrated a lot of resistance to even the idea let alone the practice of it. It took another person in the group who had personally benefited themselves from the practice to buddy up with the individual and persist gently through the initial reservations and difficulties to the point where it started to become an enjoyable habit with huge quick positive effects that reinforced the new habit further. The correlation between the habit of regular meditation and improved sleep quality was amazing and without question a good reason to continue.

When it came to learning new skills, the key point was it doesn’t have to be a particular type of skill. Initially the group were introduced to learning a new language however if anyone struggled with this challenge then other more practical rather than cerebral activities were suggested to get a similar result. The key message here aww keep the brain active by exposing it to new challenges.

The final factor was the sense of belonging and the obvious communication involved from being part of a group or team was evident. The mutual support they gave each other at various stages of the process especially when an individual was finding part of the regime tough was an equally important bi product of the process.

  • So, are you continually learning?
  • Do you actively engage in a community/group that provides support and encouragement?
  • Have you explored a meditation practice? maybe just try for 5 mins a day for a couple of weeks see if you find it beneficial

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

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Personal Wellbeing – Two Critical Lists

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In the last post I mentioned meeting a lot of people recently who were running on empty, in danger of becoming ill and being stopped in their tracks.

I am much more aware of recognising key signs in both others and myself now than I was in my earlier years ; this is as a result of both personal experience and watching when others have been stopped in their tracks, forced to take corrective action and start looking after themselves better.

Sometimes it is at exactly this point that potential clients pick up the phone and come and see me for the initial coaching conversation when they realise they need to do things differently and make some changes in their lives either professionally, personally or sometimes both.

There are two books that I have read that I totally recommend on this subject when it comes to either recovering from burn out  or ideally preventing from happening in the first place

  • Adrenal Fatigue – James L Wilson
  • The Body doesn’t Lie – Vicky Vlachanis

Both of these take a completely holistic view and encourage us to take care of ourselves mentally and physically on an on going basis along with recognising when we are going off course as early as possible.

A practical exercise I get clients to do and I also practice myself is to generate two simple lists that we can regularly look at to ensure we are following the right one

  1. List one – things that make me feel good
  2. List two – things that make me feel bad

These are obviously going to be very unique to the individual and could contain things like activities that make you feel good or bad, places that make you feel good or bad, food that makes you feel fantastic or rubbish, people that make you feel downbeat and negative or make your laugh and bring your energy up.

You can start making these lists immediately however what happens is that when you get used to using them you find yourself adding things to both lists on an on going basis as you discover new people, new ways of eating,  new activities, new places and to reflect changes you make in your life.

How you use these lists practically is in partnership with the signs and signals you identified in the last post so for example if you find yourself going down the low energy, no patience with anything, not thriving route you look at the “things that make me feel good list” and schedule time for these things. Also take a look at the “things that make me feel bad list” and make a note of anything that you have been doing too much of on this list and stop doing it to reverse the trend.

If you feel you are heading down the “burnt out” route then check out the books above and start creating your lists based on the holistic approach , add to both lists at least monthly for the first couple of months. Keep them to hand in case you need then.

If you are feeling good at the moment create the lists anyway as a preventative measure and out of interest it should reflect the reason you are feeling good is that you are doing stuff list number one – keep doing what you are doing.

 

Sandra provides coaching for both Businesses and Private Clients. More information about coaching can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

 

Spot The Signs

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Over the past few months I have been struck by the number of people I have met who are running on empty! When meeting these people, they are physically exhausted and mentally drained

From my own experience I have been in such a similar position about twice in my life and both times have been fantastic learning opportunities to add tools to my own kit bag that will hopefully prevent returning to that territory. It’s a place where if you find yourself entering you need to quickly act before the feeling of exhaustion becomes your norm and then if left for long enough often results in the body saying enough is enough and stopping you in your tracks with a serious enough illness where you need to take time off to recover.

Some possible signs to watch out for in either yourself or team members are

  • Do you wake up and feel tired routinely?
  • Are you living off endless cups of coffee, sugary snacks or processed convenience food?
  • Loosing or putting on weight we all react differently some people emotionally eat more when feeling stressed while others forget to eat under pressure
  • Are you thinking about work all the time even during leisure hours?
  • Would you struggle to be away from your phone or email for a few hours or the weekend?
  • Are frequent colds or headaches now your norm?
  • Is it difficult to concentrate?
  • Have you given up any hobbies or exercise routine you previously enjoyed
  • Are you forgetting or missing deadlines?
  • Are you making mistakes?
  • Do you have little time or patience for those around you?
  • Do you feel guilty about taking time out for yourself?
  • Are the people who know you well worried about you or making comments that you look tired or unwell?

We will look at what corrective and preventative action you might consider in the next blog post.

Hopefully you won’t be experiencing all of these at once and you will know yourself well enough to know what  your normal state of wellbeing is. It is important to recognise what do you feel like when you are thriving and completely aligned with what you are doing and what you feel like when you are moving in an unhealthy direction in need of corrective action. Learn to recognise your own personal signals.

