Watch Out: The Five Pitfalls That Impair Resilience

Watch Out: The Five Pitfalls That Impair Resilience

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension to the nationwide lockdown, we were all forced to find internal resources to manage our stress, and our worries about the effect this will have on our companies, the South African economy, and our country as a whole. What we all need now is strategies to build resilience in the face of uncertainty, and to find ways to not only cope, but to thrive through this adversity.

This article will outline how South Africa is already a resilient nation, and will make you aware of the five most common pitfalls that impair resilience, and that reduce our ability to manage and grow from adversity.

 

South Africans Are Already Resilient

Because of our challenging and tumultuous past, South Africans have developed an incredible level of resilience, compared to other nations. According to the 2019 FM Global Resilience Index, South Africa ranks number 47. Updated annually, the FM Global Resilience Index is the only tool that compares risk in nearly 130 countries. While you may wish South Africa featured higher up on the scale, it’s important to note that we’re within the second quartile, which for a small developing nation really puts us on the map. The FM Global Resilience Index assesses businesses in different countries according to the following measures:

  • Economic Resilience
  • Risk Quality
  • Supply Chain

It’s estimated that the coronavirus pandemic will potentially cause an estimated drop in our economy of between 2% and 4%, which is extremely high. However, we have the ability to bounce back from this tragic global pandemic.

South Africa has a highly innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. We have overcome many challenges  in the past, and have continued to grow despite our many setbacks.

We have the capacity, the energy and the will to overcome this global shutdown by further strengthening our resources, and building resilience in the face of uncertainty.

 

Watch Out: The Five Pitfalls that Impair Resilience

Resilience is one of those traits that we admire in others, and often wish we had more of in ourselves. It’s a key ingredient that we use as a buffer to ensure that we don’t spiral downwards too much when challenges or traumas happen. Resilience is a crucial coping tool that helps us to manage daily life with much more ease. Most of us learn to become resilient through life experiences, but how can you start building resilience in the face of uncertainty right now? A powerful way is to start noticing these five pitfalls.

  1. Jumping to conclusions

At times like these, we’re being asked to slow down and not act in haste. While it may be extremely challenging to make decisions during this time of uncertainty, it’s important to remind ourselves that we must not respond reactively.

We don’t have the facts, and we don’t have a blueprint for how to manage these uncharted waters. Rather, we need to keep our cool and not make rash decisions or come to unsubstantiated conclusions.

Become aware of where you may be falling into this trap. Not only does it impact your mental health, but acting reactively can prevent you from being resilient and moving in the right direction with conviction and with confidence.

  1. Tunnel vision

In times of stress, it’s normal for the human brain to go into fight-or-flight mode. When we’re in a place of fear, we’re not able to see the bigger picture, and can quickly only see doom and gloom, or the worst-case scenario.

While preparing for the worst may seem like your only option, it’s important to remember to take a step back and to look at the bigger picture. Look for ways to innovate, solve problems, and respond with resilience rather than with fearful tunnel vision.

Use this opportunity to learn to be open-minded. Direct your energy towards innovative and strategic conversations based on resilience, forward-thinking, and your organisation’s vision for the future.

  1. Personalising

While the coronavirus pandemic is a global issue, we can still make the mistake of personalising it, and thus reducing our capacity for resilience – and tolerance.

When we personalise things, we will only see our own faults and how we have not been proactive or resourceful enough to prepare for what’s happening. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to remind ourselves that no one knew this would happen, and no one could have adequately prepared for this uncertainty.

You and your organisation are not the problem! We’re all in this together, and there is nothing you could have done that would have prevented the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

  1. Externalising

This is one of the most common pitfalls. Externalising is the process of blaming outside factors for the problem, and not considering your own contribution to either the problem, or the solution.

At times such as these, it’s easy to look at authority figures and government officials with a magnifying glass, seeking the faults in their actions, and only putting a negative perspective on how the situation is being managed.

A key part of building resilience is being aware of the positive aspects of adversity, remaining optimistic, and finding the lessons in the challenges. The best way to get around this pitfall is to pause when you feel like criticising the actions being taken by decision makers, and be humble and proactive about how your actions could help to improve things. We’re all affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s up to each of us to look for solutions and to develop strategies to manage this situation.

  1. Assuming

While this may be the hardest pitfall to avoid, we need to become aware of what we assume others are thinking or feeling. The truth is we’re all responsible for our own well-being, resilience, and solutions. There is no advice you can give another person right now. If you feel you have advice to give, perhaps it’s YOU that needs to hear it.

