Invest in your career, whether you are staying put or seeking promotion

growth-453479_1280Have you ever been complacent or comfortable at work? Perhaps on autopilot?

That was me at one stage in my career. With my children, a great job, good salary…life was rosy. I was coasting along. And then I started to notice that my peers were moving on and changes were happening around me. The landscape was shifting and the wake up call came when someone externally was brought in above me.

I hadn’t given much thought about planning for my career. At the beginning, it was all about getting a job and a good salary. Admittedly, I was pretty naïve. I wasn’t proactive in finding out what pathways to progression existed or what I needed to do to plan ahead to progress my career.

Two decades on, the work environment is even more volatile and shifting. Whether you are happy where you are in your career stage or wanting to actively progress you need to Give yourself the edge and take ownership of your development

Why?

Being stretched, stimulated, gaining new skills and knowledge, staying up to date with changes in technology and in your field … can lead to:

  • Increased productivity
  • Make your work more interesting
  • Re- invigorate your passion for what you do
  • Increase your confidence and morale
  • Build your transferable skills sets
  • Expand your competency and capability
  • Increase your professional attractiveness and credibility

…all of which will stand you in good stead for any future promotion or in today’s marketplace, keeping your job.

Career development does not necessarily mean career advancement. But it does mean that you are actively engaging in learning and development and are continuing to add value to your organisation.

Some ways to develop within your current role

Identify your strengths.What are you good at? What strengths are you utilising at work? What talents are you not using and how can you put to work?

Studies have shown that people who use their strengths on a daily basis are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. For example, if you are good at organising and do this competently outside of work, why not volunteer to put your organisational abilities to use. You could offer to organise the staff team meeting. It might be a job that your manager dislikes doing and one which you can take on demonstrating greater responsibility.

Identify areas that you need to develop. What skills and behaviours do you need to be better at or to develop? Discuss with your manager and demonstrate how by acquiring these, they will help to improve your performance and that of your team’s or department.

Find out if there are any in house programmes that you can attend. Ask if there is any budget or funding that you can access for attending a training course or gaining an extra qualification.

Massive open online courses (MOOC) offer anyone with access to the internet the opportunity to study for free. Try the Open University’s Future Learn or US based ones such as Coursera or Udacity

Show initiative- are there areas in your department or team that could be improved? For example, systems, processes, ways of doing things… that people complain about but no one actually does anything about it?

In one of my early managerial positions, there were no development activities for staff. I offered to organise a weekly lunch and learn. Each week we would explore a different topic. As people became interested, they took turns in hosting a session which showcased their specialist knowledge, skills and interests.

Find a mentor - identify people within your organisation who have the skills, qualities and behaviours that you admire. Be brave and pick up the phone and ask them out for a coffee. Ask them how they developed their skills or qualities, what advice they could give. Be bold and ask if they would be able to mentor you. They may also be able to offer advice and guidance in directing your career growth and direction

If there is no one within your organisation, source a mentor from outside

Grow your network inside and outside of your organisation – connect and build relationships. This will help you to widen your perspectives, gain further insights and serve as connections for possible future job prospects.

Be a mentor– offer to mentor a junior colleague. It will help you to develop your leadership and communication skills, broaden your perspectives and you will have the satisfaction of helping someone to develop.

If this is not possible within your organisation, there are many opportunities for mentoring through local schemes or national ones

Go beyond your department / organisation- are there projects within your company that you could get involved in, that would benefit from your expertise and skills? This will help to open up your organisational perspective and grow your contacts, connections and profile.

You could also try volunteering for roles within your community such as becoming a trustee of a charity, a governor in a school, member of a community group or a sports clubs.

Take control and be proactive in developing yourself. Jobs are no longer for life. With a rapidly changing work environment, it pays to invest in developing a career with updated skills, knowledge and wisdom which will give you the edge – whether you plan to stay where you are or aiming for progression and promotion.

Good luck

Vera 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

What’s holding you back from achieving those dreams & ambitions that you carry in your head? Fear of failure, lack of belief & confidence…time to BE BOLD. 1 day programme for women on 7 March with all proceeds to Children with Cancer UK

 

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Harnessing the leadership power within you

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“My biggest challenge was getting comfortable with the notion that I am a leader; I don’t line manage a team of people which in the past to me seemed a pre-requisite for leadership. I’m quiet, I have a natural preference to work collaboratively rather than compete with others. How can I lead?”

