Four easy ways to train your brain to be happy

Four easy ways to train your brain to be happy

Happiness is a concept, a feeling, and a state of being that we wish for others and for ourselves. When parents are asked what they’d like for their children, the answer is almost always: “For them to be happy”. When we write birthday cards or cards for weddings, christenings, or graduations, we always wish happiness on the person or couple.

Happiness is an essential ingredient in our life, but one we don’t often give much conscious thought to. We know that it’s a fluctuating emotion, and that outside situations often determine whether we’re happy or not. However, that’s not the happiness I’m referring to. I’m talking about the happiness that you can control; an inner feeling that isn’t dependent on the external environment.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly made us aware of what makes us happy and what drains us. It won’t come as a surprise that studies have shown that our happiness levels have dropped significantly by between 10% and 20% over the last four months. Other emotions such as anger, disgust, anticipation, and distrust have all increased. You might even question how we can talk about happiness during this pandemic, but it’s precisely in this time that we need tools to help buffer against all the negativity that’s around at the moment.

Everyone wants to be happy! It’s something we all share; a golden thread that runs through our collective lives, and connects us as human beings. For some, it’s more conscious than for others. Happiness is so much more than a nice feeling, and it’s very definitely something that can be physically felt. When people are happy, their prefrontal cortex (located in the forehead, and responsible for allowing us to think, make decisions, focus, and achieve our goals) is noticeably more active. Besides allowing us to think, the prefrontal cortex has another important function. It regulates our emotions, and assists us to recover from negative thoughts and feelings. If we learn to train our brain, we can indirectly influence our psychological and emotional well-being.

Four easy ways to train your brain

There are many ways to train our brain to be happy without the use of chemical substances, but in this blog I’ll focus on four.

  1. Ten minutes of quietening the mind stimulates the prefrontal cortex, and provides feelings of joy, calmness, serenity, and well-being. These are ten powerful minutes in which you can empty the thoughts from your head. It’s like having a brain break.

 

  1. Loving kindness meditation (LKM). This is a meditation where you intentionally send love, kindness, protection, and well-being to your loved ones as well as to yourself. Visualise the loved one in front of you, and send them abundant love. It sounds strange, but if we’re honest, we do this naturally for the people we care about and love.

 

  1. Gratitude awareness. Take a couple of minutes to become aware of who and what you’re grateful for in the day. This can be gratitude for people, situations, events, or the beauty of your surroundings, relationships, and life. You can have fun here and write the list in a journal, take a snapshot of it, draw it, sing it, dance it, or just think it.

 

  1. Strengths mindfulness. Reflect on the day and list strengths that you applied. Again, it’s a conscious decision to focus on the inner strengths that you used in certain situations during the day, without being mindless. This can vary from being patient and kind to an infuriated colleague or client, to using humour or empathy in a difficult situation.

 

The benefit of training your brain to be happier will be a more productive and focused mind, and it will make you happier. It’s within your control and your choice to pursue happiness in your life. I know you might not feel you can right now, as there are many worries and concerns, but take one very small step towards reclaiming your inner happiness and you’ll soon notice that you’re able to cope with your day a little better.

 

Eight steps for leaders on giving constructive feedback

Eight steps for leaders on giving constructive feedback

Most leaders that I meet feel uncomfortable with, and even dread, giving feedback to their staff. It shouldn’t be that way! Feedback is a gift that we give people to help them grow, but, sadly, many of us have had bad experiences with it in the past. It might have been a punishment session where we were criticised, and left feeling demotivated, deflated, and discouraged.

As we get older, the kind of feedback we receive changes, but it shouldn’t always be that way. Think back to your childhood where your parents were your biggest fans. They were your cheerleaders who supported you and encouraged you to always do your best. The feedback you got from them would have been honest, but most likely gentle, and it would have been on the things you did well, and where you could improve. Their intention always came from their heart with love, and with the underlying desire for you to grow. Maybe your parents didn’t always strike the right chord, or use the correct words, but you knew that they gave you advice because they loved you.