Be careful of telling others how you think they should be managing their stress or feelings. Don’t assume that you know or understand. Take responsibility for your own situation, and find your best strategies for managing this uncertainty.

 

In Conclusion

At this time of nationwide lockdown and ever-increasing uncertainty, resilience is our best resource for managing stress and finding positive solutions and ways forward. As South Africans, we’re already a resilient nation. We’re enthusiastic, optimistic, and creative, and we need to harness these strengths during this time.

These are some key behaviours and limiting beliefs which we need to become aware of. We need to preserve our energy and maintain our well-being, individually, organisationally, and collectively in order to manage this uncertainty. Remember to keep a check on these things, and in return you’ll be giving yourself greater resources to build resilience and bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

Five Ways You Can Manage your Negative Emotions During Lockdown

Five Ways You Can Manage your Negative Emotions During Lockdown

Emotions are highly contagious, and it’s at times like these that we need to be vigilant about the emotions we’re experiencing and sharing with the people around us. Whether it’s fear, anger, frustration, or sadness, learning how to manage your negative emotions has never been more important than it is right now. In this article, we share five ways that will help you manage your negative emotions during lockdown. Why? Well, let’s first have a look at the impact that these powerful emotions can have on our system.

 

Unprocessed Negative Emotions Can Make You Ill

Emotions are high at the moment. They could either be fear of the future, or gratitude for privileges that allow us to be safe and healthy. All emotions are OK right now. However, it’s good to be aware that negative emotions like anger, anxiety, or fear create energy and movement in the same way that positive emotions like joy, love, and forgiveness move us forward.

The challenge is that negative emotions are generally not seen as socially acceptable, whereas positive emotions are favoured. The reason for this is that negative emotions drain us and make us feel low and uncomfortable. They also reduce our overall level of well-being, and the extent of bodily damage caused by suppressing negative emotions can crystallise into cardiovascular diseases, or even cancer. We’re not telling you this to scare you; rather to help you to see the value of processing, rather than suppressing, your emotions.

Now more than ever, we need to give ourselves permission to feel the negative emotions and allow them to flow without repressing or holding on to them. It’s precisely this state of suppression that drains our energy and leads to health problems like stress, high blood pressure, or digestive disorders. In very simple terms, disease is triggered by the right side of the brain which in turn spills over into our glands and hormones, and results in the entire body being affected with negative emotions.

It’s therefore vital, especially now when we’re in such a difficult time, to share ways to manage your negative emotions during lockdown.

 

Five Ways You Can Manage your Negative Emotions

We need to learn to cope and manage our negative emotions by making them felt, and letting them come and go. We must give ourselves permission to have emotions move through our body without stopping them or attaching to their stories. The only emotions which will serve us at this time will be calm, humour, and gratitude, and we need to find strategies to increase our experiences of these over this global lockdown.

 

1.     Use water wisely

Whenever we wet our face and neck, we activate the vagus nerve which has a relaxation and reset function on our body. So once you’ve washed your hands, you can also splash water on your face which will immediately provide you with an emotion reset.

 

2.     Limit the time spent on social media

While it’s tempting to spend this “free” time trolling the internet for the latest reports, updates, regulations, or friends’ posts, it’s vital that we monitor the amount of time we spend on social media. It is a precious resource at this time of social distancing, but we need to be aware of all the information that we’re receiving – not all of which is true, healthy, or helpful. Be mindful of your screen time, and take this time to challenge yourself to engage in creative, handy, and physical tasks around your home. Bake that bread, read that book, or spring-clean that cupboard in your garage. Start that novel you’ve always wanted to write! Make the most of this time at home. Spend it with yourself or your loved ones. The positive emotions from these experiences can quickly and easily outweigh the fear mentality which can be in overdrive at this time.

 

3.    Write it down

Journaling about a negative emotion allows us to process and order our thoughts. This makes it easier to make sense of a situation and to let it go. Be aware of sharing these writings on social media! This can make your emotions more contagious to others. Be sensitive about what you’re sharing, and with whom.

 

4.    Give yourself space to reflect

There’s no better time than the present to be developing your emotional intelligence. When emotions rise, start asking yourself:

“What emotion am I feeling?”

“Why am I feeling this way?”

“How can I best release this emotion and not attach to it?”

Give yourself time to process this; however make a cut-off time for your reflection. Spend the time you need, and then consciously stop mulling over it. Your time is up – you’ve had enough time to dwell.

