Category: Success

Great Leaders are NEVER Too Busy to Learn!

By , November 6, 2013 9:07 pm

Never too busy to learn“Many leaders fail to gain knowledge because they have too much to do – they’re going too fast and trying to accomplish too much.”

~ Kenneth Blanchard, Author

From my experience, many leaders put their own development needs last and fail to grow their own knowledge and skills. They are too busy working at a crazy pace to get everything done and try to keep up with the never ending flow of work. So they become stagnant and even fall behind.

I was recently working with a client called Tom who was overwhelmed. He was trying to accomplish too much and was totally unaware of (and frightened to recognize) his own limitations. He actually thought that others would see his limitations as a flaw or a weakness and therefore a poor leader. He started to compensate for this by trying to be everything to everyone instead of stepping back and admitting his own learning needs.

He was great at developing his team and making sure that they sharpened their saw, as Stephen Covey describes it! But he certainly didn’t practice what he preached!

Over time, he became the bottleneck in his business:  his lack of up to date knowledge and skills were slowing his team down. His team started to become frustrated as he became more of a micro-manager, taking more and more on because of his own lack of self-confidence.

Taking time to learn was the last thing on his mind! He needed to keep things going so couldn’t possibly spend time on himself.  He just didn’t have the time and was unwilling to step away from the business to learn and grow.

His unwillingness to learn was detrimental to the team and their effectiveness, even though that was the last thing he wanted. He hadn’t realized his own impact on the rest of the team.

Tom is typical of many leaders. It’s easy to get distracted by internal or external factors that steal your attention and focus. If your attention is splattered and you’re trying to do too much, this lack of focus can be disastrous. You become overwhelmed and burnt out, your team becomes confused and demotivated, and your performance (and theirs) dips significantly.

Tom learned the hard way the importance of consistently making time to gain knowledge is essential for his and the team’s success. He needed to focus on growing himself if he wanted to grow the team, and ultimately their success.

You’ve probably heard of the saying: Take time to make time…

Learning is not a one and done event as a leader and there is NO arrival! Things will always need to be on your radar and being open and committed to learning and growth has got to become a part of who you are as a leader if you truly want to be successful.

Here’s what taking time to make time looks like for an effective leader:

1. Understand your people – Get to know and recognize the differences of the people that you work with. Understanding WHY people behave the way they do can help you to influence them and help to reduce any conflict as it arises because you are aware of their filters and preferences. You GET them! How are you different to them? How can you best serve people?

2. Leaders are readers – Learn about leadership by reading or listening to audios or watching DVD’s. Reading is a great foundation for acquiring knowledge and developing yourself. It’s a powerful, fast way to learn for many people. Thirty minutes a day listening to an audio as you travel to or from work is an easy way to get started – that’s 2.5 hours a week!

3. Take responsibility for your growth – Stop putting this off! Accept that part of being a leader is your ability to be open and honest with yourself. No one is great at EVERYTHING! Understand your strengths and weaknesses – it’s okay, we all have them! Play to your strengths and look for ways to outsource things that are not your genius work. What are your learning and leading preferences?

4. Every leader is a learner – All great leaders are constantly learning and growing. As you develop, new challenges present themselves so you are continually stretching out of your comfort zone to create a new normal. You are ALWAYS growing. This includes understanding and gaining knowledge of your industry or business and how it is changing.

5. Reach out for help – You may already be proactive at helping others grow and encouraging them to reach out to you for help. NOW it’s your turn! Look for great teachers or mentors who can help you to grow. This is NOT a sign of weakness it is a sign of leadership! Learn from people who are already experienced in what you want to learn. One of best ways of learning is then to reach out to others and teach it to them… passing the knowledge and skills forward to your team!

If you’re going too fast, you’ll not accomplish anything. So slow down to speed up!

Make your continuous learning an essential part of your business strategy, whether you work in corporate or you own your own business.

Great leaders are NEVER too busy to learn!

 

5 Ways to Restore Your Physical Energy and Be More Effective

By , October 31, 2013 5:28 pm

Man chained with office table (workplace) 2“In reality, physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel, even if our work is almost completely sedentary. It not only lies at the heart of alertness and vitality but also affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, think creativity, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on.”

~ Jim Loehr, Author

I was recently working with a coaching client (…we’ll call him John) who was tired and couldn’t understand why despite working longer hours, his performance wasn’t as good as it used to be. He was throwing more hours in to the job in hope that he could get everything done.

Believe it or not, John had actually become disconnected from his body!

Let me explain…

In his determination to get things done, John had become unconscious to the need to replenish or even manage his own energy levels. Especially his own physical energy reserves that were being depleted.

John described his life as numb. He was busy ALL the time. He was struggling to keep up with the heavy demands of his job and trying to get everything done.

Although he knew that exercising and sleeping well were important, he saw them as a luxury in his busy life: He just didn’t have the time. His diet wasn’t healthy either, as he had gotten into the habit of grabbing food on-the-go: convenient fast food – snacky, carb-loaded stuff. He’d put on weight in the last 18-months while working in his current role.

Here’s the thing…

Many of us lead relatively sedentary lives.

What we do is measured and evaluated with our minds, rather than our bodies (unless we are professional athletes!). Most jobs involve sitting at a desk and working at a computer or attending meetings. Performance is measured by hard work – sitting down and getting the job done!

