When was your enthusiasm last ignited by a group of like-minded business peers, friends or colleagues? Do you regularly spend time with others who fire your motivation and encourage you to think big and bold? A virtual mastermind group is a unique opportunity to connect with the expertise of others whilst sharing your own skills and knowledge, collaboratively working together to achieve success.
- Get your assertiveness quotient right! There is an optimal level of assertiveness, especially if you’re a leader. Too much or too little assertiveness and you’re seen as less effective by others. In fact, research suggests that getting the assertiveness quotient wrong is one of the main mistakes that aspiring leaders make.
- People who are assertive experience less anxiety. It makes sense that when we feel freely able to express our opinion, needs and desires that there is less opportunity for frustrations to build and create anxieties which can result in aggression. A significantly different picture is presented for those who lack key assertiveness skills. A non-assertive person is likely to be more neutral, have high levels of anxiety associated with concerns about his or her interpersonal interactions, and may not be able to create logical goals to strive towards. They are more likely to have significant levels of anxiety.
- Context matters. Research shows us that when it comes to being on the receiving end of assertive behaviour context is key. You might be surprised to learn that when we assess how assertive others are and how appropriate their behaviour is we tend to factor into the equation matters such as sex, race, empathy and assertiveness level.
- Control yourself! “Assertiveness is about controlling your behavior, not someone else’s.” Columbia University’s Randy J Peterson explains, “When we behave assertively, we are able to acknowledge our own thoughts and wishes honestly, without the expectation that others will automatically give in to us. We express respect for the feelings and opinions of others without necessarily adopting their opinions or doing what they expect or demand. This does not mean that we become inconsiderate to the wishes of others. We listen to their wishes and expectations, then we decide whether or not to go along with them. We might choose to do so even if we would prefer to do something else. But it is our choice. Whenever we go along with others it is our decision to do so anyway. But we can often feel helpless because we forget that we are under our own control.”
- Assertiveness can lower levels of stress and depression. Research suggests a link between lower levels of assertiveness and stress and depression. Research with certain professional groups, such as student nurses has highlighted that when vulnerability such as social anxiety is present, student nurses are more susceptible to depression when they lack essential assertiveness skills.
- When it comes to Facebook, women are no less assertive than men. In a study of over 15000 Facebook users, researchers found that, although women tended to be warmer in their interactions, they were no less assertive. Language used more by females was warmer, more compassionate, polite, and—contrary to previous findings—slightly more assertive in their language use, whereas language used more by males was colder, more hostile, and impersonal.
- How women can avoid being judged negatively for being assertive. When it comes to asserting themselves verbally, research shows us that women are often penalised and described as overshooting the assertiveness quotient. However, recent research suggests that when women adopt more subtle, non-verbal demonstrations of assertiveness such as expansive posturing, proximity, speaking loudly or interrupting. So if in doubt, exercise your non-verbal assertiveness skills.
Want to develop your business into a growth mindset company that inspires and drives success? Follow PCG’s 10 tips to build a growth mindset business.
1. Be a failure friendly growth mindset business
Avoid the fixed mindset trap of regarding business failures as evidence of an innate inability to succeed at the task in hand. Instead, learn to approach each failure as a temporary setback rather than an all defining, confidence shaking blow. When you adopt a growth mindset towards your business, failure and setbacks will still occur but a growth mindset provides you with increasing resilience to persevere with your business goals.
When things don’t go as planned take a growth mindset approach and focus on immersing yourself deeper in the process by asking yourself what different strategies are available, who can provide help and expertise and establish what you’ve learned from this failure that will enable you to improve future performance.
2. Be a growth mindset business that isn’t deterred by the fixed mindset of others
It’s always great to have feedback and learn from the constructive input of others but how do you know when someone else is exposing you to their own fixed mindset approach? Businesses with a growth mindset have a strong sense of their own goals and learning process, their people understand that just because progress and success doesn’t occur overnight, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw in the towel, setbacks are just part of the road to success. Refuse to allow your business dreams and goals to be derailed by the negativity and pessimism of others. Be open to new ideas, experiences and processes but frame them within a growth mindset approach.
