You’ve seen things start to change in your organisation, perhaps the automation of specific departments has already taken place. With driverless cars on the horizon and self scan tills already here, the march of automation has already begun. Predictions suggest that it’s a matter of when rather than if for many professions. Could automation replace you? [Read more…]
Reports this week suggest that Google’s DeepMind, the AI programme which learns independently has developed some interesting strategies under stress.
The team responsible for DeepMind have published a blog outlining how it responded to stressful circumstances during an apple gathering computer game with another AI agent. It appears that the agents didn’t want to share their spoils, employing aggressive tactics to ensure they won. So what’s going on with DeepMind? [Read more…]
Innovation. How best to develop, sustain and refine it? Let the battle commence between divergent and convergent thinking. Or perhaps not? Here we make the case for both types of thinking, side by side and suggest techniques for how best to unlock them.
Unleashing the creativity genie
The elusive muse. Creativity. How to unlock it, nurture it and keep it generating innovative ideas time after time. It’s the holy grail of the creative process. Mindfulness may be the answer to developing and sustaining your inner creative genius. Let’s take a look at how to apply it. [Read more…]
At Positive Change Guru we’re sometimes asked whether mindfulness is harmful. It’s a sensible question and one which we’ll attempt to shed some light upon here.
We all know that looking after yourself is important. You go to the gym. Check. You eat well. Check. You make time to rest. Check. But what about your brain? One of our most complex organs, what goes on up there is just as important as the rest of your body. Want to know how to develop brain friendly habits? You’ve come to the right place, we’ve put together 10 evidenced ways to love your brain, increase neuroplasticity and future proof your brain from the risk of cognitive decline.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is a sure fire way to create a foggy mind and leave you feeling stressed. Make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep each night by practicing sleep hygiene before you go to bed. Relax, turn off your devices and in the same way that you wake up by washing, cleaning your teeth and completing the myriad of ablutions you’ve created of mornings develop a similar routine before you go to bed so that your body knows it’s bedtime.
- Read. Research suggests that the more we read the less likely we are to experience dementia. Join a library or hunt out bargains at your local charity shop and bury your nose deep inside this month’s bestseller, slowing down cognitive decline.
- Share the love. Practicing kindness will increase your wellbeing and decrease your stress levels. Pay it forward by looking for ways to act kindly each day either randomly or letting someone know how much you appreciate them. Looking for reasons to thank others will activate the compassion regions of your brain.
- Eat well. Get your five a day and more if you can. Research shows that diet has a huge role to play in cognitive health. Your stomach is often referred to as the second brain. Gut bacteria influences your cerebral functioning, maintaining a happy, healthy gut will pay dividends for your brain. Decrease saturated fats and aim to eat as many green alkaline foods as you can. Aim for a nutrient rich diet making sure to include Omega 3.
- Develop happiness. Evidence suggests that depression, sadness and anger are bad for your brain suggesting links with dementia. Guard your mental health and if you experience depression don’t keep it to yourself. Seek help from professionals.
- Engage your brain. When you set goals on a regular basis and challenge yourself you’re stretching your brain in the best possible way. Take a course, learn a language or a new skill and see what you can achieve.
- Hit the gym or the road or the pavement. Regular exercise keeps you fit, increases neuroplasticity and lowers stress. Just 30 minutes 3 times a week will have a positive impact so grab your trainers.
- Have fun and maintain Friendships. We know, prescribed fun doesn’t sound much fun at all but studies researching longevity demonstrate that maintaining a social network is good for you. Isolation increases the risk of dementia and can contribute to depression and stress. Make time to meet friends, to keep in touch in person as well as virtually. Your brain will thank you for strong social connections, reducing your stress and giving you a sense of purpose.
- Look after your heart. See number 8. We know that indicators such as diabetes and obesity have a corollary impact on the brain. Make sure you look after yours.
- Become a quitter. Yes, smoking is bad for your body and your brain. It increases the risks of cognitive decline and impacts negatively upon your health. The one time being a quitter is a good thing.
- Meditate. Where to start with meditation. Over 20 years worth of research demonstrate it has a positive impact on the brain and the body. It reduces your stress levels and increases self compassion, adding to your kindness quotient. Start with a minute of pause per day and wrk your way up. Take our mindfulness test or check out our mindfulness articles and training courses for more information.
- Commit. Yes. we used the ‘C’ word. People who have a sense of purpose thrive. Know your values, why you’re here on the planet and commit to that. Purpose in life predicts lower mortality rates and benefits wellbeing and brain health. Set goals, find your passion and like a well kept garden, cultivate it.