This is the start of a reflective piece by one of my participants as she completes her yearlong leadership programme.

As I am reading her assignment, I am wondering if the term ‘leadership’ has become something bigger than us, something removed from the grasp of the ordinary people? Is it still something reserved for those who have been given the title, run a company or a business or lead a team?

Gone are the days when organisations can exist with one leader at the top. For organisations to remain competitive, innovative, agile, adaptable… leadership must extend beyond the boardroom and through the layers to the frontline.

I believe that everyone has leadership potential and it is not exclusive to people who have badges. Many people do not think of themselves as leaders because they do not hold such positions or authority or feel that calling themselves ‘leaders’ is arrogant, lofty or beyond their realm.

This is not so. Each and every one of us has the ability to develop and exercise leadership… be it at home, at school, in the community, at work… One of the facets of leadership is about finding everyday ways to make a difference. Making a difference does not have to earth shattering or life changing. There are many things that we can do to make a difference to those around us.

Where are the opportunities to exercise leadership?

Leadership is everywhere around us …it crosses boundaries at work, at home, at play and is embedded in our daily lives and makes us who we are. It is a way of Being and Doing. It is who we are and what we do – 24/7. When you do go to work, do you put your ‘leadership hat’ on and then take it off when you leave?

Opportunities for leadership, to make a difference, to influence, to create positive change, to be a role model…can be found in abundance in the context of our daily lives through our relationships with others.

Leadership is very much a social process. Unless you are a hermit living on an island you will have relationships with other people. These may be immediate ones such as your husband, wife, children, boss, employees, team, peers, friends. Or not so close ones such as those with schools, clubs, community, church. Or distant ones, such as being a passenger, customer, passer-by…

Just having contact with others, whether it is face to face or virtual, provides opportunities for you to make a make a difference…. in the way you behave, interact, communicate, respond to situations, your warmth, tone of voice, your smile, your attitude, your demeanour … You have the power to make that difference with every interaction.

Leadership is not reserved for the extroverted

Our world is not full of gregarious and ‘shine a light’ on me type people. You do not have to the centre of attention, always talking, be the one to fill the silence…..to be a confident leader.

Introverts are more receptive to people as they listen, they engage, they do not dominate the space, instead they create space for others to enter into dialogue and to offer suggestions, feedback and ask questions.

“The vast majority of difficult, important human problems -both inside and outside organizations – are not solved by a swift, decisive stroke from someone at the top. What usually matters are careful, thoughtful, practical efforts by people working far from the limelight. In short, quiet leadership is what moves and changes the world.” Joseph Badaracco. If you are quiet, thoughtful, introverted…be proud of your disposition and of your style of leadership.

Collaboration

Leading collaboratively builds relationships and connects people. This could be from across disciplines, sectors, organisations, supply chains, generations…which results in better buy in and encourages a sense of ownership, shifting from ‘I will work on your goal’ to ‘we are committed to working on our goal’.

Collaborative leadership can lead to increase trust, access to more and better information and ideas, different perspectives resulting in enhanced creativity, innovation and learning

Working collaboratively means letting go of control and allowing individuals to take more responsibility and accountability for decision making. Are you ready to let go of control and encourage others to step up and take the initiative?

Don’t look to others for leadership

Leadership is a journey without a final destination. You don’t reach a point where you become the ‘best’ leader and stop there. There will always be situations, events and people who will test and challenge you and new learning to be gained.

And on that journey you have the power to inspire, shape, influence and develop others…. what a wonderful opportunity that is.

Don’t look to others for leadership. Or wait for them to lead. Take responsibility. Seize the opportunity and choose to make a difference and be the difference. You have the power
within you to affect and impact the lives of those around you. Take it.

Photo credit: Flickr user Håkan Dahlström

Thank you taking the time to read my article. Sign up to my blog so that you can receive insights on a variety of leadership and career development topics direct to your inbox. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead

Join me in Being Bold ,a 1 day programme for women giving you the skills, techniques to be bold, make changes, set impactful goals…that will help you to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.

