Category: Assumptions

How to remove old labels and excuses that block your success.

By , February 15, 2012 7:46 pm

Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Never overestimate your power to change others.”

~ H Jackson Brown, Junior

I believe that one of the most powerful gifts we have in life is our ability to understand ourselves. That’s why I’m committed to being a life-long student of me! Self-awareness and understanding enables us to move beyond our limited beliefs and old thinking habits.

You can literally grow through your problems.

There are tons of books out there about mindset explaining that you have the power to re-wire your thinking and even change how your brain works! I believe that you are an infinite being and that nothing is fixed. It’s just your thinking that makes it so.

Many of us are brought up to fit in. Conditioning starts at an early age and even though you’re now an adult complete with rational thinking, you still hang on to deeply engrained rules and excuses that prevent you from being truly yourself.

Rules such as: “You can’t get to do what you want to do!” “You’ll never amount to anything…” “You only get ahead if you follow the rules….” are played to us repeatedly even in our working lives. Fitting in, keeping your head down and being like everyone else becomes part of our programming. I see this so often at all levels in the business world. We create labels in our sub-conscious mind so we can easily retrieve these statements when required.

But it’s not who you really are.

We create excuses to protect ourselves from why life isn’t as much fun as it should be. Excuses help us to rationalize our disappointments and to defend our present position of settling and surviving. We become lazy and comfortable with them.

Excuses keep us stuck in a fixed mindset because our thinking habits stick with us sometimes for an entire lifetime! Our senses filter evidence to support and maintain them so they become permanent fixtures. We even develop language to justify them: “It’s just the way things are!” “This is how I am.”

Here’s what I’ve experienced personally and through my clients:

1. You can BE the person you want to be. You really can become anyone or anything you want to be. Start by getting clear on what you want to change about yourself. You can reinvent yourself whenever you choose.

2. Making conscious decisions dissolves labels because you step into your power. This may be a gradual shift but it begins by deciding NOW. You get to decide for yourself where your effort towards change would be most value. In other words, you get to choose.

3. Your senses become alive to positive changes. You start to notice a difference in how you show up each day. Others will see this too. You’ll begin to see, feel and hear things differently, like you’ve sharpened your senses!

4. Energy flows where attentions goes. I know you’ve heard this many times before, but think about it for a moment… If you place your attention on what you want rather than on what you don’t want, something shifts. You’re re-aligning to your intention and forming new positive habits.

5. Use positive affirmations to dissolve your labels. You can stay in alignment with what you want to attract by surrounding yourself with positive affirmations and reminders. Sensory things that positively stimulate you visually, auditory or kinesthetically such as photographs, fresh flowers, written statements such as: “I can accomplish anything,” “I am healthy, happy and successful.” or record an MP3 message to yourself and play it everyday! Affirmations eradicate excuses and act as living testimonials or symbols to whom or what you are becoming.

6. Develop a growth mindset. Don’t let past negative labels or other people define you. Take every setback as a challenge and work through it. Having a fixed mindset sees transition as a threat and limits your achievement. Be curious, look for new challenges and confront any obstacles along the way. Life is about learning and improving, and developing a growth mindset is the starting point for change.

The key word for me in the quotation at the top of this article is power. We all have the power within us to create change.

You are what you think about every day – What are YOU thinking about?

Why Interrupting Someone Could Be Ruining the Quality of Their Thinking

By , February 2, 2012 12:18 pm

“The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.”

Nancy Kline – Author.

Many years ago I used to have a boss who liked the sound of her own voice so much that she wouldn’t let you speak. If you did get a chance to talk, she would talk over you and finish your sentences.

She used to equate talking with being the manager. She was a poor listener jumping in too soon with her own ideas. It was suffocating to be on the receiving end because she’d never give you any time to think. She was too eager to give advice.

My attention was splattered every time I was interrupted. I’d avoid speaking with her unless it was really necessary because I always felt drained by the experience.

