It’s never just about the notes or the words..

Have been learning to play the piano for about seven years now, the first three of which I had an amazing piano teacher, Emily.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons it has not been possible for me to continue with weekly lessons. Luckily for me,  I realised very quickly that even though Emily isn’t with me physically, she has in fact left me with an ‘internal’ piano teacher and I still hear her ‘teaching’ at points when I am practising.

Careerresilience July 1 2017

She has left me with enough knowledge, experience and motivation to continue practising and learning new pieces on my own for the past three years. My plan is to go back to lessons when circumstances permit, but for the moment I have enough to be ‘going on’ with.

So, this for me is what coaching is all about, helping people to develop their inner resources and their ‘internal’ coach.

When I started as a career coach, seventeen years ago and this still holds true today my intention was to help people to create a long-term vision for their career and develop the habits and approaches that would get them there.

People would get what they needed to ‘fly and soar‘ with their careers, it was rarely just about the immediate job, but more about helping people to build for their futures.

So, getting back to my piano lessons, when I first started I was expecting to learn how to play the piano and just follow the notes.

Thankfully Emily, very quickly put me straight, with:

‘I can teach you to play and then I can teach you to play

Which for Emily was about sharing her vast knowledge, experience and understanding of music. It was never just about the notes, it seems obvious now but this wasn’t what I was expecting when I first started with lessons.

Bit like coaching really, it’s not just about the words that are being said.

She taught me to get a feel and understanding for a piece of music before leaping in to learn the notes. She taught me about articulation and dynamics some of the things that add variety, movement, light and shade to a piece of music.

Very much like hearing someone’s story, the rhythm and movement adds meaning to what is being said.

She also taught me how to look for and identify patterns, something you can only generally do if you ‘stand back’ and look at the ‘whole’ first. This meant I could generally reduce the time and effort needed to learn a piece of music.

My go to place April 2017

As a coach, ‘standing back’ gives me the perspective needed to identify and challenge unhelpful patterns or acknowledge/celebrate helpful ones.

She also taught me how to quickly identify and focus on the problem bars of music. So, instead of getting stuck at the same part and then repeatedly going all the way back to the beginning each time to get stuck all over again. Emily taught me to stay with the difficult sections, even if it were just two bars in a whole sheet of music. She taught me that getting these problem bars right first, would move me on so much more quickly.

There are times, I think when we get so busy working around an issue, that we sometimes find it ‘easier‘ to go all the way back to the beginning and get stuck in the same place, all over again. Rather than sticking with and working through the issue once and for all.

Emily also taught me how to integrate the problem bars into the rest of the music. So, having perfected them I could then add them in, ‘bit by bit’ and then move into and through them, seamlessly.

In terms of coaching, this means that my clients may well find they too can ‘weave’ solutions seamlessly into the rest of their lives or at the very least, understand and see clearly the consequences and the full impact of their ‘solution’.

So, there you have it.

It’s never just about the notes or the words…….

And I look forward to continuing on with both my piano playing and coaching, over the coming years.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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What keeps you going, when times are tough?

What keeps you going when times are tough and work isn’t going so well or it just feels like you are ‘wading through treacle’? Your progress seems inordinately slow and you might even wonder if you are in fact moving backward.

I know for me, there is a certain stubbornness in my nature, (I don’t always want to admit I might be on the wrong track).

There is a certain level of ‘grit’, in my makeup and I also know that there are times when I need to get my head down, put the work in and just keep going.

Sometimes the break through comes at the moment you least expect it,  the ‘darkest hour is just before the dawn’- Thomas Fuller.

How many people have given up just at the point they were about to reach their ‘breakthrough’?

So, how might you be able to encourage and support yourself when times are tough?

Careerresilience June 2017

Well it might not hurt to:

Check your perspective, are you really making so little headway? How realistic are your plans and expectations, are you hoping for too much too soon? Or are you in fact playing too small, I do seriously wonder whether it is easier to just go for the ‘humongous’ dreams.

It may be that your vision or your dream is simply not big enough. Take a look at an earlier post, ‘Making sure your dreams are big enough’ post here

Check in with your values, is what you are trying to do in alignment with who you are and the things you really stand for? A lack of progress might well be a big clue to this, you may well have propped your career ladder up against the wrong wall. It just might not be the right thing for you.

Check your timing, so much of life I think is about timing and serendipity. Perhaps there is some additional learning and training that you need to undertake first. You may well be stretching yourself too thinly and not giving your project the energy and focus it really needs.

Check your pathway, is it time to adjust your approach? This might be when you need to ‘Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach’ – Tony Robbins

Check your process, similar in some ways to the point above, but if you know you have the right elements in place then ‘let go of the outcome’ and focus on the doing. Sometimes this is the only way to proceed, just keep going and trust that the process you are following is right for you.

Check your destination, is it still where you want to go? Maybe somewhere along the way you have simply changed your mind, but possibly not quite acknowledged it.

Check your self-talk, what are you saying to yourself about your progress or lack of? Would you allow someone else to talk to you like that?

So, whether you are:

  • On the hunt for a different job
  • In pursuit of your first role
  • Making a complete change of role, career
  • Looking for that first break
  • Waiting for that first piece of work as a new business owner
  • Chasing your dream

It is worth remembering that sometimes, life is a bit of a marathon, for some situations there are no quick fixes, no sprints to the finish.

Be kind to yourself and accept that you are most likely doing the best you can.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS if you have time and enjoy singing take a look at one of our songs from Brighton Goes Gospel, our version of the Mary, Mary song I can’t give up now.

