Our lives are so busy these days that it can be hard to find quiet time to rest, reflect and plan. In fact, being busy is praised rather than considered to be a problem. Many of us suffer from ‘busy mind syndrome’, where we get stressed and caught up in our thinking. As a result, we can’t easily make a decision about the best way forward. All this has a negative effect on our mental health.
Rather than giving you practical tips that are even more things to add to your ‘to do’ list, this article talks about a different way of being. It describes a philosophy of life that involves thinking less, so you can be more.
As you read it, concentrate on feeling how you respond. In a way, it’s about heart, not head. In line with the philosophy itself, you don’t need to think about it for hours and days and weeks and months afterwards. But – if the content soaks in and resonates with you – you might find this approach instantly or eventually reframes how you approach life and work events, and so reduces your stress and increases your mental health.
Shelle Rose Charvet has recently updated her bestselling book about the language of influence, Words that Change Minds. It is based on research across more than 30 countries since the mid-1990s, and was recently picked by Forbes as one of their best management books for entrepreneurs and executives.
The book helps you understand where people focus their attention by listening to the patterns of language they use. You can then adapt your own language accordingly, to collaborate and/or lead, and get the results that work for everyone.
To get people to go somewhere with you, you have to meet them where they are… Go to their bus-stop, and from their bus-stop, invite them to let the bus take them where you want them to be.
This article explores some of the concepts that might be useful when you are:
- Trying to motivate and influence people
- Considering who to have on your team, and the optimal mix of approach/style
- Developing your team members
- Leading your team, and embracing the strengths, diversity and needs of each individual to achieve great outcomes
- Deciding how best to allocate work between people
- Determining the best way to manage change
Much of this month’s content is contributed by one of my clients, Fraser McCallum. Fraser has a background in molecular pharmacology but has been working in pharmacovigilance, the science of monitoring the safety of medicines, for more than 20 years. Over the last few years, in discussion with many of his colleagues, he has dreamt of a future paradigm for pharmacovigilance, one powered by artificial intelligence. He is now Business Lead for Voyager, a program to deliver just such a future.
In this article, he looks into his crystal ball to explore the impact of artificial intelligence on the world of work.
What is authenticity?
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Here’s my definition:
- Being honest with yourself about who you are
- Accepting and loving who you are
- Bringing all of who you are to your work and relationships, and accepting the vulnerability you may feel with that
If you can do all those things with confidence and humility, you’ll find that many people will respond positively to you.
This article explains more.
This month’s article was inspired by an incident that occurred recently, and a conversation with a client that followed. Here’s what happened.
A couple of weeks ago, I took my teenage daughter for her usual horse-riding lesson. It was a cold morning and I would be sitting outside watching, so I grabbed the first hat and scarf I found in the cupboard as I left the house.
At this, she complained: “Oh Muuuum, for once can you look normal and cool instead of old-fashioned?”
I laughed – frankly, nowadays my very existence is embarrassing to her!
Later, I shared this story with a client who said: “My daughter is the same with me. When we’re out clothes shopping, she insists on telling me what I ought to wear.”
We both like to think we dress in a modern way, but it occurred to us that maybe we’ve become stuck in our minds about what to wear. We used to be curious about what was in fashion, but somewhere along the way, we’ve lost that curiosity. Perhaps fashion isn’t important (unless you’re Karl Lagerfeld…) but a curious mindset is.
In a world where agility is demanded, we have to be reactive and adaptive. Being agile means we don’t have to be perfect, but long-term plans are less concrete. Things can feel chaotic and out of control, and (depending on your personality/preferences), this can feel stressful.
In addition, according to research by Columbia University, busy-ness is a malady of our age, particularly in the US. Being too busy links to social status because it makes other people think you are sought after and in demand. This contrasts with 100 years ago, when social status was linked to leisure time. But maybe this needs to shift again! We are moving out of the knowledge economy where we are rewarded based on what we know – knowledge is not so sacred now it’s all on the internet.
So how can you look after yourself and focus, plan and be productive in this new world?
In 1984, a New York Times survey on social anxiety found that people’s top two fears were walking into a room full of strangers and speaking in public. Death came third. (That means most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.)
Being able to speak in public is an important skill to develop, as it has so much impact on how you are perceived and the influence you have on others. It builds your personal brand, helps you promote your department, and ultimately, benefits your career. It can inspire and shift mindset, and set the path for success by engaging the audience (maybe your organisation) to a new direction or initiative.
Once you’ve reached a certain level in your career, you’ve probably had some training to improve your presentation skills. So you might think you know it all already, But, like anything, best practice evolves over time.
This article explores the latest thinking on presentation skills, and is written in conjunction with one of my associates, Jackie Barrie. A professional member of the Professional Speaking Association UK & Ireland, and co-founder of the South East region, Jackie is an expert in getting your message across, whether on paper, on screen, or face-to-face.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Practicing compassion is a powerful way to help others, and is more sustainable than being empathic.
Whilst empathy is a wonderful trait, having too much can leave you feeling drained, because you absorb other people’s pain and distress into yourself. Whereas, by showing compassion, you remain sufficiently detached to show both care and a degree of resourcefulness that enables you to help people.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Compassion is the cognitive understanding of how another person is feeling. It’s better for our own wellbeing and that of others. Buddhism calls it ‘Karuna’, meaning you have concern about another, not by sharing their suffering, but by feeling FOR them not WITH them.
Fear of rejection (whether real or perceived) is dangerous because it can prevent you from taking action.
This article explores ways you can be rejected, how that feels, and what you can do about it.
I have recently completed an eight-week course on mindfulness, and I learnt a lot that I believe will benefit leaders – for yourself personally and professionally.
This article is to share my personal reflections, experiences, and some of the key things I was taught that might be useful to you. Much of the content is based on course materials prepared by the teacher, Claire Garthwaite.
Let’s start by defining mindfulness:
Mindfulness is a quality of awareness that comes from paying attention to ourselves, others and the world around us in a certain way: with focused attention, in the present and without judgement.
Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.
(The latter definition is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed an 8-week course that’s followed by many mindfulness teachers, including mine.)