Fast forward to now in your workplace. Many leaders believe that: ‘If you don’t hear from me, then you’re doing a great job; otherwise I’ll tell you.’ With that approach, feedback will indeed only be associated with criticism, and not with growth or care. Often, feedback is negatively associated with performance reviews, where there is sometimes a one-size-fits-all approach.

So, what seems to be the problem that leaders have in giving feedback? In my opinion, there are five common concerns: (1) They don’t know how to do it properly because they haven’t been shown how; (2) They’re worried about hurting the other person’s feelings; (3) They’re worried that the person will only hear the negative feedback and not the positive, so are unsure how to find the ideal balance between the two; (4) They’re worried that the person will leave demotivated and will have no interest in improving; or (5) Their feedback style is authoritarian and a bit blunt.

On the other hand, receivers may perceive feedback as personal criticism and a threat to their self-confidence, self-efficacy, and self-worth.

 

The eight steps on giving constructive feedback

As my passion is to provide as many tools and techniques as I can for leaders to lead better, I’m going to share a practical, constructive feedback tool that can assist both the giver and the receiver. Before you start shifting your mindset and viewing feedback as an opportunity to grow and develop, and as the highest expression of care you can give a team member, if you find that the word “feedback” has a negative and emotionally charged meaning, then replace it with a neutral word that carries no judgement. Try using words such as “evaluation”, “constructive feedback”, “observation”, or “learning opportunity”.

This eight-step process created by Hugo Alberts and Lucinda Poole can be easily applied.

  1. Accept internal discomfort Embrace that you might feel uncomfortable giving feedback, and that many emotions will come up for you. Acknowledge the discomfort, and then breathe deeply into your body, calming yourself and making sure that you come across in a composed and calm way.
  2. Create a safe space It’s common for the receiver to feel nervous, anxious, fearful, and maybe even stressed. Leaders need to be aware of this, and empathise with them. It’s up to the leader to create a safe space by choosing an environment that is friendly, warm, and non-hostile. Offering a warm and friendly greeting with some small talk always helps everyone to feel at ease.
  3. State your intention Make it clear that your goal is to see how you can work together to improve their work. Let them know that you welcome a two-way dialogue, where you’re both free to express personal and professional views.
  4. Separate the person’s work from the person Arguably, one of the things that makes receiving feedback the most difficult is that it’s often taken as a personal critique. Take a moment to clarify that you’re evaluating their work, and not them as a person.
  5. Reframe the amount of feedback as an indication of care Where you have a lot of critical feedback to give, highlight your level of care by saying something like: “I’m being thorough because I care about this. Your work matters to me.”
  6. Encourage a growth mindset Highlight that the feedback can be taken as an opportunity for growth and learning, and integrate this type of language into your comments. Give detailed and precise praise wherever you can, and instil a sense of hope and faith in their capability for change and improvement.
  7. Acknowledge the subjective nature of the situation Recognise that your feedback projects your personal views and opinions on not only their work, but also on the subject matter. Acknowledge this as you provide feedback by saying things like: “In my opinion…”, and “I believe that…”
  8. End on a positive note Conclude by highlighting and celebrating positive attributes of their work. Express your joy in what they did well.

 

When giving constructive feedback, ask yourself “How can I assist and support this team member in reaching their next growth level?” If you embrace feedback with that mindset, you can’t do anything wrong because your intent and heart will lead the way.

Busting Eight Coaching Myths in the Workplace

Busting Eight Coaching Myths 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 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, a coach 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 acceptable for executives, leaders, and managers to make use of coaches in the workplace, but this is still a small minority. However, in mainstream everyday life, very few would use the services of a coach. People are generally misinformed and incorrectly educated about coaching, so they shy away from the service. But now with COVID-19 impacting our entire life, coaching becomes an essential service to consider. This is especially so if, as a leader, you need tools to cope with the daily stresses of the pandemic, gain new focus, grow as a leader, set realistic goals, or need a sounding board to explore opportunities. In this article, I will address some of the primary coaching myths and misconceptions.

