The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.


Michelangelo

Signs you may be close to burnout

BurnoutBurnout is that state you get to when you are so stressed and exhausted that you are no longer able to function.  At it’s extreme level, you won’t even be able to work at all.   You could argue that high performers and perfectionists are more at risk than most.  Why?  Because they power through and ignore signals that show they are at risk.  The problem is that the more you power through, the more at risk you become until you shut down completely.  Like your body has had enough and decides that if you are going to ignore its needs, it will just stop working so you can’t ignore it any more.

So, what are the warning signs?  Everybody is different but the following are a few:

  • You veer between high energy and deep fatigue.  A sign that your adrenals are keeping you going but when you stop, you really stop
  • You are more irritable than usual
  • You suffer from brain fog
  • Problems seem bigger
  • You are suffering from palpitations
  • You feel tearful
  • You are more sensitive to noise
  • Your memory isn’t as good as it usually is
  • Your sense of humour has gone
  • Your mind races at night
  • You have difficulty sleeping
  • A reliance on caffeine or other stimulants to keep going
  • You withdraw into yourself
  • You suffer from IBS symptoms
  • Your motivation is low
  • You consistently ignore your own needs

Of course, each of these may be symptoms of something else too, so it is always worth getting checked out.

In the meantime, here are 5 tips to help you:

  1. Make sure you have a balance between being and doing
  2. Say no more often
  3. Set clear boundaries at work and at home
  4. Now is the time to take greater care of your health:  eat well and exercise regularly really can help
  5. Practice mindfulness, meditation or self-hypnosis (all helpful in different ways – do feel free to call me if you want to know more)

It may be tempting to take sleeping tablets to help you sleep but these only increase the quantity of sleep, not the quality.  In fact medications in general tend to deal with symptoms rather than causes.  It’s always important to deal with these issues at cause so that they aren’t easily triggered in the future.

If you want an MOT, why not call to arrange one?  I can be reached on 0845 130 0854.  Alternatively, my new book Ultimate Energy (from tired to inspired) is out soon and, if you order before 29th December, you can get some bonuses:  Affirmations mp3, Overcome Fatigue mp3 and Personal Insights:  Performance and Productivity.  To order, visit Amazon and then send your proof of order to me at tricia@pw-consulting.co.uk to enjoy your freebies.

 

10 Traits of Successful People

10 Traits of Successful People10 Traits of Successful People

You could argue that most people want to achieve more success with less stress.  Whether you feel your efforts are yet to be rewarded with results or your success has come at too high a price, there are factors which characterise those who have a positive success formula.  Though of course it will vary from person to person, there are common themes:

  1. Clarity

The very first component for success is to have clarity of purpose, mission and goals and to keep these in sight.  When you have this kind of clarity, all your efforts are focused in the right direction – so you spend much less time readjusting, backtracking and regretting.

  1. Openness

Successful people are open to new ideas.  They are less attached to the rigid constraints of their own thinking and instead have an open curiosity about new ways.  In this way, they evolve themselves and their businesses to meet the changing landscape and are less likely to be left behind.  They are also open to feedback, seeing all feedback (good and bad) as an invaluable source of further development.

  1. Surround themselves with talent

No-one can know it all or do it all.  The successful person will recognise that they need talent around them to support their success.  Whether this is in terms of employees, suppliers or a support network, the right people are a strong foundation.  Richard Branson said that you should train your people so they can leave but manage them well so they don’t want to.  I love that because it means that you strive for the best in your team.  I also believe that you should hire really carefully so that you have the right infrastructure around you.  All the best people have a good coach too – it’s just too hard doing it all alone.

  1. Influencing

Successful people are great influencers.  They do this by building rapport, understanding other people and having a clear sense of what they want to achieve.  They use these to motivate others in the direction they want them to go.  This is not the same as manipulation (which is totally self-serving and disregards the needs of others) but instead creates a win-win for all parties.  Influencing well creates the kind of loyalty where you are trusted, supported, and respected.  Of course, it’s great for sales too.

  1. Grounded

They have a strong sense of themselves, with strong values, a clear sense of purpose and are not easily derailed in times of setback.  Like a tree, they are both strong and flexible, adapting to their environment with relative ease.

  1. Realistically Optimistic

Most of the time I have to coach people to be more positive.  For a few, the bottle is not so much half empty but dangerously low and this can really affect their results.   For a small minority, they are so positive that they are not in touch with reality, trusting that everything will work out no matter what.  For sustainable success, a balanced perspective is what’s needed.   Which brings me to my next point …

  1. Great planners

Whereas a positive mindset is essential, its importance is matched by the ability to plan.  That’s the initial plan to achieve an outcome and contingency plans too.  If something were to go wrong with an idea or a project – what could you do about it?  This means that surprises will not catch you unawares – you will be prepared.  A case of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst so you are blindsided less often.  This kind of thinking exercises the mind in such a way that it becomes easier and easier to plan for success.