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The best is yet to be

As the year rolls to end, it presents a timely opportunity for reflection and taking stock. One thing that has stood out is that given that the life expectancy of women in the UK is 82.5 years, I have lived more than half of my life!

And in a couple of years I would have lived half a century. Age brings some benefits and freedom. Permit me to share some with you:

Carefree

Ilkley Moor 3 MayI am less bothered about what other people think or say about me. The accumulation of life experiences grows into a thick skin which gives a certain worldliness and wisdom.

I know ‘me’ best – my values, strengths, talents, shadow side, weaknesses….I have had plenty of time to learn to accept who and what I am – and this is so very liberating.

There is less of having to prove oneself or compare self to others. No longer do I feel guilty if I am out on the moors at 2 pm on a weekday afternoon whilst everyone else is tweeting how busy they are or how wonderful work is.

Learning to life in the moment is more evident. To be blunt, the number of moments (or years) is diminishing, so best to make the most of them!

Family

I have made certain choices – work, lifestyle, financial… to give my children the best childhood they could have. Even though it was a choice, it did not stop me from feeling resentful at times and even frustrated.

On the other hand it has enabled me to develop and extend my portfolio of skills and knowledge which has made me adaptable, flexible and well suited for today’s market place.

Most importantly, I am reaping the rewards of watching my children grow into happy, balanced and responsible young adults.

A life lived

Travel VWSo far, I have survived 2 near death experiences and one life saving surgery. Life is precious, time limited and needs to be lived fully.

When my children started secondary school, holidays became adventure time.

The shared experiences and memories created when experiencing different places, cultures, and people are priceless and imprinted on our souls. They will hold us together.

Nothing can beat being woken by the loud guttural sounds of Howler monkeys in the Rainforest, being 10 m from a brown bear as he enters the water and swims across the lake in British Columbia, witnessing a humpback whale and its calf on its migration in San Francisco or fearing for your life when the only thing between you and the caimans is a dugout canoe in the Amazon.

I hope that my children will cherish these moments and when they leave , I will create some of my own – a gap year for the over 50’s, a world challenge expedition, volunteering overseas….possibilities are endless!

Death

Woody dog 14 In June of this year, I made the hardest decision of my life so far- to have our beloved large Munsterlander, Woody, put to rest. For 10 years, he was my running partner, a listening ear for my troubles, my audience for practicing my presentations, my protector, buddy, gentle giant…

He was highly intelligent, strong willed and I learnt a lot about myself through our interactions. He brought much joy and laughter into our lives, gave us unconditional love and his departure has left an empty space in our hearts and lives.

 Work

Leadership development is big business with US organisations spending an estimated $13.6 billion in 2012. After 18 years in the field of leadership, I am becoming cynical and wondering who is benefiting from all this development?

At the core of effective leadership is personal mastery – self awareness, clarity of purpose, values driven, strengths focused and the desire to serve. Leadership starts with a journey of self discovery.

Most leaders are already competent in what they do. It is often the ‘how’ that needs adjusting …which needs to be practiced and flexed in real time situations.

The behaviours demonstrated by effective leaders are not exclusive to them and can be seen in those who are, humankind ….me, you, him, her…

Be Humankind

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One of my biggest learning this year has come from completing my first marathon. It has tested not only my joints but also my mind! I have learnt much about myself: my resilience, motivation, being in harmony with my body….and the true meaning of the cliché, ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’. It really is one step at a time.

Grow old with me. The best is yet to be! (Robert Browning)

Love to hear your reflections and what stood out for you

Wishing you a fabulous 2015

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 Be Bold a 1 day programme for women, equipping you with the skills, techniques to be bold, make changes, set impactful goals…that will help you to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment in 2015. ALL proceeds, my time and delivery to Children with Cancer UK

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Fill up on success; Goal setting for the New Year

Goal setting for the new yearAre you one of the throngs of people that make New Year’s resolutions only to find that they fall by the wayside?

Perhaps some of these popular resolutions have been on your list?

