Willpower = Achievement?

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One in four new year resolutions fail by January 8th.

Despite what we were told, it seems that willpower is not the golden bullet for getting things done we thought. According to research by Professor David Desteno, (professor of psychology at Northeastern University, USA) rather than driving us to achievement, willpower is actually quite toxic, it creates stress and has long-term negative health outcomes. Remember that child who deferred the gratification of eating one marshmallow now, by waiting patiently to be given two? She seems destined not only for higher long- term earnings, but also for a stress-related coronary!

 

What is the learning from this? Apparently the solution is not to live a life of complete hedonism, living for the moment with no thought for the future; instead it is to be social in our endeavours. This means working as and for a group or team, rather than for your own ends. Why so? It turns out that we are able to defer gratification and dig deep in our reserves much more easily and with much less stress when we do so with feelings of compassion for others and with pride. Doing something in and for the group is actually easier and more successful than following our individual goals. Working together has the natural pay-off of security, which for social beings like us humans, who rely on others for our survival, is a fundamental need. Doing things for others has a reward in and of itself, as well as driving us on.

 

Whoever your team is, make sure you plan together, and for the good of the whole; this way you will enjoy a much higher probability of success without the emotional grunt work required for solitary pursuits.

 

 

The Author

Fran McArthur is a coach, trainer, action learning facilitator and non-executive director with more than 30 years of business experience. She typically works with executives who lead organisations with a turnover of up to £10 million or less than 100 employees, and who wish to effect positive change, particularly in the environmental sector. She collaborates to help them achieve their goals using her practical, common-sense approach.

You can contact her at

enquiries@yibp.co.uk  or  07789520205

 

Combat Loneliness with Kindness

Loneliness is a very harmful condition and, unfortunately for all of us, it is on the increase. Here are some facts, established by researchers.

  • Loneliness In England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1m women
  • It is reaching epidemic proportions among young people
  • It is a great affliction for older people
  • It is twice as deadly as obesity
  • It is as potent a cause of death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism, accidents depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide are all more prevalent amongst lonely people
  • The cost to employers is estimated at £2.5bn a year
  • At least 1 in 10 people attending family doctors say they are lonely
  • Loneliness increases risk of an early death by 26%
  • Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe

George Monbiot, the writer known for his environmental and political activism, calls this the “Age of Loneliness” and reminds us that early humans had to depend on each other for their very existence, whereas today we live more and more apart. He concludes that we are naturally social creatures and we cannot cope alone. (See the age of loneliness is killing us.)

As society changes, as we age and as our loved ones die, we can all expect to experience loneliness at some time. However, we can and must take steps to recover from it. One way to do this is to be kind to others. Kindness – the embodiment of empathy – is a way of reaching out and, in so doing, making contact with other people who may need help just as much as you do.
Here are some other practical steps to combat loneliness:

Talk about your feelings. Loneliness isn’t your fault and there are people there to offer support. Your GP is a good person to start with and there are phone lines such as SupportLine for children and young adults, or The Silver Line for folk aged 55 or over.
Do something new. Meet people and rejuvenate your curiosity for life by becoming proactive in a new interest. Men’s Shed, for example, is a great place for older men to meet and work on practical projects together.
Contribute. Identify a cause that interests you, find a group of like-minded people and volunteer. It could mean joining community gardening group, or setting up an initiative, like the Rural Coffee Caravan, or taking part in a telephone-based book group.
Phone a friend. Approach positively someone you’ve not seen for a while – chat and suggest meeting up ‘I was thinking of you and let’s grab coffee…’. You might find a warmer welcome than you expected.

One of my favourite psychologists, Guy Winch, talks movingly – and entertainingly – about loneliness in his TED presentation The Case for Emotional Hygiene . I recommend you check it out for inspiration and guidance.

I’m off to phone a friend or two – how about you?

 

Rachel is a business & educational psychologist.  After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation.  Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. 