  1. Excuse-avoidant

There is no room for excuses if you want to be a success .  Excuses keep you stuck.  The difference between an excuse and a reason is that an excuse is a defense against the guilt of not doing enough.  A reason is an explanation for an other-than-intended outcome, despite best efforts.  Excuses are alibis for failure because they are devoid of growth, learning, progression.  Commit to a course of action and make it happen.  Learn from mistakes, prepare for success and make sure you surround yourself with people of a similar mindset.

  1. Practice Self-Care

People serious about success see self-care as an important strategy to achieve it.  They are the tools of their trade.  Just like a high-performance vehicle, we all need to be taken care of if we are to perform at our best, particularly when the going gets tough.  This means good nutrition, plenty of water, sufficient rest and regular MOTs just to make sure you are firing on all cylinders.  I talk about nutrition as being healthful rather than healthy.  It is possible to eat healthy food but still be missing vital nutrients.  Healthful means ensuring that you get the range of nutrients in the right proportion for sustainable energy and a strong immune system.

  1. Manage Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and you need some of it to perform well.  However, too much of the negative kind can really affect performance, decision-making as well as health and even relationships.  Managing stress effectively is absolutely key.  A lot of people think they are managing stress when in fact they are just suppressing it or distracting from it.  If you find yourself eating more, drinking more, smoking more, spending more time on social media, or any other ‘too-muching’ as I call it, it is a sign that you are distracting from stress.  This might seem like it’s helping but the long-term effects can be catastrophic – breakdown or burnout.  I teach my clients how to manage stress so that they enjoy the positive benefits it can bring in terms of performance without the negative consequences.

I’m sure you know that success is more complicated than this but I wanted to share with you some common traits of those who enjoy sustainable success.  I hope you find some inspirations to help you in your work.  If you would like support so that you can enjoy success with less stress, do feel free to contact me on 0845 130 0854.  It would be lovely to hear from you.

Emotional Intelligence – Your Secret Weapon

Emotional IntelligenceI was interviewed for a leadership program on the subject of emotional intelligence this week.  I call it your secret weapon because it is said to account for 80% of your success.  You might be surprised to learn that intellect, though important too, actually only accounts for 20%.  It is your ability to handle yourself which is what makes the biggest difference and this is what emotional intelligence is about.  And the good news is that it helps you in your work and in your personal life too.

The downside of it is that you need to have it to know whether you have it!

There are four main elements to emotional intelligence (or EQ as it is also known): Continue reading

Influence and Manipulation – What’s the Difference?

How to InfluenceWhen they first start to work with me, some of my clients don’t like the idea of learning how to influence because they see it as the same as manipulation.  But there is a significant difference.  One that sets the influencer apart, builds trust and is a significant factor in helping you achieve your goals in life and in your business.

What is Influencing?

Influencing is the ability to have people buy into you, your idea, your business.  It can smooth relationships so that they are more collaborative and harmonious, even in times of challenge.  It requires the ability to understand the motivations of the other person, their hopes and fears, as well their objectives.  This knowledge, through skilful influencing can help you achieve your own objectives with greater ease.

What is Manipulation?

Continue reading

The Dangers When Motivation Blurs Perspective

Denial or TruthI usually write about performance, productivity and stress-resilience.  This article will cover the thorny subject of Denial which is a cousin to each of those.

The political turmoil at the moment has been cursed with so many twists and turns, accusations, affirmations and resignations that is has been hard to keep up.  At a time of deep unrest, what has been needed is an honest and unbiased assessment of the situation so that stability and a clear way forward can be restored.

This is true in business too – and in our personal lives for that matter.  In an excellent TED Talk, Julia Galef introduced the subject of Motivated Reasoning which she labels The Soldier Mindset.  In this, an individual will be motivated to defend their ideas, or attack the ideas of opponents.  Why shouldn’t we do that?  Because in blindly doing so, we don’t get an accurate picture of reality, we so doggedly stick to our position, that may take us down a path that results in regret, failure, or even disaster.

As an example, last week The Chilcot Enquiry concluded that the Iraq invasion was illegal, resulting in many needless deaths.   Tony Blair insisted he was not at fault, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  It would seem that his motivation was to forge strong links with the US, saying “I will be with you whatever.”  And so, he was.

Professor of Criminology, David Wilson, has called him ‘deluded’ and much worse*.  Whatever your thoughts on the subject of politics, the inability to see things in their true perspective can have devastating consequences.  Denial is a coping strategy to block out the uncomfortable truth.  In the case of Blair, he downplayed his actions to make them palatable to the wider world.  I think we all have a tendency to do that, but the consequences can be detrimental.

So what is the solution? Continue reading

Which Stress Personality Are You?

