Three Simple Mindfulness Practices to Relieve Anxiety During Lockdown

Three Simple Mindfulness Practices to Relieve Anxiety During Lockdown

After the address by President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding our economic rehabilitation, and the update on the lockdown conditions in South Africa on Tuesday 23 April 2020, it’s understandable that as business owners and employees, we’re nervous about our future. We know that in order to flatten the curve, we’re going to need more time to recover, and for most there will be an uncomfortable feeling when we look into this uncharted and uncertain future. Finding ways to relieve anxiety is the best we can do for now, and we’ve put together three simple mindfulness practices to do just that, and to help you keep calm while in lockdown.

Before we dive into these three practices, we need to unpack the why, what, and how of anxiety. Having a solid understanding of anxiety is already a step in the right direction towards relieving its effects.

While depression is concern about past events, anxiety grows from having overwhelming feelings of stress, fear, and worry about the future. These thoughts and uncomfortable feelings can manifest into the following symptoms:

  • Raised blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Racing, or unwelcome thoughts
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased body tension
  • Irritability

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?

Diagnosing anxiety disorders needs to be done by a trained health professional, and usually you should approach it from a holistic perspective when wanting to reduce the symptoms of prolonged anxiety.

This article in no way aims to provide an alternative to conventional medical intervention; however, through it we will increase your awareness of the symptoms of anxiety, and offer three simple mindfulness practices to relieve anxiety during this challenging time.

 

What’s Mindfulness?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”

Before moving into any mindfulness practices, please remember that it’s not about judging your thoughts, or trying to push them away. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s the non-judgemental observation of your thoughts; noticing the impact they have on your body and emotions.

This approach may sound simplistic, but it’s not. Mindfulness requires the constant and repetitive retraining of the brain from being involved in the thoughts and stories, to becoming a quiet and non-judgemental observer. This takes time, practice, patience, and self-compassion. However, there are many benefits of practicing mindfulness regularly.

 

Three Simple Mindfulness Practices to Relieve Anxiety During Lockdown

 

Practice 1: Pay attention to your thoughts

A strong starting point for relieving your anxiety is to become aware of the thoughts you have that cause anxious feelings. As humans, we think rapidly and continuously. This has served us in our survival as a species because it allows us to predict threats, and plan our escape. However, despite the power of the mind to think in creative and adaptive ways, most people stick with similar, familiar thought patterns. Our brains tend to follow the most used pathways, so, when you start to pay attention to your thoughts, you’ll notice similar sequences and patterns of reasoning.

This first practice of mindfulness is to notice the thought patterns that elicit an anxious response in your body. Start noticing the unconscious and unhelpful stories your mind is looping through. This is a powerful first step in developing your mindfulness practice.

 

Practice 2: Do what makes you happy

In unprecedented times such as these, we’re being given the opportunity to engage in activities outside of our usual routines. Being able to play, relax, laugh, read, or cook, has become more rare in society over recent years as workplace demands and digital communication have increased. However, during lockdown, we’re being given the time and space to remember what we enjoy doing. This in itself may require you to shift your mindset around lockdown. If you do more of the things you enjoy, you’ll not only have time to move more easily, experience more positive emotions, and feel a deep sense of accomplishment, you’ll also be actively, consciously relieving your anxious symptoms.

This second mindfulness practice we’re encouraging you to try is to engage fully in what you enjoy doing. Use this time to completely release any thoughts while doing it. This is the practice of flow; it allows you to become completely absorbed in what you’re doing, and performing it for the pure inherent joy of doing it, rather than its outcome. Take the time to remind yourself of what you enjoy doing, and do it often. This simple mindfulness practice will allow you to combat your fears and worries for the future by helping you to stay present. You’ll experience more joy and positive emotions in your day. Give it a try – you’ve got nothing to lose!

 

Practice 3: Be Grateful

Gratitude has, over the past decade, become a common household concept. From social media posts to art and spiritual teachings, gratitude has become increasingly more recognised as an important emotion to experience and express.

The feeling of gratitude has been found to have dramatic physical and psychological benefits, and requires relatively little effort to practice.

Our final mindfulness practice to relieve anxiety during lockdown is to take the time to acknowledge and appreciate what you already have. Whether it’s taking stock at the end of each day as you get into bed, writing letters or journal entries, or simply expressing it to your loved ones, taking the time to notice what you’re grateful for is a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. It reminds us to be in the present moment, find meaning and pleasure in the past, and feel positive emotions and hope for the future. Whether it’s as simple as being grateful for your morning cup of coffee or the roof over your head, finding at least three things that you’re grateful for will help you to remain calm, and keep an optimistic focus on your situation.

If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, and the various techniques which have been developed to combat depression, anxiety, and stress, look into the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn.

 

In Conclusion: Mindfulness Practices Relieve Anxiety

During these challenging, isolating, and worrying times, it’s imperative that we find ways to manage our anxieties and worries about the future. While traditional medical diagnosis and treatment may be necessary to manage stress from this uncertainty, what we’ve provided are three simple practices to relieve anxiety during lockdown. Each practice is not only simple and practical to do, it will help you to experience greater ease with your current situation, and help you to grow and become more resilient as we step into the unknown future.

We wish you awareness, resilience, and perseverance during this time. Please reach out to us via info@4seeds.co.za with your questions and feedback.

The 4Seeds Team

How to Keep Calm and Carry on During the Corona Crisis

How to Keep Calm and Carry on During the Corona Crisis

The time has never been more clearly upon us to be aware of ourselves and to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health. As leaders there is huge pressure to find ways to keep your employees and business running during this time of self-isolation, social distancing and economic lock down.

While I would love to be able to offer you solutions of how you can innovate your business to manage the current Corona Crisis,  there is no one-stop-shop solution to managing the unknown. In this article I would like to share some simple but effective strategies to—

  • keep calm and carry on during the Corona Crisis.
  • harness your internal resources to manage stress;
  • find rational ways to keep your team united; and
  • help innovate your business to cope with the current uncertainty.