 

5.     Practice gratitude

Bring your emotions into balance by looking at the positive moments in your day. Don’t give the latest update on the news the power to ruin your entire day. Try and counterbalance all the negative news by identifying three positive emotions or situations for each negative one you feel. There’s plenty to be grateful for – whether it’s as simple as Cape Town rain (or a Highveld thunderstorm), the turning of the seasons, or the sound of birds outside. Take time to reconnect with what you have, rather than tuning in to what you don’t.

 

In Conclusion

Emotions are just that: emotions. They exist, and they’re part of us. Embrace them, and learn to manage them. Don’t repress or ignore them. Rather, use these five ways to manage your negative emotions, to acknowledge them, and to take in the lessons they have to teach you. Unprocessed emotions are silent carriers of disease and psychological illness, so find ways to express and process your emotions in healthy but effective ways.

Our negative emotions aren’t bad. They’re powerful indicators of our fears, shadows, and frustrations, and can help us to know ourselves better.

Be safe. Be vigilant. Be compassionate. Be brave.

Wishing you all luck during this time of national lockdown.

From 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.  

Five Techniques to Boost your Leadership Confidence

Five Techniques to Boost your Leadership Confidence

Confidence has many faces. We’re generally drawn to confident people because we associate confidence with success, and find confident people charismatic, approachable, and inspirational. A confident person has an aura of trust and knowingness about them, which makes it easy to follow them, listen to them, and not question their decisions.

If we look back in history, we see many confident monarchs, military officials, politicians, and enlightened leaders. Now, in current turbulent times, where decisions are made quickly, and technology changes all the time, leaders still need to appear confident and assertive. Truth be told, though, deep down many of them aren’t. They’re riddled with self-doubt, question their own competencies, skills, and actions; they feel like they aren’t good enough and don’t have all the answers. They doubt their actions and behaviour, which doesn’t help their decision-making ability and their efforts to create positive change in their organisations.

Leaders search for an ideal balance, without wanting to appear overconfident because that can be perceived as arrogant by their team members. They also don’t want to have an over-optimistic risk appetite which leads to them not considering everything before making a decision. On the other hand, they don’t want to come across as lacking confidence because then they may be perceived as weak, a pushover and unable to make decisions.

 

What is Confidence?

Confidence is the optimistic self-belief that we can perform a task to our own standard or that of others. It is made up of two components: 1) self-efficacy, and 2) self-esteem. We develop self-efficacy through learning, and by acquiring skills that we then use and develop during our lifetime. Self-esteem is how we perceive ourselves based on the approval and recognition we receive from the outside world.

 

Confidence in the Body

Confidence is more than just feeling good about ourselves or thinking positively. It’s built on the foundation of our past achievements and successes. As with most human behavioural elements, there is a nature and nurture aspect to it. Nature gives us our genetic make-up, and is something that we can’t influence at all. Thankfully nurture comes into play, and we can grow and develop our level of confidence. Most confidence is developed through things like our upbringing, culture, value system, life experience, emotions, past memories, and stress levels. Growing and developing confidence starts by training our brain to become more attuned to our way of thinking and acting. Research shows that confidence activates the rewards and pleasure part of our brain, thus signalling that it wants us to repeat confident behaviour because we feel more cheerful, enthusiastic, energised, and happier. Confidence rewards us with positive emotions, and this will encourage us to repeat the behaviour.

 

Techniques to Boost your Leadership Confidence

Now that you have a clear understanding of what confidence is, let’s look at some practical steps to boost your confidence. Remember, though, that with all behavioural change items there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. These are only suggestions, and you need to personalise them to suit you.

Technique 1: Surround yourself with positive, confident people – This sounds very obvious, but we seldom apply it. Look for friends, colleagues, or mentors who exude confidence. Hang out with them! Bask in their energy, and be encouraged to set goals that you would otherwise be fearful to achieve. It takes a mere seven minutes to absorb their confident energy and for you to start believing in yourself. Do this as often as you can, because the environment that you operate in plays an important role.

Technique 2: Accept compliments graciously – Many people feel very awkward when receiving compliments, and brush them off as nothing special. Stop doing this! People will stop giving you compliments, and you need them to boost your confidence. Say thank you graciously, and reflect on how you can repeat this behaviour.

Technique 3: Review past successes – Confidence is built on past successes and achievements. We learn more from our success than we do from our failures, so look at what you did, how you did it, and who you surrounded yourself with at the time. Don’t limit yourself by only remembering the big successes; rather review the ones that made your heart swell, and that you are really proud of. Become aware of the strengths that you applied at the time.