 

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 has happened and cannot be changed. The only change that is possible – and that you have control over – is your approach to, and attitude about the future. A coach will partner with you to find new ways of doing things, thinking about concepts, and behaving differently; all in the spirit of maximising your potential. So, it’s about creating awareness, learning new ways, choosing to act, and self-reflecting on the progress.

 

Eight Workplace Coaching Myths

1.     Coaching is just glorified therapy

These two modalities 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 history and childhood. Coaching is a catalyst process where you and the coach work in the ‘here and now’ on methods that can catapult you forward in attaining your goals and providing personal growth. Coaching views you as wholesome and healthy, with all the necessary resources to achieve your potential.

 

2.     Coaching needs a lot of my time

One of the core principles of coaching is that it’s a non-dependent model, so coaches do their best 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 an hour or 90 minutes. But if you want to grow and develop, you do need to invest the time for the action items that you have identified.

 

3.     Coaching is for people who have problems at work

Coaching is not a remedial performance review process. I can’t express that more strongly. Nor is it a process that will transfer a leader’s problem to the coach. Instead, coaching is there to support you to get unstuck in your thinking or behaviour, to get committed, and to become re-engaged by developing new tools to increase performance. Through coaching, you understand how your current behaviour is hindering your growth, and you and the coach jointly explore ways to create a positive shift.

 

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

Ironically it’s precisely at this time when you need a coach the most because they will support you to maintain this level of peak performance or grow you to the next level. Coaching is most successful 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 is the same as mentoring

Think of it this way: 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

Costs vary based on the coach’s level of experience, years of training, and professional credentials, but most companies are willing to pay for this kind of service. Different rates apply for personal and professional coaching, and it’s always best to research this upfront. Nowadays, coaching is effective and efficient as it can be done online, which saves time and travelling costs. Also, 4Seeds has substantially reduced coaching fees during the COVID-19 pandemic as we want to help you grow and cope with your workplace challenges in these difficult times.

7.     Coaching is only for senior management

Coaching is for everybody, in any company, and at any level. If you want to grow and develop, then coaching is for you regardless of where you are in the organisation’s structure.

 

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

Your team needs to understand that coaching is about self-development and growth, and that you’re striving to be a better leader and role-model. You can even invite them to give you feedback during the process, or share why you’re behaving differently. Include them in the process.

Coaching in the workplace is here to stay, and it will play an even more impactful role in a leader’s career path. It’s a safe and confidential environment where you can explore your thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and you’ll have time to reflect on – and to let go of – habits that are no longer working for you.

Contact us today on info@4seeds.co.za about your coaching needs and desires. We can support you to become your best possible self.

Working efficiently in the digital world

Working efficiently in the digital world

Gone are the days when the office was somewhere employees spent time at during working hours. Today’s always-connected, instant-access environment has blurred the lines between the office, and the place where work actually gets done.

The digital world is profoundly affecting the ways in which people contribute to work, life, and society.

Offices are becoming digital, and employees are communicating and collaborating in new and exciting ways. It’s now the norm to have meetings from different locations, be they offices, homes, or countries, and companies are finding that working remotely not only provides a more flexible work environment, but also helps increase productivity and job satisfaction. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, employees who work remotely are 91% more productive, and with the demand for specific skills at an all-time high, remote working offers a solution for companies to find the right people without them having to be based in the same place.

While the move to transform digitally has led to many jobs being lost, it has also opened new, productive, innovative, and rewarding forms of job creation. COVID-19 has certainly accelerated the changes. New technologies have given companies the opportunity to offer employees flexibility, which means that even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, people can carry on productively, with limited impact, in a secure and collaborative way.

In order for employees to work efficiently in different locations, companies have had to embrace the evolution, and create strong digital cultures to support changes in working styles. They now need to offer a consumer-like user experience which is aligned with today’s working environment, and one which allows employees to work more transparently.