  1. Doing more exercise
  2. Losing weight
  3. Improving your diet
  4. Saving more money
  5. Pursuing a career ambition

In a survey of 1937 British adults, 30% said they would be making New Year’s resolutions in 2014. However, only 57% manage to keep their resolutions. In an earlier 2007 survey of 3000 people attempting to achieve a range of resolutions, only 12% achieved their goal.

Over the past 12 years, I have helped hundreds of clients set successful outcomes and goals and would like to share some of my tips to help you succeed in achieving your 2015 resolutions.

Limit to 1 or have several small goals

Before you jump in and make hasty resolutions, stop, take time out and think about what is you would really like to achieve or want to change.

Limit your goals. When we have lots of goals, they compete for those scarce commodities – time and energy.

It is better to focus on 1 goal or have several smaller more attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a big goal.

Desire

If you are setting out to achieve something new or different be mindful that it is for the right reasons and not because your friends, partner or family say so.

‘Ought to’ and ‘should’ are based on the expectations of other people and this will result in a half- hearted attempt, which inevitably is doomed for failure.

A strong desire for change must come from within. You must really want this.

Tip: Ask yourself: On a scale of 1-10, how much do I really want this? How much am I prepared to work for it? How much am I prepared for the consequences that it will have on my family, friends, and work?

If you rate it less than 7, you are unlikely to have the commitment and motivation to pursue it.

Make you goal a SMART one

This is a well -known acronym for what your goal needs to be:

Specific: make your goal well defined, clear and as specific as possible. Rather than saying you want to get fit, say you want to be able to run for 10 kilometres

Measurable: How will you know that you have achieved you goal? How will you measure success? For example, by taking part in a 10 K race or run

Attainable : A goal should stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone but not push you over the edge. For example, considering you age, health, lifestyle, work and home commitments, how realistic is your goal? How much time and training will you be able to commit to? Work out how you can achieve this.

Relevant: How does your goal fit into the bigger picture? Is it part of your medium or long term plans? Does it align with your values and vision

T- make your goal timely and tangible by setting a time frame or a date to it. For example, my goal will be: To complete the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10K on the 12 July 2015.

Break it down into baby steps

Embarking on something new can be scary and often overwhelming. Chunk you goal down into the smallest segment possible. Start small, build gradually and be patient.

For example, if you are planning to run a marathon (be Realistic and give yourself enough time to train) , break it up into segments and work out a plan as to how you are going to achieve each segment within a set time frame. You might want to be able to run for 5 kilometres within 3 months, 10 kilometres within 5 months, a half marathon within 7 months and finishing with a marathon in a year’s time.

Taking the first segment of running 5k in 3 months – you could start off in the first week by walking for 5 minutes, jogging for 1 minute over a 20 minute period and build this up gradually.

Tip: Whatever you goal, scale it down to the smallest segment possible and start from there. You will be more motivated, have more control and will power to achieve it.

See it in black and white

Now you have something that is realistically achievable, try spending some time visualising it and creating a mental picture of what it will look like when you have achieved it.

When you have done that, put it in black and white. Writing your goal makes it tangible and helps to create a set of instructions for the subconscious mind to carry out. It will crystallise your thinking and will enhance your focus and motivation.

Keep adding to that vision – what benefits can you see and what difference will it make? Will it give you a sense of achievement, become more toned, wear your swimming costume with confidence…

Tip: Make a list of at least 15 benefits that you gain in achieving your goal. The more benefits you can articulate, the more compelling it becomes.

Plan for setbacks

Anticipate and identify potential setbacks and start thinking of strategies that will help you to deal with them.

Contingency planning will help you to overcome and mentally prepare for these challenges. for example, if you know that after a long day’s work you will be not be motivated to go for a run, find someone to go with you or join a running club.

Tip: make a list of all the possible setbacks that can occur and plan in some ways that you can overcome them – who can help you, what resources can you draw upon…

Spread the word

Tell other people what you are doing. If others are aware of what you are trying to achieve, they will ask you how you are progressing. This will help to keep you motivated and accountable. The more you tell others about it, the more likely you are to be committed to achieving your goal.

Seek out other people who are doing similar things. Sharing your experiences with people who are faced with similar challenges can be helpful when you are feeling low or unmotivated.