Keep trotting on…

‘Life always begins with one step outside of the comfort zone’ Shannon L Alder

During my workshops, we talk a lot about stepping out of your comfort zone to enable learning and To Be The Best You Can Be and for those of us, particularly, who dare to coach, this process really ought to be ceaseless.  We need to get our fix of ‘new stuff’ by reading, observing, attending and participating in experiences of all kinds, learning and making notes so that we can review, reflect and modify our behaviour.  And although our ‘new stuff’ may be mostly cerebral, it is also worth challenging ourselves physically from time to time.  Physicality may be outside your comfort zone but it has a mental component as well: remember that the most successful athletes get to the top by using minds as well as their bodies.

Last week I found myself in a field in Yorkshire with three other people and a horse called Billy participating in a coaching session.  Heidi – horse lover and founder of Glint – has developed coaching based around interaction with horses, a fun, effective and proven alternative to traditional coaching, therapy and learning.  Being so up close and personal with a horse is certainly outside my comfort zone, but the reward I experienced made it worthwhile.  All the participants agreed that there was no hiding your feelings from Billy – he picked up all our emotions instinctively and used them to gauge us and react accordingly.  It was a wonderfully rich learning experience.

As  I am sure many of you know, it takes bravery to step out of your comfort zone; it can be risky and failure might be part of the process.  But when change becomes a habit it becomes part of your identity – and indeed, part of your workplace team’s identity.  A culture of change and learning is an exciting place to be.

So when did you last step out of your comfort zone?

And a couple of relevant TED talks to check out – Caroline Paul encouraging girls in particular to partake in risky play To Raise Girls Encourage Adventure.  And Richard St John’s top talk Success is a Continuous Journey.

 

Rachel is a business & educational psychologist.  After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation.  Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. 

Pay It Forward

‘Those best parts of life: little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love’ William Wordsworth

One of my favourite films is Pay It Forward (2000), in which the teacher sets eleven year old Trevor the task of devising a way to make the world a better place.  He comes up with the idea of helping others and encouraging them to do likewise in turn, thereby paying kindness forward. The unexpected bonus was that the giver of kindness gets to feel good as well.

I too have found that by choosing to help others – even in very small ways – a by-product of happiness is generated for me.  This was evident when, as was one of many in the Big Sister mentoring programme supporting teenage girls (some of you reading this were involved – and some still are) we were surprised by how much we gained from it too. Each one of the brilliant volunteers got involved for altruistic reasons – the wanting to give back – but it felt like magic was at play.

Bren Bataclan in his TED talk Kindness Can Truly Be Paid Forward speaks about the life changing impact – turning around his life from one of redundancy to one of permanent fulfilment – created by a simple act of generosity: he gave away his paintings, bringing happiness and hope to many, including himself.

An Australian outfit the wakeupproject has created some kindness cards to act as prompts to remind you to help others regularly – buy someone a coffee, leave some flowers on a colleague’s desk – all done anonymously, while leaving a card to ask them to do the same for someone else.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a world of givers where this is the norm?

Are you a giver or a taker is the question Adam Grant explores in a TED talk. He promotes the idea that ‘the most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed’ and includes a test you can take to see whether you are a giver or a taker.

So are you a giver or taker?

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Rachel is a business & educational psychologist.  After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation.  Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. 

Building Resilient Teams

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity – VUCA – is an acronym that was adopted by the military back in the 1990s to describe certain conflict situations. However, when I came across it recently, I thought how well it could apply to the lives of many ordinary working people who navigate such conditions daily.

Whether 2017 is more VUCA than other times is questionable but, in the education and business sectors in which I work, leaders perceive that their situations are becoming ever more demanding.   The ones that survive – or thrive, even – are the ones that support, trust and make their teams feel safe despite the ‘scary stuff’ around them.  They retain their best people and attract great new people to join them. The key to their success is that they practice resilience in the face of adversity and are able to inspire that same quality in their teams.  They build resilient teams.