We are all guilty of tailgating someone else’s conversation. In some way interrupting seems irresistible. For a few of us, interrupting has become a habit – it’s hard not to do it.

This was true for one of my coaching clients who realized that when he finished people’s sentences he was making these assumptions:

  • I’m the boss so I’m more important
  • I knew what they were going to say
  • The other person was over-talking so it was the only way to get my idea across
  • I was saving time
  • My solution was better than theirs
  • If I didn’t say my idea in the moment I would forget it

When you finish someone’s sentence for them, you’re usually making one or more of these assumptions:

  1. That they can’t finish it for themselves
  2. That you know the exact words they are about to use.
  3. That your choice of words will be better!

You may recognize some of these…

How often have you finished someone’s sentence and got it wrong? You may have chosen the wrong word or totally changed the ending of the sentence and said the opposite to what they were about to say!

We’re often too focused on our own self-importance to notice how our interruption affects the other person.

Their internal experience changes the moment you started thinking for them rather than allowing them to think for themselves. Their attention is lost because your interruption cuts them off from their own understanding of what they were saying.

The important thing is that they were saying it.

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to listen with respectful attention and without assumption.

As a coach and people manager, I have come to realize that listening with attention is hugely important because the quality of my attention impacts the effectiveness of the other person’s thinking.

Allowing someone space to search for their words adds quality to their thinking. You’re allowing people to think for themselves rather than imposing your own thinking upon them.

Most people have ideas that matter whatever their status or position. Don’t judge them with your assumptions. By ‘getting out of their way’ you are creating a space for their thoughts to be fully developed. This opens up new possibilities that could make a difference.

Next time you feel the urge to interrupt or finish someone’s sentence:

  1. Notice that you’re about to interrupt them.
  2. Shut up!
  3. Step back and allow them some space to search for the words themselves.
  4. Stop trying to think for them.
  5. Allow them to play in their own dog park! I LOVE this metaphor: It’s safe environment where they know you won’t keep interrupting them. Where their mind can be allowed to roam around freely to imagine, create and explore things without being on a leash! In other words: without being manipulated by your assumptions!

How to Let Go of Resistance and Keep Moving Towards Your Goals and Dreams

By , January 26, 2012 12:35 pm

Just trust that everything is unfolding the way it is supposed to. Don’t resist. Surrender to what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”

Sonia Ricotti – Author.

Do you ever feel like things are not turning out the way they’re supposed to?

Sometimes we try to achieve something aligned to our goal but it doesn’t work out the way we intended. You may not get the result you thought you wanted.

Whatever the situation, it’s easy to become reactive and resistant. You can get locked into negative thoughts: ‘I’m just not cut out for this…’ or ‘I knew I wouldn’t win anyway!’ or ‘It shouldn’t be this way…’

…And it’s easy to become the victim.

Complaining, getting upset or judging just prolongs the pain and it doesn’t help you to change anything. Instead you continue to resist the reality of the situation.

The key drivers of resistance are fear and uncertainty. This is enough to stop us growing and we become stuck in a fixed mindset.

People with a fixed mindset want to play it safe. They need to know the end before beginning. Their fallback position for staying safe is that if you’ve not really tried hard, then you can always say I didn’t really try.

It’s easier to avoid failure by waiting for perfection. You put things off to read yet another how to book or attend another workshop because you’re STILL not quite perfect (or safe enough).

Resistance stops us from growing and learning and pulls us back to that safe place, where we settle and survive. Our own fear to try something different holds us back.

Resisting takes a lot of energy and effort to maintain (Trust me…I know this personally!).

Here’s the thing…

Trying something new and stretching out of your comfort zones is ALL about growing and learning new things. It’s a BIG puzzle that you don’t know the answer to. It’s challenging but fun because you get to work it through! My mentor recently described this like being in your own novel: You get to see how you’re going to get out of it!

…It’s just that you haven’t learnt it yet! That’s all.