 

How to Keep Calm and Carry on During The Corona Crisis

 

Keep Calm

As we all know from personal experience, no great ideas come when we are highly stressed — in fact it’s science. When we are in a high stress situation, our system goes into fight or flight mode. This serves an evolutionary purpose by focusing our attention to the direct, immediate threat and in this way helps us survive. However, in order to respond rationally and effectively in crisis we need to be able to think broadly, to see the bigger picture and to respond with innovative ideas. We cannot do this when we are in fight or flight mode.

While there is no perfect recipe for managing stress that can be offered to everyone, we all have ways and means of accessing our inner resources to keep calm and carry on. We have learned coping strategies which work for us, that can assist in lowering heart rate, increasing positive emotions and supporting us in releasing stress. Whether that is going for a walk, cooking, meditating or reading a book; there has never been a more important time in history for us to make use of these stress management strategies. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, fearful of the future or unsure what to do to keep calm and carry on during the Corona Crisis, step one is to relieve your stress by doing the things you enjoy. This will not only curb your anxiety and fear but will boost your positive emotions whilst increasing your capacity to think creatively about what needs to happen next.

 

Reflect and Prepare  

Once you are able to take deep breaths and think clearly, you can begin to strategise and problem‑solve your current challenges. While the Corona Crisis is a case study of the unknown, take the time now, while business is slow, to reflect on your current business practices and how you want to evolve. While it may seem counterintuitive to be doing this during a crisis, how you prepare for the future is largely dependent on your ability to think clearly and creatively about how you operate now and where you want your business to go.

 

Communicate: Openly, Honestly and Passionately

While everyone is social distancing, self-isolating, and trying to carry on during the Corona Crisis, there is no more important time than now to keep your communication channels open and responsive. Have meetings virtually, use online apps for task and project management, engage in your core values and communicate these clearly with your employees. Calmly keep them in the loop. Share the business’s challenges, concerns and fears and how you are strategizing and preparing for the coming times. This will not only ensure you maintain and build healthy relationships but will also show your employees that you value them, and reassure them that you are taking steps to ensure the future of your business.

 

Innovate

This is definitely not business as usual, so take this time to review how you could be working differently. At 4Seeds we are experts in guiding leaders to shift into a growth mindset, to become strengths-focused and to transform business culture. While just staying afloat is where most leaders are focused, this is a necessary time to start incorporating these approaches into your business focus.

Let’s take ‘strengths focus’, as an example. This is about acknowledging the inherent characteristics of each employee and how that can be used to best benefit business practices. If there is someone who is innately funny, light-hearted and playful, task them with fun ways to keep spirits high through humour. If someone else is passionate about learning, task them with researching what other businesses are doing in your industry. And if someone is inherently brave and courageous, get them to engage with clients, shareholders or thought leaders; put them on the frontlines and see them flourish. Make use of the skills, internal resources and passions (strengths) of your employees to help your business keep calm and carry on during the Corona Crisis.

 

Candid Conversations for Leaders in Crisis

4Seeds is hosting a supportive online forum for leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners and the self-employed, where we come together to share, innovate and be supported with skills, community knowledge and resources. This community space enables to individuals to better manage their daily work and personal lives during these turbulent times. 

It is at times like these that we need to think creatively, innovatively and collaboratively. 4Seeds is passionate about building value-driven, people-centred organisations. We care about the journey to becoming an effective leader by providing leaders with the resources to manage themselves, their teams and their businesses with confidence and competence. We are offering this online meeting space bi-weekly as a way to play our part in supporting the well-being of our clients, our economy and our country.

Join us on Tuesday evening at 19:00 – 20:30 (Book your seat) or Thursday morning at 10:30 – 12:00 (Book your seat).

Log in via Zoom from the comfort of your office, home or “personal isolation zone” to connect, network, support and learn together with a community of like-minded leaders just like you.  

The Three Steps to Being Proactive about Crisis Management

The Three Steps to Being Proactive about Crisis Management

Despite our best efforts, all companies go through times of stress and crisis. Whether it’s a lawsuit, loss of staff, or someone dropping the ball, crises impact not only our staff but our productivity and bottom line. While some may be outside our control, such a load shedding, or new company policies, a recent survey showed that 95% of crises at work are preventable (Bernstein Crisis Management). So why do we so often find ourselves in times of crisis? The answer is because we tend to take action only when something is breaking, rather than being proactive about crisis management, and potentially preventing crises (within our control) from happening at all.

 

So How Do We Become Proactive about Crisis Management?

There are three steps to effectively preventing a crisis at work. Each one requires you to be committed to the process, putting effort into prevention rather than cure. However, the time, energy, and effort you put into being proactive about crisis management can ensure that you have a smoother organisation in the long term.

 

Step 1: Review Your Past

What many organisations tend to do is manage a crisis in the moment, and then breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over; grateful to have things “back to normal”. However, what a lot of them are missing is the powerful opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Taking the time to review the crisis and unpack what led you there is an essential part of being proactive about crisis management for the future. You can choose to have an executive meeting, individual interviews, or do an anonymous survey, but involving the relevant staff and reviewing how the crisis happened is an invaluable process. The following questions can help you guide the process:

  • What facts do we have about the situation?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was the process, and where are the weaknesses?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • What steps can be taken now to prevent this from ever happening again?
  • Who needs to be involved to ensure this strategy works?

 

Step 2: Stay Committed

Whether you decide to change a system, a method of communication, or an individual’s role, it’s essential to follow through on the information gathered in Step 1. Unfortunately, what tends to happen in many organisations is that we become busy with daily operations and we don’t implement and commit to the changes needed to prevent future crises. This leads to mistrust of employees in the organisation because it looks like you don’t “walk the talk”. This in turn can reduce team morale and lead to a worse spin-off effect than before the crisis happened.