How do they do it? Three resilience-building strategies that I have seen work very well are:

  • Well-being. Check in on yourself and others to ensure that you get enough sleep and exercise. Also, encourage healthy eating: a fruit bowl is a small presence in the room but a BIG sign of intention.
  • Mindfulness. Slow down and take notice of responses; pause long enough to consider alternative actions; steer away from automatic pilot mode. Calmness in thinking and decision-making sets the tone.
  • Sociability. Work with people who share the same values as you and that you enjoy spending time with. Be sure to schedule in down time to play and have fun together.

One of my favourite psychologists, Simon Sinek, talks about great leaders being like great parents – ones  that make you feel safe  – allowing their team to try new things, fail, get support, try again and succeed in the end. Check out his TED talk on the subject.

In addition, Daniel Kahnemann’s bestseller Thinking Fast and Slow is a serious and very powerful proposition: it will change the way you think!

 

Rachel is a business & educational psychologist. After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field.

What Is Action Learning?

Action Learning Sets are one of those concepts that we think we know about, but when we really think about it we are often a bit vague – this in turn suggests that the benefits are also poorly understood. It was with this in mind that I recently ran an Action Learning Set for a mixed group as a demonstration of the value in creating new and deeper thinking among the set members.

 

The room had its fair share of sceptics, added to which we were in a false situation, in that we effectively had an audience, which does little to engender the safe, trusted space needed for truly creative thinking; but not to be defeated we pressed ahead.

The set was made up of eight volunteers – in my opinion the maximum number for an effective set – facilitated by myself and observed by a further dozen or so people. We sat in a circle with all members able to make eye contact with one another. After agreeing which member of the group would ‘present’ their issue, we listened carefully as the Presenter laid out the facts of their situation as they saw it and the various factors affecting or preventing him from moving forward. Members of the set listened intently and in silence, after around 5 minutes the scene was set and I, the Facilitator, invited any clarification questions, this completed, we went into open questions.

 

A critical aspect of Action Learning is that it is not advice giving – all questions are open and are in no way ‘leading’. Participants come with a sense of curiosity and an understanding that the right solution is the one the Presenter works out for themselves. As a new group, it was no surprise that they found it difficult to resist giving the benefit of their extensive experience and several times we had to pause and reframe questions to be truly open. Well-timed and short questions usually have the greatest impact, as was the case with this group – we watched the presenter’s facial expressions in response to “and what else?” – the question drew him up short and then he went first into deep thought before a real light bulb moment.

 

Of-course, Action Learning is not just about thinking things through, the clue is in the name – it’s about taking action. From our short session of thoughtful, open questioning our presenter went away with a number of very practical actions on which he will report back to the group. His reaction – “totally immersive, a powerful way to become unstuck”.

 

This is a learning experience not just for the Presenter, but also for the whole group. And the naysayers? Everyone declared themselves on-board, with the exception of two, who declared themselves scientists only interested in facts!

For the 90% plus the BENEFITS OF ACTION LEARNING include: –

  • Actionable outcomesHow to grow business
  • Long lasting problem solving competency
  • Enhanced creativity & curiosity
  • New questioning & listening skills
  • Increased resilience/ability to deal with stress
  • Improved leadership
  • Team building
  • Heightened emotional intelligence

 

 

If you would like to experience the benefits for yourself, we will, (subject to demand), be running two FREE ACTION LEARNING SETS in Manchester during July and September 2017. If you would like to be involved please drop us a line at enquiries@yibp.co.uk for a chance to be included – first come, first served – good luck.