3) Take a growth mindset approach to the parts of your business that challenge you
It’s easy to avoid the areas of your business that feel more challenging. Stretch yourself and develop your skills to encompass all aspects of your business role and encourage others in the team to do the same. Making a commitment to wholeheartedly engage with challenging tasks allows individuals and teams to develop new skills and abilities. New or difficult tasks are an opportunity to develop new skills and ways of thinking and at the same time you’ll be building new synaptic connections, with perseverance and practice both will strengthen and improve performance.
4) Be a growth mindset business that welcomes new ideas and experiences
Organisations can sometimes stifle experimentation and new ways of working because of fear of failure. It can be tempting to remain in an organisational comfort zone where you stick to the same old processes because that’s what’s always been done. But it’s a changing world and even when you decide to take an ‘it ain’t broke so don’t fix it’ approach who’s to say that you won’t be missing out on new opportunities to expand and develop your business? Be open to new ideas and experiences and ensure that resources and encouragement are available for your team to continuously learn and develop.
5) Celebrate the effort that leads to business success
Process, process, process! Encourage your team to take a deep dive into the process behind successes and failures to maximise learning and improve performance. We work in such fast paced environments that it’s easy to finish one project and move straight onto the next one without pausing to ask:
- what worked really well there?
- what could we do differently next time?
- what can we learn from the last project?
- what strengths and deficits were highlighted and how can we utilise this information?
Analysing and learning from the process will support your team to embed successful ways of working and increase performance for future success.
6) Promote and reinforce growth mindset practices
To have a truly growth mindset business culture an organisation needs to constantly highlight and reinforce growth mindset practices. Encourage your team to share their favourite examples of a growth mindset in action and promote growth mindset success stories at every opportunity, across the whole organisation.
7) Recall previous growth mindset approaches when faced with a new challenge
Ambitious new projects can sometimes feel daunting. When you and your team embark on increasingly ambitious plans to grow your business, remember previous achievements that involved learning and working in new ways and remind yourself and others of all the ways that having a growth mindset helped you to achieve success.
8) Embed the growth mindset approach into policies and procedures
For a any change in organisational culture to be an effective and lasting change, it’s important to ensure that it’s firmly included in policies and procedures. Make sure that all of your processes reflect a growth mindset approach and pay special attention to processes that recognise and reward achievement.
10) Monitor fixed mindset triggers
Even the most forward thinking organisations that work exceptionally hard to develop a growth mindset culture will still have areas of their approach that lean more towards a fixed mindset. Commit to honestly assessing the fixed mindset triggers that prevail in your business. A fixed mindset trigger might occur when the organisation faces a challenge, experiences a setback or is less successful than a leading competitor, if we fall into defensiveness behaviour or insecurity then a growth mindset will be inhibited.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things growth mindset. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
National wellbeing tour
PCG is delighted to be working with IProvision to provide a national series of wellbeing workshops. The sessions will use techniques and tools from positive psychology to increase resilience and performance.
Sponsored by the CIPR benevolent fund iprovision, this is a national tour of a stimulating interactive workshop that was piloted in Russell Square earlier this year. The first stop of the tour will be Newcastle on 1st September.
Aimed at helping employees and bosses manage stress in the workplace and achieve a better work-life balance, it will revolutionise the way you get to grips with stress, performance and resilience.
Iprovision has joined forces with business psychologists and trainers Viv and Gill Thackray, from the leading consultancy Positive Change Guru, to offer this two-hour fun, and potentially life-changing, session.
Positive Change Guru has worked with organisations as diverse as the BBC, the United Nations, the Football Association, the Financial Times and Deloitte.
For the last 50 years, the benevolent fund has helped CIPR members who have fallen on hard times and have had their lives devastated through illness or unemployment.
But in a radical new departure, the charity is now looking to give CIPR members the tools to handle some of the stresses and strains of what for most of us is an exciting, fast-paced career.
As well as being suitable for individual employees, company bosses can learn how reducing stress levels for what is the key resource of their business makes for a happier, healthier and more productive office environment.
Helping colleagues to achieve a better work-life balance is also an essential part of leadership development for businesses and organisations and a key tool for the development of team roles.
