Category: Elaine Bailey

How’s your sense of direction? Do you know where you are growing to?

By , September 5, 2013 7:42 am

3D business white people. Mobile phone with GPS“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are that you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much.”

~ Jim Rohn

How’s your sense of direction?

Most people simply let their life happen to them. They wait, procrastinate and react. There’s no sense of urgency and certainly no strategy. They just get busy doing stuff…and time rolls on.

They stay stuck because they don’t know what to do.

We all burn through time so quickly. Before you know it most of your life is behind you. Reality sets in that you should have been more proactive and strategic, rather than waiting and putting things off.

I think it was Charles Handy who wrote that we live life backwards: the longer we live the more we learn and experience, by the time we have it all figured out we’re too old to do anything about it!

…But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can DECIDE TODAY to stop waiting and reacting!

As a career strategist, I sometimes work with people who are confused because they have no idea what to do with their life, career or business…

It’s a bit like they are lost in a foreign city without a map. They don’t have a sense of purpose or direction. Their growth is random and chaotic. They drift from one idea to another and have no clue to where they want to go. In this confusion they collapse into a coach for the answer.

Here’s how I see it…

You have to develop your own sense of direction by creating two reference points:

1. ‘You are here’ – In other words, you need to know where you are now. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear on a notice board with a big arrow on it (like in a big city or shopping mall!). You have to sit down work it out for yourself. But there are some clues…

Your direction in life begins with SELF-AWARENESS. As John C Maxwell says: “You must know yourself to grow yourself!”

You have to get to know:

  • Your strengths
  • Your weaknesses
  • Your passion
  • Your opportunities

From my experience, most people lack self-awareness, don’t know their strengths or the value they bring to their daily lives. Start by focusing your attention here, because your natural strengths and passions are where you have the most potential for growth.

Do things that you are passionate about, not just interested in. There is a difference in the energy of these two words! Pay attention to:

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What would you like to do?
  • What are you good at (other people will tell you this)?
  • What would you like to do more of?
  • Why would you like to do this?
  • How can you get to do more of this?
  • Who can help you?
  • What is your investment to make this happen (time, resources, money, sacrifice)?
  • What’s your first step beginning today?

Get to know yourself and accept who you are in this moment.  This can take time.

Okay… Our second reference point is…

2. Where you want to go –Your strengths hold the key for where you have the most potential for growth. So start here. If you focus on growing your strengths, you will build confidence in your abilities and these can help you to set a course for where you want to go. Look for opportunities to use your strengths along the way.

Knowing yourself and growing yourself are intertwined. The path might not be clear at first, but you’ll get momentum on your journey by learning new things and applying them as you go.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • DECIDE to be proactive and take it seriously.
  • COMMIT to action and be consistent.
  • GET SUPPORT – You can’t get to reach your destination on your own. You’ll need the help and guidance of others who can teach you.
  • TAKE DELIBERATE ACTION even when you don’t feel like it.

Life is short and we don’t get any rehearsal time so I encourage you to develop a strong sense of urgency and proactivity.

How’s your sense of direction? Do you know where you are growing to?!

 

Why are you constantly working long hours and feeling exhausted?

By , August 28, 2013 2:31 pm

Man chained with office table (workplace) 2“Remember this: Burnout is not a crisis of time, it is a crisis of spirit.”

James Autry – Author.

In my role as a coach I notice the working habits of my clients as they share their working world with me. There is no difference between the habits of a corporate employee or a business owner: the patterns are the same. Most people are working too hard and the balance between work and personal time is sometimes non-existent.

There’s too much to do, not enough hours in the day and you’re unfocused because you’re getting splattered and distracted too easily.

You know you need to prioritize, etc. Most of us know what we should be doing. The main issue is actually a deeper one and while time management principles might help it’s important to also address the cause.

Let me explain…

If you don’t have some balance in your personal time and your work, then I can guarantee that you won’t remain productive for very long. I’m sure you have proven this to yourself in the past (I have for sure!). Overwhelm or burnout is waiting around the corner. You’ll soon start to make mistakes and become exhausted.