 

The full PROCESS, (not all of which is covered above), is made up of a number of steps:

  1. Arriving Round
  2. Bidding
  3. Presenting
  4. Questions
  5. Action
  6. Reflection
  7. Process Review

 

About the Author: Fran McArthur is an  ILM accredited action learning facilitator, business coach, trainer and no-executive director with more than 30 years of business experience. She typically works with executives, who lead organisations of up to £10m/100 employees and who wish to effect positive change. She collaborates with them to achieve their goals using her practical, common-sense approach

Managing My Anger

Alternatives to losing your temper (John Hegley) 

Sit on your hands. Visit the Hebrides. Knit.  Unknit your brow. Build a model of your anger out of matches. Catch a falling star and put it in a poem. Watch a soap. Make some soap. Send the world a message of hope. Coil up in a medicine ball. Call a nurse. Reverse. Close your eyes and do the washing up. Sing. Pray. Have a fig roll. Have a nice day.

Someone told me, years ago, that I am too emotional.  I knew at the time this was intended as a criticism but I decided to interpret it as a compliment.  I am glad to be so emotional because it means, among others things, that my feelings run deep and true. Emotions also help to embed memories – in my case mostly good, although some are bad or sad – which all add up to make me who I am.

However, as a child my emotions often got the better of me, especially my anger which frequently spilled over into disruptive behaviour – shouting, screaming and general nastiness which made things very uncomfortable for me and even more so for those around me. Today I still get angry – there is a lot to be angry about in this world, injustice, poverty, violence, lies etc. – but I have learnt,   as part of my resilience training, how to prevent that anger from turning into negative behaviour.

To manage your emotional responses, start by recognising the feelings and giving them a name to acknowledge what is going on. Suppressing emotions is the wrong way to go as it stops us from being authentic with ourselves and hinders our ability to learn from experience.  Instead, aim to channel emotions into something positive to help yourself – and others – benefit from the outcome. You may find that anger, for example, is an irresistible reaction, but the power of its expression does not have to be destructive: try using the adrenalin it creates as a stimulant to mobilize you into action to overcome obstacles instead.

Here are some tips I have learnt to help me manage my anger:

  1. Use the STOP model:

………Stop

………Take a deep breath

……… Observe openly and gently

 ………Perceive positively

  1. Give yourself a few moments for the anger to subside: “Right now I know I am feeling angry, but I know it will pass. I am not the emotion”
  2. Go and do something else, turn away from the trigger, engage in something you know makes you happy (for me it would be to go for a run).
  3. Recall a happy memory: make it specific, re-live it in your head.
  4. Look after yourself: engage your senses – touch, taste, sound, sight, smell – and focus them on beautiful things.

Life would be so very bland without emotions, we simply need to be in control of them, rather than allowing them to control us.

A couple of ‘emotional’ links to check out:

 

 

About the Author: Rachel is a business & educational psychologist.  After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation.  Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field.

7 steps to a robust recruitment process that delivers results

Rather than leaving your recruitment planning until you have an emergency or the moment before you plan to run a campaign give yourself time to do a great job and start right now. Too often we leave these ‘important, but not urgent’ jobs to the last moment and as a result get a second-class result – attracting the best talent is critical to any business, so make sure your recruitment process is truly robust and well planned.

Rather than leaving your recruitment planning until you have an emergency or the moment before you plan to run a campaign give yourself time to do a great job and start right now. Too often we leave these ‘important, but not urgent’ jobs to the last moment and as a result get a second-class result – attracting the best talent is critical to any business, so make sure your recruitment process is truly robust and well planned.

These are the elements of a robust recruitment process you should have in place – if you don’t have them yet, then get started and save yourself the costly heart-ache of recruiting the wrong candidate.

 

1. A clear understanding of your company culture.
Research suggests that recruiting culturally aligned staff improves retention by a whopping 30% and that candidates typically accept a 7% lower salary.
Without knowing your own culture how will you find the right person to fit into your business, contribute fully and remain with you, thus avoiding the costly headache of unplanned recruitment?