Registration and continental breakfast is from 8.30am with the event starting at 9am. Any surplus made from ticket sales will be donated to iprovision.
Are you developing a growth mindset team? Start with our ten tips and tricks to develop a growth mindset culture.
1. Promote problem solving through failure
A growth mindset team problem solves by analysing failures. Help your team understand that taking reasonable risks and experiencing a few failures along the way is an essential part of the process that leads to increased creativity and innovation. Encourage your team to anticipate setbacks and ask..how will you overcome them?
2. Encourage your growth mindset team to talk about how they overcome challenges and setbacks
The culture you create within your business is reflected in everything you do and say. Encourage your team to understand the value and benefits of talking about their professional challenges and setbacks and sharing the tools and techniques they’ve used to overcome difficulties.
3. Encourage the process
Avoid the fixed mindset trap of only focusing on successful outcomes. A purely results driven business risks losing the fertile learning ground that’s contained within both successes and failures. Results matter but learning from the process that your team is constantly engaged in is just as important if you want to create an innovative, agile and resilient culture. Ask your team, what did you learn from the process?
4. Ask your team …where is the challenge?
Invite people out of their comfort zones by asking them to constantly choose and immerse themselves in new challenge. A fixed mindset approach encourages us to stick with that which we’re confident we can achieve and a fear of failure prevents us from breaking free from this limiting approach. In contrast, a growth mindset enables us to take on new challenges wholeheartedly, taking failures in our stride as we relish the new opportunities that a challenge can bring.
5. Encourage a culture of development rather than genius
Carol Dweck’s research has shown that organisation’s who worship a culture of genius rather than development can become places where the majority of employees feel undervalued, disengaged and unsupported. When you encourage a development culture research shows your team is more likely to feel committed, engaged, supported and more able to take on innovative and challenging tasks.
6. Make sure you don’t just talk the growth mindset
At PCG we sometimes hear people in organisations complaining that although leaders talk about growth mindset they do little to embody it. Let your people know that you’re serious about developing as a growth mindset team by talking and walking a growth mindset. Lead by example and talk your team through how you’ve overcome setbacks, dealt with failures and challenged yourself to develop skills and abilities.
7. Encourage reasonable risk
In fixed mindset organisations innovation can be stifled because people resist taking risks for fear of being blamed when things go wrong. Encourage your team to take on acceptable risk in order to support them in developing new strengths and skills.
8. Emphasise that errors are the route to mastery
A growth mindset team understands the need to embrace failure as part of the route to success. When a team member talks about their failures and tells you, “I can’t do this” encourage them to add “yet.” Encourage your team to embrace failure and learn from it by explaining that real mastery is impossible without encountering and surmounting failures.
9. Growth mindset teams ask…who are you collaborating with, who are you mentoring?
In growth mindset teams people share information across teams and networks and support each other to achieve the organisation’s goals. Mentoring and collaboration can spark innovation, improve performance and increase organisational resilience when the going gets tough. Regularly ask your team to share who they are mentoring or collaborating with and how this has benefited them, the team and the organisation.
10. Look for your fixed mindset triggers and encourage others to do the same
The first step to develop a growth mindset team is to recognise what triggers our fixed mindset responses. Learn to listen out for your own fixed mindset triggers and encourage others to do the same by monitoring your inner dialogue and emotional responses.
We love to talk about all things growth mindset at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
Using mindfulness to develop an empathic police force
It’s always great to hear about the benefits of mindfulness being experienced in the workplace, one fascinating example is the use of mindfulness practices to reduce stress in the US police force.
Psychologists at Pacific University have been working on an innovative study, instructing police officers in mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) practices. Training the officers began in 2006. Training involved learning a combination of skills to enhance mental clarity, health, and mindful exercises that emphasised a range of motion and injury prevention. Police officers also learned practical skills to reduce stressors at work and home. An emphasis was placed on self-awareness and compassion. The impact of stress and anger on officers and their work can be significant, the research findings have been published in the journal of Mindfulness.
What to look for when choosing a mindfulness teacher, course or coach
You’ve been interested in mindfulness for a while and decided to give it a try. It’s now time to find a course. But amidst all of the advertising and the hype, how do you know what to look for, from a mindfulness teacher, a course or a coach? Here’s our step by step guide to choosing the right mindfulness teacher for you.
