So another year year over and here we are on day one of 2017.
Psychologically this can be the easiest time to make changes as in our minds at least, a new year means a new start. It can also be one of the toughest times to make changes though due to the sheer pressure of "resolutions"!
The key really is to do what feels comfortable and don't try to make sweeping changes all at one go. If you do it is likely that your body and/or emotions will suffer and that will make you want to question the validity of the changes. Gently does it is an appropriate maxim to apply.
Here is an article from the BBC website on some changes you might want to stick with.
copyright the BBC
If you do make changes, remember to make ones that mean something to you and add something of value to your life without pushing you into a state of suffering.
So here we are a couple of weeks after the UK public decided that we should exit the EU.
While the now famous article 50 has still not been activated and we have political upheaval on an almost unprecedented scale, the ordinary person in the street may be forgiven for thinking that nothing much has changed. A small increase in fuel perhaps and your Euros are a LOT more expensive but other than that not much else so far (Bank of England interest rate cut imminent anyone???).
As an independent training company i.e. not affiliated to any particular company and therefore with no captive audience to provide training, coaching or other services for, we have been looking at how Brexit if/when it happens may affect us. Will companies that outsource T&D or coaching slam the coffers lids down and wait out the forecast storm or will the reverse be true, amid a recognition that the UK workforce now needs up to date skills more than ever to compete effectively?
So far, it has to be said that there does not seem to be a lot of research on the subject but here is an interesting article from the Huffington post:
Comments and golden ticket solutions for future trade models always welcome and will be forwarded to the appropriate govt departments ;-)
Life coaching is all over the media at the moment.
Every day there seems to be an article about how to change you life with the help of a "Life coach" but do we really need coaching or is it just a facet of "modern life" that has been hyped by the mainstream media?
As a coach working with both individuals and businesses for many years, my personal take on whether we need coaching is both yes and no.
Yes, there are people who for whatever reason in their personal and/or business life, need an outside influence to encourage, motivate, question and reinforce them in some way as their existing "support mechanisms" are insufficient in some way.
This might be a work colleague they have recently connected with, a person they look up to that they feel that they can approach or in some cases a professional life coach.
An important point for any (non sports) coaching is to question and have a balanced approach instead of a critical outlook.
Often life coaching is requested when a person can't see a way around a problem or maybe has developed a phobia of something.
Criticising holds little value in these scenarios yet I often hear people saying "Oh come on, it's only a spider." or "Well everyone else is managing ok."
People making these kind of statements probably believe they are being helpful and often that is their intention, however it doesn't help the person struggling, to understand where their problem originates and therefore deal with the root cause.
When we are born, we are a blank slate, though one with enormous learning potential. That slate is written on by ourselves, our parents, teachers, friends, in fact everyone that we come into some form of contact with including authors, actors, painters etc. via the arts and other media.
As our powers of logic and reasoning develop, so we apply this knowledge and this along with any inherent genetic traits make up our character.
We are not genetically programmed (as far as medical science has thus far established) to be afraid of spiders, flying, clowns etc. therefore this trait has been learned from someone or something!
A life coach has the very positive role of exploring where we learned this and helping us to see alternatives to the fear we feel. It is not hypnosis but re-education!
So coaching can have a very positive role to play in life and also business BUT as I said at the beginning, my own view is that there are also times when it is completely unnecessary or at least only required for a short duration.
An example might be where a person does not know how to complete a task. All that is required is to show them the process, let them practice a few times and then leave them to it, with the occasional check to make sure they are ok. They clearly do not need coaching to help them learn the task unless it is particularly complicated or they have "learned" to fear it due to prior experience (theirs or others they have heard about).
So "Coaching" is the media darling but is rarely mentioned in context of being only one part of the Learning and Development spectrum.
When I started coaching in the mid '90's, the focus was very much on being a "Trainer", whereas now the whole L&D cycle seems to revolve around "Coaching" and "Life Coaching".
At the end of the day, there are times when it is useful and times when it isn't but as L&D professionals, we should remember that it is only another tool for us to use at the appropriate time for the learners benefit.
Thoughts and comments are as always welcomed.
Interesting research from: GRETCHEN GAVETT associate editor at the Harvard Business Review. Follow her on Twitter @gretchenmarg.
So you're sat at your computer again, wondering about how tired and lethargic you feel, how you eyes ache and how you can't sleep at night!
As Coaches, we try to look at a holistic approach to the client's well-being. This takes a number of different forms but can loosely be summarised as Mind, Spirit and Body.
