Bold and ‘Badass’ or Fierce and Free? …

What words would you use to describe your ‘inner Diva’?

I was fascinated, recently to come across Jackie Huba’s TedTalk; ‘Unleash the power of your inner drag queen’.

In her talk, Jackie, describes the events that led her to becoming a ‘drag queen’ and the impact it had on her career and  life.

..female drag queen, Jackie Huba delivers a talk that showcases the need to embrace the transformative abilities of your flexible personas. Recorded at TEDx Vancouver at Rogers Arena on November 14, 2015”

To watch Jackie’s talk, click here.

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Seeing this talk, reminded me of the phrase, often associated with self-confidence ‘fake it until you make it‘. Must admit, I have always struggled a little with this concept and have  never been quite able to make up my mind over it.

But the idea of adopting a ‘persona’, that might support the development and enhancement of self-confidence and self-esteem is another idea altogether.

So, I hit the books and ‘Google’ for some definitions:

1)The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.

‘her public persona’

Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/persona

2) a) an assumed identity or character. b) (in Jungian psychology) the mechanism that conceals a person’s true thoughts and feelings, especially in his {her} adaption to the outside world. (Latin: mask)

Source: The Collins English Dictionary, ISBN 0 00 433135-4

I was interested to find the definitions suggesting that a ‘persona’ is an aspect of your character and that you can choose to present it publicly. The second definition is interesting too as it suggests that an individual for right or wrong, might adopt a ‘persona’ to hide from the world what they truly think and feel.

You could also argue that a ‘persona’ could just as easily be used to do the exact opposite. It might even make it ‘easier’ and perhaps more ‘acceptable’ for certain messages to be shared.

So, having watched Jackie Huba’s talk, and listened to her speak on another platform I became more curious about my own ‘persona’, and how she might emerge a bit more often to support me in my life and work.

And so, today, I’m choosing to look at my own ‘persona‘, who happens to be a bit of a ‘Diva’, and is that unreasonable, outrageous and ‘out there’ part of my character that emerges only very occasionally.  I did as Jackie suggested and thought hard about the people I have admired over the years and remembered I had written about this a few years ago, in a post:

People you admire, warts and all,  to read click here.

It turns out that my ‘Diva’ is a mixture of Madonna (Madge would, definitely feature now), Elizabeth Ist, Winston Churchill and my Gran.

In my head I see a ‘cigar toting’, black woman, who owns an extensive collection of Afro wigs and takes ‘no sh*t’.

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Her name in honour of my gran is Miss Winnie, though I need to state categorically that my gran would disapprove of the swearing and the cigar.

And before anyone writes in, this is my persona ‘warts and all’ so it’s fine if you don’t like her, just go and create your own.

But, this is all very well and good, but when might I choose to access Miss Winnie and bring her out to support me?

Or indeed, put her back in her box?

I’m noticing that she is emerging more as I get older, certainly in my writing and how I tell my story.

I might bring her out a bit more when I’m networking and presenting myself and my business. Miss Winnie is starting to get a bit more involved with my parenting. Sometimes this is helpful and sometimes, not so much.

There may even be times when she emerges whilst I’m coaching, who knows?

More broadly, you might choose to access your own ‘Diva’ when you need to:

  • Make an important presentation
  • Ask the tough questions or deal with the ‘elephant in the room’
  • Manage feelings of fearfulness and overwhelm
  • Assert yourself professionally or personally, when feeling intimidated by a person or situation
  • Say no – when you need to say no…
  • Say yes – when you need to say yes..
  • Accept who you are ‘warts and all’…

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS I also want to acknowledge and thank Joy Marsden for her inspiring talk at the Phil Jones, Professional Network Marketers event I was lucky enough to attend in January, this year. Joy’s talk was all about Stepping Up, Stepping Out and Standing Out. To find out more visit her site: Joy Marsden

 

 

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Maybe, it’s not just about self-confidence….

Some years ago, now, I was fortunate enough to complete a coaching qualification, part of which included my project, ‘coaching for resilience’.