Companies have had to define ‘their’ digital workspace, offer virtual assistance to support virtual work environments, and provide the right tools and information. They have given their staff choice and flexibility. In doing so, they have found that by incorporating the technologies that employees already use, such as email, instant messaging, social media, and virtual meeting tools, communication barriers have disappeared. This has empowered employees, and allowed them to work more efficiently and successfully.

Employees now expect a more personal, digitally-driven work experience, and look to their employers to raise employee engagement, allow them to achieve business outcomes faster, and give them the tools to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

It’s also important to remember that the efficiency of an employee’s digital workspace depends on their individual qualities, their environment, and the changes they effect to make these tools work for them so that they can fulfil their job. And with so many benefits to both the employer and the employee, it’s in the employees’ best interests to implement the necessary discipline and dedicated work space to raise their own efficiency levels and be more productive.

Working in the digital world offers flexibility, freedom, and opportunities for employers and employees to create healthier habits while remaining productive. New digital platforms will continue to help companies operate more effectively; however both parties need to play their part in making it an efficient and healthy working environment.

Working remotely is a big drawcard for companies, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers employees a lifestyle where they can protect their personal time, but at the same time follow a healthy work-life balance.

Three ways to manage your team with social distancing

Three ways to manage your team with social distancing

The flight, fright, and freeze mode that COVID-19 initially had on us is slowly wearing off. We no longer have that permanent deer in the headlight look on our faces from the impact that it has had on our entire life. The original shock is over, and bit by bit we’re starting to live in this new COVID-19 world.

Some people who previously had to work from home and conduct all their meetings online are beginning to return to work. However, others have either chosen to continue to work from home, or have been asked to. This means that most teams don’t work in the same space. This new way of working doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some will welcome this new working style, while others prefer to be in the same space as the people they work with.

Being physically separated isn’t easy because it impacts communication levels, motivation, engagement, and well-being. These are some of the things which were already difficult to manage before COVID-19 (BC), when we all worked in the same location, but now they’ve become more complicated. As much as we highlight the positive aspect – and there are many – the biggest and most threatening challenge for a leader will be to ensure that his team remains connected. Team members always need to feel that they belong, are part of, and contribute to, the organisation, and that isolation and psychological distancing will not affect them.

I want to share my top three recommendations to ensure that your team remains high performers, and that they experience positive morale, engagement, and job satisfaction.

Three ways to manage your team

We’ve had to let go of all our expectations about the way we operated BC. Previously unthinkable concepts have become a reality, and leaders and team members have had to adapt quickly and come to terms with this new way of working.

  1. Unsynchronised working hours: People are no longer allowed to gather at the same space, and neither do they work similar hours. Even with flexi-time, you could rely on the fact that most of your team were at the office at a certain time during the day. Now, people work different hours which may not coincide with the time that their colleagues are at the office. We need to trust, become more open-minded, and give people the autonomy to work the hours that suit their lifestyle and energy levels. We need to stop micro-managing people, and give them the freedom to craft their jobs, their tasks, and the structure of their day. As a leader, your role is to become more explicit in articulating what needs to be done, and what your expectations are. There will be team members who were dependent on you micro-managing them, and you’ll need to mentor them to become more self-sufficient.
  2. Increase communication and connection levels: As highlighted previously, one of the glaring downsides of working virtually will be the risk that team members may feel socially disconnected from one another. They may feel as if they’re not really a unit that collaborates, shares, and cares for one another. To prevent this from happening, you need to take an extremely active role in staying connected through short text messages, virtual coffee chats, and social events. Make it a daily priority to be in touch with at least one person, and then every week or second week have short check-ins. These meetings are not to be confused with the standard production and update meetings, as they’re about connecting with your team and making sure that they’re feeling emotionally, psychologically, and physically supported.
  3. Provide learning buddies and resources: Many employees are in uncharted territory, and have to learn new technical skills, working routines, and behaviours of working effectively and efficiently, while being physically apart. Support them by creating a buddy system so that they can learn from one another and feel socially connected. Learning together with a peer is less overwhelming, builds trust, and fosters stronger working relationships. Encourage this, and make sure that your team has options available to learn new skills.