Tip: If you don’t want to share it with everyone, find a couple of people who you know will support you, cheer you, be your champion…who will be there for you

Checking in

Track your progress on a monthly basis. If you are not progressing, try to find out what the problem is. Enlist the support of those around you and be proactive in seeking help.

Allow for some flexibility in your goal. Being ill or unable to train for a period of time may set you back. You may need to reassess your goal. This does not mean failure but reassessment in light of current changes or transitions.

Tip: Keep a diary or a journal to help you record your learning, achievements, successes, setbacks and your progress.

Celebrate small successes

Aim for small wins and celebrate your success to keep you motivated, boost your confidence and self-esteem. For example, reaching the milestones of 2km, 5km, 7km….

Keep building on this success to sustain momentum and strive forward in achieving your goal.

At the beginning of this year, I took on a stretch goal and completed the Yorkshire marathon in October. Read my post, Go beyond your limit

Love to hear what goals will you be setting in 2015 and how they align with your vision and values.

  Join in Being Bold                                                            BE BOLD 2015 Twitter header

1 day programme for women giving you the skills, techniques to be bold, make changes, set impactful goals…to help them to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.

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Women, it’s time to stamp out the naysayers

Stamp out the naysayers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my previous post, I made a call for Women, it’s time to Be Bold. As part of my own Be Bold journey, I am running my first London marathon on 26 April. At aged 48 and with a dodgy left knee and hip, it pales in comparison to the parathletes at the Paralympics and Commonwealth games who have inspired me.

Rather than the usual fundraising activities, I have decided to use my strengths, what I do best and will benefit others and designed the Be Bold programme for women to step up, step out and be courageous to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.

I have followed my own advice and reached out for help and have had overwhelming support and good wishes. However amongst those there been a couple of naysayers and negative comments.

In your journey of Being Bold, you will meet people who will be unsupportive, may even oppose what you trying to do or achieve or say unconstructive or unhelpful things. This comes at a time when you are already feeling vulnerable and trying hard to maintain your self- belief and confidence.

How do you keep perspective, maintain optimism and belief? Some of the things that have worked for me and my clients

Acknowledge your feelings

When someone says negative things, it is human to feel hurt and upset. I certainly did. And for half of the day, it festered within me until I came to terms with and responded to them.

Let your feelings surface, listen to what they are telling you and deal with them.

Is there any validity in what is being said? Although painful, be open to criticism and explore if there is anything truthful that you can learn from what was said

Did you act and behave with integrity and in good faith?

Put it into context: out of 12 comments, 11 comments were positive and 1 negative. We tend to hone in on the unconstructive and forget to acknowledge the positives.

You have the power

Other people often project their own issues/ inadequacies unto you. There is nothing that you can do about that. It is beyond your control. Bring the power back to you and don’t let one or two negativities and naysayers bring you down. You can choose not to accept what they say. Make the right choice.

Respond with dignity and integrity

Thank them for their feedback and comments. There is no need to engage in discussion, to explain, assert your perspective or probe. Remember that you do not need to seek their permission and you do not want to get into lengthy discussions. This will only zap your energy and focus. Acknowledge, let go and move on.

Remind yourself of the ‘why’

Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, the benefits you will achieve and keep that bigger picture and vision in mind. Do not allow yourself to get sidetracked as this will lessen your focus and momentum.

Celebrate the learning

Accept that you will meet naysayers, setbacks and obstacles in your journey. Create a mindset that sees them as learning opportunities to test you. Life would be pretty boring if everything was plain sailing. Responding to such challenges helps us to develop our resilience. And the more resilience we develop, the braver and bolder we become. Bring it on!

Write it down

On your Be Bold journey, recording your thoughts and feelings in a journal is a powerful activity. It will help you to process what you have experienced in a safe environment. Writing can be very cathartic. Writing about painful emotions experienced can help to release the intensity of these feelings, leaving you feeling much calmer and ready to face the world again.

Journaling can also help you to clarify your thinking, put things into perspective, pay attention to what you are feeling and learning. Remember to record your all of your achievements and successes, no matter how small. These act as great reminders for boosting confidence

Keep on Being Bold and surround yourself with people who will champion and support you. And ask yourself – how are you supporting and championing others?