- Committed to good practice? Is your prospective teacher committed to the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness? The UK Network was developed to promote good practice in teaching mindfulness. Teaching Mindfulness in the UK is unregulated and the Network is an attempt to address this. Qualified teachers who have demonstrated that they meet the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Based Teachers will be registered on the UK Network Listing https://www.mindfulness-network.org/listingspagenew.php This means that they have been verified as suitably trained, committed to continuous professional development, hold insurance and receive regular supervision.
- Your teacher has a regular Mindfulness Practice. You wouldn’t go to a gym and expect to find a personal trainer who had never exercised. You certainly wouldn’t choose them to show you how to train your body. The same is true of your mindfulness teacher. Training your brain is no different to training your body. It’s ok to ask them about their own practice, how long they’ve been meditating and whether they practice on a regular basis. Standard advice is that mindfulness teachers should have been practicing for at least two years before they teach others.
- Retreats. All teachers should have a regular daily practice and attend one retreat a year as a minimum. You need someone who has walked the path themselves before they can lead you.
- Do they have a qualification? Has your mindfulness teacher attended a Level 1 and Level 2 Mindfulness Teacher Training programme? Whilst this doesn’t demonstrate competence it does demonstrate a commitment to professional development. Ask them where they trained and who with. Find out about their credentials; who have they worked with? How many courses have they run? Solo or alone? Don’t feel bashful, a good teacher won’t mind answering your questions. It’s important that your teacher is following a framework when teaching, all of the research evidence is based upon courses led by qualified teachers delivering a structured Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programmes.
- Do they undertake regular supervision? It’s important that teachers have supervision on a regular basis. Your teacher should be able to tell you who their supervisor is and how often they meet. This is necessary for regular reflective practice as well as the safety of everyone involved.
- How do you ensure you’re up to date? All Mindfulness teachers should maintain continuous professional development in the form of workshops, peer evaluation and keeping up to date with the latest research. A teacher who has their own teachers recognises that we are all on a mindful journey, however long we’ve been practicing.
- Do they practice what they preach? Known as embodiment this simply means that they demonstrate mindfulness in the way they behave towards you and others. Look for someone who displays a consistency in actions and words. An authentic Mindfulness teacher will walk their talk. They’ll treat you with respect and compassion rather than use sessions as a platform for their own ego. Asking why they have chosen to teach Mindfulness and what motivates them to practice can provide valuable information.
Are they a good fit for you? Notice how you feel around your teacher. Listen to your intuition. Do they seem authentic? Do you feel that they have genuine humility and are there to serve you and others in the group? If it doesn’t feel right, find another teacher. Use your judgement, you’ll know when you find a teacher that is right for you.
We love to talk about all things mindful at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke mindfulness at work training for your organisation.
Positive Change Guru’s Mindfulness at Work expert, Gill Thackray, is registered with the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness. She has also studied Mindfulness with Aberdeen University, Bangor University, Dr Patrizia Collard and Google’s SIYLI Programme. She is currently researching Mindfulness, Leadership and Compassion at Aberdeen University.
Compassion and work, strange bedfellows or not?
At first glance they might seem strange bedfellows; compassion and work? Surely not? Whereas compassion may not appear to be a priority in the work place there is increasing evidence that when it’s present, employees flourish and organisations thrive.
So what is compassion at work?
Sogyal Rinpoche describes Compassion as “not simply a sense of sympathy or caring for the person suffering, not simply a warmth of heart toward the person before you, or a sharp recognition of their needs and pain, it is also a sustained and practical determination to do whatever is possible and necessary to help alleviate their suffering”. Wharton Management Professor, Sigal Barsade describes compassion as “when colleagues who are together day in and day out, ask and care about each other’s work and even non-work issues.” Barsade talks about the importance of an emotional culture, stating that this is equally as important as cognitive organisational culture, stating compassionate employees “are careful of each other’s feelings. They show compassion when things don’t go well. And they also show affection and caring — and that can be about bringing somebody a cup of coffee when you go get your own, or just listening when a co-worker needs to talk.”