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both Businesses and Private Clients. More about coaching can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com . She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms which is available from Amazon http://bit.ly/1JhAkst

 

Use Your Natural Strengths More

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The next technique to learn is to ask yourself what strengths do I naturally have that I can use to solve any problem or challenge that comes my way and move towards a solution orientation? Do you know your natural strengths?

You may have received some 360-degree feedback over the years in various forms formally or informally so this is a good source of information especially in identifying what other people think you are good at.

To add to any existing feedback in your possession and to give a fresh perspective there is a very useful free resource online that could be help, go to  www.viacharacter.org and click on the survey tab where you go and take a free test that identifies your top natural strengths. The report looks at strengths very differently and has more of a value internal perspective. When I did the test my top one is “love of learning” and this is so true and linked to my top motivational factor.

Either use the test above to identify what you naturally do well or use your own self-awareness to ask “how can I use my natural strengths to solve this problem?”

If I use myself as an example I am a resource investigator (I found this out using Belbin team types diagnostic tool many years ago in my corporate career). What this means is I can normally find someone to help either myself or anyone else and I don’t mind asking people to help share their expertise. When faced with a tricky problem I can’t solve myself I would pull on this skill to look at my existing network to access expertise or experience of similar problems to help me explore possible options for the problem in front of me.

It might be worth listing down a summary list of “ What I am naturally good at and love to do” so that when faced with a challenging situation you can look at this list and it might spark off an action or approach that will help you move forwards and because it is capitalizing on natural strength then the action wont feel too hard it will come to you easily.

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both Businesses and Private Clients, More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

Taking The Lead In Adapting

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Adapting behaviours in order to build better relationships with others is a subject that regularly comes up in both the coaching work I do and also the training workshops.

Regardless of the originating subject matter the topics of relationship building or improving communication between specific individuals is routinely discussed as one of the challenges faced by people in and outside of work regardless of age, gender, sector or situation.

So why is it we often need to take the lead and adapt our approach to improve our interaction with others?

  •  The first thing to realise is that, unless the other individual has done a lot of self-development work in the area of understanding and respecting the individual differences, we can’t rely on the other person in the equation to change or try a different approach
  • If they do then great but we have to assume the adaptation has to be down to us.
  • The second thing after realising some changes are necessary is that you have to WANT to experiment with a different approach and you have to WANT to try and improve the relationship. If this isn’t genuine then any adaptation from your standpoint might come across as false or inauthentic.
  • The third thing is be prepared to experiment with a few different approaches until you find one that works. It helps if there is a strong reason as to why you want to improve the communication or relationship so that the persistence in trying a few times or with a few different techniques is worth the effort in the long run.
  • Try looking at any situation through the eyes of the person you are trying to improve the relationship with. If you were them what might you be thinking, what would you want to change?

I have seen many times relationships between two parties that initially have been very strained and difficult move to a completely different harmonious level once one person has taken the initiative to either be very brave and confront the situation with a very honest and open discussion or tried a different approach (often a few) until a breakthrough was achieved. Often having worked through this initial difficult beginning strong partnerships are forged with much greater appreciation of the differences each party brings to the relationship.

 

Sandra works as a coach in businesses and with private clients. For more information look at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

How Well Do I Lead My Team?

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For some companies the end of the calendar year also coincided with the annual appraisal process in which, if done well, each person comes out the other end of the process having had a really good discussion with their line manager on areas in which they are doing well, some areas where improvements need to be made and with a new set of very focussed goals that are both meaningful and motivational for the individual and to support business strategy.

Conducting a meaningful appraisal is just one of the skills any leader needs to learn. A leader should also have as part of their appraisal a discussion about how they are performing in the leadership role and ask the question of themselves throughout the year “how well do I lead my team?”

In some of the companies I work with we go out and collect feedback for leaders prior to the annual appraisal process and ask both direct reports, peers, customers, senior managers and other key stakeholders. This feedback is summarised and then discussed with the individual leader to ratify things that are working well and areas of development.

If you can get this type of feedback either via a systematic online generated questionnaire and report (360 degree feedback) or a more informal process it is hugely valuable. I have seen leaders transform their leadership ability based on such feedback as they didn’t realise how important their behaviour was on a day to day basis and what their team expected of them.

The type of actions that can result from a critical review of your leadership style on a regular basis can range from instigating  or reinvigorating regular team meetings, scheduling meaningful 1-1’s on a monthly basis with each member of your team to redefining entire team structure and clarifying roles and responsibilities.

The important thing to realise that it doesn’t matter if you are a leader with years and years of experience or if this is your first leadership role there are always areas where improvements can be made and also its nice to know what you are doing well!

 

Sandra works with numerous businesses across the UK and runs workshops on Leading and Developing High Performing Teams. Find our more information from either http://www.thekudosgroup.com or http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com 

 

 

 

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