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Women’s it’s time to Be Bold

Women, it's time Be bold 2 Last Friday I was invited to attend the Forward Ladies Women in Business awards. One of the speakers was Rachel Hannan, who co-founded Gatenby Sanderson, a leading executive recruiter and now a business adviser and angel investor. As she shared her entrepreneurial journey, citing Angela Coutts as a role model, her message was for women to be more confident in putting themselves forward. This resonated as something that we women, are often reluctant to do.

Have you ever wanted to apply for a job but did not because you could not tick all of the 10 requirements? So you fixate on the 2 things towards the end of the list that you could not tick and convince yourself that you will never get the job so you don’t bother applying.

Or perhaps you know that you deserve a pay rise but dare not ask in case you are told ‘no’? The fear of being rejected is enough not to ask.

Or an opportunity has come up which will stretch you but you don’t feel able to put yourself forward because whilst you are competent and skilled, your belief in yourself is quite not 100% – there are those niggling self doubts.

Waiting for perfection and fear of failing are self imposed barriers that hinder our chances of achieving greater things and success. Self assurance and confidence in your abilities and self is as equally as important as competence.

A few years ago I came across a quote by Basil King Be bold and might forces will come to your aid’. I was struck by its encouragement and optimism and have used it prolifically since – to take chances, to risk failure and at the same time to have that hope and optimism that others may, in my journey, come to my aid and support me. And sometimes the results are successful and positive and other times they have failed.

How do you take that step into the unknown, accept that failing and fear is part of life’s biggest learning opportunities and to go forward and Be Bold? Some of the things that have worked for me and my clients include:

Give yourself permission to be bold: Start off with the mindset that you have the power, inner resources and ability to do this. It is there within you. Give yourself permission to take that risk, to put yourself forward, to know that you don’t have to be perfect, to tick all the boxes…You might not get it right, you may a mistake, you may fail…and if you do, be compassionate towards yourself.

Be kind to yourself: This is not about self pity, indulgence or lessening your standards. It’s about remembering that you are human. If someone you cared about failed or was unsuccessful in a getting the results sought, would you berate them, tell them off …? What would you say or do? Do the same to yourself.

Identify and leverage your strengths: Be clear on your strengths and what you do best. Ask a range of people who know you well (boss, peers, friends..) to give you feedback on your what do well. Find ways to integrate your strengths into your daily tasks and activities. When you do things that you enjoy doing it makes you feel good, keeps you energised, engaged and boosts your resilience.

Plan and prepare: For example if you are negotiating for a pay rise ensure that you have done your homework. Find out the process and the layers of management involved. Get a benchmark salary range by finding out how much other people in similar roles, organisations, sectors get paid. Build a business case with evidence of skills, achievements, your value and how you go beyond the norm. Preparation, rehearsal and anticipating challenges ahead and your response to them can minimise the stress and fear of such situations

Stretch yourself: Being out of your comfort zone can be difficult, hard work, uncomfortable and harrowing at times. However, it is from undertaking such acts that we develop mental toughness, grow, progress and achieve our greatest accomplishments. Start by finding little things that will stretch you. This might be as simple as engaging in conversation with someone you don’t know, giving feedback to a colleague, trying out something new at work….As you build your confidence, step up and increase the stretch…and continue to do so throughout life.

Stay in your own lane: Stay focused and resist from comparing yourself and your performance to others. There will always be someone who makes more money, has more clients, does it better, gives a more polished presentation…than you.

Seek help: Do not be too proud to ask for help. There are many people out there who are willing to support, mentor, give advice…. Make a list of people who you think would be able to help you and be brave in asking for their support. They can only say no or refuse! Chances are one or two will be the ‘mighty forces’ that will come to your aid. In your journey you will find people who will buy into you and your story, when they offer help, seize it.

For more on this, read my earlier post on 4 ways to Boost your confidence and self belief. Follow me on LinkedIn and on Twitter @verawoodhead

Reaching out for your help: On the 26 April, I will running my first London Marathonfor Children with Cancer UK. Rather than the usual fundraising activities, I have decided to use my strengths, what I do best and will benefit others. I came up with Be Boldwhich is a 1 day programme for women to step up, step out and be courageous to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.

