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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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