One effective strategy to staying committed to being proactive about crisis management is to choose a voluntary task team. This team will be responsible for implementing the necessary changes, and reporting back to management on a regular basis.

 

Step 3: Invest the Time

The final step to being proactive about crisis management is about investing the time to ensure that your culture and values are infused into every employee, rather than just being a poster on the wall. As mentioned above, 95% of crises are preventable, and in many cases, this is due to either a lack of a realised organisational culture, or the lack of relevant information filtering through the organisation to the relevant people. Many employees will hold on to precious information about their role, and any weaknesses, not because they want to, but often because either they don’t feel safe to share – in case of negative consequences – or they’re simply not asked.

Investing time in culture and values interventions, as well as ensuring a regular vulnerability audit is done, are effective and proactive strategies to reduce preventable crises at work.

 

In Conclusion: The Best Strategy to Manage Crises is to Prevent Them

We all know the saying “prevention is better than cure”, and crisis management is no exception to this rule. Taking the time to review and reflect on previous situations, committing to upholding a new process, and investing time in your staff for culture development and communication are the three steps to becoming more proactive about crisis management in your organisation.

Are you struggling to keep your head above water in your organisation? 4Seeds offers a range of services from individual coaching to organisational culture processes which can help you and your team to effectively circumnavigate preventable crises at work. Contact us at info@4seeds.co.za to find out how we can help you.

How to Refuel Your Energy for the Final Push

How to Refuel Your Energy for the Final Push

Keeping yourself and your team energised at the end of the year can be a real challenge. Not only are people winding down from a busy year, but often the preparations for the year ahead can leave employees short of inspiration and lacking the energy needed to make the final push. In this article, we’ll share some simple but effective ways to help you and your team to refuel your energy for the final push. Before we get started, though, it’s important to recognise the natural cycle that our energy moves through, and the dangers of not respecting this process.

Understanding the Energy Cycle

As it is in nature, so it is in human life. We’re all part of a natural process of ebb and flow. This rhythm can be seen in the four seasons, or the daily progress of the sun across the sky. We’re constantly going through a cycle of preparing, executing, reflecting, and planning. We do this every day from when we wake up to when we go to sleep. It also happens monthly, quarterly, and annually.

The energy cycle presented by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz shows different energy zones – from high, positive energy to low, negative energy. These zones are performance, survival, burnout, and recovery. We will all inevitably go through each one of these zones; however staying in any of them for a long time can negatively impact the energy and the overall drive of the company over time.

Leadership Tip: Take the time to acknowledge what phase of the cycle your company is in, as well as where each individual employee is in their personal cycle. This will help you and your team set goals, considering what is expected, realistic, and healthy for everyone. Whatever your industry, learning to recognise this cycle can ensure that you and your team use, maintain, and conserve energy effectively so that you’re able to refuel your energy for the final push.

 

How to Refuel Your Energy for the Final Push

Here are some tips which have been based on ongoing research in the fields of Organisational and Positive Psychology. Use them to keep yourself and your team motivated to reach the end of the year energetically and satisfactorily.

 

1)      Reflect on the Past: Celebrate Successes

When we come to the end of the year, everyone is ready for a big end-of-year party to blow off steam and celebrate achievements. While this is common practice and a fun way to end off the year, making time for smaller celebrations at this crucial time can help to uplift people’s energy and to reflect positively on what has been achieved over the year. There are many ways to celebrate, but thinking of sustainable, fun and individualised recognition of each person’s contributions to the year’s successes is a sure-fire way of boosting team morale as the energy wanes.

 

2)      Prepare for the Future: Identify Development Areas and Receive Feedback

Most companies generally do performance reviews regularly at least once a year. Setting time aside with each individual employee to talk through their desires, needs and growth areas can help people feel supported and acknowledged. This personal attention can help to set goals for the year ahead, and make employees feel that the company is willing to support their progress and professional development. Forming a plan for the future, and receiving feedback on what has been achieved, can help people commit to the progress cycle and see the bigger picture. This, in turn, creates meaning which helps to refuel your energy for the final push.

 

3)      Stay in the Present: Cultivate a Gratitude Practice

Gratitude is highly effective at motivating employees and building a positive workplace culture. Studies have shown the benefits it has for individuals, relationships, and the company as a whole. From improved cardiovascular health, to raised levels of customer loyalty, it is a worthwhile (and simple) strategy to keep people motivated and engaged. The end of the year is the perfect time to initiate this practice. It helps employees see the positive in their year, and feel grateful for the colleagues, leaders and personal resources that have allowed them to make progress. Having people express this gratitude to each other during team meetings or at the end of year function will help to boost energy levels, increase positive emotions, and create a greater sense of job satisfaction.

 

In Conclusion

Maintaining your team’s energy at the end of the year can be a struggle. But if you know where employees are in their energy cycle and where the company is in the process, you can be realistic about what is achievable before the end of year, without compromising health and happiness at work. By celebrating your accomplishments, setting goals for the year ahead, and encouraging a culture of gratitude and appreciation, you can simply and easily keep staff morale high and help your team to refuel their energy.

 

Four Reasons Why Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

Four Reasons Why Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

While we all know how good a holiday feels, or how much more productive we are after a restful night’s sleep, demands on our workforce are at an all-time high. There is increased awareness about how regular rest boosts employee engagement, but despite this, recent research has shown that stress in the workplace is higher than it has ever been. In this article, we will share some of the latest scientific findings which prove how regular rest boosts employee engagement and productivity at work. While we may think of rest as a nice-to-have, it is, in fact, a key component of healthy and effective employees, who contribute to the success of your business in the long run.

 

The Impact of Stress on Company Outcomes

Stress and its effects on employees has received more attention from scientists the world over in recent years. It has been called “the number one silent killer” because of its impact on our health, performance, and company outcomes. However, despite this, most organisations still expect more input, commitment, and engagement from their staff. This is not to say that companies should not expect a lot from their staff; rather focus attention on reducing the harmful effects of sustained stress for the benefit of the company as well as its employees.

