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.

 

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

 

Five Reasons Why You Need a Coach in 2019

Five Reasons Why You Need a Coach in 2019

There is a reason why coaching is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world. A coach provides new insights on personal struggles, perspective on workplace challenges, and accountability for your best possible self. A coach offers a safe and supportive learning environment where you can grow and progress your communication, life satisfaction and overall well-being. And, as time moves faster and the demands for it increase exponentially, the need for coaching to support your growth and progress at work and at home is greater than ever.

Coaching, while a relatively new profession, has already had a dramatic influence on some of the greatest athletes, CEO’s and innovators of our time. These graphs published by the International Coach Federation (ICF) show the value of coaching for productivity and interpersonal skills at work:

coaching_benefits

No matter what you do, or where you find yourself, a coach is someone who is invested in your personal and professional success, at times even more than you are. Below are five reasons why you should invest in a coach for 2019.

 

A Coach Keeps You Focused on What is Important

There are countless demands for our attention and a myriad of personal goals we set for ourselves, daily as well as at certain intervals in the year. New Year’s resolutions are just one example of the milestones we set for ourselves in order to aid our progress and growth. However, as we all know, despite our best intentions we often lose sight of these goals due to distractions and urgent deadlines, leaving us feeling agitated and dissatisfied with ourselves. A coach is an excellent resource to keep you on track with the goals you have set for yourself.  

 

A Coach Provides Accountability

A coach becomes your personal accountability partner. Once you’ve decided what you want to work towards, your coach will remind you and keep you in check. Often, what we need in order to stay motivated despite our daily challenges is someone reminding us who we are, what we want and who we want to become. A coach knows your needs and goals and will support you to reach your potential, in your own time and on your terms.  

A Coach Helps You Save Time and Stress Less

Time is one of our biggest stresses in this day and age. We are constantly required to attend to different projects and people, despite having our own agenda and needs. The inherent stress of managing our relationships, tasks and personal and professional goals can become overwhelming, leading to health risks and negative consequences. A lot of our working hours are spent in a state of high stress and low mindfulness. A coach can help you to build the skills you need to manage pressure without becoming worn out. A coach is an antidote to stress, providing you with a sounding board for worries and concerns, and a fresh perspective on challenging situations.  

A Coach Can Help You Build Confidence and Keep Motivated

Motivation is a tricky thing, and we often find ourselves weakened by failures and setbacks. We become self-critical, and in turn, avoid or resolve ourselves to not achieving our potential. A coach can become an essential resource at these times, providing you with perspective, inspiration and objectivity which is impossible to achieve on your own. When you have a mirror to show you your blind spots, you can become aware of your limiting behaviours and harmful thinking patterns, and in turn, find new ways of living and working which can boost your motivation and show you your true potential.  

 

A Coach Can Help Increase Employee Engagement and Allow Your Business To Gain a Competitive Advantage

A recent study by ICF found that 65% of employees with a coaching culture were highly engaged. This is a massive improvement on the 13% engagement findings of Gallup from 2015. A coach provides powerful individual progress which improves the team and organisational effectiveness. In a competitive and challenging economic climate, this becomes a vital resource to leverage off and set your business apart from the pack.  

Are You Ready to Kickstart your Best Year Yet?

At 4Seeds we provide ICF-accredited coaching packages which suit any position or budget. With our professional and caring team of coaches, we can provide you with the motivation, accountability, engagement and insight to make 2019 your best year yet!   Click here to book a free meet and greet.  

What is your mindset?

What is your mindset?

Our mindset has a profound impact on our life because it determines how we interact, behave, perceive, and engage with the world around us. We seldom, however, give our mindset a second thought, perhaps assuming that it’s innately inborn and something beyond our control. Many people assume that we either have a positive mindset that sees the glass as half full, or a negative one that sees it as half empty. Fortunately, and because of neuroplasticity over time, our mindsets can change and grow.

In our day-to-day lives, our mindset determines how we approach challenges and obstacles. Do we see things from a more negative viewpoint, or do we see challenges as opportunities to grow and learn? The good news is that you can develop and change your mindset in any situation because you have one phenomenal component in your life: choice! You can choose how to see your world around you. Your mindset is the belief you have about something, and we all know that our beliefs aren’t always correct. Beliefs are concepts we deem to be true without having any empirical evidence, but we have the ability to change our beliefs and therefore our mindset.

According to leading mindset researcher Professor Carol Dweck, there are two distinct mindset types.

The Two Different Mindset Types

1. Fixed mindset

As the word indicates, a fixed mindset person believes that our abilities and qualities are predetermined. This means that we’re born with certain predispositions that we cannot change or control. A fixed mindset focuses on winning and achieving for the benefit of being acknowledged and respected by others. A fixed mindset approach requires constant validation from others. If the person perceives that he/she won’t be able to achieve an outcome because of the lack of capability, this translates into them not putting in the required effort because they doubt their success. If failure does occur, the person doesn’t try again but gives up and believes that they aren’t good enough.

2. Growth Mindset

On the other side of the spectrum is the growth mindset – here the belief is that a person’s qualities and abilities can grow and develop with effort, experience, discipline, and engagement. The focus is on learning mastery and competence in self-selected areas. Results and outcomes don’t determine who we are, or what our potential is; rather they’re an indication of the amount of effort we apply right now. If the person doesn’t succeed the first time around, they develop the thinking style of “not yet, but soon”. They get up, contemplate how to approach the situation differently, and try again. Their emphasis is on the process applied not the actual outcome.
You may be wondering why it matters which mindset type you have. It matters profoundly because it clearly affects your ability to achieve goals, performances and being successful. Our mindset type can hinder or enable us, and this determines which strategies we’ll apply. It dictates how we respond to setbacks, the energy and effort we use to tackle situations, and in the end our success in goal attainment. Statistics show that a growth mindset is successful more often and is able to maintain that level consistently.

 

Mindsets in Organisations

If we take this concept one step further and assume that companies operate in the same frame as individuals, we can then conclude that companies have a certain primary mindset culture. Let’s hypothetically assume that a company has a fixed mindset culture, which is shown in its structures, policies, processes, operational activities and task execution. Outcomes and targets are distinctly measured and not attaining them means failure. Mistakes are punished, people are labelled as incompetent, and no learning is taken from mishaps. Leadership cascades that energy into its workforce, which may hamper employees from being self-motivated, creative, innovative thinkers, learners of mistakes, and eager to experiment with new ways of doing things. Growth is overshadowed by the company’s habitual system.

If the above concept is true; should leaders not be focusing on changing their company’s mindset? Companies like Apple, Google, and Virgin actively apply a growth mindset culture and we know what phenomenal success they’ve achieved. Perhaps it’s time to review what parts of your company are stuck in a fixed mindset and which aren’t.

Make the shift to a healthier growth mindset culture where you can learn from mistakes, and focus on the processes you apply rather than the final outcomes.

 

Reference

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: The Random House Publishing Group.