I’ve noticed that a lack of balance causes burnout in a couple of ways:

1. Obsessed with work – Nothing else in your life matters. Everything revolves around this. Work becomes the priority and you find reasons to work and excuses for avoiding any other activity such as creating personal time or family time. You become addicted to work and you feed off this stimulus. Burnout is when your relationships fail and your health becomes a problem because you’re not paying attention to the basics.

2. Overwhelmed by work – Workloads become so much of a burden that you lose all sense of any meaning or value in your work. You become disillusioned both on a psychological and emotional level, that you feel trapped and stuck. “Is this all there is?” You feel pretty miserable and exhausted.

Most successful people are dedicated, hard working and conscientious and there are times where you have to burn the mid-night oil or work through the weekend to get something done. This is perfectly okay and normal. There is a significant difference, though, if this is happening all the time and it is relentless.

No one is productive for 7 hours a day. So you’ll be even less productive if you consistently work 12, 13 or 15 hours a day (Research has proven this)!

So if this is happening there is a problem that needs addressing.

Here are some questions to ask your self:

  • Why are you constantly working long hours and feeling exhausted?
  • Are you really being productive in all these hours you are working?

If the answer is…

NO - You may be working long hours and staying late at the office, but without any real focused activity. This is a self-related issue.

  • You may be using your work as an excuse to hide from other activities such as an unhappy (or no) personal life.
  • You might not know what to do with yourself when you are not working because you’ve gotten out of the habit of relaxing and enjoying hobbies, interests, family and friends.
  • You have become addicted to work.
  • You may be dis-organized and need to practice some self-management principles consistently.

Get some support to help you learn and consistently implement some self-management principles, get focused, set some boundaries and begin to create a personal life for yourself outside of work.

If the answer is…

YES - If you are being productive in all the hours you’re working, then this is telling you a different story because this is a job-related issue. Here are some things to consider:

  • You have too much to do!
  • The structure of the job itself needs to be reviewed because it’s impossible to achieve everything in regular hours.
  • You may have become a people pleaser saying yes to everyone else and no to you.
  • You’re trying to do everything!
  • You think that saying no to extra work is a weakness.
  • You are not realistic about what you can achieve.

You might need some support to help you learn how to delegate or outsource aspects of your role, get some hired help, set some boundaries and learn to be more assertive and say no. Review the role it’s not realistic.

I used to work in an organization where the managers defined dedicated hard workers as people who worked consistently long hours. This is a false delusion because you won’t accomplish more because you’re not able to be as productive. The quality suffers and you’ll make mistakes.

If you manage people, then role model balance to your team if you want them to be more productive and focused. You can’t expect them to do one thing, but you demonstrate another.

Check in on your working habits and do one thing today that helps you to create a healthier balance between your work and business life.

 

Big Boys (and Girls) DO Cry! How Your Emotions Can Make You Smarter…

By , August 21, 2013 10:13 am

Big Boys don't cry“Crying can make you smarter.”

Nancy Kline – Author

I was talking with a manager who admitted that he struggled when one of his team started to get emotional and cried. He wasn’t sure how to react; it made him feel uncomfortable, and he just wanted them to ‘get over it’ and get their control back. He’d find himself over talking and saying anything to try to stop their reaction. This didn’t make him feel good.

It’s funny how we label crying, anger, and even fear, as being out of control.

If you watch other people’s reaction to someone crying at work they might panic, look uncomfortable, or start talking and smother them with their own concern. This reaction is more about them and wanting the other person to stop, rather than about the person crying.

Our society is scared of tears, anger and fear. We just want it to stop. We think that the pain will go away if you just stop it!

Here’s a recent real life example…

I was watching a Mother at Tescos supermarket yelling at her 3-year old child who was crying because she couldn’t sit in the cart. The Mum grabbed her child by the arm and shouted: “Big girls don’t cry – Just grow up! Stop it! You’re a bad girl and you’re embarrassing me in front of all these people!”