The time has come to create a safe learning environment; one in which everyone has a voice to contribute and share their thoughts. Give them the space and the permission to walk this uncharted territory together. No-one has been in this situation before, so we don’t have the answers, but we can discover them together.

What COVID-19 did to my business

What COVID-19 did to my business

There are days where I don’t want to hear the word COVID-19! I am so tired of the information overload, and my brain is saturated. I don’t want to read or hear any more news about it!

One moment I’m in denial about the new working world, and the next I see the endless opportunities. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride that just doesn’t stop. In every conversation I have with people (online, of course), COVID-19 comes up. We talk about it at the dinner table, with family, friends, clients, and even with suppliers. Everything I do, and every thought I have, seems to revolve around life before, during, and after COVID-19.

I’m sure that you, too, wish you had days where COVID-19 didn’t come into any of your conversations or thoughts. However, as much as I wish the word and its impact on our lives away, I have to be realistic and accept that it’s here to stay – probably for many months, if not years.

The new way of working

I believe that we haven’t felt the true impact of COVID-19 yet, especially in the business world. Many of us are still coming to terms with the new normal, making sure that our employees are screened and safe, that customers keep their distance when being served, that virtual teams have what they need to work remotely, and that we might even have a combination of employees working at the office and others from home. There are so many different, drastic, and vast changes which are happening all at the same time.

COVID-19 didn’t give us the time or luxury to adapt or implement changes in small increments. It’s come in a tsunami wave, and we need to be agile and on our toes all the time. We’re constantly challenged to find that sweet spot of balancing being courageous and driving our business forward, and, equally, being compassionate to people about their health, jobs, and the way forward.

A complete business overhaul

On reflection, are the changes that COVID-19 is forcing us to embrace in the business world such a bad thing? I can’t speak for you, but I have procedures, systems, and processes in my business that needed to be tweaked, and some even needed a complete overhaul. I never found the time BC (before COVID-19), and often thought that as soon as I finished a certain project, I’d get to it, but somehow I never did. It stayed on my wish list of To Dos for months, and sometimes even years.

COVID-19 has shone a bright floodlight on every angle of my business. It’s highlighted what’s working exceptionally well, and exposed the processes that aren’t. It was painful to face reality, but if I’m honest with myself, I knew BC that those areas weren’t working optimally. Now I have to be agile and either adjust the process or do away with it completely.

I told myself that it’s not the time to be emotional and sentimental about structures I’d worked hard for in my business. Rather, it’s time to be level-headed and future-thinking. I asked myself whether certain processes were relevant, and whether they were working at their best. If they weren’t, I questioned whether I could amend them, and if not then I need to stop doing whatever it was.

COVID-19 has given me the courage and creativity to perform a profound business overhaul, and make very swift and sobering decisions. Some of them were difficult to make and I felt sad because of them. I tossed procrastination out the window, rolled up my sleeves, and went back to basics on many structures and processes. I’m in the process of learning to run a lean business. COVID-19, as disrupting as it has been to my business, has brought an intense overhaul in the business. This is something that I’m humbled and grateful for. I hope you find the courage and wisdom to see the opportunity that it has brought you. Maybe you can’t see it right now as you are still in the fight, flight and freeze mode, but hopefully you’ll soon see that this profound disruption was necessary in our business world. As uncertain and rocky as the future might seem to you, you will get through this and adapt your business. You’re more resilient and creative than you give yourself credit for. In the bigger picture, COVID-19 has taught us to appreciate and acknowledge that our people are our most precious and powerful factor to our business. Cherish them!

Five benefits of the new digital workspace

Five benefits of the new digital workspace

There’s no denying it: remote working is the new normal! The benefits of a digital workspace have become apparent to employers and employees, and nobody’s going back to the old ways.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses to reinvent themselves. In some cases, businesses have had to make the difficult decision of whether to close their doors, or to extend themselves into the digital age. We’re beginning to not only work remotely, but also to modify the way we do business. Most people have discovered that many jobs can actually be done remotely, and that a majority of employees actually prefer to work from home if at all possible.