I am running 2 workshops on Saturday 7 Feb and 7 March with all proceeds to Children with Cancer UK. Please join me, tell your colleagues and friends about the event and help me to raise £2000. Alternatively, you can make a donation through my Fundraising page.

Thank you and hope that some ‘mighty forces’ will come to my aid. Vera

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Be Bold in 2015

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid”, Basil King

Join me and a small group of like-minded women as we find the courage, commitment, support and help to achieve the results, success  and fulfilment that we desire 

On the 26th April 2015 I will running my first London Marathon for Children with Cancer UK. Rather than the usual fundraising activities, I have decided to use my strengths and what I do best and will benefit others. I came up with Be Bold which is a 1 day programme for women to step up, step out and be courageous to get ahead, progress, achieve results, success and fulfilment.

I am running 2 workshops on Saturday 7 Feb and 7 March with all proceeds to  Children with Cancer UK. Please join me, tell your colleagues and friends about the event and help me to raise £2000 . Alternatively, you can make a donation through my Fundraising page. Thank you so much for your support. Vera 

 You are invited to BE BOLD 2015

 

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Getting creative with Quotes

This week I have been having fun with colours and layouts and adding my quotes to them. Love to know what you think of them . Drop me a line. And if you have some of your own do share. Vera

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4 ways to boost your confidence and self belief

Dandelion clockHave you ever been in a situation in which you did not perform as well as you could or something untoward happened which has resulted in your confidence being blown away?

If like me and many others, just thinking about it fills you with dread and a reluctance to put yourself in such situations again?

Some will reflect, learn and pluck up the courage to have another stab at it. For others, it may be much harder because you have convinced yourself that you will fail. You avoid similar situations and become unwilling to put yourself forward.

This limits new opportunities and possibilities being opened up to you and can have an adverse effect on progressing your career and moving forward.

Try using the techniques below to change the way you think.

confidence caption 3

Boost your confidence and self belief

Reframe limiting beliefs: Albert Ellis, founder of REBT, developed a way to teach people how their beliefs cause their emotional and behavioural responses.

For example, you dwell on the negatives of a ‘bad’ experience of giving a presentation. These negative thoughts are played over and over in your mind until they become embedded beliefs.

Whenever placed in similar situations, the feelings of anxiety and nervousness emerge. It is not giving a presentation that causes those feelings, it is the beliefs that you have associated with them.

Examples of such limiting beliefs are the need for approval from others (if this is not 100% they will think less of me) and it must be perfect with no hitches (if there a mistake then it has all gone wrong)

Dispute and banish those negative beliefs and replace them with positive performance enhancing ones. For example, ‘I realise that my belief is unrealistic and keeps me stuck. The only way I’m going to find out about the quality of my ideas is by presenting them. If they are rejected, it is important for me to distinguish between my ideas being rejected and me rejecting myself because my ideas have been. If someone does think I’m a fool I certainly don’t have to agree with them….’

Use an anchor: Physiologist & psychologist Ivan Pavlov discovered a phenomenon called conditioning. At meal times he would ring a ring to call his dogs to the food. After a period of time he found that even without any food, the dogs would salivate from hearing the sound of the bell.

An anchor works in a similar way. By conditioning responses to an anchor we are able to get into a specific state. How to do this:

  1. Think of a time when you were really brimming with confidence, self belief and feeling on top of the world. Relive the memory of that experience. Construct thoughts, images, feelings and visualise yourself in that state
  2. At the peak of that state, when the feeling is most intense, anchor that feeling to a unique trigger such as a light pinch of the palm
  3. Change into a neutral state by moving around and doing and thinking positively about something different.
  4. Repeat that process and practice several times until every time you pinch your left palm you will be in a confident state

Visualisation: Imagine and play through the desired outcome in your head. Rehearse and practice the scene until you perfect it. Bring the little details to life..what are you wearing, how you are feeling, how you are speaking, how you move about the room, what questions might come up, what your response would be…

Affirmations: These are short, I, Me and My statements that you repeat to yourself in order to change limiting beliefs. How we feel and act is influenced by our thoughts. Change the way you think and you will change the way you feel and behave. State your affirmations in the present tense. “I am a confident speaker,” ‘I am confident in my speaking abilities’

Practising these simple techniques which help you to think more positively about yourself and raise your confidence and self belief.

