The ability to bounce – coping with life’s problems

Bouncing Boy
Image via Wikipedia

Losing your job can be a major blow to your self confidence and it can be difficult to bounce back.  This can be much worse if you are someone who has found it difficult to cope with life’s problems in the past

Coping with life’s problems successfully needs you to have realistic expectations. Psychologists call these expectations, and the judgements you make based on them, ‘appraisals’.  Things that happen to us aren’t a problem unless we judge them to be.

Life is never perfect and problems, including losing your job these days, are a part of normal, everyday life. If our judgements (appraisals) are realistic, we’re much better able to deal with them and not let them throw us off-balance.

The appraisals we make come from our belief system. If we hold unrealistic beliefs, then our judgements may not be the best for the situation.

Sometimes we have unrealistic beliefs about what we must or should do.  We want to be “perfect”.  “Everyone must like me “or “I’ve got to be good at everything” for example. If you think about these for a minute, they are irrational beliefs. Who do you know who could really achieve them?

Another approach!

When you are aware of this, it is possible to substitute an irrational judgement with something more positive?

If someone treats you rudely, you could think what a rotten person they are.  Or you could think “See, everyone does dislike me!”  But another view could be.  “I wonder what happened to that person today to make them behave like that?”

But it is important to follow up these ‘primary appraisals’!  We need to ask ourselves afterwards if there’s anything we can do about a particular event that has caused distress – a “secondary appraisal”.

If we feel helpless to change things, or incompetent when facing challenges, then we’re less likely to come up with a suitable way to handle things.

Self-efficacy

People who have a confident belief that the responses they make to life’s challenges have a meaningful effect (self efficacy), are able to face problems with energy!  This means they bounce back easily.

But how do you develop this belief?

Self-efficacy comes from life experiences and being with others who already have the belief. It’s built up over the years by responding to challenges with action, flexibility and persistence.

But how can we increase our self-efficacy?  Well here are some suggestions:

  1. Set some goals for your life. If we don’t have goals, how can we succeed? Set some goals for your life, and give yourself credit when you achieve them.
  2. Make your goals challenging but realistic enough so you’ll be able to reach them. Set some simple goals to start with, that are fairly easy to achieve and then build on them.
  3. Find some good role models. They don’t have to be someone you know, but find someone you admire and you could learn from.
  4. Talk yourself positive. Take time to observe how you think about yourself.  Start praising your success in your own mind and make a decision to stop putting yourself down.  Admit that, like all of us, you have faults and stop belittling yourself for them.  Instead build yourself up for the smallest successes.
  5. Remember it takes energy and effort to succeed.  Be like an athlete, train yourself to win

Support

People with a good support system are more successful at overcoming life’s problems.

Are there people you can count on to listen to you when you need to talk? Can you speak to them frankly, without worrying about what you say? And are there people in your life you can count on to support you in major decisions?

Why not arrange to see old friends and family members.  You will find most people will take an interest in you if you show a real interest in them first.

Don’t wait for things to get better, take the first step – taking action gives us an increased feeling of competence and self-esteem. Taking action raises our self-efficacy!

Are you a resilient leader?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity.  We need it in our personal  lives and we certainly need it at work! It means we can “bounce back” from difficult experiences.

Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People usually show resilience but that doesn’t  mean they don’t experience difficulty.

Resilience isn’t necessarily something you are born with it – you learn how to show it.  Relationships that create warmth and trust, that provide role models, and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person’s resilience.

Several additional factors are associated with resilience, including:

  • The ability to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • A positive approach and confidence in yourself
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving abilities
  • The ability to handle your own emotions

Not everyone reacts the same way to challenges.  An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another.  A person’s culture probably has an impact on how he or she communicates feelings and deals with adversity

But here are some strategies for building your own resilience and encouraging it in those you lead.