I encountered a lot of ‘Ah Hah’ moments whilst working through this project, and I always promised myself that I would return to it and move it ‘forward’ in some way.

Not quite sure where the time has gone, but in today’s blog I’d like to focus and build on one aspect of that project, one that is referred to by Siebert, (2005, P73) as the core of resiliency:

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The three, ‘self’s, 

  • Self -confidence – our belief in our ability to take effective actions, our belief in how well we do things.…
  • Self -esteem – the feelings we develop about ourselves. Our emotional opinion of ourselves
  • Self -concept– the thoughts we develop about ourselves and who we (think) we are

Today, I am deeply thankful for all the different experiences that have shaped me, the good, the bad and even the indifferent, but in recent months I have become aware of an ‘internal shift’.  A shift in focus from resilience to a strong intention to ‘Thrive and Flourish’ come what may.

Siebert (2005), describes this as level five, resiliency, ‘Discovering your talent for serendipity, the ability to turn misfortune to good fortune.’ Others describe it as being able to truly ‘dance with life’. Jeffers, (2005) Frankl, (2004).

The image I have in my head, is based on a quote by Thomas F. Crum:

“In an uncertain world, instead of seeing the rug being pulled from under us, we learn to dance on a shifting carpet.” – Thomas F Crum: 

We can be resilient in learning to dance on our carpet, but perhaps when we thrive we can also ‘fly’ with it.

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At this stage in my life, I am starting to believe that for people to truly thrive, maybe they need to strengthen and nourish all three, ‘self’s. Their:

Self- esteem

Self- concept

And …..

Self- confidence ….

It feels to me as though these three might be intertwined, like pieces of thread and the stronger each piece is, the stronger, the thread and hence the stronger and more resilient your ‘fabric‘.

Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places, but I see much written about self-confidence, but not so much in respect of self-esteem and perhaps even less regarding self-concept.

I’m also intrigued that Siebert (2005), links our sense of self to the three major nervous systems within our bodies:

  • Somatic – controls our physical actions and is the source of our self-confidence.
  • Autonomic – governs our feelings and is the source of our self esteem
  • Central – includes our brains and is the source of our verbal, conceptual thinking, Self-concept.

So how do we go about ‘nourishing’ and strengthening all three? How strong are the links between our ‘self’s’ and our nervous systems? There are certainly more questions in this month’s post than answers. So, my intention is to explore this further over the coming year and see where it takes me.

But I am curious to understand the real relationship between the three, ‘Self’s’ and some of my initial thoughts, include:

There does seem to be a bigger emphasis on self-confidence and I wonder if, on the face of it, this is perceived as the ‘easiest’ to do something about.

I also wonder if there is a stronger link between self-concept and self-confidence and whether changing your view of who you think you are(self-concept), might make it easier for you to change your belief in your abilities (self-confidence).

If self-esteem, is more rooted in childhood experiences would that perhaps make it more difficult or more challenging to ‘rebuild’ or nourish if needed.  Particularly, if you have ‘grown up’ never quite feeling yourself to be lovable, worthy of respect and care simply because you, are you.

Another question, do we all necessarily have an ‘Achilles heel’ – a weakest or perhaps most fragile/ vulnerable self?

These are just some initial ideas and thoughts, which I will be revisiting over the coming year. Still have some catching up to do, with some of my other posts.

In the meantime, I’d be very happy to receive any book or article recommendations, related to this topic.

So, with thanks and best wishes and until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

References:

Frankl, V. (2004): Man’s Search for Meaning; Rider: an imprint of Ebury Press, Random House: London

Jeffers, S. (2005): End the Struggle and Dance with Life; Hodder Mobius: London

Siebert, PH.D., A. (2005): The Resiliency Advantage; Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure and Bounce Back from Setbacks; Berrett-Koehler Publishers: San Francisco

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Brains in your head, feet in your shoes…

From the wonderful Dr Seuss: –

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

With these wonderfully wise words available to us and all the mobile technology at our ‘finger tips’, why do we spend so much of our time ‘glued’ to our desks or the same work spaces?

