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

Stress and Managing Others

Managing PeopleManaging your own stress, your performance and productivity is one thing.  Managing these factors in others is something else.  Trying to achieve results through others brings its own stresses to add to your already burgeoning collection.  But we don’t need more stress, we need less.

Most people rely on others to a certain degree to get things done.  Whether you manage a team who work directly for you, or outsource some of your work to others, they can all bring their challenges as well as their rewards.

And of course the faster the pace, the greater the challenge.  The problem is not unique and yet your greatest asset can so often be your sleepless night.

It’s fraught with difficulty.  Someone who seemed perfect at interview might present very differently when they’re in situ.  Or they may have been fine when you hired them, but suddenly there seems to be one problem after another.  This can have repurcussions on productivity, teamwork, customer service and even profits.  It can certainly affect the stress levels of others, as well as your own.

Managing others requires an ability to understand the motivation of individuals, a flexibility in how you manage them and yet a consistency in approach.  It’s an art-form and one size doesn’t fit all.  But, once mastered, it really yields results.

So, what’s the answer?

As you might expect, it’s a bit complicated.  So, in partnership with Sandra Porter of The HR Department, I am putting on a short workshop to introduce you to the concept of effective people management so you know how to bring out the best in individuals, know how to identify your saboteurs from your superstars and spot warning signs and what to do about them.

Good people make good business.  If you want to help reduce the stress of managing results through others, join us for this short but impactful workshop.  For more information, click here for Your Greatest Asset and Your Sleepless Night.

 

Or call me, Tricia Woolfrey, on 0845 130 0854 for a no-obligation discussion.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Problem with Black and White Thinking (2 minutes to read)

Black and white thinkingBlack and white thinking (also known as all or nothing thinking) can be really useful when you need a quick decision which has an absolute answer:  something is right or wrong, good or bad.  A decimal point in the wrong place can have a huge impact, even though the mistake itself is small.  “I nearly got it right” won’t hack it with the bank manager.  Someone coming at you with a knife?  Bad, and a clear signal to cut and run – no time to wonder at their intentions.  So, black and white thinking can be helpful.

But not often.  What it doesn’t allow for are the shades of grey in between.  It polarises thinking and is often a factor in Continue reading

7 Strategies for Dealing with Overwhelm (time to read 3m)

Overwhelm StrategiesWhether overwhelm is a constant feature of your life or something which you experience from time to time, the following can help you overcome it.

These strategies came from working with a client of mine who was so overwhelmed that he was in danger of imploding.  He was managing a team of people in the service industry and just felt bombarded by demands on his time from employees, customers, his bosses, suppliers, his email and he was a slave to his smartphone.  He had become ineffective and irritable and, not only was he suffering from insomnia but he was also eating and drinking too much.

These are the strategies which bought his life back into balance which I hope will help you too: Continue reading

5 Keys to 2017 Being Your Best Year EVER (2.5 mins to read)

2017 Best year yetMost people want each new year to be their best.  But with much less stress.   And more fun.  And bigger results.  If possible.  So, is it really possible?  If we accept that we can only control the controllable and take response-ability for our results in a focussed way, I would say a resounding ‘yes’.  But too often we give our power away to outside forces.  So, the following keys will help you take charge and make it happen:

  1. Get clarity

Become clear on what you want to achieve (your vision and goals) and why.  The why is your motivation which carries you through the tough times so it needs to be big enough to do that.  It makes all the difference between achievement and enrichment – two concepts which are not mutually exclusive unless you make them so.  Clarity enables you to say ‘no’ to those things which are not ‘on-purpose’ so it frees up more time for you to do what’s needed to fulfil your goals.

Clarity around how you are going to achieve it is next.  When you break things down into your priorities, the next step is easier to take.  And the one after that.  And the one after that.

2.  Develop skills

Whether you work in a corporate environment, or for yourself, there will be certain skills which are essential for ongoing success.  What is appropriate for you in your environment will vary from person to person but influencing skills are always important, time management too (so you don’t slip back into overwhelm), but perhaps the most important is emotional intelligence which is said to account for 80% of your success.  It enables you to manage yourself and others, even in times of challenge.  Of course you need professional skills relevant to your role too.  Finally, knowing how to hire in talent to support you is going to make a big difference.

3.  Cultivate mindset

How you think about a situation will dictate your results so a positive, ‘can-do’ mindset is important.  But not if it is up in the clouds, far removed from reality.  Having the right mindset will maintain your confidence levels and ensure that you are solution-focused in a problem-filled world.

Using a blend of neuro-linguistic programming with mindfulness and the principles of neuroplasticity, you can make sure your mindset is success-enabled.

4.  Become stress-resilient

We can’t avoid stress.  In fact we need some of it to motivate us.  However, if you have unrelenting stress for too long, it can derail you and, worse, lead to burnout or breakdown.  Becoming stress-resilient enables you to roll with the punches, to bounce back from setbacks, keep your cool when things are hotting up and grow through adversity so the small things don’t become the big things and you are able to enjoy the good times better.

5. Nurture health and energy

It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you aren’t healthy and your energy is on the floor, your ability to deliver will be compromised.  Just as you would take care of your car – taking it for a service, filling it with petrol, making sure it has enough oil and water – you need to take care of yourself because you are your strongest asset.  And, like it or not, exercise and nutrition is non-negotiable if you are serious about success.  And managing your energy too.  Not by pushing through but making sure that you have a natural, calm energy for consistent performance, through good times and bad.  In fact, the better care you take of yourself, the more likely you will be to enjoy more of the highs and navigate the lows with style.

If you are serious about success for 2017 and don’t want to leave it to chance, why not book a session so that we can stop any potential derailers in their tracks and make sure you are firing on all cylinders.  Because if you are, your business is too.

This article is based on my 5D coaching model from the AHEAD for Success program.

Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

In the mean time, here is to 2017 being your Best Year EVER!

 

(C) Tricia Woolfrey 2016

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

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