When Positive Change Guru delivers mindfulness at work programmes were sometimes asked “Isn’t this just another way to screw more out of us?”. Fair Question. Not one to dodge a difficult conversation, here’s our response based on our latest research, ‘Bullet Proof 9 to 5 – ers’ into Mindfulness and Leadership.
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.
Resilience: from the Latin word resilo – to jump back. The capacity to bounce back from adversity, adapt and succeed.
Embracing difficulty is key to resilience. But what is it? Resilience describes our ability to manage difficulties effectively rather than be overwhelmed when confronted by adversity. Perhaps one of the most profound definitions is from Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor and author of ‘Man’s search for Meaning”. ‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.’ It comes as no surprise that Frankl’s work has been modified and applied in a workplace setting. An increasing body of research suggests that resilience is also a valuable predictor of success. Penn Professor, Angela Lee-Duckworth’s research suggests that resilience is an even more accurate predictor of success than IQ. A heady claim for something we’re not taught in school. So what’s is it about resilience that makes it such an important differentiator? Lets find out.
Glenn Richardson, Professor and chair, Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah describes resilience as mental toughness and encourages employees to think differently about how they view difficulty. When met by challenge, Richardson suggests that we develop the mindful habit of taking a moment of calm to support ourselves in developing resilience, by making a choice to work with our emotions to accept failure and examine what we can learn from it. This presents a very different approach to turning away from difficulty to get the job done which employees are sometimes forced into doing by workplace pressures. Dr Gregg Steinberg suggests that challenge and adversity can develop emotional intelligence and grit, enabling people to bounce back to an even higher level of resilience than before. For Steinberg, adversity creates and shines a light upon what is missing in life, highlighting what we need to be more successful and happier. Watch Gregg talking about ‘Falling Up’ in our ’10 Best Resilience Videos’ blog. You might be asking yourself how you can turn towards difficulty or failure when your natural response is to turn away, run for the hills and avoid it. Resilience is a skill that can be learned and you can begin to work out your resiliency muscles right now. The next time you face adversity, try the following;
Embed calm checkpoints into your day.
Take a moment to notice what’s happening. Breathe and sit with what is there for you in that moment.
Known as ‘Affect Labelling’ this is where you identify the emotion. Try saying to yourself “Hello anxiety” if that’s what you’re feeling. Recognising and naming the emotion makes a distinction; you are experiencing anxiety rather than labeling yourself as an anxious person.
Work with what shows up.
As human beings we typically move towards what feels good and avoid what doesn’t, frequently missing what we feel neutral towards. Instead of moving toward the positive or trying to push difficult emotions away, bring a gentle curiosity to both. Notice your reaction without judging it. Reflect on the nuances of perceptions of positive, negative and neutral. Is there an associated response in the body? Tension or lightness? Bring mindful awareness to whatever arises.
It’s not Forever.
Recognising the impermanence of all emotions is key. Mindfulness teaches us that emotions are just mental events with a short life span. Ask yourself what you need in order to manage that emotion in this moment.
Reflect on what is really going on for you. Is there historical stuff or emotional baggage that has led to this emotion? Your response might be appropriate, now you’ve investigated you’re in a better position to choose how to respond effectively and skillfully.
Practice on a regular basis.
When you develop the capacity to face difficulty you are able to make more skillful choices. Mindful awareness of challenging situations gives us the opportunity to defuse difficult thoughts and emotions and create distance. With that distance we can choose our response rather than falling into habitual knee – jerk reactions.
Difficulty is part of life, it isn’t going anywhere soon but the good new is that resilience isn’t an absolute. Changing over time it can grow, be learned and developed. For more information on how to build your resilience check out our other blogs, our free ‘Build Your Resilience’ webinar or come to one of our resilience training courses, we’d love to see you there!
To find out more about building resilience or resilience training contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feeling assertive? No? Well you’re not alone. On our Essential Assertiveness course we often hear the same thing from delegates. Reasons range from not wanting to hurt others to fear of being perceived as a tad machiavellian. If you can answer yes to the following questions, you may benefit from flexing your assertiveness muscles:
Do you worry about hurting others’ feelings if you’re assertive?
Is the path of least resistance your favourite route?
Are you afraid of being thought of as a bully?
Do you feel that there’s something not quite ‘nice’ about being assertive?
Are you afraid you’ll be disliked if you disagree?
Do you find it hard to say ‘No’
Are you constantly putting others first and yourself last?
Are you frustrated when you don’t speak up?
Feel you owe more to yourself than keeping quiet?
If you answered yes, there’s a good chance you need to keep calm, carry on and put the following tips into practice.
Step 1: Examine Your Beliefs About Assertiveness:
It’s time to make like Inspector Clouseau and work out where those beliefs about assertiveness come from. And then ask yourself if they’re really true. The next time you stop yourself from speaking up for any of the reasons outlined above. Stop. Pause and ask yourself;
Where’s the evidence? Am I 100% sure it’s true?
Look for alternatives. For example, before you say yes instead of no because you think others will think you’re being difficult, examine your thinking. Find an alternative response, a more effective way of thinking:
‘The other person will understand that I’m busy right now.” or “Other people say no and nobody minds. It’s ok for me too.”
Once you begin to question your thinking you’ll find that very few of our beliefs about ‘how things are’ in life are true. Other than we’re born, we die and we get taxed in between we can’t think of anything else that isn’t up for discussion!
Step 2: Prepare, prepare, prepare
Planning and preparation will stand you in good stead for those moments of amygdala hijack when your mind goes blank (it happens to the best of us). Try using a simple script to help you get your point across in difficult conversations. We love this easy, peasey example:
“When you…….” State clearly what happened.
“I feel…..” Let the other person know the impact of whatever has happened upon you using objective, neutral language.
“What would really help me is….” State what you would like them to do.
“How does that sound?” Check in with the other person to see if they’re on the same page.
Having a plan will stop you searching for words, ‘umming’ ‘erring’ and wondering how you’re going to get your view across.
Step 3: Give Yourself Permission & Believe You Can:
Self belief is the cornerstone of assertiveness. Work on your thinking, identify your beliefs (see step 1) and then commit to being assertive. Start practicing right now. Set yourself small assertiveness goals each day. Make a pact with yourself to communicate your opinions, feelings, beliefs and wants on a daily basis. Give yourself the rights and responsibilities associated with assertiveness. The right to express opinions and to say no along with the responsibility to do it. Permission granted. Knock the guilt (and the fear) on the head and go for it. The more you achieve your assertiveness goals the more you’ll build your assertiveness muscles and believe that you can.
Want to find out more? Check out our Essential Assertiveness course on 8th December in London or discover our other courses on the Events page. We’d love to see you there!