Are you clear about your: –

  • Core Values (who you are/what you stand for)
  • Vision Statement, (where you are going)
  • Mission statement (how you are going to get there)

All of these are invaluable in assessing the fit of any candidate

 

2. Job descriptions 
In order to carry out their roles successfully everyone needs to know explicitly what is expected of them. By making crystal clear job descriptions agreed with the role holder it also means that you have taken time to think about how roles interact and what works best.
This applies equally to existing and new staff, so getting this right now will allow you to reap the rewards immediately. NB Process mapping might help you to clarify roles and responsibilities.

 

3. Person profile
The person profile details all the skills and behaviours needed to successfully carry out the role as outlined in the job description. (Remember when recruiting that skills can be taught, behaviours are considerably more difficult to change).

 

3. Profile of your existing team
By understanding how your existing team works together, (e.g. who are the Shapers, Implementers or Finishers) you will see where you have skills/behavioural gaps, which might be addressed either by training or more likely, when next recruiting.
It might also highlight strengths not currently fully utilised.

 

4. Job ad template
Draw up the basic template, which can be used as the basis for any role. Remember that you are showcasing your business to attract the best people – your ad must be appealing and draw them in. Doing this in advance you can quickly and easily populate the information for a specific role and hit the ground running when your recruitment need arises.

 

5. Objective assessment of applications
To avoid ‘halos and horns’ (when a single point taints your view of the candidate either positively or negatively), do you have an objective assessment tool which measures each candidate against your key qualifiers?
This can also help to ensure you stay on the right side of the Discrimination Act.

 

6. Interviewing skills
Are you able to craft effective questions, which drill down to the truth, or have you fallen victim to a ‘good interviewer’, who didn’t live up to your expectations? Avoid hypothetical questions, but instead ask about specific incidents, which illustrate a skill or behaviour.
Again, it is important to understand your obligations under the Discrimination Act and how to avoid costly mistakes, (over £77,000 was awarded to one candidate deemed to have been discriminated against)

 

7. Referencing
Do you know how to get meaningful references, which will help you to avoid selecting the wrong candidate, as well as get the most from the right recruit? It is possible to have candid conversations, which are genuinely helpful for both you and the candidate.

May all your hiring decisions be good ones.

 

 If you think that your business might be a little light in any of these areas and would like to discuss how we might work together to plug the gaps/design a robust process to meet your specific needs just give us a call on 07789 520205 or use the button below

 

Contact Us

 

Fran McArthur 1

About the Author: Fran McArthur is a business coach, trainer and no-executive director with more than 30 years of business experience. She typically works with executives, who lead organisations of up to £10m/100 employees and who wish to effect positive change. She collaborates with them to achieve their goals using her practical, common-sense approach

Hands of friends

Who are your best friends?

I have a fabulous set of friends, a terrific mix of characters of all ages, shapes and sizes – and all with different backgrounds and experiences. I love spending time with them and I strive to treat them as well as I would have them treat me. My friends are a powerful and supportive network. We champion one another and have a lot of fun in the process. All of this is important when times get tough and we can help each other out. Together we are a resilient bunch.
But there is one friend who sometimes undermines my resilience: Me! I’m talking about my inner critic, the one who beats me up when I have failed at something, the one who says “I’m so stupid! How could I be so dumb! I’m just not good enough.” This type of recrimination causes only anxiety and worry; this inner critic drains my resilience and inhibits my positive actions. What kind of friend is she?
I have learned from experience and research that the antidote to such negativity is self-compassion. The trick is to be kind to yourself; refrain from judging yourself or comparing yourself with others. Simply accept who you are and build upon your strengths. On the face of it self-compassion might appear to be a lazy and selfish option but the fact is that people who are compassionate to themselves are able and more likely to be compassionate towards others. They are happier, healthier and more optimistic – all qualities that the resilient personality has in spades.
To find out how self-compassionate you are here’s a link to Dr Kristin Neff’s (pioneering self-compassion researcher, author and teacher) questionnaire and for more info her book will tell you all you need to know about Self-Compassion (William Morrow, 2011)

And so I suggest that we play the role of a supportive friend to ourselves rather than a critical one.

Rachel is a business & educational psychologist. After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field.