I had to walk away from this…

The Mother was teaching her child to repress her emotions and push them down. The child was learning how to become acceptable. Of course, the little girl sobbed even more because of her Mother’s reaction.

We have been taught to pull ourselves together, not show our weaknesses, and we are encouraged to stop showing our emotions.

Here’s the thing, though… Our emotions are there for a reason.

When we get upset (angry, scared or tearful) our thinking stops. Human beings minds are designed to get logic and thinking back if an emotional circuit breaker kicks in. Expressing your feelings, e.g. talking your anger out with a friend on the phone, can be enough to restart your thinking.

Crying is a natural process to rid the body of pain and upset. It’s completely natural and a healthy way to release toxic energy that has built up inside us.

Myths and bad advice that our parents and teachers have taught us:

  1. Crying increases the pain – So if you want it to stop – STOP crying!
  2. Being angry means that you’re out of control – You need to control your anger. Anger is a bad thing – no one should be angry EVER! Stop being angry and your anger will go away.
  3. Being scared is a weakness – You need to toughen up and be more confident. Just stop shaking and you’ll not feel scared.

Stopping this natural release makes the pain find another route to flow. It is absorbed inside you, where it goes underground. Holding this in can cause pressure, anxiety and even physical illness if the issue is held down long enough. These built up feelings churn around inside you and block your thinking.

Here’s my response to the manager who was struggling…

If someone is crying at work it could be for many reasons: frustration, sadness or even because of a paradigm shift in their thinking that has had a profound impact on them.

In that moment, their emotions trigger in to release the energy; they need to cry because in that moment they can’t think. It’s the same with being angry or scared…

Allow and hold space for this to happen for a few minutes.

In those few minutes, they don’t need your platitudes or smothering with words.

  • If they are angry – Let them just talk it out. ALL you have to do is LISTEN. Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t jump in there and agree – you’ll make things worse! Ask them: what is it that is making you angry about this?
  • If they are crying – Let them cry and just sit with them (don’t do anything!). They may cry because they are frustrated and unable to think. This will pass sooner rather than later, if you don’t stop them.
  • If they are scared – Let them talk through their fear. Sometimes just articulating their fear and sharing it reduces its power. Again, all you have to do is LISTEN.

Hold space for them and act as if it’s perfectly okay and normal (because it is!). Give them your respectful attention.

Observe what happens…

They will recover in a short space of time and their thinking will re-engage. You don’t need to over compensate by thinking for them and rambling out loud!

It’s natural for people to occasionally get angry, cry or say that they are frightened. Allow safe space for this to happen and you’ll observe how quickly people can recover from their emotion and think more clearly afterwards.

Next time you’re feeling angry, sad or frightened, give yourself permission to allow your emotions out rather than keeping it all inside and pushing it down.

BIG Boys (and Girls) DO Cry!

 

Getting Over Rejection

By , August 14, 2013 6:25 pm

iStock_000009159104Medium“Every time I thought I was being REJECTED from something good, I was actually being RE-DIRECTED to something better.”

~ Dr Steve Maraboli

I remember PE (Physical Education) at school when the teacher would select two kids to pick their basketball team alternatively from the class. We’d all sit there waiting (and hoping) to be selected by the person doing the picking. It was an intense moment and quite soul destroying if you weren’t picked until last. The feeling of embarrassment stayed with you for the whole lesson (and probably adversely affected your ability to perform).

If you look back at your own life I’m sure you can recall times when you’ve been rejected for things:  a promotion, a job, a project, a team or even dumped by your latest boyfriend (or girlfriend) when you personally thought he (she) was THE ONE!

In the moment rejection can feel devastating.

Most of us would feel uncomfortable sharing our past rejections and failures – we keep them to ourselves because we’re frightened that we’ll be judged by them or people will think less of us. Instead, we keep those memories locked inside and only replay them in our head when we have self-doubt or uncertainty in the present.

Here’s the thing, though… We seem to forget that this happens to EVERYONE!

People get rejected and turned down all the time.