Recent research done by The American National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety found that healthcare expenditure is 50% higher in individuals with high-stress levels. This means that high-stress workplaces increase their healthcare expenses by 50% every year because of the negative impact of prolonged stress on their employees. Another study, completed by Forbes in 2015, showed that 60% of absenteeism can be attributed to the side effects of psychological stress.

Some other negative effects on health and well-being include:

  • Increased cardiovascular illness
  • A lowered immune system which makes us more susceptible to illness
  • Increased irritability and reduced time invested in workplace relationships
  • Increased burn-out and mental illness
  • Increased mistakes and ineffectiveness
  • Reduced efficiency and problem-solving ability
  • Poor quality of work outcomes
  • Increased staff turnover
  • Increased absenteeism and prolonged disability leave.

In short, unmanaged stress can result in a dramatic rise in annual company costs. While we know that stress is inevitably part of all workplaces, company outcomes improve when more emphasis is placed on creating a healthy workplace culture that identifies, manages, and mitigates stress. Employee well-being and productivity increase in direct proportion.

 

Four Reasons Why Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

In today’s working world, stress is an inevitable part of our working lives. In some cases, stress and burn-out are worn as a badge of honour, showing off our dedication and commitment to our jobs. People are rewarded with promotions based on the amount of time they put in outside of working hours. This is a dangerous culture to encourage as it creates a system based on unhealthy work-life balance and makes “time off” a reward for the time put in. The impact of this type of workplace culture is making people ill and is not, in fact, improving company outcomes – it’s increasing company losses!

In order to tackle the stress-addicted conditioning we’re fostering in our society, we need to start encouraging employees to take more regular rest breaks. We’ve listed some key findings which show how increasing the amount of regular rest boosts employee engagement in the long run.

 

1)     Mental Concentration is a Muscle

John Trougakos, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and HR Management at the University of Toronto, explains that our brain is just another muscle, and, like our body, it gets tired after strenuous exercise. Prolonged mental concentration causes our brain to become exhausted and less efficient. It may seem obvious, but having regular rest boosts employee engagement because after a mental break we’re able to reengage with more vitality, creativity, and dedication than if we were in a perpetual mental marathon.

 

2)     Regular Rest Improves Health

Stress causes many negative health issues and reducing it will improve cardiovascular, immune, and mental health. In addition, most of us work sitting down for large chunks of the day, and while it may not be possible to change this, taking regular movement breaks while at work can help to mitigate the effect that prolonged sitting has on our health. Most common health effects of sitting include:

  • Increased obesity
  • Increased general inflammation
  • Increased diabetes and high blood glucose levels
  • For every hour increase in sitting time, there is an 18% increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

In order to break this passive – but unhealthy – habit, we need to instill a workplace culture which encourages regular movement breaks, and empowers people to take regular rest intervals in their day to move, talk, exercise, or lie down. While this may seem contradictory to our usual working way, it will increase employee engagement and health rapidly and for the long run.

 

3)     More Working Hours Means Less Productivity

While it may seem impossible for those who spend hours on end in front of their computers, a growing body of research has shown that the more hours spent working, the less productive we become. A study performed by the University of Illinois found that “all work and no play” dramatically reduces mental focus, creativity, and efficiency. Taking regular rest breaks boosts employee engagement by allowing for restoration of mental resources and energy needed to give our full attention to the task at hand.

 

4)     Taking Time Off Increases Work Satisfaction

A recent article published by Harvard Business Review states the importance of taking time off to increase our happiness at work and outside of it. It is a well-known fact that a happy employee is more productive, engaged, committed, and effective than their unhappy counterparts. When people have time to cultivate their relationships outside working hours, they return to work happier, and when people have had enough rest and restoration between working hours, they’re better able to give their all. People who have this healthy work-life balance are happier, healthier, and more engaged.

 

In Conclusion: Regular Rest Boosts Employee Engagement

In the age of information, where stress is inevitable, it is the responsibility of organisations to find strategies to mitigate the negative impacts of stress on their employees, for the long-term benefit of all. One of the simplest ways to manage this is to instill a workplace culture that supports regular rest.

Whether it’s as simple as creating 15-minute movement breaks every few hours, or as big as including an employee wellness programme, encouraging your employees to take regular rest breaks will increase the physical, mental, and emotional resources they have to commit to meeting company objectives.

For more information on how you can start creating a healthy workplace culture, contact us on info@4seeds.co.za. Our consultants are available to help you set up a sustainable and strong strategy that puts your best resources – your people – first.

Four Ways that Healthy Workplace Relationships Can Build Motivation

Four Ways that Healthy Workplace Relationships Can Build Motivation

Isolation is becoming more common in today’s working world. We’re working remotely, and individually on tasks and, as a result, our working lives are becoming busier and more stressful. Because of the increased pressure to perform under challenging circumstances, we often forget about the people around us on a daily basis, and how our workplace relationships can support our individual success. We tend to think of social interactions as the food of procrastination, and building workplace relationships is often low on our list of priorities when deadlines are looming.

Ongoing research into the Science of Human Happiness is proving how workplace relationships can build motivation. In fact, healthy workplace relationships may be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to persevering towards the end of the year.

In this article, we’ll expand on some of the recent findings which support how workplace relationships can build motivation. As we approach the end of the year, there’s no better time to bring people together to appreciate accomplishments, celebrate successes, and make plans for the future.

1)      Connection is a core motivator

As explained in our last blog about the Self-Determination Theory, one of the core drivers of building internal motivation is connection to others. There’s a difference between setting one’s own goals and those that are set by the team.

Connection to others acts as accountability measurement – when we’re responsible for the execution of part of a project, we’re more likely to persevere, perform, and stay motivated so that we can play our part for the whole group. This brings a sense of responsibility which is greater than when we work alone.