To find out more about health, wellbeing, resilience and stress management take a look at our other blogs or why not take our stress test? If you’d like to discuss wellbeing consultancy contact us at email@example.com To find out more about our resilience courses or in house training visit our course page http://positivechangeguru.com/events-2/
Failure makes an uncomfortable bedfellow. Many business spend their time focusing upon performance goals avoiding mistakes or trying to shift them elsewhere when they happens. In many start ups and established businesses the resulting blame culture stifles and shuts down innovation as employees fear the aftermath of failure. The problem with this is that innovation is an inherent unknown, it’s value lies in discovery by trial and error and that path is littered with the carcasses of failure.
Many start ups, especially in the tech world are turning the traditional paradigm of failure avoidance on it’s head. Google subsidiary, X, the company’s research lab led by Astro Teller, or “Captain of Moonshots” is a failure evangelist. X works firmly in the future rather than the present. Think AI, Google Brain, the driverless car, Project Loon or Project Calico researching life extension none of these would have come into being if Google fostered a blame culture. With a fail fast mantra firmly focused on the future, this culture incubates the art of possibility, of what could be rather than what is. In fact, Teller goes one step further actively encouraging experimentation by celebrating and rewarding failure (see our blog on Moonshots for more on this). This organisational culture embraces error reporting, shunning shaming and cover up. Proving Stanford Business Professor, Baba Shiv’s claim that failure truly is “The mother of innovation.”
Creating a No-Blame Culture For Innovation
Researchers at the Johannes Kepler Universitat (Rami, U. & Gould, C. 2016. From a “Culture of Blame” to an Encouraged “Learning from Failure Culture”. Business Perspectives and Research) found 3 drivers necessary to shift away from a blame culture.
- Act on covering up errors. If they’re hidden you can’t learn from them. This comes from the top and is usually influenced by leadership style. A punitive, authoritarian leader is less likely to persuade employees to discuss and learn from failure than a delegative, authentic leader who listsens. Genuine conversations need to take place around the value of error and it’s inherent correlation with innovation. Take a leaf from Google’s dream leader, Teller and throw a failure party.
- Error communication. The research found that employees in fast paced organisations with elevated workloads were more likely to report their errors. Where error was caused by lack of knowledge or training it was less likely to be reported. One of the most important factors in error reporting was peer support. This requires a people focused leadership style along with trust, transparency and openness.
- Social backing. This is really about buy in and trust. Employees need to believe that their colleagues have bought into no blame, error reporting. They also need to trust in the leadership team and that there is a real investment in innovation through fast failing. If employees secretly believe that the honesty required for error reporting will come back to bite them on the ass, your culture of innovation will fall down at the first hurdle.
12 Steps to Creating A Failure Friendly Innovative Culture
If you’re building a start up or leading an established business these steps are necessary to shift from a blame culture to an innovative learning culture.
- Model the behaviour you want to by admitting your own mistakes. A learning culture instead of a blame culture starts at the top.
- Discourage your managers from promoting a purely task focused performance culture.
- Promote open error reporting for large and small errors equally.
- Examine your systems, do they support or reward error outing rather than creative discussion?
- Ensure that all employees prevent error cover up.
- Place the spotlight on error management rather than people blame.
- Make sure that you have buy in from your leadership team to create a constructive error culture
- Cultivate a culture of discussion, creative debate and non-judgement
- Shine the light of error responsibility on procedures and systems rather than people.
- Make sure than competency and knowledge deficit is reduced by training your people.
- Celebrate and reward failure in a tangible way.
- When you enjoy a success borne out of failure communicate it to all levels of your organisation.
Want to know more about creating a no-blame culture or building innovation and creativity? We offer consultancy, training, bitesize, half day or one day training courses along with conference sessions on how to build effective organisations. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. We’d love to talk with you.
Should You Care?
Is what you wear to work important? Do you even care? For some of us the idea of ‘dressing to impress’ is an anathema “Why should what I wear to work matter? My work speaks for itself” you respond aghast. For others, perhaps begrudgingly, we acknowledge that there might be something in first impressions so we dress accordingly, or at least make the effort to ensure that we don’t look as though we’ve just fallen out of bed.
A Sea Of Grey
I once worked in a sea of grey suits, an office populated by identikit colleagues, who had managed to find as many shades of grey to wear to work as I imagine is humanly possible. Air conditioning up there on the seventeenth floor ensured we cultivated a pallor to match the suits. One colleague would deliberately wear a flamboyantly coloured, new item of clothing every day. “Dress for the job you want. Not the job you have” she responded curtly with a smile on her face when asked why. I doubt she’s still there.