There are countless stories of courage and persistence in the public world to reinforce this. I read that Kathryn Stickett, the author of the The Help, was rejected 60 times by publishers. She went on to become a best selling author and got a film deal that ultimately won four academy awards!

Getting over rejection is a painful but a normal part of growth on our journey to success. As one door appears to slam in your face, another will open up before you. You have to dig in to find the courage to continue forward motion through your vulnerability and any letdowns.

Most people give up at this point and succumb to their limiting beliefs because they get stuck in discomfort and self doubt.

Here are a few ways to keep momentum and stay true to your goal:

1. Re-connect to your WHY. Take a little time to rest and regroup. Remind yourself of your WHY and in the face of self-doubt, get clear again. Refocus your attention on WHY you want to succeed. What will your life (or your business) look like, sound like or feel like? Allow courage to overcome any fear. Don’t let fear rule your decisions, just because somebody has challenged you. People WILL push up against you – especially when you’re doing something different. Learn to rescue yourself and step back in alignment with your vision every day.

2. Be prepared to do it scared! Live life on the EDGE… of your comfort zone! When you are growing and putting yourself out there, you are constantly challenging yourself:  stretching out of your comfort zone to create a NEW NORMAL. Stretching takes courage and tenacity because things can feel uncomfortable and it can be a little scary.  Get comfortable with uncomfortable. Choose to be courageous. Don’t be distracted by external noise – stay on course. Focus on your truth and what is important for you. Have faith in your intuition and believe in YOU.

3. Protect your confidence. This will keep you grounded and centred. Stop listening to those voices in your head because they aren’t the truth. Develop a deeper understanding of your emotions, strengths and limitations. Recognize how negative patterns can feel overwhelming and cause you distress. Let go of any emotions that are holding you back. I find journaling very useful for this. Start to recognize your own emotions and their impact. Take personal responsibility for your thinking.

See obstacles as opportunities as you navigate your journey. Rejection is just a container for growth. Inside it holds a powerful lesson that if released will make you stronger, determined and more successful.

Be honest with your feelings in the context of your work and be open to your doubts and fears. This vulnerability is a powerful learning tool if you can be open to it.

Remember… there is no destination!

Keep growing!

 

How to make problems work for you

By , August 7, 2013 5:58 pm

Success word on puzzle piece“Problems are the raw materials for your solutions.”

~ Christine Kane, Mentor to women who are changing the world

 

Most of us are conditioned to see problems as a negative thing that rears its head causing irritation or reinforcement that you shouldn’t have taken the risk in the first place!

For sure, problems can stop us in our tracks. We often react to them from a negative place as they steal our confidence and cause extra stress or worry in our working day.

Here’s the thing though…

Problems actually help us function and reframing how we think about them can help us to find a solution more effectively.

Taking action, doing new things or taking a whole new approach to something is risky (and healthy!) and problems are a natural part of the process.

The truth is that if you want to create new things problems will show up along the way…

Accept that problems are actually an inescapable part of life and business. No matter what you do, your work will produce problems, especially as you’re learning and growing. See yourself as a solution finder by expecting to encounter and deal with them.

Whatever business you’re in, it’s important to reframe any problems because they are the raw materials for your success:  shaping and creating new solutions.

Here’s how I see problems…

Problems are portals for solutions. You can only create a solution if you are prepared to look at the problem a different way.

Problems are puzzles to solve and opportunities from which we can learn grow.

Past experiences don’t always help us to find the solution in Today’s world, as change isn’t linear (past experiences no longer shape a constant for future success). You are creating new solutions to new problems.

When you give yourself permission to see a problem as an opportunity you’ll start to see what the problem can actually do for you and your business in terms of learning and growth.

Whenever I’m confronted with a problem I ask myself the following questions:

  1. What is this current problem teaching me right now about the situation and/or my business?
  2. What is it telling me about myself and about life?
  3. How can I put this raw material to work to find a solution?
  4. What do I already know about the situation?
  5. What don’t I know but need to find out?
  6. What can I control here?
  7. What’s my very first step?

Solving problems can take time. Allow some space to think things through so you can take full advantage of the learning opportunity that is being presented to you right now.

