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.

Fostering A Healthy Team

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

As the new year begins, we are often encouraged to ‘start afresh’ and overhaul previous modus operandi. By internalising this mentality, leaders can often make their employees feel that they too must change their attitudes and approaches. This, in turn, could demoralise staff who feel may feel undervalued and unconfident just being who they are.

Instead, beginning the new year with a positive focus will support the fostering of healthy workplace cultures where staff feel inspired. A great way to do this is to develop processes which allow employees to think confidently about their unique skills and abilities.

Encourage reflection

Whilst one-to-ones are often embedded in managerial strategy for the purpose of encouraging reflection, an environment which builds employees self-worth can also be developed in other ways. Where teams are asked to reflect as a group, individuals are provided with the opportunity to consider where their skills lie and have their abilities further attested to by peers. Peer validation is an important element in the building of confidence, so consider about hosting a group feedback session to promote mutual admiration amongst colleagues and highlight individual strengths.

Think beyond binaries

Often, feedback from managers is provided within the framework of ‘what went well’ and ‘what could be improved’. The connotations of this are that employees contribute well in some ways, and less well in others. This in turn leads to an understanding that some skills are superior to others. Helping employees to think beyond the binary of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ attributes often allows them access assets that are traditionally undervalued, and in turn improve their self-confidence at work.

Encouraging peer group reflection might also help employees to understand that skills they might undervalue within themselves are just not being deployed in the right context.

Considering how certain attributes might contribute differently to certain areas of work will allow individuals to value all parts of their performance. It also draws attention to how working with peers can help individuals to bridge gaps in employees own ways of working, which might have been hindering their contribution.

Use reflection tools

The Creative Type quiz (https://mycreativetype.com/) by Adobe is a great tool for facilitating this way of thinking. Though a set of abstract questions, this software aligns the quiz-taker with a working personality type and highlights their strengths. In addition, however, it identifies which other ‘creative type’ you might work well with to maximise your potential. Undertaking this quiz as a team, and reflecting on it together, introduces non-hierarchical ways of thinking about ability, beyond the binary of positive and negative. This activity therefore reinforces the value of employees both as individuals and as a team

This was my creative type

Equally the VIA Strength Finder ( https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register) could be used to encourage group-based reflection on what each employee brings to the team via their natural strengths, helping the collective group to leverage of the skills of each other and in turn create a positive working environment which boosts confidence and morale allowing each member to contribute in areas where they naturally excel.

Find out your top strengths using this free online tool

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

frequentlyaskedquestions

 

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

 

Personal Wellbeing – Two Critical Lists

goodandbadfaces

 

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

oldpetroltank

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

 

Managing Your Own Energy Levels

healthyjars

 

Having always been a naturally high energy person, it wasn’t until I found myself feeling low energy on a daily basis that I gave this subject any consideration. The only times when I had previously felt lethargic were when I was ill or in the early years of having young children when I just assumed it was a given in both situations.

It took the condition of an un diagnosed bout of glandular fever about 5 years ago for me to take a good look at how I managed my energy daily. The virus eventually did get diagnosed but not until I had suffered with extreme tiredness for many months getting highly frustrated not knowing the reason. In some of the Chinese medicine literature it states we all get the illnesses we need to give us signs that the body needs help or that we need to make certain changes to our lifestyle and I now believe catching glandular fever in my fifties did me a massive favor. It forced me to do a complete audit of my lifestyle, read around the subject of adrenal fatigue and make some positive adjustments in both how I manage my work and personal life.

Any person with a driven personality type tries to muscle on through when they get ill and this often not helpful. In the end I realised that I had to give in a bit, reserve the little energy I had to focus on  the most important tasks and take rest a lot more than I had ever taken in my life before. Being self-employed I decided that I needed to focus my energy on keeping my work commitments and let go of my social life, my then intensive exercise routine and pare down my diary time to two simple elements going to work and coming home and resting. If felt very unusual at first sitting down and doing nothing but in the end, I was left with little choice as the current way of operating wasn’t working. Within a few weeks the energy levels started to return, and this is dangerous as feeling better it is tempting to return to old habits and burn the candle at both ends again. Luckily during my rest periods I had been reading and a brilliant book called Adrenal Fatigue by Jim Wilson and it helped immensely; some of the key messages had filtered through and I made two lists of “things that make me feel good and energise me” and “things that make me feel bad and drain me” This exercise was a breakthrough for me as it forced me to list out activities, situations and things that aided my energy levels and also the opposite, any person, activity, food or situation that drained or stressed me and therefore depleted my energy.

Five years later I still add too and refer to these lists – I encourage you to create your own to manage and optimise your own energy levels.

 

Sandra is a High Performance coach who works with both businesses and private clients; more information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

Wellbeing

DGworkshop

 

There seems to be a new buzz word around the business community currently, everyone is talking about – Wellbeing.

There isn’t anything new about this term and the NHS were researching it again last year

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/improve-mental-wellbeing.aspx#Evidence

However having attending a number of workshops and talks on this subject recently they have got me thinking about this subject.

The NHS identified 5 steps to mental wellbeing

1) Connect

2) Be Active

3) Keep Learning

4) Give

5) Be mindful – in the present moment

This proves to be a really good simple checklist which can be used to assess how you are spending your time.

On a recent Yoga workshop I was able to tick 4 of the 5 boxes (Connecting with other new people, being active – see picture above, learning and being in the present moment) It was an enjoyable but tough workshop which yielded learning both physically and mentally. It takes time out of our non working time to tick all of these 5 boxes but having tried to keep the 5 elements alive for a few months it it feels much better than just sitting in front of the television for hours so I think I agree they are good steps to mental wellbeing.

Assess yourself – how are you doing?

Do you need to make improvements in any areas?

What specific action are you going to take this weekend?