  1. Develop strong connections with others!  Good relationships with other people mean that you can support each other.  This is particularly important in organizations going through difficulties – sometimes it is only team work that can pull you through!
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You may not be able to change what has happened but you can change how you respond.  As the leader, this will affect how others respond. Keep your eye on the bigger picture and look beyond the present to how future circumstances will be better.
  3. Accept that change happens. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  4. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic and short term goals and start to move towards them.  That will inspire confidence in your ability to move towards your bigger goals and towards a time beyond the present problems.
  5. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can and take decisive actions.  Don’t let people detach completely from problems and just wish they would just go away.
  6. Encourage people to look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves in difficult circumstances and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of the challenge.  Many people who have experienced difficulties have reported better relationships, a greater sense of strength (even while feeling vulnerable) and an  increased sense of self-worth.
  7. Encourage people to nurture a positive view of themselves. Developing confidence in their ability to solve problems and trusting their instincts helps build resilience.
  8. As the leader keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you and them to expect that the good times will come back.  In turn that probably will speed the time it takes to resolve the problem.

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you.

Leading Change – excuse me while I quietly burn-out

不幸だ

Change teams can be intense and exhausting places to work.  If it is large and complex change, it may put huge demands on everyone.

Everyone feels stressed! 

The Team Leader needs to recognize this and manage the team so that no undue stress is put on any particular individual.

Judging this, and then getting the resources you need to prevent harm to your team, can be difficult.

But stress and burnout are different.  And in a long standing change team, you may well see symptoms of impending burnout.

You need to know what to look for and you need to act.

If having been through a period of  constant stress, someone begins to feel disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, they may be suffering from burnout.

If you know your team well, you will notice the difference in attitude and approach.  Suddenly that person you relied on to be enthusiastic, just isn’t anymore!

When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care, let alone do something about what is happening to you.

The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten jobs, relationships, and health.

But burnout can be helped.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout in its early stages, simple stress management strategies may be enough to solve the problem.

In the later stages of burnout, recovery may take more time and effort, but you can still regain your balance by reassessing your priorities, making time for yourself and seeking support.

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

As team leader watch for burnout in both your team and yourself!

  • Make sure stress gets managed and that people seek support
  • Encourage your team to take care of their physical and emotional health.
  • Encourage people to eat properly and to go for a walk at lunch time.  Working through lunch can look like macho dedication but as a long-term habit it puts people at risk!
  • Make sure things are kept in balance.

You can recognize burout and deal with it.  Make sure it doesn’t become a full scale break down.

Personal Burnout Prevention Tips   

  • Start the day with a short quiet space for relaxation or meditation before you go to work.
  • Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits.
  • Set boundarieslearn how to say “no” at work and at home – remember  “no” means you can say “yes” to the things that truly matter.
  • Take a daily break from technology.   Put away your laptop, turn off your phone and stop checking email.  Go out for a walk.
  • Nourish your creative side.  What do you really like doing?
  • Learn how to manage stress. At this link is a simple breathing technique that may help when you feel overwhelmed by stress .


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439  

Great group – sad about the leader – mood contagion.

A Mantled Guereza, close-up, looking sad

Mood contagion is the automatic and unconscious transfer of mood between individuals.

It occurs because we tend to mimic others’ nonverbal behaviour.

Research has shown that intense moods are more likely to be transferred.  Joy or distress are more likely to be passed on than calmness or boredom.

Although mood contagion can transfer between any two or more people, leaders probably have an even greater impact on their group mood.  This is because of their importance to the organization.

If you, as a leader, can’t regulate your emotions,  members of your group might often experience stress and anxiety.  This is both in trying to cope with you as the leader and in dealing with the tasks at hand.

Leaders in a bad mood don’t need to be abusive or hostile!  Their mood needs only to be negative. Research shows that even subtle expressions of negative mood can have an impact on followers.

This raises all kinds of issues in the present economic downturn!  This is a time when we all feel miserable sometimes.  But you as a leader have to work to manage down the impact of your own feelings.

Think about those leaders who handle a crisis well. Do they manage their mood and communicate clearly while creating a safe environment for their employees? Or do they just let it all hang out and then deal with the casualties?  Who would you rather deal with and what kind of leader do you want to be?

Remember when you feel down you need to

  • Recognize that your mood will an impact on your group
  • Work to reduce that negative impact
  • Intentionally change your mood – there is a technique at this link that you can learn for this.

I would welcome your thoughts on all of this and your tips for handling your own feelings.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 

Outwitting the lovely Ondine, or making the right choices in hard times!