The best way out is through…

See the situation as a puzzle to be solved. See the challenges and obstacles as your raw materials for the solution. You have everything you need!

The important thing here is to keep moving in the direction of your goal, no matter what the Universe presents to you.

Your intended result may not always happen and this is perfectly okay. Rather than cling onto the pain or discomfort, let it go so that you can move onto something better.

You can’t fail to learn…

When one door closes, I always find that another door opens and it’s usually to a bigger and better place.

Here are some ways to move forward:

1. Stop resisting what is – Stop resisting what’s going on in your life just now, and choose to accept the current situation and the facts. E.g. I didn’t win 1st Prize. I currently have a heavy workload. Just accepting the situation can release the pressure and make you feel better. Don’t associate any meaning or emotions to it. This is all about accepting what is.

2. Get Clear on what you want – Re-align to your goal. Get clear and re-decide on what you really want. Remember WHY it is important to you and re-commit your attention and energy.

3. The Source of your power is YOU – Take responsibility for the current situation. It’s okay and you will work it through. Learn to listen and pay attention to your instincts – don’t ignore them (You know…That little intuitive voice deep inside you – The one you often ignore!). You already have the solution inside of you it is drowned out by all that resistance and noise. Choose to step into your power and listen to your inner wisdom.

4. Take Action – Consciously start with the first logical step, then take another one, then another. Lean in and create some momentum a little every day.

5. Get support – You can’t do everything alone. Sometimes it helps to have a sounding board, someone who isn’t close to the situation who can offer support. A coach can be present for you in many ways. Asking for help is perfectly okay and sometimes very important for your success.

Let go of resistance and follow your heart – And your world will change!

Keep moving forward. There is no failure.

Dare to Believe

By , February 21, 2011 11:13 pm

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Napoleon Hill, Author, Think and Grow Rich.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the last person to believe in you is… YOU?

Everyone else can see your potential shining out yet you can’t see it yourself? Instead self-doubt holds you back and you cling to old limiting beliefs. You’re waiting for that moment of FULL confidence and complete control of the situation before you will move towards it.

It doesn’t work that way…The feeling of confidence and being in control never shows up… So you wait and cling on and stay stuck in the same place.

I’ve been through this many times in my own life, especially when making a big transition. My own self-doubt has left me indecisively clinging to edge with white knuckles. I may let go with one hand, but self-doubt holds me back. Sometimes it feels like I just can’t let go…even though I want to be successful.

In my experience, as a learning consultant and coach, most people fail not because of a lack of capability to reach their goal but because they simply don’t believe that they can achieve it. They don’t see their own value and worth. They can’t visualize their own success.

This lack of belief leads to hesitant attempts, you dip a toe in, but you don’t commit fully. You start looking for evidence to support your limiting beliefs. If you believe that something is impossible, then you’ll not give it your all to make it happen – So it won’t happen because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The mind is so powerful.

Here’s the deal…

The only person who is really stopping you is…YOU!

1. Believing in yourself is a choice. You have to believe that you can do it and re-set your mind. Seriously – the choice of what you believe is up to YOU! Read, practice and get good at whatever you’re wanting to achieve.

2. Full decision on your part to be there. You have to decide and take FULL responsibility for stepping in and getting started. 100% commitment and no excuses! If you act as if it were possible, then you will get things done that move you towards your goal. You’ll start getting results. Be Imperfectly Perfect – it’s quite liberating!

3. Stop blaming the past. You can’t change the past, but you CAN influence the future starting today! Some limiting beliefs are passed on from families and social groups, even work environments. Don’t use this as an excuse to stay stuck.

4. It requires ALL your energy to be there. Energy goes where attention flows… Ensure that your energy is focused on positive self-talk, affirmations and on achieving a result. Don’t allow it to be distracted by any Lizard Brain activities.