2)      Emotions are contagious

Recent research into human emotions has found that emotions are contagious and take under a minute to spread. This is true for both negative and positive emotions, and while stress, anxiety, and negativity spread like wildfire in companies, the same is true for motivation, inspiration, and positivity.

Surrounding ourselves with healthy workplace relationships builds motivation because we can be inspired by colleagues to persevere and be reminded of the bigger picture. Positive workplace relationships can also bring humour and light-hearted fun into the workplace, thus reducing stress and increasing the sense of well-being.

3)      Connection Boosts Health and Performance

Humans are social creatures by nature. Our brains are wired to connect, and recent research has found that disconnection and isolation can actually present as physical pain. A sense of connection has also been found to reduce cardiovascular illness and boost our immune system.

When we’re ill or feel pain, we can’t think clearly or perform at our optimum, we’re more likely to take sick leave, and our concentration, clarity, and motivation suffer. Healthy workplace relationships can build motivation by increasing positive emotions and physical health, thus boosting the fundamental building blocks of performance and efficiency.

4)      Cooperation Give us Perspective

When we work alone, we often find ourselves thinking in linear and often self-destructive ways. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, over and above what’s expected from our work tasks.

Workplace relationships can help to us to gain perspective on our current thinking, highlighting ways to look at a solution differently, and offer some humour into our challenges. Positive workplace relationships provide a safe platform for us to learn, collaborate, and share information, which in turn can help us to discover new solutions or find a new perspective on our current situation. When we have a new strategy or a helping hand, we can go about our work tasks with a renewed sense of motivation.

In Conclusion: Workplace Relationships Can Build Motivation

As the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to appreciate and reach out to the people with whom we have good workplace relationships. Celebrate successes, commiserate mistakes, and gain new perspective on current challenges. Connections in the workplace are essential to staying healthy, reaching goals, and keeping motivated in these last few months. Learn to take the time to build positive workplace relationships, and motivation and efficiency will follow.

Are you interested in a year-end function that boosts connection for the long term? Are you looking to host an event that supports healthy workplace relationships while celebrating at the same time?

At 4Seeds we specialise in building positive workplaces through the use of scientific, practical, and fun workshops. We develop bespoke and affordable events that are tailored to your company’s needs. If you’re interested in hosting an event with a difference then get in touch with us on info@4seeds.co.za.

We look forward to working with you to create community and connection in your company.

3 Strategies to Keep You Motivated Towards Year End

3 Strategies to Keep You Motivated Towards Year End

As the year starts to wind down and we begin to reflect on the past year in anticipation of another year end, motivation can be a huge challenge. It’s sometimes difficult to stay dedicated to what we want to achieve when the finish line is in sight. Keeping ourselves motivated at work and at home takes intentional action, clear objectives, and using our social networks to keep us accountable.

Before we unpack some proven strategies to keep you motivated, it’s important to understand how motivation works. A key framework for understanding motivation is the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) which was developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan.

What is the Self-Determination Theory?

Most of us recognise motivation as either intrinsic (self-initiated) or extrinsic (for rewards or recognition). While motivation can be either internally driven, or for external gains such as money or social recognition, the Self-Determination Theory posits that motivation exists in a continuum. An example of this is training for a marathon which may be motivated both intrinsically (for the love of running) and extrinsically (for social recognition). Self-Determined motivation therefore needs us to focus on what is driving us on both sides for most cases- however true intrinsic motivation is also possible and achievable.

The Self-Determination Theory also presents the idea that motivation is driven by our desire to meet three universal human needs:

  • Competence
  • Autonomy
  • Connection

Basically put, we all have the innate human desire to grow, learn, and accomplish our goals. We want to feel as if we’re accomplished, competent, and that we’re valuable contributors. We also want to determine our own goals, have our own ideas, and craft our own identity, without being controlled or told what to do. Lastly, as humans we’re naturally social. We need to feel connected to others, understood, and that we belong. Each of these three universal human needs underpins what is at the core of our motivation.

In this article we will share three proven strategies to keep you motivated, guided by these three universal human needs. These strategies work to increase your sense of accomplishment, to empower your sense of autonomy over your own life, and to support you to remember and connect with your social networks so that you can continue to succeed and feel driven towards reaching all your personal goals for 2019.

 

3 Proven Strategies to Keep You Motivated

1)     Motivated by Competence: Reflect on your achievements, and re-evaluate your goals

Often when we set goals at the beginning of the year, we write down big and often unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve. Taking time now to reflect on what you have accomplished can help you to recognise your achievements, thus boosting your motivation to pursue what is still on your list. Once you’re feeling more competent in what you have done, it will make it easier to re-evaluate what you still want to achieve. Re-evaluating your goals requires you to be realistic about what you can do, and asking these questions can help:

  • “Is this goal actually my goal?” and “What is driving this goal? Is it an intrinsic desire or is it extrinsically motivated?”
  • “Is this goal realistic for me to achieve?” and if not “How can I make this goal more specific and realistic?”

 

2)     Motivated by Autonomy: Reward yourself for your personal accomplishments, and remember to rest

When you start to reflect on your year and all the efforts you’ve made, you may realise just how tired you are. It’s really important for your resilience and stamina to know when you need to rest and restore your energy. We’re not machines and without enough rest we’re unlikely to reach the finish line successfully. Knowing when to reward yourself for work done – and when you deserve a break – can be difficult, because we’re often our harshest critics. This this is where your autonomy can come into play.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • “What am I proud of that I have achieved this year?”
  • “What is the best way to reward myself for my hard work?”
  • “What is the best way for me to restore my energy?”

It’s also important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Why have you been so driven and what are you working towards? When we remember what we’re moving towards we learn to see that life’s biggest accomplishments are a marathon, not a sprint. They take time, and usually you’re the only one who will give yourself that time. Make sure you’re using your autonomy to increase your stamina, so as not to exhaust yourself to the point of burn-out.