Put simply, compassion at work is empathy with action. The ability to notice the suffering of colleagues, whether it be a stressful day, a difficult conversation with peers or a problem at home – and then the ability to act upon that noticing.
Why is compassion at work important?
There is a growing body of research that suggests that the happier we are at work the more productive we are. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research suggests that happier staff are more engaged, creative, productive and motivated. Successful leaders recognise that happy employees mean increased productivity and ultimately increased profit. It’s not just about the bottom line, nobody wants to be miserable in the place where they spend the majority of their waking hours.
It’s not just about the feel good factor and being civil to each other in workplace. In a 16 month longitudinal study “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” set in a health care facility, Barside and Olivia O’Neil researched the impact of compassion upon the emotional behavioural outcomes of employees. They found that compassion reduced levels of exhaustion and burnout. The researchers also saw a decrease in absenteeism with a corresponding increased levels of employee engagement. Increasingly research in the field of compassion at work is beginning t show that there are tangible results when we develop compassionate individuals, leaders and cultures;
• When we’re on the receiving end of compassionate leadership at work we’re more likely to be committed to our organisation and to talk about it in positive terms (Lilius et al. 2008)
When we experience compassion at work connects co-workers psychologically and results in a stronger bond between them (Frost et al. 2000).
Managers who believe that their organisation is concerned about their well-being are more likely to show supportive behaviour towards their team members (Eisenberger, 2006).
• Those who receive compassion are subsequently better able to direct their support and care giving to others (Goetz et al. 2010). As Bayside found, this is important in healthcare organisations. Working in a compassionate organisation reduces the chance of compassion fatigue and burnout in caregivers (Figley 1995). This also provides them with essential emotional resources that they need to care for their clients (Lilius et al. 2011).
• Compassionate leadership also influences employees’ perception of their colleagues and organisations. Studies show that employees who believe that their leaders care about their well-being are happier with their jobs and more commitment (Lilius et al. 2011). When we experience compassion ate work we are also less likely to leave the organisation, reducing employee turnover.
• Fredrickson et al. 2000 found that when we experience positive emotions our heart rate and blood pressure is lowered. Our psychological distress also decreases. Compassionate leadership has the potential to improve employee wellbeing.
How can you develop compassion at work?
Consider the way that you interact with others in the workplace. Think about;
- Say ‘Good Morning’ to colleagues, acknowledge their presence and let them know you care.
- Actively look for ways to help colleagues, direct reports and clients.
- If you’re making a coffee, offer to make one for a colleague.
- Notice how others are feeling, bring mindfulness to your interactions and if someone appears to need help, reach out to them.
- Practice mindfulness. Professor Paul Gilbert one of the world’s leading experts in compassion says that mindfulness can be used to develop an attitude of compassion at work.
- Here’s a Mindful practice from Compassion Life by HH The Dalai Lama to help you o your way:
Sit in a comfortable position. Take a few moments to pause and relax bringing your focus to your breath. Gently settle into a relaxing breathing rhythm.
Bring to mind a person or situation where you got angry, impatient, frustrated or seriously annoyed. Get a clear picture of the people in this situation and what they were doing that really bothered you…..
Now think of each person when they aren’t at work. Connect with them as another human being.
Picture them as a fellow human being with a family, pets, children, brothers and sisters… just like you
Think of them working to support their family and wanting to live happily…. just like you
Imagine them working as best they know how to work ….. just like you
Think of them having life challenges, fears, worries, insecurities….. just like you
Picture them trying to do their best with what they know to do…. just like you
Know they desire happiness and want to be free from suffering… just like you
Breathe deeply as you picture them with their family or neighbors enjoying life and being happy. Feel the wave of compassion in your body as you connect with your desire for their happiness.
We love to talk about all things compassion at work related at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke compassion at work training for your organisation.
How do you manage a fixed mindset manager?
At PCG we’re often asked to speak to businesses about how they can develop into a growth mindset organisation, during these sessions the PCG team is invariably asked “But how can you implement a growth mindset effectively when your manager has a fixed mindset?” It’s a question that will resonate with many professionals. To help you navigate professional relationships with a growth mindset approach we’ve put together a toolkit of ten ways you can manage a fixed mindset manager.
