November 20th, 2018
Balance is a word that comes up a lot in mch training. This is because mch’s training aims to improve performance and I have found that a common trait of the consistently successful is that their lives are relatively well balanced across a variety of areas. Balance is particularly relevant in mch’s resilience training, which is an increasingly popular training topic. The resilient are invariably able to balance a number of complementary traits, e.g. they are reflective while also being very able to stay in the present. They focus on quality thinking and also readily tap into their emotions. They have high aspirations whilst being content with ‘enough’.
It is important to note that applying such traits does not immunise you from adversity. There can still be tumultuous times when nothing appears stable and despite your best efforts, life does not seem balanced.
After a recent run, the act of stretching provided an apt analogy, not only for the struggle for balance in tough times, but also for how best we can meet the challenge. Have a look at the following video:
As someone who normally has good balance, I was struck by how difficult it was to do so in this position. Nothing seemed stable or still: the sand was moving from under my foot and the sea was moving around my ankles. Looking out, the boats were continually bobbing up and down and even when I tried to focus on the horizon, it was usurped by the continually moving clouds just above it.
In an analogous way, there have been times in my life when it seems that nothing is stable and nothing can be relied upon.
However, take a look at the next video:
I am in exactly the same spot on the beach. The only difference is that I have turned 180 degrees and am now facing the shore. Doing so has allowed me to focus on a rock above the tide line, and it is now much easier for me to maintain balance. There is now stability in my field of vision, even though the world around me is exactly as before, and I am still impacted by many of the same issues e.g. moving sand under my foot and moving water around my ankles.
So the message here is that in tough times, prioritise perspective. Where you focus your attention is key. Even in tough times, if you position yourself wisely and are disciplined about where you direct your attention, you will hopefully find at least one ‘touch stone’. For me, a ‘touch stone’ is anything that provides stability when so many other areas of life are in flux, or under strain. Common ‘touch stones’ are particular people (a friend, partner, family member), an activity you find enriching, or simply a reminder of some fundamental realities, e.g. I am healthy. I live in safety. I have enough food to eat. Sometimes, the reason for one’s difficulties is that something, or someone, that you considered a ‘touch stone’, is now in flux. However, in my experience, it is very unlikely that all your personal ‘touch stones’ will simultaneously become unstable.
So in tough times, prioritise perspective, know your ‘touch stones’ and focus on the ones that restore as much balance as possible.View comments >
May 9th, 2017
I recently read an excellent book called - ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’ The book tells the story of how Ben Hunt-Davis and his crew became Olympic rowing champions. In addition to his riveting story, the coach and comedian, Harriet Beveridge, outlines how elements of Ben’s approach to becoming Olympic champion are equally applicable in helping you and I achieve our goals.
At the risk of stating the obvious, being motivated by a goal can greatly increase the odds of it being achieved. However, no amount of motivation can prevent misfortune and setbacks from occurring and it is during the tough times that motivation can be tested. Something that galvanises motivation is belief. Without belief, the odds start to turn against you and the likelihood of success becomes akin to a throw of the dice. But how is belief developed? A useful acronym Ben and Harriet developed to guide the development of belief is DICE.
Here the mixed metaphor of the above picture (hopefully) becomes clear. To increase the odds of achieving your goal, you’ve got to keep all four wheels of the bus going round and round. While each wheel is independent, all four need to be present. Otherwise, you’ll come to a grinding halt. The four wheels for belief are:
D – Deserved
I – Important
C- Can do
E – Exciting
Having all four of the above greatly increases the odds of success.
This wheel gets to the heart of why so many goals fail – we simply do not believe we are worthy enough to achieve the goal. We all talk to ourselves (whether we’re prepared to admit it or not). Sometimes such self-talk can be positive and affirming, while at other times it can be negative and limiting. In my mentoring work, one of the biggest issues I help mentees with is silencing the limiting self-talk and turning up the volume of the affirming self-talk.
This is not done through wishful thinking, as affirmation and positivity are most powerful when they are based on fact and sound judgement. A very simple and effective way of doing this is to write down five reasons why it is completely reasonable that you should achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to successfully apply for a job, your reasons may include:
(i) I fit all of the essential criteria
(ii) I have experience of doing well in a similar role
(iii) I have successfully applied for jobs before
(iv) I have prepared fully for the recruitment process
(v) I am genuinely enthusiastic about the role and organisation
Very simply, to stay motivated by a goal, you need to have a compelling answer to the following question:
‘Why is this goal important?’
The answer should sit well with your values, and clearly articulate how it will improve your life and/or the lives of others.
Even if you are not clear initially on how you will achieve your goal, you need to believe it can be done. As the successful car manufacturer, Henry Ford, succinctly put it:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right.”
Excitement is the powerful accompaniment to ‘Importance’ and ‘Can Do’. In addition to being clear on why the goal has value and rationally persuading yourself that it can be achieved, it must stir the emotions. The stronger the emotion the better. Thus, if proving someone wrong puts more fire in your belly than a sense of achievement, then go with the former.
The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, stated that to persuade and convince others requires Logos, Ethos and Pathos: that is logic, an appeal to ethics/credibility and emotion. A great goal requires the same, together with a genuine sense that you deserve it. All the best with your goals!View comments >
November 18th, 2016
Charity sector research shows that stress levels at work are on the rise, but while stress is inevitable, its negative impact is not. The following article, which I wrote for Charity Choice, shares some of the techniques that can help you stay focused and build resilience. While aimed primarily at fundraisers, the techniques are applicable to all roles in all sectors: https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/the-fundraiser/fundraising-in-tough-times-how-to-shape-up-for-the-challenge/673View comments >
September 4th, 2012
A common held view is that happiness follows on from success – achieve a goal and you will become happy. Recent research published in the Harvard Business Review suggests the opposite is true: those with a positive mind-set are more likely to perform better in the face of a challenge. Furthermore, while our genetic make-up and our environment undoubtedly contribute to how happy we are, the research suggests well-being is surprising malleable – simple practices, consistently applied can have a dramatic impact.
Click here for a full overview of the research and the simple practices that can improve well-being.
Research such as this has led to the term ‘positive intelligence’ becoming more and more common. For those that would like to find out more about this area, Shirzad Chamine’s book, ‘Positive Intelligence’ is a good place to start. Shirzad’s website also offers two free (and short) assessments which may give you an indication as to your current state of well-being.View comments >