I watched a piece on breakfast television about a small child with something that sounded sinister, Ondine’s Curse.  This is a respiratory disorder that is fatal if untreated as sufferers stop breathing during sleep. It is very rare and the name is a reference to the myth of Ondine, a water nymph who had an unfaithful mortal lover. He swore to her that his every waking breath would be a testimony of his love. He was unfaithful so she cursed him; if he should fall asleep, he would forget to breathe. Eventually, he fell asleep and his breathing stopped. Anyway the story this morning was really about the child being able to be at home for Christmas because someone had invented a ventilator that was small enough for a child’s room!

Ventilators are usually large, cumbersome and difficult to accommodate! So this invention, not only adds to the happiness of a small child and her family, it also reduces the cost of her care to the NHS. No longer will she need expensive hospital resources, even with back up at home from community nursing staff, there will be a saving!

What struck me most was the need to take a long view when reducing costs. Inventing new equipment to reduce costs (and hopefully improve quality) long-term takes time and investment. Also, it requires creativity and teamwork! None of these qualities thrive in hard and uncaring environments. To achieve a climate that can deliver long-term ‘efficiency’ improvements while maintaining (or even improving) quality takes great leadership.

Exam question for December 2010 – do you think your leadership abilities would be up to the challenge? How are you going to maintain/improve them next year?

I would like to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a very creative New Year in this time of challenge! I hope you will come back because there will be lots more here next year to help you manage the changes you face!

MANAGING CHANGE – WHAT TO DO ABOUT ENERGY DRAINERS

If you are involved with any kind of change you will find it drains your energy as you come to terms with new situations, deal with confusion and your own, and other people’s, anxieties.  You will find yourself giving out lots of your energy in support of others.  But some people seem to take just a little too much – more than you can afford to give if you are going to stay fit for the task ahead.

We all feel insecure in the middle of change but energy drainers are usually people who are insecure and negative in their everyday life – quite often they find it difficult to tolerate their own company. You may find people like this start to depend upon you to help them make all kinds of relatively simple life decisions.  They may phone or text you several times a day on any pretext – they can eat you as well as your time and sap your life force!

Very often these sad people are stuck in “Survival Mode.”  They don’t know how to tap into their personal energy reserves to survive and like children, they haven’t accepted responsibility for their own lives. But they find a variety of ways, including emotional blackmail,  to persuade you to provide them with the emotional support  and the reassurance they need.  Life is frightening and they are very scared indeed!

We all know people like this – they can be old friends, family and work colleagues.  You want to help but their needs are overwhelming.

So, what do you do?  Keep in mind that you may need to conserve your energy to manage a complex change.   If they are part of the change, you are certainly not going to be in a position to cut them out of your ife.  Anyway, at the end of the day, most of us would actually like to be in a position to help.

The stance you take depends upon what your relationship with the person is, and upon the level of your energy reserves. However, your first responsibility is to yourself. You, too, may have to adopt a “Survival Mode” attitude.

It is certainly much easier to deal with someone who is an acquaintance or a work colleague. You have no personal commitment to them and you have every right to say goodbye when you finish work.

When you are dealing with them try to stay in a neutral space – give neutral responses and try not to get drawn into their or your emotions.  When you dealing with them, imagine you are wearing a breastplate to defend your energy – withhold your energy behind your breastplate – deliver a neutral, and deliberately, low energy response. Offer no more and no less than is necessary to accomplish the transaction.

As a personal survival technique, this approach is also applicable for family and old friends. However, you may choose to take a more compassionate and supportive stance,- demonstrate your love but it may be “tough love.” Your goal here is to move them from negative to positive and to move them back into using their own energy resources. In this way, you can help them to become self-sufficient.  Get them to think through their own options – to make choices and plan.  When they do so give them lots of quiet praise – move them on from whining to thinking about concrete ways they can help themselves!

Be aware, though, that Energy Drainers will resort to many forms of subtle emotional blackmail to get access to your energy. Don’t let them! Let them know, through your actions, that your energy is no longer accessible to them. Encourage them to make decisions on their own and to enjoy their own company by simply not being available: physically or emotionally.