Companies are starting to invest in technologies and systems that facilitate the digital workstation, giving employees the tools they need to connect, collaborate, and perform their core responsibilities from anywhere, at any time. There are, however, people who are still sceptical, so let’s explore the benefits that your company could be missing by not embracing the digital workspace.

 

Flexibility

Employees have the ability to work remotely, and with maximum flexibility. In so doing, there’s no compromise to the company’s efficiency, its productivity, or its ability to meet its goals. There are no limits to the concepts of place or time, and there are any number of technologies available. In addition, employees are unfettered by time restrictions, giving them more choices as to when they will work. Given those choices, employees can schedule work times to suit themselves, and will probably put in more time than necessary.

 

Collaboration

BC (before COVID), employees may have felt that they were isolated and away from their team and support system. With so many options available, everyone can easily interact with each other in virtual meetings. The ability exists to share and discuss documents, data, and images, and people can exchange ideas about things that they’re working on. They can also collaborate on projects together, despite the geographic distances that may separate them. And it’s generally easier to keep everyone engaged and in step, because people are almost always online in some way.

Company cultures are beginning to adapt, and we’re seeing happier employees who are more engaged, have better ideas, and are more innovative.

 

Productivity

There are many benefits for both employees and employers.

Employees produce more when they have a healthy work-life balance. And because they can work from home, they’re less likely to call in sick, because in many cases they can still work from home.

Employees are generally happier, and are more likely to offer the best of their skills and talents to the company. They tend to be more engaged, productive, efficient, and offer better customer experience.

Staff turnover is reduced because employees feel trusted, rewarded, and appreciated. Companies which offer flexible work arrangements find it easier to attract potential employees.

 

Compatibility

Employees and employers recognise and value the importance of the seamless integration of the various digital technologies in the workspace. This enables the improved management of workforce resources, team communications, training, performance statistics and reviews, and HR matters. The workspace can be brought together by means of communication applications such as chat, video conferencing, and conference calls.

 

Cost Reduction

This should be the foremost reason to transform your organisation into a digital workspace. Everyone will benefit massively from this.

Employees will have more hours in the day, more flexibility, and so many more added personal benefits and savings. They won’t have to pay for public transport, or for petrol and car servicing, or parking, and they’ll save on commuting time. There will also be less time spent in bumper-to-bumper traffic, probably resulting in less road rage. And they’ll be in much better shape to start their day!

Companies will enjoy reduced (or eliminated) office and building costs, office-related issues, building maintenance, staff refreshments, stationery, and much more.

Change is never easy, but with COVID-19 as the biggest factor – it’s really a game changer – can your business really afford not to invest in the digital future and the future of your company?

Innovation – Something positive from the COVID-19 pandemic

Innovation – Something positive from the COVID-19 pandemic

With the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, companies have become despondent, and absolutely terrified that their business may shut down. It’s at times like these that optimists would say that ’n boer maak ’n plan, and, in some cases, this is true. Many businesses will rise to the challenge, make a full recovery, and inspire others to do the same.

Companies have been forced to become smarter and more flexible. Most have discovered that their teams can actually work from home. Some employees have adopted a new sense of work-life balance, and many others are more connected than ever before. Boomers have literally become Zoomers! Apart from that, e-commerce and direct-to-consumer experience companies are achieving accelerated growth, and e-health, e-legal, and other e-solutions are popping up rapidly. This is really good news if you’re in a business where you can ride the wave!

If you’re not, however, you may be one of those companies who will experience a defensive reflex to keep the spiralling losses under control, especially if you’re in high-impact industries like construction, tourism, and entertainment. It’s important to remember that no-one will be entirely spared from the impact of this pandemic. It will have a profound impact on all aspects of every business, and it is totally understandable that in times where demand is plummeting, and the future outlook is uncertain, companies will refocus all their efforts on the essential business processes to keep the business afloat!