Technique 4: Visualise your success – Close your eyes and see that success, feel it, and then drill that image into your mind. Make sure that you can remember it easily. Your brain doesn’t know whether it’s reality or not, so it will react as if it is, and will behave confidently. This is where the saying “Fake it until you make it” comes from.

Technique 5: Reframe what you want – We’re naturally really good at saying what we don’t want, but find it challenging to say what we do want. Confident people are able to express what they want, by when, and how, so you need to learn to reverse your thinking. Articulate what you need, from whom, how, and by when, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome. People will really appreciate this clear level of communication.

 

In Closing

Seventy percent of leaders build confidence through work experience and conscious effort. This means that you can do this by beginning to set bite-sized goals that will enable you to be successful.

Take the first step… but remember to keep the momentum going all the time.

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.

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.

 

The Power of Resilience

The Power of Resilience

 

I recently read through some of my old blogs, and came across my very first article on resilience which was written on 11 August 2015. Since then, resilience has become a trendy personal and business word, with everybody wanting to raise their levels of resilience to support them to cope better in their life.

However, since 2015 I have expanded my knowledge on resilience, and would like to share some insights and new learnings with you.

Learning 1: Resilience is much more than the standard definition of bouncing back; resilience is actually about bouncing forward. You don’t want to be in the same position that you were before the adversity, and actually want to be in a more advanced position; you want to have grown.

Learning 2: Resilience relies heavily on reframing a situation to be positive, and being grateful for what is going well. However, resilience is about looking for the benefit from the situation and exploring how you can grow from the circumstances presented to you.

Learning 3: Resilience isn’t equal resilience. I have identified three types: (a) the everyday life resilience to buffer against frustrations and irritations such as traffic, (b) medium-size resilience which lasts for longer periods, such as a week or a few months, and is often needed in work situations when working with others on a project or task, and finally (c) life changing resilience which we draw from life-altering events which happen to us such as an illness, death, divorce, war or abuse.

Learning 4: To become resilient, you have to start being attuned to yourself. You need to understand what is happening in your life right now and how you feel about it as well as yourself. Resilience starts with a healthy dose of internal reflection.

Learning 5: Start practising resilience with small life challenges, and when your life is running rather smoothly. Practice it regularly until it becomes a habit; that way you are better prepared to apply it when you truly need it. It’s very difficult to learn to be resilient when life is throwing challenging things at you because you will automatically go into survival mode.

Keep in mind everybody can learn to become more resilient; it is just practice, patience and self-compassion.

Here is the original article from August 2015.

 

What is Resilience?

Resilience is one of those human states that we admire in others and often wish we had more of. What makes resilience such a powerful life skill to have, and can it be developed? Firstly, resilience is a positive thinking pattern that enables us to respond and recover from adversity very quickly. It is a key ingredient that we use as a buffer against life’s challenges so that we don’t spiral downwards too much when trajectories or traumas happen. Resilience is a crucial coping tool that helps us to manage daily life with much more ease. Most of us learn to become resilient the hard way through life experiences, but what if we could learn ways of building our resilience as early as in primary or junior school.

Before we explore techniques that build our resilience, let’s look at common sinkholes we fall into that prevent us from being resilient. The five key sinkholes are:

 

Five Sinkholes That Prevent Us Becoming Resilient

  1. Jumping to conclusions – responding reactively to a situation without having all the facts.
  2. Tunnel vision – focusing only on the negative without considering any alternative options.
  3. Personalising – internalising that the fault lies with us and that we are the actual problem.
  4. Externalising – blaming others for the problem and not wanting to consider our own contribution.
  5. Assuming – speculating that we know what the other person is thinking or feeling.

The downside to these sinkholes is that they keep us stuck in negative thinking patterns that can hamper us from moving forward. They drain our energy which means that we aren’t able to see or even try to see the positive side to a situation. When our energy is depleted we give up easily and often we don’t try again.

 

Becoming Resilient

The answer to building our resilience muscle is brainstorming alternative solutions as well as predicting the level of success for each solution without accepting the first idea that presents itself. We need to dig deep until the right solution comes to mind. We must then test that solution and be flexible knowing that realignment of our actions or thoughts might be needed along the way. Don’t give up when challenges or obstacles appear – these must be seen with a level of curiosity and eagerness to overcome them.