Don’t expect to always find the solution on your own. All of the amazingly successful people that I know have a support network of like-minded and trusted people whom they feel comfortable to bounce ideas off. Sometimes just sharing the problem out loud can help you find the solution.

Remember… You can’t do it EVERYTHING on your own!

How you think about your problems on a daily basis makes a huge difference to how you negotiate them. When you give yourself over to solving the problem there is a shift in attitude and you’ll want to find out what the problem can actually do for you instead. Your attitude is everything as it determines the quality of any solution!

There is ALWAYS a plan B – Don’t give up. You just haven’t thought of it yet so keep thinking and exploring options. You’ll work through it.

Problems are exciting and fun. They are the raw materials for your future success.

Accept that things go wrong and sometimes we screw up. You can’t always prepare for it but shit happens! Failure means that we have to grow – It’s all about learning and being compelled to figure it out. You are presented with the raw materials for your solution. Work the problem to create your solution.

My mentor says that business is a full contact sport!

This is so true!

Hang in there…Completing is not for the faint hearted. It takes hard work and stamina to finish. There might be problems along the way. But all the hard work is for nothing if you don’t show up to finish. It requires extra energy and drive to see things through and it’s the most difficult bit– But so worth it! Reach inside for that extra bit of courage.

List any current problems you have in your business and in your life.

This list is the raw materials for your solution so start working with it.

Get some support from like-minded people who can help you on your journey.

There is always a way through – Go find it!

 

Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done!

By , July 31, 2013 10:42 pm

Git 'er Done!“Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you virtually unstoppable.”

~ Dan Kennedy, Business Success Guru and Author

The truth is that most of us are easily distracted.

Many of us are almost willing to be de-railed from our busy schedules by the lure of the excitement of a bright shiny object; especially if what you are working on feels like hard work or it’s something you don’t want to do.

This then leads to procrastination and avoidance.

Most of us know what we should be focusing on but lack the self-discipline and determination to make it happen. Instead we use excuses to justify our avoidance such as I’m too busy or I didn’t have time rather than getting clear and refocused on what needs to be done.

…And just getting it done!

There’s a form of inner laziness that prevents us from getting things done. I regularly see examples of this in the business world.

Here are a few examples:

  • People who can’t seem to make it to meetings on time.
  • Arriving late/unprepared for a planned coaching session.
  • A business owner who avoids marketing because there’s always something else that needs to be done first.

People who arrive late for meetings are usually unprepared. Their lack of focus and attention wastes time, because he/she has to take time to catch up before they can give any value.

A common theme for many people with time management challenges is the lack of self-discipline.

I admit that some days I feel secretly lazy and it’s tempting just to blow the day off and do nothing instead. Especially when you are your own boss!

Instead of allowing this to take control, I’ve learned how to refocus and become self-disciplined…

Self-discipline is a powerful antidote to procrastination and avoidance.

Self-discipline neutralizes the laziness and gives you the ability to get things done and to get it right the first time. Excuses and old habits fall away as you begin to move forward, take control and get things done.

Here’s how to encourage self-discipline:

1. Make a weekly plan in advance. What do you want to achieve? This will help you stay focused and feel in control of what needs to be done. Stick to the plan – hold firm! Remind yourself what’s important.

2. Show up at the scheduled time and be prepared and ready to work. Yes… It’s that simple… Common sense right?! But it’s NOT always common practice. This includes showing up for ALL appointments that you make with yourself.

3. Meet your deadlines and commitments. This alone will make you more successful. More opportunities will start to present themselves and others will be attracted to you because you are making things happen. Success breeds success.

4. Do it even when you don’t feel like it. Self-discipline requires a 100% commitment. It’s not just when you feel like it. It takes self-discipline to productivity – invest energy and time to your intentions. This investment pays off every time. Be aware of those lazy voices in your head and challenge them EVERY time!

5. Take deliberate action. Take action and make things happen. Every day consciously do one thing towards your Intention – small steps. Get deliberate in your thoughts and behaviors. This will inspire you to make different choices and create new habits. Take action

All successful people are self-disciplined. It’s a necessity that requires continual work every single day.