Amidst these massive disruptions, a combination of short- and long-term innovation responses can provide a ray of hope for businesses. If history has taught us anything, it is that we are capable of finding interesting ways to reinvent ourselves – often bouncing back even stronger than before!

Just as the pandemic has revealed differences regarding the preference to work from home, experience with remote learning, entertainment, and consumption will also shape consumer attitudes toward digital and physical experiences. Differences in consumer preferences may generate valuable business opportunities, new products and services, and new business models.

To ensure that your company responds efficiently to new opportunities, you may wish to consider expanding your brainstorming to include external input. Ideas from customers, partners, and other external parties may offer invaluable insight, and a way to get ahead of the curve when it comes to market trends and reprioritisations. You might find that communication and collaboration are more crucial than ever, and that you’ll need to adapt your processes, find ways to streamline your workflows, increase productivity, and reduce wastage.

There’s no way around it. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed our daily lives, and the same is true for our businesses. One thing is for sure, though. It has encouraged innovation, and we’re starting to see a true entrepreneurial spirit emerge. There’s a change from victim mentality to that of being a leader; businesses and communities are supporting each other, “local is lekker”, and sharing, collaborating, and innovating is at its best! And as the world begins to emerge from the crisis, we will find new ways to interact, entrepreneurs will actualise previously untenable business opportunities and reassess innovation strategies, consumers will be able to take advantage of new environments, and policy and regulations will adapt to keep everyone safer in the future.

The only way to discover the limits of what’s possible is to go beyond them to the impossible.” (Arthur C Clarke)

How to curb your anxiety and fear during lockdown

How to curb your anxiety and fear during lockdown

The current worldwide pandemic has brought about fear and anxiety in many people around the globe. With the changes in our routines, our work life, social distancing, mandatory lockdowns, shopping, kids, and our homes, the coronavirus has become a brutal psychological test for many. We’re worried about life, finances, our jobs and our health, running a family, and so much more. While in lockdown, working from home, and not having to go out might be easy for some, it’s not that simple for others, and causes much distress.

Fear, anxiety, worry, and many more emotions come up for many people. But how to deal with it? How do you ensure your mental peace and physical health don’t take a toll? How do you make sure everything is good around you, and that you remain strong for yourself and your loved ones?

We’re all wired to follow a certain set of patterns, so this change and uncertainty is bringing up a lot of insecurity; this will obviously lead to anxiety. It’s essential to remember that you’re not alone. We’re all going through this, and to help you to control your anxiety and fear during lockdown, we suggest the following strategies.

 

Tell yourself that this is not permanent

While problems and crises do happen, we must also remember that we have had our share of good times too.

Everything in life goes in a cycle. So, while there are ups and downs, none of it is permanent. It will eventually fade out, and life will return to normal. Keep telling yourself this; it will give you a sense of hope and long-term security.

 

Stay away from unnecessary information

While it’s good to be updated on what’s happening, and to take precautions accordingly, too much disturbing news, and the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases has a very strong impact. It brings up all the stored traumas in our subconscious mind, which will lead to more anxiety and fear.

Our advice is to limit your time on social media and the news, so as to avoid its impact on your mental health. You can, however, still adhere to the basics to help curb the crisis.

 

Practice gratitude

The benefits of practicing gratitude are endless. People who do this, taking time to notice and reflect on the things they’re thankful for, experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and have stronger immune systems.

Gratitude helps release serotonin (called the ‘happy chemical’, it contributes to well-being and happiness) into the bloodstream. This instantly elevates a person’s state of mind, and helps them to release their fears and worries.

Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, sometimes thinking about negative or difficult situations can help to really nail down what you have to be thankful for.

Be grateful for your house, your body, food, and your family. Remind yourself how significant these things are, and how quickly we forget how important they are in our daily grind. Notice the good things, look for them, and appreciate them. Savour, absorb, and really pay attention to those things. Express your gratitude to yourself in your journal, or thank someone personally. Remembering these things and feeling grateful will also help switch your focus from a sorry state to a pleasant state of mind.

