You’re working on a project and desperately need to concentrate. At that exact same moment a colleague decides that they need to ask you something. They interrupt. It’s urgent – for them, but not for you. Try as you might to politely signal that you’re busy, they’re not for budging. Your flow, your task and your patience have been mightily tested. How do you deal with colleagues unable or unwilling to decipher your subtle (and not so subtle) “Can’t you see I’m busy?” cues. Fanfare. Meet the ‘FlowLight’
The first in our series of July blogs live from New York examines the latest US research and takes a deep dive into the work we’re doing here with our clients. Here we look at the impact of being overqualified for your role.
If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re overqualified for your current role or felt that you just weren’t stretching yourself it may be causing you more than irritation. Are you just too big for your boots or is there more to it than that? New research from Florida Atlantic University has uncovered the ‘Big fish in a small pool’ syndrome. Being over qualified may be causing you psychological strain.
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
The ability to remain agile and flexible as a leader in what has been termed a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world is of paramount of importance in the current economic climate. Leaders and employees, it seems, work against a backdrop of uncertainty. The HSE Work related stress, anxiety and depression statistics in Great Britain for 2015 make grim reading:
The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014/15 was 440,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1380 per 100,000 workers.
The number of new cases was 234,000, an incidence rate of 740 per 100,000 workers.
2014/15 was 9.9 million days lost due to stress. This equated to an average of 23 days lost per case.
In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.
The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS, 2009/10-2011/12) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
Stress isn’t going anywhere
Stress, is one factor of the modern workplace that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. It has always been part of the modern workplace, however, increasing levels of stress are something of a more recent phenomena. Whereas organizations are currently observing a general decrease in absenteeism (CIPD 2016) the continued rise in stress related absenteeism shows no sign of abatement. The age old tradition of ‘boss bashing’ and complaining to colleagues only serves to hinder and diminish our ability to bounce back from stressful events (Siber, 2005). Nietzsche’s claim that “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me strong” does not hold true for today’s workforce. If leaders are to remain agile in a VUCA world, we need a new solution.
Levi, 2000 EU Guidance on Work Related Stress defines resilience as “The ability to mitigate the effects of stress i.e. factors such as emotional, cognitive, physiological, behavioural responses to work, the work environment or the organisations”. Building organisational capacity to develop resilience is key for leaders to meet these challenges head on in such a turbulent landscape. But how to do it?
Develop your emotional intelligence.
Relationships are key and will keep you sane. Make sure you have a support network both in and outside of work. Get to know your department, your team, those around you. Find out what makes them tick and continue to build rapport with those around you.
Define your purpose.
Is your leadership your calling? Is this what you were put on the earth to do? Know why you are doing what you do every day, making sure your values are in alignment with your actions. Create your very own mission statement and live your values.
Make time to reflect.
Protect regular time to reflect upon how you operate as a leader and as an organisation. Use the time to reflect on where you are now and where you want to be, identifying the gap in the middle. Consider systems, processes and procedures, are they working? Can they be improved? Reflect upon what’s happening in your field internationally, who are the thought leaders? Is there an opportunity to partner with them or learn from new systems, processes or theories?
Don’t stop learning.
When you’re faced with leadership chaos, personal development is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. Make time to learn, keeping yourself ahead of the curve. It’s not wasted time, it’s an investment in yourself.
Embrace failure and learn from it. Ditch the blame game and focus instead on learning information – learn from what went wrong. What processes and procedures worked? What didn’t? How can you learn from them? What can you tweak, change or do differently next time? Failure is an opportunity to refine and remain agile. Use it and embed it in your culture.
To talk to us about resilient leadership, VUCA or anything else that takes your fancy, contact us at email@example.com
The world of work is changing at a pace that is unprecedented. We live in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world where organisations and individuals are struggling to keep up and maintain resilience. This constant pressure is impacting performance in many organisations. The attention economy is big news. But how do we maintain focus and optimise performance at work when we are bombarded with information, constantly available courtesy of multi source technology and distracted by overload?
Mindfulness offers us a method to regain equilibrium and train our brain to focus on the task at hand. When we are distracted on average every 3 seconds in the workplace it provides an opportunity to bring us back to the moment and focus, optimising our performance away from the constant hum of organisational busyness.
The results speak for themselves. Research by Paul Condon and Dave Desero of Northeastern University and Gaelle Desbordes of Massachusetts General Hospital found that mindful training improved focus, decreasing stress levels at the same time. The researchers watched as resilience soared. Mindfulness training didn’t stop at that. Dessero and Condon observed greater compassion and empathy amongst employees, improving engagement, team work and corporate culture. Put simply, those workplaces became kinder (and more productive) organisations to be in.
The constant pressures of complex change resonate with many of the leaders we work with at Positive Change Guru. We’re often asked how mindfulness can optimise workplace performance so we’ve put together four ways to maintain your organisational agility in a VUCA world.
1.Create space to reflect.
It might seem counterintuitive to carve out space in your diary for what seems like a luxury but thinking time pays dividends especially in VUCA cultures. Make time weekly, fortnightly or monthly to plan and prepare. Reflect upon what’s working alongside what isn’t. Are you able to identify areas for development in systems, procedures, finances or time management? Consider what you do and how you do it, looking for ways to create a bump in organisational performance.
2. Start the day with a pause.
We’ve all been there, beginning the day with caffeine, diving straight
into emails and our workload. It’s automatic daily behaviour for many of us. Instead, set an
intention to start the day with a moment of calm. Before you launch into the day, sit for a
moment, focusing fully on your breath. Move from doing to being. Noticing how it feels to be
fully present. Feel the breath enter your body from the tip of your nose, into the nasal cavaties,
down your throat and into your lungs. Now pause before you feel the breath leave your body as
you exhale.It’s a small commitment that the leaders we work with tell us can make a big difference.
3. Take one thing at a time.
In attention deficit cultures multi tasking is a myth. Being pulled in
different directions at the same time doesn’t make you super efficient, it makes you stressed.
Emailing whilst on a call or attempting to multi task during meetings will burn you out and leave
you less productive, not more. We know from the field of neuroscience that it isn’t possible to
perform at our optimal level without focus, so take things one step at a time and create an
environment that will enable you to get into flow by minimising distractions. Divert calls and turn
off your email alert. If you are working on a task that needs complete focus, minimise peripheral
distractions to optimise your performance.
4. Leave the past behind.
It’s tempting to cling on to what we know and remain in the apparent
safety of organisational comfort zones. ‘We’ve always done it this way” is not a philosophy that
will serve you well in changing times. Remaining agile in a VUCA world requires flexibility. When
you recognise that old systems aren’t working or procedures are outmoded, move to change
things. Innovate, try new ways of working, look at the leaders in your field and investigate
alternative strategies. Ask yourself what is possible. Remaining agile is about thinking ahead,
daring to step outside of the box, not remaining in your comfort zone.
Want to find out more? Contact us to talk about how you can optimise your organisation’s performance in a VUCA world at firstname.lastname@example.org