Self-discipline is all about choice. You can choose to chart your own path and create value by getting things done.

There’s a huge difference between someone who talks about it and someone who actually gets things done!

Which one are you?

As my American friends in the South say, whatever you’re putting off just now:  Go “Git ‘er done!”

 

How to Become Known As An EXPERT

By , July 25, 2013 11:23 am

iStock_000011959900XSmall“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.”

Denis Waitley

Experts make things look easy!

The journey to acquiring expertise often takes time, hard work, discipline, and persistence. It doesn’t just happen overnight.

Reading all the books in the world on a particular topic doesn’t make you an expert, though it will make you more knowledgeable about something. Expertise is not only the acquisition of knowledge, it’s also the ability to implement and use the information wisely.

For example, I know several ‘coaches’ who understand the principles and theory of coaching, but they have no coaching clients! They are so busy trying to gain their expertise from books, another qualification or attending one more workshop, instead of going out into the world and actually coaching people!

So it’s also the practical application of knowledge and understanding.

Expertise is developed over time and one of the essential ingredients is experience.

People become experts for many reasons. Here are a few of them:

  • To establish credibility
  • To become the Go To Person…Others will seek you out for your knowledge and experience
  • To leverage your marketability and increase your perceived value
  • To expand your horizons and see things from a different perspective
  • To increase your success
  • To gain the trust and buy-in of others
  • To become a leader and shine the light for others to follow

Here are seven ways to become known as an expert by getting good at what you do:

1. Be passionate – Expertise starts with knowing what you are passionate about. You have to be genuinely interested and naturally curious about your topic to become an expert in it. Have you ever tried to learn something that you’re not interested in?! You stop learning! Believe in your own ability to become an expert – You CAN do it!

2. Experience it – You get better at things by experiencing them. Get some real-life experience, keep up to date, read around the subject, and apply your learning to your every day life or work. For example, one of the best ways to learn how to be a coach is by being coached! Turn the theory into practice! Actively look for opportunities to practice what you are learning. Do things imperfectly and be open to making a few mistakes along the way.

3. Surround yourself with like-minded people – Become a member of an association or join a professional body in your field. Attend conferences and workshops to learn from those more experienced than you. Listen and learn from credible experts. Connect with online groups who talk about your subject and support each other (not groups where people just promote their shit all the time!). Network with others who are passionate about the topic. It’s okay if they know more about it than you as you can learn from them.

4. Leaders are readers – Read books and listen to audios. Watch videos and read articles. Sign up for eZines and weekly articles from credible sources and make time to read what they have to say. Be curious and look for knowledge about your subject. Remember to APPLY it into your life. Become a student of you and try things out. Get into the habit of regular reading each week and you’ll soon know more than most people around you. Continue your education around your subject.

5. Share what you learn – Share what you learn with others as you learn it. Be willing to share what you know. This will help to position your self as an expert over time. You will start to notice that you know more about the subject than those around you and you can offer help and support to them as you are working at a higher level than others. Most people haven’t taken time to read or explore the topic like you have. You may even create a presentation or workshop to help others.

6. Get writing! Write articles or blog posts about your stories and experiences and how you’ve applied your learning. Share your successes too. This way other people will get a feel for you and you will build your expertise. They see themselves in you. Writing a short ebook or a chapter in a book about something you are passionate about can really enhance your credibility. It can also be a catalyst for other opportunities such as consultancy opportunities, radio interviews and speaking engagements.

7. Give it timeBecoming an expert doesn’t happen over night. It takes time. Make a long-term commitment and build a foundation for success through commitment and persistence. You become an expert by taking your learning and growth seriously. Set goals and take consistent action. You’ll start to notice when others come to you for advice or give you feedback about your depth of understanding. Keep going and keep growing. There is ALWAYS more to learn. You are never done!

You become an expert by doing the groundwork by practicing what you are learning and through demonstrating your passion and expertise…

 

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