It will not be easy for you or them.  You are breaking established patterns of behavior and setting a brand new precedent. But eventually a new dynamic should be established.  They should take responsibility for their own life and their own decisions.  You may have to support them through a change as part of your role but do so in a managed way! With friends and family, if they will not take action, success will be impossible. So recognize when you have banged your head once too often against that proverbial brick wall and when the wisest step is simply to “let go.”

A CHECKLIST FOR TEAM CONFIDENCE:HOW PREPARED IS YOUR TEAM FOR MANAGING THE CHANGE

People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. And that light is the light of Confidence!

Think about football – talent and hard work alone do not win games. To be a consistent winner a player must have a winning attitude. An attitude that will begin with and comes from self confidence – confidence that they and their teammates can get the job done.

For a team managing change that same self-confidence is required.  Here is a short check list to establish whether your team will have confidence to manage the change! .

Positivity –  Do you and your team think positively?  How does the team react to negativity?  What happens to pessimism in your team?  Does the team challenge negativity in themselves and in their fellow team members?  Do you have strategies for challenging negativity?   Everyone makes the odd mistake, so do not dwell on the negative. The key is to relax and manage the outcome. Fear of failure creates negative tension, but desire to excel and succeed creates positive reactions.

Clarity –  Are your team clear about the vision and the objectives of the change?  Do they have a picture in their head of the end state?  Have you painted that picture for them?  Do they believe in it?  Can they all state the vision and really mean it?  Can they focus on it?

Focus – Are you and your team clearly focused on the task ahead?  Do you know how to maintain focus?  How does the team deal with distractions – do they challenge each other? Concentration will always be better if you have prepared and planned

Preparation – Have you put the right team together? Are there enough team members and are they well prepared for the task?  Do they have the right balance of skills and experience?  What about the mix of personalities – do you have your completer-finisher as well as your resource investigator, plant etc etc?    Have they sufficient resources for the job?

Leadership Are you set up to lead them?  Have you done this before?  Do you have learning needs?  Do you have plan for meeting them?  Have you got a mentor – an experienced change manager to guide you – remember people feel flattered if you ask them to be a mentor.   How will you monitor positivity, clarity and focus in your team, as the project progresses?  Have you built relationships with you team to support this?  Do you know how you will reinforce confident behavior – a word from you will make a huge difference to their morale.

Remember as Henry Ford said  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”  Have confidence and lead your team to success.

PATIENCE

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains
Dutch Proverb

Dictionary Definition

1.the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2.an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.

3.quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession I wrote that one of the great ways you could be good boss was to have patience. I said

“Don’t rush into panic decision making because you feel anxious.  Its a natural reaction but it really will not help – a panic reaction is not likely to be the best one.    Take time to make decisions properly.  Gather the facts, seek the views of your staff.  Then when you have made the decision take time to explain it to them, if you can.”

But gathering the facts takes time and as a society, we have lost the art of waiting for things – if we want something we want it now!  We want to make the important decision and we want to make it now – we fear being accused of procrastinating.  But getting to the point where we can make the right decision is not procrastinating.   Often we do feel frustrated and we can feel angry and, if the frustration continues, we feel stressed! But to learn to wait for the right moment and to have patience furthers peace of mind and makes it easier for people to be around us.   If we are patient, we release from our shoulders an unnecessary burden of anxiety and control. To choose patience is to have wisdom

Patience itself is important – its often described as a core virtue in religion or spiritual practices. For example, Job is a figure that appears in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible and the Qur’an; his story is considered a profound religious work. At its core, the theme is the co-existence of evil and God and the application of patience is highlighted as the antidote to the earthly struggles caused by that co-existence.    In Buddhism, patience  is one of the “perfections”  that a bodhisattva trains in and practices to realize perfect enlightenment. Patience is recognized within Hinduism in the Bhagavad Gita. In both Hinduism and Buddhism there is a particular emphasis on meditation, aspects of which lead to a natural state of mindfulness that is conducive to patient, effective and well-organized thought.

You are certainly more likely exercise patience if you know how to relax and we have information about a simple relaxation technique at this link.