Get out there and banish those limiting thoughts

Follow me on LinkedIn and on Twitter @verawoodhead

Work with me at Edimo Coaching & Development

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Getting to aha moments with your staff

Tired man

There is nothing more magical than observing a client harnessing his creativity and inner resources to generate that ‘aha’ moment.

Oscar, one of my clients entered the room, appearing to be carrying the world on his shoulders which are hunched, a look of weariness on his face and fatigue in his body.

He had been seconded to a new strategic role on a part time basis and I was working with him to tackle some of the challenges and issues that he faced.  These included:

  • Be part of a new and evolving environment. Whilst he is used to working with complexity he is less comfortable with uncertainty and an ever shifting landscape. His role is not defined, he is unsure of what is expected of him and  if he is doing the right thing
  • As he is only there 2 days a week, he feels that he only knows what is going on superficially
  • He spend a lot of his own time reading and preparing for meetings and is struggling to manage his time and priorities
  • There isn’t enough time or opportunity to build connections and relationships
  • He feels like he has moved from a big fish in a small pond to a little fish in a big pond and sometimes feel out of his depth and lacking in confidence

We explored and worked on identifying and aligning actions and behaviour to core values, using strengths, identifying priorities, being clear on career direction, making use of time management strategies, obtaining feedback from stakeholders and identifying areas for development…

Set outcomes were being achieved, feedback from stakeholders was excellent, feeling of less stress, happier, more authentic and self aware were expressed earlier. So it was a surprise to see him looking so deflated.

His worries were to do with his long standing role. He was starting to notice areas of inefficiencies – of engrained ways which were unproductive, where staff were not holding each other to account, of not working collaboratively, of poor relationships and leadership, of feeling that he was the only one that was noticing this and wanting to be proactive about it. As he talked, he injected little sighs which made his shoulders sag even more.

We started to work through those complexities, untangling them and breaking them down into more manageable areas.

The whole thing was too messy, too much at stake, too many people involved and seem insurmountable to Oscar. For every way forward, there were 2 steps backwards, for every possible solution; there were an obstacle in the way. We were not getting anywhere, just going round in circles.

It was time for a break, some quietness and a change of scenery.

Heading outside for a drink, we took a brief stroll to take in the winter sun and admire the changing colours of the landscape.

Aha caption 4

On our return, I asked Oscar to reflect and feedback on the dialogue so far. As he began to do this, there was a sudden shift in his being. His posture changed, he sat upright, there was energy in the room which wasn’t there before.  His expression shifted to one of clarity, of insight and new perspective. There was a dawning on his face.  It was the realisation that he saw his future in his seconded role and that to do this he needed to tackle the issues in his own organisation.

Aha moments are those blink of an eye moment of clarity when there is significant new insight which moves an issue from something which was seen as insurmountable to finding a way forward.

Techniques that you can use with your staff to help generate insight

 1. Get into the habit of asking powerful questions. Powerful questions are often followed by silence as the answer is not known. The individual has to pause and reflect deeply thus provoking thinking, feeling and reacting differently about the issue in hand. This helps to promote new ideas and visions about possibilities

 2. As Nancy Kline says, we need ‘time to think’. Create and leave plenty of space for self reflection and time for the individual to ponder. Make room for silences and be comfortable with and saviour them

 3. An uncluttered mind helps with creativity and generating new ideas. Consider engaging in dialogue when the individual is most energised and least stressed. Use simple meditation, mindfulness and breathing methods to induce a state of calm, quiet and relaxation

4. Hold conversations in a peaceful and relaxing environment  Just as an uncluttered mind can aid the flow of creativity so can the environment.

5. If you are stuck, take some time out, do something different before revisiting the issue or problem

6. Try looking at the issue from a different angle or an alternative perspective

 And to  foster your own ‘aha’ moments  

  • Take up regular exercise as it helps to quiet the mind
  • Set aside some quiet undisturbed day dreaming time at least once a week and let your mind wander freely
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation
  • Be open and keep your mind curious

Powerful insights emerge in moments of quiet. Indulge in silence.

Photo freedigitalphoto.net

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