If you find yourself feeling stifled in an environment like this, it might just be telling you something about the organisation’s culture (stick to the rules, don’t take risks, we value conformity) and also about your own personality (I want to express myself and be an individual or just ‘dress down’ for the rest of my born days) and ultimately your match with the job or the organisation.
Research into ‘Dressing to Impress’ from Joy V. Peluchette, Katherine Karl and Kathleen Rust published in the Journal of Business & Psychology ‘examined individual differences in the beliefs of MBA students and their attitudes regarding workplace attire including: the value placed on clothing, the impact of attire on workplace outcomes (e.g., promotions, raises) how their clothing made them feel and whether they used their attire to manage the impression of others in the workplace. Results indicated that those who valued workplace attire used it to manage the impressions of others and believed that it positively impacted the way they felt about themselves and their workplace outcomes. Dressing to impress appeared to have particular utility for high self-monitors and those in management/executive positions’.
Ditch the Uniform
In reality, this often gets translated into a uniform of sorts where the unwritten rule appears to be ‘leave your real personality at home’. Conform or risk being sidelined. Count the number of identical suits, colours and sensible shoes on your next commute and draw your own conclusion.
Turn this uniform orthodoxy on its head and like the woman who was dressing for the job she wanted, it doesn’t take much to stand out (said the woman who once wore a pair of green suede wedges with pink flowers on them to an interview and no, I didn’t get the job). Swap the ‘grey’ and let a little bit of ‘you’ shine through instead. Shallow? Irrelevant? Well, yes but if it’s a game and you’re going to play it anyway you might as well bend the rules in your favour and see what comes your way as a result.
Want to find out more? Check out our Events page http://positivechangeguru.com/events-2/ to see our courses
Saying ‘Yes’ at work when you want to say ‘No’? We all know what it’s like, you’re trying to make it to the next level on the career ladder and the temptation to say ‘Yes’ to everything can seem overwhelming.
Do you find yourself;
Burning the candle at both ends?
Wearing the long hours that you work like a badge of honour in the hope that somebody somewhere will notice?
Agreeing to take on additional work wondering how you’ll cope?
Putting your own work aside to help others?
Giving up your weekend to get that report completed?
Saying ‘Yes’ to others and ‘No’ to yourself?
If you answered yes, it’s a dilemma that resonates with us all.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the ‘Yes’ default. We know from research in the field of neuroscience that when we encounter stress we can experience what Dan Goleman refers to as an ‘amygdala hijack’ a fight, flight or freeze scenario where the not so smart part of your brain takes over. It’s easy to panic and go straight to ‘Yes’ based on the fear that we’ll miss out if we don’t. However, there are only so many hours in the day when you’re already attempting the herculean feat of maintaining a precarious work life balance.
So how do you override an amygdala hijack and respond with a considered ‘No’ whilst remaining a contender for the next promotion? Saying no requires a balance of emotional intelligence, mindfulness and strategic career judgment, but what does that look like in real life?
The Mindful Quandary
Elad Levinson, Organisational Effectiveness Consultant calls this a ‘Mindful Quandary’ – the act of recognizing the tension between sacrificing health and happiness to achieve a strategic career trajectory. Levinson offers the following four questions as a checklist for whether to say ‘yea or nay’ to a request at work.
- Does saying ‘Yes’ to an assignment relate to the team/department/organisation’s goal? If it doesn’t this is the cue for dialogue with your manager about how saying ‘Yes’ can contribute to the overall goal of your team.
- Will my efforts have an impact towards something important in the future? This applies to your own future as much as the organisation’s. When you find yourself saying ‘Yes’ to everyone else’s’ requests stop for a moment and make sure that you are completing at least one task everyday that moves you towards one of your personal goals. We know this is one of the key differentiators for people who achieve personal success – they break goals down and move towards what they want every day.
- Will saying ‘Yes’ satisfy key people whom are important to your success? This isn’t about people pleasing or sucking up to your boss, but about building strategic alliances. When you say ‘Yes’ just to keep everyone else happy you’ll find that your own workload suffers and your motivation takes a nosedive as you become increasingly stressed. Work out how to say ‘No’ or ‘Yes, but not today’ on the basis of the strategic alliances you want and need to forge.
- Will saying ‘Yes’ showcase your talents? If it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your strengths then go for it. When you’re using your strengths and natural talents you are in ‘flow’, optimizing your performance.
Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson in their work on the VIA Strengths Assessment (www.authentichappiness.org) demonstrate how identifying and working with your strengths can increase your efficacy by up to 38% giving you a bump in performance that will get you noticed for the right reasons and give you maximum return on investment for your ‘Yes’ efforts. So the next time someone asks you for a favour, harness that mindful quandary to say no (or yes) and still win friends and influence those around you.
Years ago I worked with a man who would regularly berate his car when it refused to start. The car, an ageing, rusty land rover, would frequently be on the receiving end of physical blows and shouts of admonishment rained down upon it by my colleague in the belief that the car would somehow be shown the error of it’s ways. The ritual would last for five to ten minutes until the perpetrator stood back, kicked off his steel toe capped Wellington boots (I kid you not), placed his hands on his hips and stated “That told it”. Now that’s belief. As we say up north, “There’s nowt so queer as folk”. He truly believed that this strange and irrational behaviour impacted upon the car’s performance.
Laugh as you may at this story, sometimes we can all be guilty of harbouring weird and wonderful beliefs about the world we inhabit. Ok, so I’m not suggesting that you are someone who kicks and shouts at their car believing that you’re persuading it to perform like a Ferrari, but there may be an equally erroneous belief about yourself that you’re holding on to. Perhaps you think it’s ok for everyone else to be assertive, but not for you? Maybe you think it’s wrong to say no to requests from co-workers? friends? family? Like it or not, what you believe about yourself determines how you perform, what you think you’re capable of and ultimately what you get out of life whether it’s the career, relationship, income or lifestyle .
Years of research into human behaviour tells us that we all have blind spots or ‘schotomas’ things we can’t see or keep missing no matter how hard we look at ourselves. Perhaps you were told something about yourself as a child, by parents, teachers or some other authority figure. Were you told that you were clumsy? Not ‘academic’? That you were ‘plain’ or lacked talent in something you loved? My experience of working with hundreds of people (yes, even clever people like you) tells me that not only is this list endless, it also bears no relation to reality. These words or labels, often carelessly uttered, with little or no thought, can lead to years of inaccurate self assessment, ultimately leading to a belief that one single opinion from long ago is actually the ‘truth’ about who you are and what you’re capable of. We (along with the latest research in psychology and neuroscience) say a very big ‘Pah.’ to that.
The strange thing is, once that we’ve been told something about ourselves (especially as children) we’re prone to hold on to it. We become selective perceivers, looking for evidence to prove that we’re right to believe the inaccurate things we do. Psychologist Carl Festinger calls this the cognitive dissonance principle. Our subconscious is unable to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time so any evidence that suggests we might be wrong to cling onto these inaccurate labels is conveniently pushed to one side. We literally become blind to it. If I tell you that you are ‘Clever’ when somewhere down the line it was implied you were ‘the average one’ and somewhat lacking in the cerebral department who do you think you’ll be more likely to believe? You’ll find a reason to discount my comment, just as you’ve been doing for years when anyone tells you the same thing, so that you can continue to believe you’re not. That’s selective perception. Once you get something into your head, it stays there and when you’re sifting through all of the stuff that the world presents you with, you’ll only pay attention to the information that proves you’re right, however misleading it might be.
Something to think about;
So my question for you is where are your blind spots? What talents, skills, abilities or characteristics might you have overlooked? Take some time to really think about this one and examine some of the beliefs that you have about who you are and what you’re capable of. Where do they really come from?. Are they serving you or holding you back? To move forwards and create the changes you want in life you’ll need to reexamine them and decide whether they’re a true reflection of who you are now or just someone else’s outdated, dusty opinion.
Where’s the Evidence?
If your beliefs are getting in the way of the kind of life you want, the next step is to ask yourself, ‘is that REALLY true?’. Look for evidence that proves the old belief is wrong or outdated. Remember you’ve been ignoring this kind of evidence for years so it might take a while to spot it at first. Be sure that you are being 100% honest with yourself when it comes to any evidence you might be overlooking. Letting go of these beliefs and leaving your usual way of thinking might feel uncomfortable at first but ultimately, it’s liberating.The next time you catch yourself reaffirming those tired old scripts about who you are and what you’re capable of, stop and ask yourself “Are you absolutely sure that’s true?”. Start to create a new bank of evidence, from events and situations that prove the opposite of the old belief, painting a brand new you picture of yourself, a canvas that truly reflects exactly who you are now as well as where you’re headed in the future. And there next time you think about saying ‘Yes’ to others and ‘No’ to yourself? Give yourself permission to do what you really want to.
And on that note I’ll leave you with the following thought from Patanjali (c. 2nd century) India.
‘If you desire a glorious future, transform the present’