Meanwhile when someone has deal with bad news during any kind of change, remember the words of an old pop song!

Have a little patience
My heart is numb, has no feeling
So while I’m still healing
Just try and have a little patience

(Take That – Patience)

So now all you have to do is go away and practice! practice! practice!

OPTIMISM – THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING – article from about .com

by Susan M. Heathfield, About.com

The power of optimism cannot be over-rated as a factor in success and personal growth and development. Optimism allows you to see the positive aspects of any situation and enables you to capitalize on each possibility. Optimism may be partly responsible for success in most aspects of life. Some research exists that demonstrates that optimism results in higher achievement.

See more at  Optimism: The Power of Optimistic Thinking.

BEING A GREAT BOSS IN A RECESSION – STAYING CALM

In an earlier post on being a great boss in a recession we wrote about the need to stay calm.  Here is the quote.

“Staying Calm

Try being more relaxed and appearing more positive even in these challenging times.  If necessary use a relaxation technique to help you control your own anxiety – don’t spook your staff!   Be realistic but don’t panic – it just frightens people!  Remember Type B personalities succeed just as often as Type A in this day and age and they live longer to enjoy it”

Here courtesy of  Maharishi Ayurveda are some ideas that might help

“Seven Ways to Stay Calm in Tough Times

There is an inspiring chain mail circulating on the internet these days. It tells you to follow the 90-10 rule for a happier life. The 90-10 equation is as follows:

90% is what happens to you-it’s out of your control. 10% is how you react to what happens to you-that is totally in your control.

What can be better advice than this in times that are truly uncertain, and fraught with situations that seem beyond control?………..!

Here are some specific ayurvedic stress-management tips to help you cope better in troubled times:

Reach Out: Loneliness aggravates anxiety. Be in the company of those you love. But instead of merely spending time with family and friends, take steps to rejuvenate your relationships. The best way to do this is to give more of yourself in terms of time, energy and attention.

Take control of your responses: An instant way to calm jittery nerves is to start breathing slow and deep. This brings down the heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, sending a relaxation response throughout your body and mind. Inhale so that you can feel the air right reach into your abdomen. Take care not to breathe too fast…keep the pace easy and the rhythm steady. The use of an…essential oil at this time-lavender, rose, jasmine …. are good choices-will support your deep breathing activity. Do this at least twice a day for 10 minutes each, and you will experience a new sense of bliss.

Eat Right: Ayurveda believes that you really are what you eat. And if that is true, then eat foods that help you relax. Choose foods that help beat back stress-generating free radicals. All fresh and seasonal fruits, lightly cooked and spiced vegetables and whole grains will repair your tired mind and body, carrying the goodness down to the tiniest tissues. Antioxidant herbs replete with nature’s own intelligence know how to combat this potent enemy, and can help you fight it too. ….

Drink Up: At least 8 glasses of water a day are essential for efficient flushing out of disease-causing toxic matter from your system….

Exercise: Moderate exercise is a great way to de-stress. Yoga, which is an integral part of ayurvedic healing, is a way to exercise all parts of your body, while also soothing nerves and balancing the mind….

Sleep Well: Recognize the sleep robbers around you. Life these days is filled with more worries than just bill-paying and house-cleaning. They can steal the sleep away from your eyes, leaving you feeling unhappy and unwell the next morning. Ayurveda has some excellent tips on how to get quality rest.The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends these sleep-friendly steps:

  • Try to go to bed early — between 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. This period is ruled by the Kapha dosha, which is associated with calm and restfulness.
  • Give yourself a massage every day with an ayurvedic oil-it soothes the joints and nerves, bringing good sleep.
  • Poppy seeds have a pleasant sedative effect-add them to your diet.
  • Favor peaceful, calming activities before bed.
  • Before going to bed, sip Vata Tea in warm milk. Or try the Slumber Time Tea. Both the Blissful Sleep herbal supplement and the Worry Free herbal supplement nourish Prana Vata, which regulates mental activity. “

Meditate: The daily practice of …..Meditation can not only drive stress out of your mind, but also change your life in dramatic ways.  “

You can also try the relaxation technique we published here at Wisewolf Talking earlier – How to relax