Hope you enjoy

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What happens when someone asks for our help?……………..

First wrote about kindness in the workplace, last October  and have been prompted to write again as I have observed that increasingly people are sharing their vulnerability or simply just asking for help, on the LinkedIn platform.

Have been fascinated by the reactions and responses to these posts, which in general have ranged from the encouraging, ‘keep at it. Don’t give up’; through to signposting to helpful information, right through to offers of practical help.

All of which, from what I can see has been gratefully received, but it has made me reflect on how we might respond when faced with a direct request for help.

What options are available to us and how do we decide how involved to become?

careerresilience-oct-2016-1

Seems to me there are at least three options available to us:

Offering advice: 

We might choose to offer advice and guidance, fully expecting that the person is then able to go off and follow it. Perhaps also hoping that, by in large that will be the end of our involvement. We’ve supplied the ‘necessary’ information and that should be enough.

It might be our way of dispensing wisdom and then walking away – with no further involvement.

Offering help: 

We might in some circumstances choose to jump in and ‘do’, from our perspective the person needs immediate help and support. They wouldn’t have asked otherwise and we might have just what they need. We may even want to rescue them and perhaps become the ‘hero’ of the hour.

Mixing the two:

Or indeed we might choose a combination of the two, perhaps in our assessment of the individual and the situation they are facing we have identified the ‘parts’ that we can advise and guide on, and those where we might have to become a bit more involved.

Ignore completely:

Almost forgot this option, ironic really and you’ll see why at the end of the post. We may for a whole host of reasons, simply choose to ignore and move on.

Clearly every situation is different, our reactions and responses will depend on who is asking, how they are asking and the very nature of the problem they are seeking help with. And that’s without even factoring in, you and how you might be feeling.

I wonder if at times we rush in to help or offer advice, seeing the problem but not necessarily fully seeing the person in front of us.

So now I am considering is it kinder to consider the request from this perspective? Is it kinder to look more closely and listen more carefully to the person asking for help and really weigh what they might need?

Is it kinder to take a bit of time to assess when to step in and provide help and when to offer guidance or indeed when to offer a combination of both?

Kindness comes in many guises, sometimes it’s kinder to offer advice and keep some distance and sometimes it’s certainly kinder to ‘ roll up your sleeves and get ‘stuck in ‘.

The other thing I would say about kindness, is that it needs to be real, if you genuinely for whatever reason cannot offer it at that moment in time, then be honest and offer what you can. Life has taught me that in general people can only offer what they have.

How often in your life and career have you wanted/needed help and instead received advice?

Advice can be great, extremely useful and timely but there are times when what people need is help, hands on, involved, side by side help.

On the other hand……

How often have you been seeking, guidance advice only to have someone jump in and start doing for you?

Perhaps there is a fine line between taking over and ‘walking with someone’ until they are steadier.

Have you always been fully present and willing to help when required?

And here I do have to come clean, haven’t always done this, can think of one work situation where I just did not heed the request for help.  It’s still with me to this day, despite the years and a situation I will not allow to happen again.

So, there you have it, until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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Energy, engagement and enjoyment, Part two

Part one originally was originally published in October 2015 , so time I think to return to this topic and consider more deeply what might lie behind someone having attained a high level of skill in their field and yet experience little or no joy in applying it.

A couple of things spring to mind regarding this:

I wonder about ‘profound boredom’ and how people might reach this point. Is it just about the loss of excitement, fun and interest, they had in the early days?

And what does it mean to be ‘profoundly bored’, regardless of the root cause?

Careerresilience Oct 3

In conventional usage, boredom is an emotional or psychological state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in his or her surroundings, or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious.”

For me this becomes profound, when there is seemingly no end to it and it appears to permeate every fibre of your being.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boredom

However, I also wonder whether it is possible for a person to become so ‘bone weary’, they no longer have the capacity or the energy to fully engage and enjoy the work they are doing. They may well be operating for much of the time on ‘auto pilot’.

My third thought is around ‘values’, and the possibility that there is mismatch between the individual’s values and those of their organisation. Their ‘boredom’ with the work and or organisation might well stem from a growing sense that the ‘work’ no longer holds any real meaning for them.

There is for me something about ongoing boredom and lack of challenge that can over time, perniciously sap confidence and self-esteem.

We can reach a pinnacle, enjoy the view for a while and then start to ask ourselves, what and where next?

And yet, though ‘boredom can be a dangerous and disruptive state of mind’ what might it be trying to tell you? Is it time to ‘shake things up’ and set some new goals?  Time to make some radical changes?  How bad does it have to get?

In his article, ‘Why boredom is bad and good for you” –  David Robson examines the idea of boredom and what it might mean in evolutionary terms. The purpose it might serve, particularly in relation to our ‘curiosity’.

So being bored might well ‘stop us ploughing the same old furrow, and push us to try to seek new goals or explore new territories or ideas’

To read the article in full, please click here.

Examples that I can think of might be surgeons who go into countries where their skills are in short supply and work there.

Project managers, nurses and other professionals who decide to apply their skills to go and set up orphanages, hospitals, clinics…

Lawyers and advocates who might grow tired of ‘billable hours’ and decide to apply their skills in completely new ways, ways that they deem to make a difference.

Appropriate challenge and growth, are what’s needed as I don’t believe we are built or designed to remain in ‘limbo’ for long periods. We live in one of two conditions, we are either moving forwards or we are moving backwards.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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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.

careerresilience-feb-2017

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’.

careerresilence-3-feb-2017

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:

careerresilience-jan-2-2017

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.

careerresilience-jan-3-2017

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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