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In a time of mobile phones, tablets, lap tops and Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and 5G, why are we so immobile? Particularly in regard to the greatest piece of mobile equipment, that we all have access to, one that predates all others, ‘our brains’.

Where ‘we go, they go’ and they generally benefit most from a change of scene, pace and perspective. Everything else, probably doesn’t really care…..

I was reminded of the Dr Seuss quote by Jill Suttie’s article:

How nature Boosts Kindness, Happiness, and Creativity

“We are spending more time indoors and online. But recent studies suggest that nature can help our brains and bodies to stay healthy”

To read the full article, please visit.

http://www.mindful.org/how-nature-boosts-kindness-happiness-and-creativity/

It also caught my eye as I have very recently, published a post on kindness in the workplace, and the difference it can make. So, I am intrigued by anything that has the potential to boost levels of kindness and compassion in the workplace.

https://careerresilience.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/how-much-loving-kindness-is-there-in-the-workplace-today/

In his book, ‘Your Brain at Work, David Rock observes that so many of our work environments are not designed to support the way our brains work best.

Too many of us are working or trying to work with too many distractions, too much noise, stress and general angst.

Our brains are natural ‘problem solvers’ that is what they are designed to do. But I suspect that many of us are probably ‘getting in the way’ or pushing our brains too hard or too much in the wrong direction.

So perhaps a walk outside in nature, as Jill Suttie suggests without all our other ‘gadgetry’, may well help to ‘relieve attention fatigue and increase creativity’.

I consider myself very lucky to live by the sea and over the years have noticed how much it enhances my sense of well-being, especially if I regularly and consistently spend time at the beach.

brighton-beach-oct-2016-careerresilience

Quite simply, being by the sea gives me:

  • Perspective and peace as I go to look at something bigger than myself and my ‘problems’.
  • Routine and exercise as I work a lot from home, my weekly goal is to walk along the beach at least three times a week.
  • Space and time to think, ideas flow a little more easily when I am by the sea.
  • Clarity and focus as the ‘fog’ shifts and I allow my brain to do what it does best, create, problem solve, produce solutions with little interference from me. I can get out of ‘my own way’.
  • A new outdoor office as I can write, make notes and catch up with any messages whilst I enjoy a cup of tea. (This is where the rest of your mobile technology, comes into its own)
  • An increased sense of vigour as I return to my home office for the afternoon to act on and assimilate the ideas that have ‘popped’ into my head.
  • Community and a sense of belonging as I start to notice the people who regularly appear on the beach and the familiar faces at the cafes where I regularly stop. As a matter of fact, at one regular haunt, the staff are already preparing my habitual ‘Earl Grey’ as I walk through the door.

So, with all this, isn’t about time you took your ‘brain’ and ‘steered’ your feet outside to find a bit of nature?

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

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How much ‘loving kindness’ is there in the workplace today?

I am currently reading and enjoying, Dr Danny Penman’s book: Mindfulness for Creativity – Adapt, Create and Thrive in a frantic world. Haven’t quite finished it yet, but one meditation has already caught my eye, one related to resilience and the idea of bringing loving kindness not just to those close to you, but extending it to include those people who you might be struggling with either professionally or personally.

Thinking back over my own career, there were times when I certainly wouldn’t have entertained the notion of bringing ‘loving kindness’ to some of the people I worked with. But an older and hopefully, wiser Janice, can now see what a difference it might have made to my perspective and energy at the time.

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It also has me wondering, ‘how much kindness’ is there out there in the workplace or is it always, ‘dog eat dog’? What would our workplaces be like if we adopted this approach, particularly towards our more ‘difficult’ colleagues?

How might things be different if we regularly practiced this and sent out those ‘loving vibes’?

I still remember, particularly in the early stages of my career, acts of kindness shown to me by work colleagues, which often took me completely by surprise.

Some of the things I remember include:

  • Regularly being invited to share Sunday lunches with a work colleague and his family
  • My head pulling a few strings to get me invited to interview at the FE college, she felt I would stand a better chance of successfully completing the A’ levels I had chosen.
  • Being offered a second chance after a poor job appraisal, I would have really, struggled had I lost this job.
  • The continual encouragement of my manager as I struggled to hit my sales targets, week after week.
  • The metal shop manager after my error in ordering the wrong size metal tubes, I presented him with a problem which he could rectify but it was done with kindness and care so that 30 years later I still remember him with affection.