- Be strategic. In many organisations, it’s often the case that people are promoted to management positions without any training on how to develop effective leadership and management techniques. It may be the case that your manager knows little about growth mindset and the benefits that it can have for not only themselves, but also the team and organisational performance but how do you enlighten them without appearing critical? Be strategic and think about what really ignites your manager’s passions, are they a sports fan, fanatical about racing cars or a science junky? Look for examples of a growth mindset approach that will resonate with them. Maybe they’re a David Beckham fan? Tell them how his family describes how he practised for thousands of hours as a child, kicking the ball at a goal painted on a wall and as his skills improved he would move his striking position further and further away from the goal. Perhaps your manager is a basketball fan? Weave the words of Michael Jordan’s coach into the conversation and explain how he always describes Jordan as not the most talented player on the team but what did make him stand out from the crowd was his dedication, when the rest of the team had finished practising for the day, Jordan would stay behind and persevere with practice for hours after his team mates had left.
- Talk about growth mindset culture in other organisations.Use conversations about the success of other organisations as an opportunity to include snippets of information on the growth mindset approach and how these organisations have used a growth mindset to their competitive advantage. Talk about companies like Google and Quest and the programs they implement to encourage a growth mindset.
- Link a growth mindset to the bottom line. You’re manager tells you, “this growth mindset fad is fine but it’s the bottom line that counts.” Tell your manager how astute they are and then point out that Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor responsible for the international bestseller ‘Mindset: the new psychology of Success’, has addressed this very question, Dweck explains that whenever we apply a growth mindset approach outcomes undoubtedly matter. If effort is unproductive we need to examine how we can more deeply engage in the process perhaps by seeking help from others, trying new strategies or capitalising on setbacks to propel us forwards. Dweck recommends paying equal attention to learning and progress, as well as rewarding effort, which people often more readily associate with encouraging a growth mindset. As Dweck says, growth mindset is indeed linked to the bottom line.
- Explain mindset is a spectrum and discuss your own fixed mindset triggers. You’re manager explains “I’ve always had a 100% growth mindset, that’s why I’m so successful.” The next time growth mindset comes up in conversation, tell your manager that you’ve recently read an interesting article on false growth mindset. Without reminding your manager abut their claim to possess a 100% growth mindset, explain how mindset is a spectrum and although we might make a conscious effort to adopt a growth mindset approach, there will always be certain triggers, that can elicit a fixed mindset approach. Explain how you monitor your own thoughts to try and capture what triggers a fixed mindset for you at work and mention what you’ve done to successfully overcome your fixed mindset triggers.
- Describe how a growth mindset has contributed to team success. Take a growth mindset approach to the situation and focus on highlighting all the effective ways in which your team tackles challenges with a growth mindset. Whenever you’re talking to your manager about the great work your team has been doing, make sure that you frame your comments to include the positive effects a growth mindset approach has had on motivation, perseverance and positive results in your team.
- Inspire your team to work across the organisation, sharing their skills and expertise for organisational success. Encourage your team to promote the benefits of a growth mindset approach when working with others, when there are more workers enthusiastically applying a growth mindset to the organisation’s vision and goals it becomes harder for those with a fixed mindset approach towards their work to ignore the message.
- Encourage others to share growth mindset strategies and success stories. Foster wider growth mindset habits within the organisation by encouraging other teams to swap growth mindset strategies, ideas, information and success stories. Make sure that your manager is kept in the loop of this growth mindset exercise.
- Emphasise perseverance. When your manager compliments you on the great results and outcomes that your team has achieved make sure you highlight the effort, hard work and perseverance that contributed to the team’s fantastic outcomes.
- Expose your manager to a growth mindset at every opportunity. Whenever you watch a video, read a great article, or hear of another business that is working towards becoming a growth mindset organisation, share the information with your manager and if you have time, summarise the contents to expose them to more and more growth mindset information. When your manager realises that so many other businesses see the benefits of a growth mindset, they may start to shift their position and approach.
