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.
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 email@example.com
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!
Profit? Loss? Return on investment? How about compassionate leadership as an organisational metric? We give you the skinny on why it might not be as counterintuitive as it sounds.
Working in a compassionate workplace impacts positively upon our levels of stress and ability to maintain resilience, reducing burnout (Figley 1995). The corollary of this is an improved ability to care for colleagues, direct reports and clients (Lilius et al. 2011). The impact of compassionate leadership also influences employees’ perception of their colleagues and the organisation generally. Suggesting compassion is good for business and for employees.
Lilius et al. (2011) found that when employees perceived that direct line managers were concerned about their wellbeing they reported feeling more engaged and happier at work. Employees were also less likely to leave the organisation resulting in a reduced staff turnover.
From Good To Great
Compassionate leaders have the ability to make workplaces more enjoyable and less stressful places to be. Fredrickson et al. 2000 found that when subjects experienced positive emotions their heart rate and blood pressure is lowered. Psychological distress was also observed to decrease. As Wallace Bachman’s (1988) military based research found, sometimes nice guys really do finish first. In ‘True North’ Bill George (2007) describes this compassionate leadership style as “transforming a workplace from ‘I’ to ‘We.’” Providing an environment where leaders leave behind the cut throat competition along with their ego’s to provide a workplace space were individuals are supported and developed by leaders. Collins (2001) describes this as what he considers a ‘Level 5’ leadership skill, consisting of motivation and humility. These leaders, Collins states move individuals, teams and organizations from ‘good to great.’
So are YOU a compassionate leader? Visit our resources page to find out more.
To find out more about compassionate leadership or compassion 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