We all know that learning doesn't end at school or university, it's an ongoing process throughout our lives even when we don't think much about it. Watching a documentary on tv that teaches you something is a good example of what I like to call "Unconscious learning" but when did you last consciously study? Was it for work? How did you study and what lessons did you learn about how you prefer to learn?
If you are going to learn, it is often worth trying to understand how you best learn. At school you probably had a teacher at the front of a class with a board they wrote on and some books to read (or maybe a laptop/pc to study at if you are under about 25). That doesn't mean that you need that format to learn now though. Many people like reading but remember far more they hear and vice versa. Have you tried an audio book or watching video clips of the subject to see if you retain more using one method than another?
Achieving spiritual happiness is often seen as the pinnacle of human life and in some theories is at the top of the tree in terms of our requirements (see our page on motivation). Spirituality does not have to mean religion (though for many it does). As a coach I prefer to think of it as finding that state within yourself where you are at peace with who and what you are. This may mean understanding the principles and motivations that drive you as well as the things that have the opposite effect. Self questioning is always a good place to start trying to understand what aspects of your life are leading you to be less effective and why! Only when you have identified some areas to work on should you think about WHAT to do to make the changes that you desire.
This is often the forgotten element and one that maybe should be the first we address since it impacts so much on your mental well-being and spiritual health.
Rather than paraphrase work that has been done by many many others into this field, here is an article that seems to us to sum up nicely along with some basic suggestions as to how to go about making physical change in your life.
As always, comments are very welcome.
An interesting article by the BBC about what makes a CEO stand out from the crowd.
"What is it that makes a good boss stand out from his or her corporate colleagues and rivals?
Key attributes for a successful chief executive would include the ability to lead others, to see in advance what needs doing and to be passionate about problem-solving.
Another characteristic of any good CEO, is their ability to understand fully the often complex scope of their company's operations.
It is a challenge which can be made easier by a manager gaining as much experience as possible while climbing the promotion ladder.
Harriet Green, CEO of travel group Thomas Cook, tells aspiring leaders to broaden their approach early on in their careers.
"I always encourage executives to take the jobs that are not necessarily the norm, because you will learn a great deal more about your own boundaries," she says.
"Whereas if you just do the job - the fast track to the top - maybe you'll be a sort of thinner, taller leader, and not a rounded out one.
"So take a little bit of risk."
The importance of ethics
But one of the risks that prospective leaders should not run, says Wang Shi - the founder and chairman of Chinese property giant China Vanke - is with business behaviour.
People have to have a sense of what the purpose is - of what a company's about - Frits van Paasschen Starwood Hotels
Business scandals have certainly made the news in recent years - underlining the point that ignoring ethics can have a serious and lasting impact on a firm's bottom line.
Wang Shi maintains that managers "have to balance" the hunt for profits with the need to be ethical in the way that they treat customers and others.
"If you only get money but you don't care about a thing, right or wrong, you cannot last. That cannot sustain you for the future."
If a boss does the "right thing", then the money will come, he says.
And doing the right thing extends to how a company treats its staff.
"CEOs need to be able to inspire and share their values with people throughout their organisation," says management expert Steve Tappin and presenter of CEO Guru.
Sense of purpose is a point underscored by Frits van Paasschen, the CEO of Starwood Hotels, who points out that US civil rights leader Martin Luther King did not have an "I have a plan" speech.
"He had an 'I have a dream' speech, people have to have a sense of what the purpose is - of what a company's about."
If a company pursues its goals correctly, then profits should flow from that, he argues.
Rupert Soames says a manager should try to be real to themselves
"We're about giving guests great experiences so they come back, so we can create great returns for people who own the hotels.
"It's really that simple. If you can make your guests happy, these other things start to take care of themselves."
Yet, when learning how to be a good boss, Rupert Soames, CEO of energy supplier Aggreko, cautions that a manager needs to make sure they learn from those who respect their own values.
"I went to this guy, and got my brain reprogrammed. I disappeared for three weeks and came back as a different human being."
His colleagues were not impressed by the changes.
"They hated it, and I hated it, and I managed to keep up good behaviour for about three weeks and then relapsed - and everybody sighed in relief."
He says a manager should try to be real to themselves, but should also understand "that being real and being yourself is not necessarily a virtue.
"You've got to be a little bit more sophisticated than that."
Companies need to remain bold and entrepreneurial but also manage risk, says management expert Steve Tappin
'Being open-minded'Another problem comes as a company grows.
"In my world there's no bad staff - there's bad bosses, bad leaders” - Allan ZemanLan Kwai Fong Group
There is a real challenge in holding on to what made a firm great in the first place when your kitchen tabletop business morphs into a corporate behemoth.