Stress is a very personal thing.  What might be stressful to one person, can be motivational and energising to another and comforting to yet someone else.

Yes, stress is very subjective.  However, most people would agree that stress concerns how we perceive the demands which we face in life.  If we don’t feel up to the challenges, or aren’t motivated by them, they will be stressful and draining.  In the short-term this can affect performance and teamwork.  In the long-term it can affect health and profit.

An opposite of stress is flow – when you are energised, work seems easy, you are able to give fully of yourself and time goes quickly.  You are in your flow when you do something you like and which comes naturally to you.  How you can enjoy more flow will depend on your profile – a subject which we will be addressing in this article.  Another opposite of stress is boredom.  And in many ways, this is simply another form of stress.  So the first thing to do to overcome stress and enjoy more flow is to understand yourself better so that there is less boredom, less tension and more playing to your strengths.

I use a variety of psychometric tools and one of them is called Talent Dynamics.  This is a simple tool which helps you to understand yourself more fully so that you experience less stress and more flow.

It suggests four main profiles.  I will share the main characteristics of each, as well as how each will experience stress and, at the same time, how each causes stress to others.  I will finish with a few pointers on how to deal with that particular profile. It is a longer article than usual, so get yourself a coffee and enjoy.  Even if you don’t identify with a particular profile, it provides insights into people who might be causing you stress, so it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to read it. Continue reading

How much is stress costing you?

Employee Wellness

Stress and Wellness – Priceless?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have published research which shows that if you are not actively managing employee wellbeing, it is likely to cost you £554 per employee per year in sickness absence alone.  But what is the cost of stressed out employees who do turn up day in and day out?  And what is the cost if you run your own business?

Pressure on performance

With most people working longer hours than they ever have before, chasing tougher targets and meeting tighter deadlines, the continued stress levels affect not only the wellbeing of the individual, but can significantly impact teamwork, performance, productivity, customer service levels and, of course, the bottom line.  It also means that managers are spending much more time managing performance than they are managing the business.

Is ignorance bliss?

Ignoring the problem does not make it go away.  If anything, it makes it worse.  One way or another, your business will pay the price.  And stress does not isolate neatly around the individual – it can put pressure on others who have to pick up the pieces. Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Steel

Steel

This is the last in the series of articles which explore your personality profile to help you understand how you can enjoy more flow and less stress in your day to day life.  As this is the last article, I will also use it to serve as a summary.

What is flow?

First of all flow can be considered as that feeling where you are at your best, highly motivated, focused and productive.  Work feels like fun.  Like a top athlete, you are ‘in the zone’.

The biggest secret to having more flow

There are many ways you can be more productive.  But to have more flow, the best approach is to play to your strengths.

We can pretty much put our minds to anything we want to, but, if we are doing something which is not a natural strength to us, it takes a lot of thought and effort.  It is more stressful and you are likely to be prone to more mistakes.  Not only that, it is less likely you will enjoy it. Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Tempo

Enjoying More Flow - The Tempo

Welcome to the third in the series of how to enjoy more flow in your day to day life.  What does this mean?  When you are in your flow, you are motivated, energised, you are productive and everything seems easy to you.  The key to enjoying this is to play to your strengths as much as you possibly can.

One way of understanding your strengths is to have a profile done.  Talent Dynamics is one of several that I use and it has four main types.  Today we will look at the third type – what is called The Tempo.  But it isn’t the name that’s important, it’s the characteristics.

Of course at work it is rarely possible to have a job which only plays to your strengths.  In reality, most people find that there are parts of their job that fits you so perfectly.  It is far more likely that there are elements of your job that you dread, that may take a lot of mental energy and that take you longer to do than you think it should.  But by doing a job which plays mostly to your strengths, and managing your time so your day is not affected too much by the other tasks, you will notice your productivity increases. Continue reading

Enjoying More Flow – The Blaze

flow and productivitySo far in this series, we have looked at what flow means and we have looked at the profile of the Dynamo.  Today we are going to focus on The Blaze and what they need to do to enjoy more flow in their work life.

One of the main factors in enjoying more flow is to really understand your strengths and how to play to them.  So, as you read this article, do consider whether this profile describes you and what you need to do to create more flow.  There is no ‘best’ profile as each brings its own strengths and challenges.  By becoming more aware of what you bring to each activity and how to leverage these, you can enjoy more flow, less stress and more productivity.

It does not mean that if something is not a strength for you then you are doomed to fail in that category.  It does mean you need to be uber-conscious of what you are doing, why and how, to make sure you are being as effective as possible.  It will not flow in the same way as a natural strength, but you can become competent.  So, if you don’t identify with this profile, you might want to consider how the lack of the strengths of this profile could benefit you in your working life and how you might be able to develop some of that.

So, what is a Blaze?  The strongest characteristic of the Blaze is their sociability.  Continue reading