 

3)     Motivated by Connection: Appreciating and Engaging in Your Social Networks

Motivation is largely impacted by our social circumstances, and there is a growing body of research which is proving the value and importance of gratitude. When we learn to focus on what we have, and feel appreciation for the moments, achievements, and the people who have positively impacted us, we become more productive and satisfied and feel more connected. When you start to feel your motivation wane (especially at this time of year), reflect on the people who have supported your goals so far. Write down their names and the ways they’ve helped or supported you in achieving your goals. If it feels appropriate, tell them. Sharing your appreciation may be just what they need to feel uplifted and motivated.

Practicing gratitude can be extremely helpful in team meetings. Try asking your team to:

  • Write down the names of 10 people who have supported them this year.
  • Share one quality or strength they appreciate in each of their team members.
  • Write down the resources they need to reach their goals, and then ask people for help.

We often feel isolated when we want to succeed because we want to feel wholly responsible for our achievements. When we learn to ask for help we’re more likely to actually reach the finish line.

 

In Conclusion

Motivation can be difficult when we’re tired and isolated. Self-Determination is a spectrum which may require external support to achieve our personal goals. The important take-home message is that motivation is governed by our internal needs. If we remind ourselves of our accomplishments, acknowledge the people that support us, and remember to rest and restore, we’re more likely to reach the finish line without illness or exhaustion.

Are you booking your year-end function? Are you looking for one with sustainable results and a real sense of personal and team satisfaction? Then 4Seeds is the perfect company to organise this for you. We develop bespoke events to suit your team’s needs, and make sure that everyone walks away feeling motivated, satisfied, and connected.

If you’re interested in one of these bespoke events, contact us at info@4seeds.co.za.

Challenging Your Limiting Beliefs Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Challenging Your Limiting Beliefs Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

As most of us already know, setting goals is the only tangible way we can reach new heights in our lives. However, while it’s all well and good to want changes in our behaviour, career, relationships, appearance, or mental health, setting goals is only the first step to getting what we want. The real work begins on the path to achieving those goals.

One of the obstacles we need to overcome in order to transform and grow is our limiting beliefs. These beliefs constrain performance; by believing them we don’t think or act outside of them. This leads to frustration, reduced self-esteem, and inhibited performance.

It’s by not challenging your limiting beliefs that you slip back into your comfort zone and never reach your full potential.

Challenging your limiting beliefs is one of the most effective ways of increasing your motivation and achieving real change in line with your goals. However, challenging your beliefs takes constant attention, self-reflection, and practice, which is often why we don’t succeed.

Here is an outline of the five most common limiting beliefs, and strategies you can use to start challenging them. Doing so is a sure-fire way of achieving the goals you never thought possible.

Five Common Limiting Beliefs and How to Challenge Them

Limiting beliefs can also be defined as “cognitive distortions” – literally the way we use our mind and perceptions to distort reality. Dr David Burns compiled this list of the top five cognitive distortions:

1)      All-or-Nothing Thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is when we think in terms of extreme opposites, for example, “If I’m not successful, then I’m a failure.” The truth is we can’t all be the best, but we can still be on the spectrum of success. So, we won’t all become CEOs, but we can still progress to become team leaders, middle managers, or department heads. However, when we apply all-or-nothing thinking, we limit our ability to achieve relative greatness and celebrate our achievements.

Challenging your all-or-nothing beliefs: Next time you find yourself thinking in black-and-white, ask “Is this really a clear-cut black-and-white situation?” Then challenge yourself to find the shades of grey in between.

2)      Magnification or Minimisation

These types of beliefs are opposites of each other, but each is equally powerful at limiting our potential. An example of these limiting beliefs in action is when your boss gives you feedback on your performance (some good and some bad), but you magnify the negative aspects, focusing on your mistakes and how you’ve failed (magnification), or you ignore the positive feedback and think that your achievements are “no big deal” (minimisation). Both magnification and minimisation prevent us from seeing our achievements and value, which distorts our perception of our abilities and growth areas, thus reducing our self-confidence.

Challenging your magnification beliefs: Next time you find yourself focusing on your mistakes, try reframing your “failures” as “growth areas”. Add “YET” onto the end of a statement “I am not good at timekeeping yet.”

Challenging your minimisation beliefs: Start focusing your attention equally on your areas of development as much as your successes. Next time you find yourself dismissing compliments or positive feedback, try asking yourself “What did I do well?” and “What value do I add?”.

3)      “Should” Statements

“Should” is potentially one of the most harmful types of limiting beliefs. When we say we should be doing something, we create a disconnect between who we are and what we should be. The word implies that we’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations, values, or permissions for our behaviour. “I should be more friendly to my colleagues at work.” is a good example, as it implies that we’re not enough. A natural introvert, analytic, or observer won’t have this strength. By perceiving that we “should” be different to WHAT we are, we prevent ourselves from actually thriving and growing as WHO we are.

Challenging your “should” statements: Start with catching the “shoulds” as they happen. Ask yourself “How can I phrase this differently?” or “Is this something that I personally value enough to pursue?”

4)      Personalisation

Personalisation is when we take responsibility for things that don’t turn out well, even though we weren’t personally responsible for the outcome, and it was out of our control. When we fall prey to personalisation beliefs, it’s easy to slip into an anxious, self-deprecating mindset. The impact of this is that our brain gets hijacked by our anxiety which reduces our cognitive ability, and, in turn, our performance. This will lead to mistakes and the affirmation of our weaknesses and failures. It’s a dangerous negative cycle which over time can lead to burn-out, lowered self-esteem, and reduced job performance.

Challenging your personalisation beliefs: Next time you catch yourself taking responsibility, ask yourself “Is this, in fact, something that I need or am responsible for?” and “Am I actually able to change the outcome by taking responsibility?” and lastly “Am I willing/able to take responsibility for the outcome of this?”. Challenging your limiting beliefs may require you to admit your boundaries, limitations, or weaknesses, but by doing so you’ll succeed at what you’re responsible for and in turn increase your achievements.