"There's a lot of companies that as they get bigger, get slower and can't innovate," says management expert Steve Tappin.
A good manager needs to have the "vision and values to create a business fit for the 21st Century," he says.
These days, all firms need to face up to the reality of a globalised marketplace, and the impact of social media both on them and their customers.
When something goes wrong for a firm, a company may have only hours to react to what can often be a Twitter storm of criticism.
Generation gapAllan Zeman, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Lan Kwai Fong Group, says a good boss should focus on "thinking about tomorrow, being open-minded".
Mr Zeman points out that there is often a clear generational gulf between top managers, who may be in their forties or fifties, and their media-savvy customers in their early twenties.
"Young people today are different. They care about things that we never cared about growing up - the environment, clean air, green - all the buzzwords that today make up our existence."
And he has this advice for any would-be CEOs.
"In my world there's no bad staff - there's bad bosses, bad leaders."
As always, let me know what you think!!!
CV composition is an increasingly important part of our lives. As the need to change jobs becomes ever more frequent so the need to update this essential first step in the recruitment process gains in importance.
Here at www.thextramilecoaching.com we provide comprehensive advice and coaching support for people struggling with this aspect of recruitment.
An excellent article we have found was published on the BBC website back in Nov 2011. The link is below. While this is only an overview, it does provide the essential first steps and guidance for those of you who may never have written a formal CV before.
As always let us know what you think and any comments or advice from your experience are always welcome.
For those of you wishing to take advantage of our experience and support, please contact us in the usual way (contact form, email, phone).
If you have comments but wish them to be anonymous, you can email us directly and we will add them without any reference to you.
Have a great day and good luck with those CV's
I found this an interesting article for anyone considering changing their job/career.
Often we make big changes in our lives without getting the help we need.
I would be interested to know what you think about this article and any similar reasons you may have chosen to change career. What was your experience?
Like many other people I recently watched the Champions League final (Football/Soccer) between Chelsea FC and Bayern Munich FC.
In summary, despite being outplayed for much of the game and falling a goal behind late in the game, Chelsea managed to score an equaliser with only a few minutes remaining. This led to and extra period of play where they also had a penalty awarded against them which their goalkeeper saved, leading to the game being settled by penalties. Bayern led these but then ultimately they let their lead slip and Chelsea scored theirs to win the game.
This got me thinking, what is it that stops us performing to our maximum? All of those players were/are capable of putting the ball exactly where they want it, so why did some miss their penalties and is this relevant in other jobs.
At first sight, there appear to be two factors that influenced the penalty taker.
The first is simply physical, they are tired: most had just played for two hours at a speed and technical level most of us will never achieve.
Second, pressure told: the goalkeeper has less pressure as he is not expected to save the attempt, so if he does he is a hero - the only way is up. Conversely, the penalty taker is expected to score so for him the only way is down.
Pressure is a strange thing as it seems to affect some more than others. A psychologist told me once that pressure is created internally by ourselves and not by external factors, which may explain why some can perform when others cannot when external factors are the same. In the game, there is the influence the crowd try to bring to bear as well as the knowledge of many millions of people watching. I would however, argue that the external factors act as a catalyst and fuel for the pressure even if it is ultimately built up within ourselves.
To me though there are two more factors at play, knowledge and luck!
The goalkeeper may have been advised that players tend to aim at the same side of the goal. This knowledge may give him a better chance of making a save, by playing the percentages.
Luck also becomes relevant as the keeper may go the correct way, make a save but the ball ricochets off a post and in or off a post and away to safety. The penalty taker may slip etc.
Are any or all of these factors relevant in the business world?
Physically, we all have days when we feel out of sorts and even the simplest of tasks seem to require extra effort. Days like this often separate the successful from the unsuccessful as tasks or activities get put to one side leading to delay or failure. Physically we all have a limit where our bodies will tell us to stop doing a task, the key is asking yourself WHY your body is telling you this. If you are tired, hungry etc, you will obviously not perform as well as when fresh and well fed.
Of course, illness and injury also play a part in our ability to perform to a high standard (or at all) and depending on the extent and severity of the malady, there may be very little we can do to achieve the goal or task we have set ourselves and it may be better to not even attempt it.
The key here is make sure you are physically prepared to take on the task. Staggering into work after little rest and no breakfast is likely to result in only one level of performance - LOW!
Mental strength is often key to achieving goals and terms like "Positive Mental Attitude" are bandied around as a general panacea. It is certainly true that believing you can achieve a goal or task will make you more likely to succeed than not believing. I have seen this when coaching many times, especially when coaching fencing. A fencer I know was always able to complete a particular action when practicing but without fail couldn't replicate the move when actually fighting. We analysed this over and over and tried to examine what mental block seemed to be preventing this action. Eventually NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) work helped eliminate the block which was primarily caused by fear of being struck by his opponent while executing the move.