The choices John had made were depleting his ability to concentrate, think creatively and manage his emotions. He was less tolerant of other people and would get anxious and frustrated when things weren’t going well.

He started to realize the impact these factors had on his performance at work. He had gotten stuck in a pattern of low motivation to change despite knowing the consequences of his choices.

The size of your energy reserves depends on the quality of:

  • The foods that you eat
  • The amount of sleep you get
  • The degree of intermittent recovery you allow yourself during the day
  • Your level of fitness

Here are some ways to top up your physical energy reserves:

1. Conscious eating – Take time to eat healthy food regularly. The impact of being hungry has an impact on your ability to function. Breakfast is critical! The frequency of how often you eat also has an impact on your capacity to stay fully focused and engaged to sustain high performance. Listen to your body… remove the junk food and add healthier options such as fruit instead of cookies and crisps!

2. Change your sleeping patterns – Create an evening routine. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. An evening routine might be turning the laptop off at 8pm, having a bath and reading before you go to sleep. Most of us need 7-8 hours sleep per night.

3. Drink more water – Most of us are de-hydrated! We don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Drinking water is one of the most undervalued sources of energy renewal. This is a key factor in improving your physical energy levels.

4. Regular moderate exercise – Despite knowing that taking some regular exercise is beneficial, most people do almost none! Twenty to thirty minutes a day of continuous exercise, a minimum of three times per week, can make a huge difference. Get outside and walk. Be prepared to stretch out of your comfort zone and feel a little discomfort. NOT having the time is an EXCUSE! Including this into your day can help release tension and help you to manage your emotions better.

5. Take regular breaks – To maintain full engagement we must take a break to recover every 90 minutes.  Step away from what you are doing, stretch and allow yourself to recover. Build some recovery rituals into your life. This includes down time on an evening and during the weekend.

Have ever noticed the difference physical activity makes to your emotional and mental state?

 

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.

 

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 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…

 

Are You Too Busy To Look After Yourself?

By , July 10, 2013 8:44 pm

iStock_000011570636Large“A healthy and happy YOU is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone else. Yet most of us don’t look after ourselves. We are too busy getting things done to get around to looking after own emotional, psychological and physical needs as a human being. We only take it seriously when something goes wrong!”

- Elaine Bailey, Author, Speaker, Coach

Many of us spend most of our time doing things for everyone else:  the boss, clients, family or friends. Sometimes our own needs are neglected. We relegate ourselves to the bottom of our To Do List hoping that we’ll get around to taking a break, eating healthily or going to the gym soon!

I was working with a coaching client recently who was exhausted with her busy life and the demands others placed upon her. She felt obliged to be the constant support for everyone else. The more she gave, the more they seemed to want. She was locked in this holding pattern because she didn’t want to let anyone down.

Taking personal timeout wasn’t an option and the thought of it made her feel guilty. How could she be so selfish and do something for herself?

My client had assumed the role of a rescuer in many of her current relationships. She’d become the go to person for everyone. She felt exhausted and unhappy.

She was:

  • Doing more than she really wanted to
  • Discounting her own needs
  • Doing more for others than they were willing to do for themselves

Our lives constantly inter-connect and we all have needs and wants. It’s sometimes hard for us to weigh our own needs against the needs of others and own needs get neglected as we try to help.

The truth is that we care and we want to help those that we love, but we also need to look out for ourselves.

We consciously hang onto our old conditioned patterns of behavior. My client had no-energy for herself, because she was unconsciously giving it all away to everyone else.

Taking care of YOU is NOT selfishness.

So what does ‘selfishness’ actually mean?

Selfishness – Many people confuse taking care of themselves with selfishness.  There is a significant difference between the two.  Selfishness is about getting what you want without any consideration for the other person’s needs. It’s usually at the expense of the other person. Selfishness is an intentional release of negative energy. For example, it’s purposely not sharing information with someone that might save them time, because it might make them look better than you.

Self-care  Is a totally different energy. You are look after your own well being in a healthy way. It’s a commitment that you make to yourself. A healthy and happy you is hugely important because your energy affects and interacts with everything and everybody that you come into contact with (See Radiators and Drains).

Invest in yourself.

If you’ve never done this before consciously, those closest to you may notice a difference and feel uncomfortable to begin with because you are doing things differently and they are not used to it. They prefer the ‘old you’ because they were easier to manipulate! Teach them how to treat you.

Here’s how to get started…

1. Take responsibility  We are each responsible for our own life and the choices we make. Therefore, we have the right to take care of our own needs. The balance between commitment to yourself and the desire to help someone else requires us to define some lines of responsibility. As a coach, I’m responsible to my client, but not for my client’s results. They have to take action in order to get a result. It’s more difficult to draw lines with those we love.

2. Determine your own needs and wants – To live authentically it’s important to consider your own needs, wants and to identify what’s important to you. This clarity helps you to live your core values and create your best life. You also get to decide when another’s needs supersede your own. Take conscious action do one thing every day for yourself.

3. Set some boundaries – As human beings we all have equal value, worth and dignity. You have the right to say no when you want to, to take care of yourself and to ask for what you want. It’s important to set boundaries with other people, so they know what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Boundaries help you to protect your authenticity, integrity and demonstrate how you value yourself and others.

You only get one life (and one body) so look after yourself. After all, your To Do List is pretty useless if you’re not around To Do it! Right?!

If you are not taking care of yourself – Who is?

 

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