5)      Overgeneralisation

Overgeneralisation is when we take the meaning that was ascribed to one scenario and apply it to a similar or different unrelated scenario. An example of scenario one: “I was always picked last for team sports at school.” Overgeneralisation of this scenario would present as: “Because I was always picked last for team sports at school, I’m not a good team player. I won’t even try to be a team player and no one wants me on their team.” This may seem like an oversimplified example, however, we all have negative experiences in our past, and if we aren’t aware, these can quickly become limiting beliefs that prevent us from taking on new challenges.

Challenging your overgeneralisation beliefs: Start catching yourself when memories from your past come up with current tasks. Or start noticing when negative feelings show up. In these moments ask yourself “I know this happened in the past, but is it an accurate perception of what is actually happening now?” or “I know I’ve been through something like this in the past that didn’t work out well. What can I do now that would prevent the same from happening again?”

In Conclusion

Challenging your limiting beliefs takes courage, practice, and perseverance. However, when you start to replace these beliefs with more positive ones, you’ll be able to see yourself, others, and situations more accurately and objectively. If you begin reframing your self-talk, you’ll notice the difference not only in your self-esteem, but also in your performance, motivation, and goal achievement.

At 4Seeds we know that taking this step can be difficult. We have personally and professionally seen the impact that challenging your limiting beliefs can have on happiness and goal achievements. We pride ourselves on being strong accountability partners, who can help you identify your limiting beliefs, keep you aware of them, guide you to reframe them, and celebrate your successes.

If you want a coach or accountability partner, we’re here to help. Contact us at info@4seeds.co.za for a FREE 30-minute discovery session.

We look forward to meeting you.

The 4Seeds team

Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance

Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance

As humans, we all have the innate desire to achieve, to progress, and to become better versions of ourselves. And while it may seem contradictory, self-compassion builds perseverance towards achieving our goals.

According to Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, achievement is considered to be one of the five fundamental pillars of human happiness because it is one component of the PERMA model (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments). Achievement is part of how we feel satisfied with our lives; however, the path to achievement is often gruelling and unpleasant, littered with obstacles which can challenge our perseverance and motivation. If we can’t overcome these challenges, we may feel as if we’ve failed, and it can be difficult to bounce back and carry on working towards what we want in our life.

While self-compassion may feel contradictory to perseverance and goal achievement, it does in fact play a powerful role in keeping us motivated. Self-compassion is defined as the thoughts and actions which “show kindness and understanding of ourselves when we are confronted with our personal failings” (Neff, 2015). It is how we relate to ourselves and also how we act when confronted by personal weaknesses. Self-compassion can be developed and can help to keep us working towards our goals, and accepting our failures along the way.

This article will explain the four ways in which self-compassion builds perseverance, so that you can begin to have a better relationship with yourself and in turn improve your goal achievement, perseverance towards the life you want, and also learn to enjoy the process.

 

Four Ways in which Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance to Achieve Our Goals

 

1)      Self-Compassion Provides a Realistic Self-Assessment of Failures

Self-compassion is an explanatory style. It’s how we communicate with ourselves, and it can be developed. This cognitive retraining can assist us to become more objective when we experience personal failures. Self-criticism is one of the many ways in which we self-sabotage. We believe that if we’re hard on ourselves, we’ll do better in the future. However, the opposite is in fact true. Self-criticism is more destructive than it is helpful. When we employ a more self-accepting perspective of ourselves, much as we do with our loved ones, we can experience a gentler and more accurate assessment of our reality, and in turn, reduce self-criticism. When we’re kind to ourselves and accept our shortcomings, we’re better able to assess and act in more constructive and successful ways in the future.

 

2)      Self-Compassion Helps Us Find More Enjoyment in the Process

Self-criticism doesn’t assist us to grow or help us to develop. All it does is reduce self-esteem and in turn, increase stress and the likelihood of failure in the future. Achievement is deeply ingrained into who we are as humans, and goal attainment is essential for our sense of self-worth and life satisfaction. However, when we self-criticism, we make ourselves suffer, and often the path to achievement has sufficient pitfalls and challenges without us adding fuel to the fire. Cultivating self-compassion can help us to become more grateful for what we have, it can boost our self-esteem, and in turn, help us to achieve our goals while enjoying the process.

 

3)      Self-Compassion Increases Task Performance Under Pressure

Most of the time when we set our minds to a goal we become more disciplined, focused, and driven. However, the downside to this single-focused motivation can lead to increased anxiety and self-induced stress. While stress is helpful to keep us on our toes, when the pressure to achieve our goals becomes too high it affects our performance, increasing mistakes and the potential for errors and failure. Practising self-compassion can help to lower anxiety and self-induced stress, thereby increasing our task performance and the likelihood of our success.

 

4)      Taking a Self-Compassion Break Builds Our Perseverance

Self-care is portrayed as a luxury in the media. We think of it as treating ourselves, and as a reward for our hard work. However, self-compassion is actually an explanatory style that can be used every day to increase our self-acceptance and improve our relationship with ourselves. In turn, when we practise regular self-compassion, we’re better able to identify when we’re tired, burnt out, or need time out. While it may seem contradictory, taking self-care breaks can improve our perseverance in the long run. Achieving big life goals takes endurance, and in order to keep motivated and have the energy to finish the race, we need to make time to rest, restore, and reflect along the way.

 

In Conclusion: Self-Compassion Builds Perseverance

Achievement is one of the fundamental pillars of our happiness as humans; however, the path to goal attainment can be challenging, tiring, and demotivating. It’s at these moments of low energy or exhaustion that we can employ self-compassion to build perseverance. Practising self-compassion also has many benefits from which self-acceptance, realistic self-assessment, and self-kindness can develop. When we practise self-compassion, we increase our performance and in turn the chances of success despite setbacks and obstacles.