- Maintain a growth mindset towards your manager. Finally, it may sound obvious, but maintain a growth mindset towards your fixed mindset manager! Just because they hold a predominantly fixed mindset towards their role it doesn’t mean that this will always be the case. There are plenty of examples of people who once approached their job, their education, their beliefs about intelligence (including Carol Dweck) or their relationships in a fixed mindset way, only to realise that they could improve their approach and their outcomes by adopting a growth mindset.
We love to talk about all things growth mindset at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
Our Step by Step Guide to Meditation
Maybe you’ve often thought about meditating but never really known where to start? Perhaps you’ve started and thought that it’s too difficult to continue? Or wondered if you’re doing it ‘properly’. Relax, meditation is easier than it sounds. You don’t need to sit on the floor cross-legged, tie yourself in impossible knots or cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Meditation is deceptively simple and something that you can practice any time, anywhere.
With the science backed benefits of regular meditation ranging from;
Positive effects on immune and brain function
Elevated levels of emotional intelligence
There are a whole host of reasons to set time aside each day and create your own Zen moments. But where to start? Look no further. We’ve created your very own step-by-step beginners guide to meditation.
Start where you are
Forming the habit of meditation can start right here, right now. If the thought of sitting down for half an hour everyday sends you into a cold sweat, you’re not alone. Start by making a commitment to a more achievable goal. 5 minutes is a great place to begin and you can build your meditation practice from there. And if 5 minutes sounds too long, start with 1 minute.
Most people tell themselves that they simply don’t have the time to meditate. The truth is we don’t have time not to. Think of meditation as a workout for your brain. The brain is a muscle like any other muscle in your body. You wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to be match fit straight away. Meditation is the same, the more you practice the greater return on your time investment you’ll see. Once you start to notice the benefits you’ll naturally want to do more than 5 minutes.
Choose a time
For a formal meditation practice (one that you do sitting down everyday) it can help to choose a daily time and place to embed your new habit. Try and link it to something that you do everyday, waking up, a morning coffee, arriving into work first thing, perhaps your lunch break, getting home from work or just before you go to bed. Linking your new meditation practice to something that you already do will make it easier to create space for it within your day. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself and remember, tomorrow is another opportunity to practice.
Create your own meditation space
Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It doesn’t need to be an entire room and you don’t need any special equipment. You can create your own meditation zone in a corner anywhere in your living space. If you prefer to meditate outdoors, try your favourite park or a green space where you can sit and relax. Wherever you choose, make sure it’s somewhere comfortable and right for you.
Rest easy, you don’t need to sit cross-legged to meditate. Whether you’re sitting on the floor or you choose to sit in a chair, there are some really simple rules when it comes to posture. Make sure that your spine is upright, allowing you to sit comfortably without being rigid. If you lean to one side or slump against a chair it’s easy to feel drowsy, lose focus or fall asleep. An upright posture will help you to remain focused. Your head should be slightly lowered, chin tucked in, with your shoulders back and relaxed. Use whatever you need to make yourself comfortable whether it’s leaning against a wall, using a specially designed meditation stool, stacking cushions to sit on or laying down on the floor. Listen to your body and allow it to act as your guide.
This is really down to personal preference. For some people it’s easier to meditate with their eyes open. For others, eyes half closed focusing on a single point in front of them works best. Others find it easier to meditate with their eyes completely closed. It’s different strokes for different folks and the best way to find out what works best for you is by trial and error.
Set an intention
Before you sit down to meditate it can be helpful to set an intention. Doing this for each meditation session can help to guide your practice. As Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention becomes our reality”. If you’re not clear on your intention ask yourself a few simple questions:
Is there something you’d like to explore?
What matters most to you about this particular practice?
What are you grateful for?
What is challenging for you?
What would you like to focus on?
Is there something that you would like to create or build in your life?
Think of your intention as a way of reminding yourself why you choose to meditate.
Now you’re ready to meditate. Relax. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to do. The beauty of meditation is that you’re not trying to achieve anything. There is no end goal. Forget your ‘To do’ list, this is the time for you to stop doing and start being.
The breath is a natural anchor to use when meditating. You’re not trying to change your breath, control it, or change it in any way. Simply notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Perhaps the air feels a little cooler around the nostrils as you inhale? As you breathe out it may feel a little warmer around the nostrils, or you might feel a stream of warm air passing over your upper lip.