Resilience, very much like well-being, has no finite endpoint and it, therefore, remains an ongoing process. This doesn’t mean that there is no point in developing resilience because each learning cycle raises our consciousness and facilitates a positive upward transformation. This is very similar to the threads of a screw where we spiral upwards with each full turn. Also, becoming more resilient doesn’t inoculate us from adversity, tragedies or traumas because they are a part of life and partially out of our control. We can only choose how we manage the event and ourselves.

We must also consider the difference between surviving and thriving in life. Surviving means we are getting by; we might feel all consumed with life, and perhaps even bitter or resentful for the injustice or hardship of life. We may feel that life is happening to us and that we are two separate elements. Thriving, on the other hand, means that we are actively engaged and participating in our lives. We regard life and us as one united element. We accept that adversity is part of life and learn to fight and overcome traumas. We learn to see the benefits in adversity which makes us value and appreciate the difficulty. It is no coincidence that successful people have high levels of resilience.

Four Warning Signs of an Overwhelmed Leader

Four Warning Signs of an Overwhelmed Leader

Leadership is not easy. Often, people find themselves in leadership positions without the adequate leadership skills to effectively manage their team’s performance, well-being and motivation. While these indicators alone serve as signs of a struggling leader, there are some other very clear warning signals that a manager is drowning under the pressure of their new position.

Moving from a team member into a leadership position is not easy, and the skills needed to manage a team are not often offered when someone steps into a new position. Our Meaningful Leadership Development Programme aims to provide new managers with the personal awareness and practical knowledge needed to bridge the gap, and support overwhelmed new leaders.

At 4Seeds we tend to lean towards offering advice and positive practical solutions to common organisational issues; however, in this article we aim to provide some clear indicators of what to look out for in your new leaders and managers.

Four warning signs of an overwhelmed leader

 

  • Micromanagement

In an ideal world, before starting a new leadership position you would have the space to develop goals as well as a vision of what you want to achieve as a new leader. However, this is almost never the case. One day you’re an employee and the next you’re the manager. When this happens, a new leader won’t have had the time to align their vision with their actions and can easily become overwhelmed by the tasks ahead rather than seeing the bigger picture. This lack of vision and goal alignment can result in new leader starting to micromanage through poor delegation, incomplete information sharing, or excessive meetings. This becomes a challenge because without the adequate skills and support it can lead to mistrust, meaningless tasks and resentment from subordinates.

 

  • Constant state of damage control

A common trait of an overwhelmed leader is that they experience “decision freeze”. Paralysed by the pressure to make the right decisions (and the lack of vision mentioned above), the new leader goes into a frozen state of stress. They appear idle to the outsider, halting new ideas and managing issues only when they become urgent. While this can be a common position for many leaders, new and experienced, it is not a sustainable approach and can lead to a highly stressful and tense working environment for the whole team.

 

  • Increased rumours and corridor talk

Overwhelmed leaders often deal with their team ineffectively, in one of two ways. Either they will hold an excessive number of meetings, trying to keep everything in their control, or they will let everyone continue as normal and communicate very little with the team. This second style of communication can often lead to team members finding ways to discuss and gossip about leadership outside of formal channels. Corridor talk is dangerous to a new leader and it can quickly break down trust and affect the healthy, transparent dialogue needed to work together effectively.

 

  • “Head in the sand” approach

When one is promoted into leadership there are a lot of unspoken expectations and responsibilities that come into play – having a hand on the pulse of the team is just one of them.

An effective leader knows each of their team member’s strengths, goals and working style, and can manage the individual to further the outcomes of the team. However, as a new leader this awareness takes time and as there are so many tangible responsibilities to attend to, they may often neglect (consciously or unconsciously) this subtle but essential duty of their position.

A “head in the sand” approach becomes obvious when decisions are made without the leader’s knowledge, when absenteeism increases, or when employee retention rises. Employees need to be recognised and validated for their individual contributions to the outcomes of the team, the lack of which can quickly lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement. A new leader needs to be able to see the individual value of each team member and communicate this authentically – a skill which is not easy to learn under pressure.

 

So what now?

Stepping into a leadership position will always be challenging and it will take time to become comfortable with new responsibilities; however, a leader that has been given adequate skills and support will be more resilient to these difficulties and is more likely to succeed in their new role.

Equipping leaders with the skills, knowledge and personal awareness needed to be a meaningful leader is our job. At 4Seeds we believe that all leaders are unique and that with the right knowledge and support they can all become meaningful leaders for their teams and organisations.

Want to upskill your new leaders? Check out our Meaningful Leadership Development Programme.