4Seeds is passionate about supporting people on their path to goal attainment through individual and executive coaching. If you’re interested in increasing your self-compassion, if you’re looking for an accountability partner to help keep you moving towards your goals, or if you’re interested in setting goals and achieving them, then get in touch. Contact us on info@4seeds.co.za for more information about our coaching packages and to find out how we can help you to live your best life.

Eight Myths Busted about Coaching in the Workplace

Eight Myths Busted about Coaching in the Workplace

It’s human nature for people to want to evolve, which means that we strive to grow, develop and self-actualise. No-one is happy to just stagnate or stay too long in a comfort zone. Everybody needs a stretch goal to work towards, and a challenge and opportunity to upskill into becoming a better version of themselves. Sometimes we aren’t ready for the growth spurt and may feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it. At other times we need someone to champion us on, to believe in us, and to hold us accountable for our commitments. Or we need an independent sounding board who can challenge our thinking and behaviour. Regardless of what it is you need, coaching in the workplace can support you to grow to your optimum.

It’s a known fact that all sportspeople have coaches that help them to bring out their best. In the working environment, it’s becoming more fashionable for executives and leaders to make use of coaches, but this is still a small minority. However, in mainstream everyday life, very few people spend time with a coach.

There are many reasons why people don’t want to use the services of a professional coach, however from experience people are generally misinformed and incorrectly educated about coaching so they shy away from the service.  In this article, I will address some of the primary myths out there preventing people from getting the benefits of coaching in the workplace. 

The Origin of Coaching

Before I define coaching, I’m going to start at the beginning and explain its origin. The philosophy of coaching goes back to the 1880s with the development of professional sports where a coach was regarded as a professional tutor. There isn’t one pioneer who can be accredited for coaching; rather it’s a philosophy that evolved through the various psychology theories and humanistic sciences. Whether it’s the person-centred theory, gestalt therapy, behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy, reality therapy, narrative therapy, or solution-focused therapy, each one contributed to coaching as we know it today. In the same vein, one can add influencers such as Timothy Gallwey, Werner Erhard, Thomas Leonard, John Whitmore, and Graham Alexander to the list of people who played an active role to sculpt coaching since the 1970s. Starting off as a self-help principle in the 1970s and 1980s, businesses began to understand the relevance of coaching managers to assist them to attain their peak performance and also for the company to increase its bottom line. In the 1990s, the coaching industry gained momentum with various articles and books being published on the subject. Today, coaching has become a common word in organisations with companies understanding that people development is very relevant.

What is Coaching?

There are endless definitions for coaching but for now, let’s keep it simple. Coaching is a process that improves a person’s performance. It focuses on the current moment and not on the past because what has happened and cannot be changed. The only change that is possible is the client’s approach and attitude about the past. Coaches partner with their clients to find new ways of doing things, thinking about concepts, and behaving differently, all in the spirit of maximising the client’s potential. So, it’s about creating awareness, learning new ways, choosing to act, and self-reflecting on the progress.

Now that you have an idea of what coaching is and where it originated, let’s dive into some of the workplace myths about coaching.

 

Eight Myths Busted About Coaching in the Workplace

1.      Coaching is just glorified therapy

In actual fact, they cannot and should not be compared to each other. Therapy works from the context that something in your past needs to be “fixed” and so it delves into your past history and childhood. Coaching is a catalyst process where the coach and the client work in the here and now on methods that can catapult the client forward in attaining his or her goals. Coaching sees the individual as wholesome and healthy, with all the necessary resources to achieve his or her potential.

2.      Coaching in the workplace needs a lot of my time

One of coaching’s core principles is that it’s a non-dependent model, so coaching programmes try to create no co-dependency. Coaching sessions can vary from one or two sessions to three or six-month programmes in which you meet your coach every two weeks for 60 to 90 minutes. But if you want to grow and develop, you do need time for the action items that you have identified.

3.      Coaching in the workplace is for people who have problems

It needs to be emphasised that coaching is not a remedial performance review process. Neither is it a process that will transfer a manager’s problem to the coach. Rather, coaching is there to support the client to get unstuck in their thinking or behaviour, to get committed, and to become re-engaged by developing new tools to increase performance. Through coaching, people understand how their behaviour might hinder their own growth and we jointly explore ways to create a positive shift.

4.      I am successful so I don’t need a coach

Ironically, it’s exactly at this time when you need a coach the most because the coach will support you to maintain this level of peak performance or take you to the next level. Coaching has its greatest success when a person is already motivated, committed and thriving but wants to continue to explore their blind spots and have a neutral sounding board.

5.      Coaching in the workplace is the same as mentoring

Think of it like this: the mentor is the wise sage who has been there done that and has the t-shirt. A coach guides you on your journey of peak performance without being the expert. Mentoring is an informal, unstructured approach which answers your questions and provides advice. In contrast, coaching is more structured, sets clearly defined goals and milestones of success, and holds you accountable.

6.      Coaching is expensive

Of course, costs vary based on the coach’s level of experience, years of training, and professional credentials, but most organisations are willing to pay for a coach. Different rates apply for personal and professional coaching and it’s best to research this upfront. Nowadays coaching is effective and efficient as it can easily be done over Zoom or Skype so it saves time and travelling costs.

7.      Coaching in the workplace is only for senior management

Coaching is for everybody in any organisation and there is no limitation. If you want to grow and develop then coaching is for you regardless of where you are in the company structure. Nevertheless, it does depend on whether your organisation limits coaching to only senior management.

8.      I will lose face with my team if I hire a coach

Educate your team that coaching is about self-development and growth and that you are striving to be a better leader and role-model to them. You can even invite them to give you feedback as you go along or share why you behaving differently and that it’s part of your coaching journey. Include them in the process.

In Conclusion

Coaching is here to stay and play an even more impactful role in the workplace. It gives you a safe and confidential environment for you to explore your thoughts, so it’s important to be vulnerable and identify your gaps with the fundamental goal of becoming the best possible version of yourself.

Contact us on info@4seeds.co.za if you need an independent sounding board who can challenge your thinking and behaviour.