Observe the sensations in your body as you breathe in and out. Notice the rise and fall of your abdomen, the movement of your shoulders. If your mind wanders, congratulate yourself for noticing and bring your focus back to the breath. If you become distracted by thoughts, emotions or feelings, once, twice or ten times, it’s fine, just notice that you’re focus has drifted without beating yourself up. Gently bring your awareness back to your breath each time, noticing whatever is here, right now.
Formal or Informal?
For those times when you just can’t fit a formal sitting practice into your day, informal practice is the way to go. By performing these short, simple meditations you’ll still be building your meditation muscles and reaping the benefits.
The Traffic Light
This one is simple and takes just one minute. Think of what you do at a traffic light; STOP! You can do this sitting in your car every time you really are stopped by a red light, sitting at your desk or just sitting in your chair.
Stop: Stop what you are doing.
Pause for a moment.
Take a breath: Breathe, it’s easy, we do it all of the time, we just don’t think about it. Really notice how the breath feels entering your body and how it feels as you exhale. Concentrate your attention solely on your breath.
Observe: Now you’ve had that pause and breathed a little, how do you feel? What’s going on for you? What thoughts are popping into your head? How do you feel right here, right now in your body? Just notice, observe it without judging.
Proceed: Time to continue on your journey.
The one-minute breath
This is another technique that only takes a minute. Set your stopwatch, use one of the many meditation apps or sit in front of a clock and breathe for one minute. Your aim is to focus on your breath for one whole minute. Notice how the breath feels as it enters the nostrils, does it feel cool as you inhale? Or perhaps it’s a little warmer as you exhale? Notice how the breath feels travelling down your throat, filling your lungs and then leaving the body. That’s all you’re doing, focusing on your breath, using it as an anchor for an entire minute.
This is a mindfulness favourite. You can do it with chocolate, raisins, dinner, breakfast, anything you like as long as it’s edible. Get rid of distractions like the TV, newspaper, mobile phone, radio or conversation and sit down to eat, bringing your full attention to your food. Reflect on the following;
Where did it come from? How was it produced?
How does it smell, what colour is it? What are the textures like?
Chew slowly and really savour your meal. Finish chewing before you reload your fork. Notice how your food tastes. What is the consistency like? Really bring your awareness to each mouthful.
This is also a great technique if you are watching your weight, helping you to feel fuller for longer rather than wondering where that bar of chocolate went….
A mindful cup of tea.
It’s a simple task, but there’s a reason it’s a ritual in the Far East. Making (and of course drinking) tea can be a profoundly relaxing experience. Notice the weight of the kettle as you fill it with water, listen to the sound of the water as it runs from the tap, how the light bounces off the endless stream. Notice the sounds of the water in the kettle as it comes to the boil. Stay in the present as you prepare your cup and place the tea bag in it. Watch as you pour the boiling water onto the bag, notice the colour of the water change, how it floats as the steam swirls upwards. Then sit down and reward yourself as you notice the heat, the initial taste of the tea as you sip and then the flavours in the different parts of the mouth until you swallow.
The next time you’re walking, feel the ground under your feet, the weight shifting from one foot to the other, the stretch in your calves and thighs as you move forwards with each step. Perhaps notice how you breathe as you walk, or any changes in the body.
Really notice what’s going on around you. As you walk, observe the light, the sky, the clouds and the leaves in the trees.
Notice the buildings you pass, the architecture.
Who are your fellow pedestrians? How do they move?
Remain in the present moment as you head towards your destination. Bring your attention to the wind on your face, how the sun feels as it shines down, the temperature on your skin, how it feels to move your whole body. Notice how you feel when you finally arrive at your destination.
Now you’re ready. With just a few simple practices you’ll begin to notice that you can easily and skillfully introduce meditation into your everyday life. The great thing about meditation is that you can use it any place, anytime, anywhere. Practiced on a regular basis, you’ll see that meditation can improve both your mental and your physical health, offering a great return on investment for a few just a few minutes of your time each day. So what are you waiting for?
We love to talk about all things mindful at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke mindfulness training for your organisation.