5. Watch Your Language – My English teacher taught me that there was ‘no such word as CAN’T!’ She would cross it out if we wrote it in our essays. Believing in yourself begins with the power of the language that you use both internally and externally. Listen to your language and BAN any leaky language such as ‘I can’t…’ ‘I wish I could…’ ‘I’ll never be able to…’ These words are disempowering and suck your energy. They reinforce your negative limiting beliefs. Replace them with positive language that inspires confidence such as ‘I can…’  ‘I will…’

YOU really CAN achieve whatever you want … if you DARE to believe!

When in Doubt – Ask!

By , January 30, 2011 11:10 pm

“What a week! Meeting with John went really well thanks, I had nothing to be worried about! We got really clear about our expectations of each other which went really well, so I feel like I’m making a good start to the year!”

Jenny, A Private Coaching Client (Email received after our coaching session)

Jenny had recently been acting as team leader while a new replacement was being recruited. She’d enjoyed the experience but was happy to step down now a replacement had been found.

The new manager, John,  had previously been Jenny’s colleague in the same team. He had a reputation of being quite dominant and assertive and had a totally different approach to Jenny. She was nervous about him becoming her boss and how she could influence this change of roles in their working relationship.

John had also not been in the office much since his promotion so the team continued to ask Jenny for help and support in his absence – There was no one else to ask!  Her own workload was suffering as she was now covering two roles! Jenny was worried because she wasn’t sure how to approach John about this.  He’d not spoken to her since his appointment. She had not received any clarity or direction for her transition out of her team leader role.

Jenny was frightened to approach John because she was scared that he’d think she was negative and become aggressive. She was worried about his reaction, after all he was quite dominant!

So she procrastinated…

We often make assumptions and then make decisions based upon those assumptions because we believe the thoughts in our heads to be true.

Jenny was afraid of what she didn’t know.

  • She wasn’t sure of what John was thinking about her since their relationship had changed: he was now her boss.
  • She assumed that he would get angry when she brought up the challenge of still having to manage the team because he was never there. They had no one else to go to.

So she avoided arranging a meeting with him. As time progressed she felt more frustrated and John’s absent behaviour reinforced her assumptions.

Here’s some thoughts about assumptions:

1) Assumption often comes from fear – because we’re not sure about something and we’re frightened to ask, we assume that we know what the other person is thinking, feeling or going to do.Assumptions are often fear-based.

2) Assumptions can cause people to collude and reinforce their assumptions. We can base our assumptions on other people’s opinions and believe them to be true.

3) Assumptions mean that we don’t have to check it out – Because we’ve created some facts for ourselve instead.

4) We have our own in-built self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and will always imagine the worst when we don’t know what is true.

Jenny was unsure of the boundaries for her new sideways move in the department. She’d stepped down from being the manager but no one had given her any direction.

Successful people don’t waste time on assumption. They get clear by checking things out…

Here’s how to handle assumptions:

1. Get Clear – What do you know already? What do you need to know? You can’t make decisions if you don’t have the real facts. Get clear on your understanding of the situation so far. What is important to you? What do you want to say? Set an intention for the meeting. Don’t try and guess what the other person is thinking or feeling – You’re not them, so YOU really DON’T know!

2. Talk with the other person – Arrange to check it out with the other person. Ask them for clarity. Get answers for your questions. Facts are much better than assumptions because you are more informed and can make better decisions.

3. Understanding is everything – Just by having an open conversation you can create an understanding, manage expectations, set boundaries and ask for what you really want. We are all human beings and have equal value, worth and dignity. No one is less or more important. We are all the same. Sometimes we can read another person’s behaviour wrongly. Creating understanding between you enables both parties to explore what is real and enables you to base your actions on the truth. You get clear up front so there is no conflict later on.

4. Build a relationship – Checking out your assumptions improves communication and strengthens the relationship between those involved. It makes life easier because you’re clear, aligned and by working together you can get better results. You are proactive in the relationship NOT reactive. You check things out rather than waiting for your assumptions to become reality.

What are YOU assuming just now?




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