More generally, I think kindness in the workplace might well show itself in:

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The colleagues who pick up the slack, when another colleague is struggling, the ones who ‘roll up their sleeves’ and get ‘stuck in’.

Not just passing by, when it is clear someone is struggling.

The interviewer who might add the additional prompt when it becomes clear that a candidate is struggling to respond.

The people who graciously and generously share their knowledge and expertise, ‘give it away!’ as I was advised to do at a local networking event. Thank you, Steve and Jez, from Ask Me Anything Digital.

The manager, delivering a tough message with care and compassion, have often thought that there are at least two parts to a message. The content itself and the way it is delivered. Have had this conversation countless times in the past, when managers have had to deliver ‘tough messages’ and recognise the importance of allowing enough time and space for the recipient to respond.

Taking the time to gently and privately, discuss hygiene issues with a staff member, particularly if others are noticing.

Colleagues, asking the question, Can I help you with anything? Is the one question that could make everyone at work, happy. Read Wanda Thibodeaux’s article here, to find out more.

http://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/science-says-asking-this-one-question-could-leave-everybody-happy-at-work.html

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

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How full is your glass? ………………….

The power of optimism and hope.

As an individual I am generally fairly optimistic and upbeat, but there have been times in the past five years when my normal levels of optimism have dipped and been accompanied by increased levels of fearfulness and anxiety.

There are a number of reasons for my ‘dips’, both professional and personal, but I believe my increased levels of professional optimism today is due, in part to feeling more in control of my own destiny as a result of the potential I see for my network marketing venture.

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So in this post I would like to explore ‘optimism’ and how it might be related to the concept of ‘locus of control’, the idea that people are generally either predisposed towards an external or internal locus of control. An idea originally conceived by Julian Rotter, in the 1950s.

People with an internal locus of control, tend to feel and believe that they can influence and have some control over events and their outcomes. They generally attribute their success and achievements in life to their own efforts and tend to take the control they can in any given situation.

However, someone with an ‘externallocus of control, will in general believe and feel that they are at the ‘mercy of fate’, there is little they can do to influence or change things. They find it difficult to identify and take the control that is available to them and may well use negative ‘self-talk’ to maintain a state of ‘victimhood’.

Perhaps this seems obvious, but it occurs to me that those people who have a tendency to attribute success, or ‘failure’ to their own efforts might well be more inclined towards optimism and hopefulness. They may well have the attitude, ‘I can do better, next time.’

So where would you place yourself?

And if you are generally more inclined towards an ‘external locus of control, what can you do about it?

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Well, maybe recognising it in yourself, might not be a bad place to start.

It is also probably worth acknowledging that in any given situation you always have a choice, it’s just that you may not like the choices available to you at that moment in time.

Actively, practice looking for where you can take control. At the very least you can always take control over how you feel.

Start paying attention to your ‘self- talk’, what are you habitually saying to yourself? Is your language ‘peppered’ with ‘nevers’, ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’?

There is a wonderful saying, that goes along the lines of ‘be careful what you say to yourself as you are the one always listening.’

When things don’t go according to plan, practice asking, what can I learn from this? What did I do well? What will I do next time? Questioning a situation is a great way to regain a sense of control and mastery over it.

When things aren’t going well there are days when I need to remind myself that, “Tomorrow is another day”, from the film Gone with the Wind.

So there you have it, until next time
Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

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Striving for excellence …………

What does it take to achieve true excellence in your chosen field of endeavour?

  • Consistent effort?
  • Trusting the process?
  • Putting in the time, to achieve skill and mastery?
  • Clear vision?

Careerresilience Aug 2016 1

As we come to to the end of the Rio Olympics it strikes me that people who truly excel in their field, whether it be business sport, drama, writing, might just have found the right ‘mix’ or balance between focusing on the outcome they want to achieve and the process that will get them there.