 

Create a flexible but consistent daily routine

Working from home sounds like a dream — pyjamas all day, slacking off, maybe even working from the couch! But it can get bleak and unproductive pretty quickly if not approached in the right way.

Even if you don’t have to keep the same hours you did when you were going into the office, try to have some kind of regular routine. Wake up and go sleep at the same time, exercise, watch TV when you usually watch TV, and eat regular meals. Dress for work! You can’t feel and act like a professional while wearing pyjamas. You’ll stay productive, and the more you stick to that routine, the easier it will be when you return to work.

 

Exercise and eat right

While we don’t have access to gyms, fitness classes, sport facilities, stadiums, public pools, and playgrounds, it doesn’t mean we should stop being physically active. There are plenty of online workouts you can do from the comfort of your home, and doing so can help your mental health. There are any number of exercises you can do without any equipment, and YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms have channels that offer instruction in everything from yoga to Pilates to strength training. And, if you can still go outside to your garden, nothing beats a bit of gardening, and the extra Vitamin D is great for your immune system. These activities will not only keep you in shape, but they’ll also release toxins from the body. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will release all your stored energy.

When it comes to eating, include more greens and water-based fruits, as they keep your mind and body balanced, active, and healthy. Your food does not have to be boring, and it’s actually the perfect time to experiment with new and exciting recipes.

 

Keep a clean and positive environment

A clean home really lifts our mood. Also, cleaning helps us feel a sense of accomplishment, and diverts our focus from what we’re feeling.

Do a deep spring-clean, and get rid of things that you no longer need. Organise and de-clutter your home and workspace. Not only will this protect against the spread of illness, but it also makes being cooped up in your home a lot more pleasant. Finish that list of chores you’ve been putting off, or never had time for. Also, find ways of putting out brightly coloured things, and play uplifting music. This will definitely enhance your environment, and make you more cheerful and relaxed.

 

Focus on what’s really important

And just like that, money, social status, and all that superficial stuff means absolutely nothing.

We often talk about our priorities in life. How many of us have actually stopped to really think about what’s most important to us (relationships, jobs, money, status, material objects)? Never mind how much time we spend on our priorities compared to the less important things. Well, now is as good a time as any to invest in what really matters.

Stay connected to your support network, and make sure it’s a healthy one. Check in with your close friends and family. Get on the phone, Skype, or FaceTime, and make time to connect regularly. You’ll probably need it, and so will everyone else.

Ask yourself what works for you. What are the circumstances that allow you to be your happiest, calmest, most energetic, and most productive? Try create the most favourable circumstances for yourself. Remove the things you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t love. You may find that you have more space to be creative, and you might get a boost in focus too. It’s irrational, but it’s true: There’s a lot we can’t control, but being able to manage the things we can control in our life will help lift heavy burdens, allow us to reconnect with what’s really important, and will bring a lot more peace and joy.

 

Use this time to visualise and create your future

We’re all worried about countless things at the moment. Our next paycheque, taking care of our loved ones, paying the bills, our relationships, and stability. Now’s the time to visualise and think about building a future.

Create a foundation of what you’d like to achieve once the pandemic is over. Visualisation helps us get clarity. It also helps in actualising our dreams and reality. This is the perfect time to think about our goals, and as we do that, our focus will shift from fear to what possibilities can be created. All of this will help us feel a sense of hope and positivity.

This is an unprecedented time, and you’re doing the best you can. We don’t know how long this isolation will last, but think about how much better things are going to be on the other side. We’ll be able to visit people, go to our offices, and most importantly we’ll have a better understanding of what matters and how we want to deal with the future. Be grateful for this time, think of the end goal, and take things day by day.

We’re resilient people, and we will get through this!

These techniques are there to help you to deal with fear and anxiety. If you feel as if your emotions are building up and they’re too much to handle, it’s advisable to talk to someone or seek professional help. The team at 4 Seeds is here to help with personal and business coaching to provide the support, expertise, and resources you need to manage yourself, your business, and your employees in this challenging time.

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.