In the business world, mental belief is especially relevant when attempting to "sell" something whether a physical product or an idea. If mentally you are at low point, try reminding yourself of successes you have had and focus on the first and most immediate step you must take. If the first step is plucking up courage to approach someone with an idea then focus on achieving that because once we start something we are more likely to continue!
Knowledge is also a key factor in business performance. Without the correct knowledge you are relying on luck to influence your business performance. Simply, the key is to ensure you have the relevant, up to date knowledge and have anticipated the requirements of your customer so you are best prepared. NB: no one is ever fully prepared as there is always the possibility of a question you could never anticipate.
Where possible try to find out as much about clients as possible so you can target you knowledge requirements. If you need specialist knowledge then surround yourself with people who have this knowledge and if necessary delegate tasks to them. You don't have to be an expert yourself, just have access to one!
Luck! Does luck play a part in business performance? Well in my opinion it does. The chance conversation overheard, meeting a person that helps or hinders your performance, The transport delay that leads to a missed meeting etc etc.
Can we beat bad luck? Well, we may not be able to stop something happening but we can look for an opportunity to turn it to our advantage. Partly this is around planning for "bad luck" but also not just blaming circumstance and giving up. Develop an attitude of looking for alternatives, whether they be suppliers, customers, solutions, staff etc. The more you do this, the more adaptable you will be.
As always, these are just my thoughts and are not intended as a definitive treatise, so feel free to discuss, agree, disagree etc.
I don't know how many times I have been talking with a client and they have said something like 'Oh I'd never be able to do that.' or 'I can't do that it's too difficult.'
My usual response is to ask them why they think they can't do whatever it is and their answers are usually quite enlightening.
'Well I could never learn that', 'I tried that once and couldn't get the hang of it', 'I was rubbish at remembering stuff at school', etc. etc.
WHY do we say this stuff?
Well, there are any number of possible reason why people feel that they 'Can't do' something. Maybe they have tried and been told the results were not good enough. Maybe they don't want to try because they feel someone else is better than them. Possibly they have tried to learn in a way that didn't suit them or someone has tried to teach them by their preferred learning method instead of the learners.
The simple fact is that if you think you can't do something, you won't be able to do it and may never try!
Part of the coaches role is to help coachees understand that the greatest barriers and also the greatest aid to their learning is their own self belief. We can do this by teasing out of the coachee their reasons for the belief and then helping them understand how we can shift that to a more positive level. We need to shift their thinking to a 'Can do' rather than 'Can't do'.
Some techniques within NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) focus on this by providing positive imagery and sounds to the coachee. It is important that the environmental factors surrounding the coachees learning are as conducive to learning as possible. Trying to learn a language while listening to pumping rock music is probably not going to help most people (there are always exceptions though).
Another factor is to identify and then focus on some small positive steps. Teaching someone to learn a language does not start with complex phrases and colloquialisms but with individual words and simple sentences. It is also imperative to have an idea of WHAT you want to learn and some sort of FRAMEWORK for getting there including a way of measuring progress. Goal setting is essential!
So, you have helped the coachee to realise that they CAN learn, try a new activity, they have identified what they want/need to learn and they have set some goals to allow progress to be measured. Now what?
Remembering stuff, the way the brain works!
All our brains basically work in the same way. Information is absorbed via our senses and the brain creates or expands neural pathways with this new information. Studies show that when we already have a start to the pathway, expanding it seems to be easier than creating new ones, so a technique that has been developed is to link whatever it is you're trying to remember with something you already know. I remember doing a memory exercise once where we had to remember 50 random items then recount them all after 20 minutes. The way we did this was to create a story about the items so for example:
Pen, sword, t-shirt, headphones, paper, photo
could be remembered in the following way:
Today I saw a man listening to music through some headphones.
He was wearing a t-shirt which had "The Pen is Mightier than the Sword" written on it.
I wanted to remember it but couldn't write it down or take a photo as I had no paper or a camera.
Another technique is to use as many senses as possible. Say you want to learn Japanese. Learning by seeing images, listening to sounds, tasting and smelling Japanese food and even touching items you need to remember are all more effective than just reading a list of words in a book!
We all have preferences in the way we learn, so if something isn't working, it probably is just the method that is not right for you rather than the subject being 'unlearnable'!
As always, please comment, esp with any experiences you have.
I've been working in training and development for more than 30 years now including 28 coaching.