Observing the world class athletes at Rio, it occurs to me that there must be times when it is most useful to focus solely on the outcome; breaking that world record, winning that gold medal. And using this ‘focus’ to fuel your motivation, your passion and your drive to continue on with the practice and to keep on trying.

However there must also be times when the focus needs to be on the process, getting the technique right, looking at your physiology and nutrition and making the time for daily and consistent practice.

Perhaps even breaking the process down into it’s constituent parts, so you focus at a ‘micro level’, really ‘polishing’ your technique and achieving excellence at this level. Maybe not that exciting, probably quite tedious, but this level of detailed focus might just make the difference between winning the ‘gold’ medal, achieving success and not.  This I think is what team GB did in a number of disciplines.

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” – Mark Twain

It’s all about focus and timing.

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Paradoxically, when it comes to the big event, the race, the final throw, the final performance that might be the time to ‘Trust the process’ and ‘Let go of the outcome’. Trust that you have been meticulous in your preparation and your practice, trust you have put in the consistent effort, trust that you are in fact ‘ready’.

By letting go of the outcome you might actually give yourself the best chance of achieving it. By being fully focused and present with the ‘moment’, I believe you can run your own race. In my view it’s a bit like taking a penalty, have always thought it made more sense for the ‘penalty taker’ to focus on the process and forget the outcome, forget the ‘occasion’ and just score the goal.

If the ‘player’ is too focused on the occasion and the outcome of their shot this may well take away from their ability to do what they have done countless times in practice. That is, to simply drive the ball into the back of the net.

Because in a very curious way, world class athletes are really competing against themselves, against their own fears, against their own doubts and comparisons, and against their own anxieties and then they win.

So until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

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Creating a team with synergy and strength ………..

Holly Caulfield and I met on a video blogging course and now after some six months of supporting each other around making videos for our respective businesses we are now also exploring how we might combine our experiences and skills to create a series of team bonding days.

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In our view it is not enough to just ‘chuck’ a group of people together even if it is packed with highly competent, experienced and skilled, individuals. If you want and need them to operate as a team, they will need that ‘extra ingredient’.

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That ‘synergy’ that turns them into a team.

In other words, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.

So with this in mind, today’s post is all about strength and synergy and what it might take to develop and maintain this within a team.

So, for this month, my questions are:

  • Is there real synergy within your team?
  • Does it have that ‘extra special, ‘ingredient’?
  • If not, how might you find it?

Perhaps for some, that ‘missing ingredient’ might just be ‘quality time’ together. The time to build trust through shared experiences, the time to establish team goals, boundaries and roles. The time to reflect, to plan, evaluate and identify team strengths. Maybe even just the time to acknowledge and celebrate team successes and achievements.

For others that ‘missing ingredient’, might well be trust and respect. Maybe you have had time together, but for one reason or the other there is no trust, perhaps there has also been no real and honest communication between you as a team. Past mistakes and issues may well have been poorly dealt with, leaving everyone with a ‘bad taste’ going forward.

A lack of shared goals and vision might be what’s missing for others. The ‘team’ such as it is, has no real idea of its purpose, team members may well be questioning the point of the team and be choosing to do their own thing. Their attitude might well be, ‘why bother, I’ll do the best I can on my own’.

Leadership, might also be lacking and contributing to the team’s lack of purpose and understanding of individual roles and boundaries.

Supportive systems and procedures might also be missing from some teams, so that most of their time is spent ‘ firefighting’ and coping with administration issues rather than working towards their shared goal.

That missing ‘ingredient’ may not be huge it may well be the equivalent to a ‘pinch of salt’, however, whatever it is, it will need to be found and added, so your team is able to reach its full potential.

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Oh, and one last thing, Holly Caulfield is an award winning Chocolatier and we both certainly think that most teams would benefit from a bit of chocolate ;).

If this is of interest to your organisation, please do get in touch.

We will also be producing a series of videos about our approach to team bonding over the coming weeks. So, look forward to seeing you there.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS Chocolates shown are from past chocolate making workshops, by Holly.

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