30 Questions To Ask Yourself

bigstock-Thinking-For-The-Future-Concep-197277052[679].jpg

It’s the beginning of a brand new year and as usual in January, we are hoping that this fresh and shiny year will provide us new opportunities and often a bit of a fresh start and to shake off the dust from the year before.

I recently came across this great article in INC which posed 30 questions that will help you gain the clarity you will need to make 2019 the best year yet!

Have a look at these questions.

See if you can go through and answer them systematically to get a picture of where you have come from and where you want to be.

1.      What was the best part of 2018?

2.      What was the worst part?

3.      What areas of your life are working well?

4.      What areas of your life are suffering?

5.      What did you learn this past year?

6.      How did this shift your perspective about life in general?

7.      What is your definition of success?

8.      Have you achieved this thus far?

9.      If not, what needs to change in your life in order for you to create your own version of success?

10.  Are you happy at work?

11.  Do you feel challenged by the thinking and problem solving that you're most often doing at work?

12.  Do you feel that you're making an impact on others at work that is meaningful to you?

13.  Do you feel confident about yourself and your contribution at work?

14.  Do you believe in your ability to grow and learn at all times?

15.  Do you face failures with curiosity?

16.  Do you think you're resilient?

17.  What have been your biggest failures in 2018 and what have you learned from them?

18.  Based on your answers from numbers 10-17, what behaviours do you think you need to build in order to improve your performance at work for next year?

19.  Which relationships deepened this past year?

20.  Which relationships shifted or ended?

21.  What was the reason for the deepening or the erosion of some of your closest relationships?

22.  What changes in yourself can you make to be a better friend to those that matter most?

23.  How would you describe your marriage or long-term relationship?

24.  How could you improve in how you engage with your partner?

25.  If you're single and dating, how have you been showing up to potential partners?

26.  If you're single and not dating, how would you describe your relationship to yourself?

27.  What would you want to change when it comes to how you engage with your partner and yourself?

28.  What is the most important area of focus for 2019?

29.  What is a theme or word that you could choose that would keep you focused and excited about the year ahead?

30.  Create a vision statement about what the year ahead could look like for you in order to feel like you're moving forward in life in a way that is meaningful for you.

 

Want some help setting some personal or professional goals for 2019. Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via michelle@bakjacconsulting, or check here to review Bakjac Consulting’s website for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

 

 

Can Gratitude Increase The Productivity Of Your Team?

bigstock-Beautiful-Positive-Friendly-lo-189391735[677].jpg

Often when we are part of a team, or in fact leading a team, we forget the little gestures that can often make a big difference – like just sating “Thank you” and showing our appreciation for the work and support a colleague has provided to us.

You don’t need grand gestures to show people why they matter and that you care.

I recently came across this article by Joe Hirsch and thought it made a great point.

Good leaders are constantly looking for ways to boost their employees' sense of engagement and shared purpose. But you don't need grand gestures to make people happier or more productive. In fact, the biggest payoff may come in small packaging.

The handwritten thank you note.

It's a practice that has gained traction with executives at major companies. During his tenure as CEO of Campbell's Soup, Douglas Conant delivered close to 30,000 handwritten notes to employees at all levels of the company, from senior executives to maintenance staff. Mark Zuckerberg made it his personal goal in 2014 to share one "well considered" thank you note with a Facebook employee each day. And Indra Nooyi, going one step further, even sent letters to the parents of top Pepsi executives.

Research shows that the simple act of expressing gratitude can literally change the way we feel. In one study, participants who spent ten weeks writing just a few sentences about things they were grateful for experienced greater optimism about their lives. Not only that, they also engaged in healthier behaviours, like exercising more regularly and getting more sleep.

Expressing gratitude can also boost productivity. Researchers at the Wharton School found that a group of university fundraisers who received hearty thanks from the school's director of annual giving made 50 percent more fundraising calls than a second group that went unrecognized.

When the leadership team at a major healthcare services provider asked how they could improve their culture, it was suggested that senior executives take on a daily gratitude challenge for two weeks. At the start of each day, leaders spent several minutes making a short list of the people in the company who did something to impact them personally or improve the organisation as a whole. Next to each name, they jotted down specific examples of what these individuals did and why it mattered.

For the next 10 to 15 minutes, leaders wrote thank you notes to each person on their list. One SVP thanked his assistant for keeping him up on track with his appointments. A sales director acknowledged the efforts of two members of her sales team who worked over the weekend to get a pitch ready by deadline. Much to the surprise and delight of the recipients, the notes--written on thick cardstock and packaged elegantly--were delivered in person by the leaders themselves.

Turns out a little gratitude goes a long way. In a follow-up conversation with leadership, they learned that the gratitude challenge had made such a splash that several employees began a campaign of their own. A few members of the marketing team created a "gratitude box" where employees could drop notes of appreciation singling out their colleagues for acts of kindness, support and above-and-beyond performance. The notes were read out loud at the start of a weekly team meeting, and the public recognition fostered goodwill among employees.  

So how could you get going with Gratitude

A meaningful thank you note answers three big questions:

1. How did you help me? The most compelling expressions of gratitude are usually the most detailed. Be specific about what this person did to move you to write about it in the first place. Avoid generic statements or platitudes and reach for simple but heartfelt expressions of thanks.

2. What would life be like without that? Think about gratitude as a process of addition by subtraction. How might have things turned out without this person? What would be different about you or your life? When you start to imagine all the things that could've gone wrong, you won't easily take for granted all the ways things went right.

3. Why did this matter? When someone helps us, we aren't the only recipients. Think about others who might also have benefited from this person's actions. List them and how their lives were improved as well. By recasting your gratitude in larger terms, the person receiving the note will experience a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that he or she made a difference on a grander scale.

Expressing gratitude can be difficult, and composing handwritten notes takes time and effort. But as research and experience shows, even small things can have big benefits.  

Want some assistance building the culture of your organisation? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via michelle@bakjacconsulting, or check here to review Bakjac Consulting’s website for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

 

Are Your Leaders Coaching? Or Are They Doing Something else entirely?

Compass showing the way.jpg

 I often hear leaders today talk about the fact that they are coaching their staff. However, when I ask them more about their conversations, they are not in fact coaching, but often telling, teaching or mentoring their staff.

 Coaching is a very specific relationship, marked by a specific type of communication. According to an August 14, 2018 Harvard Business Review article by Julia Milner: “managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do.”

According to Sir John Whitmore, a leading figure in executive coaching, the definition of coaching is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” When done right, coaching can also help with employee engagement; it is often more motivating to bring your expertise to a situation than to be told what to do.

An ongoing study on the topic that analysed more than 900 recorded evaluations of “coaching conversations,” showed that when many managers were asked to “coach,” they instead demonstrated a form of consulting. They provided the other person with advice or a solution. Regularly heard were comments like, “First you do this” or “Why don’t you try this?”

The author’s research looked specifically at how you can train people to be better coaches. The good news is that managers can improve their coaching skills in a short amount of time, but they do have to invest in learning how to coach in the first place.

The research looked specifically at how you can train people to be better coaches by focusing on analysing the following nine leadership coaching skills, based on the existing literature and practical experiences of leadership coaching:

· listening

· questioning

 giving feedback

· assisting with goal setting

· showing empathy

· letting the coachee arrive at their own solution

· recognizing and pointing out strengths

· providing structure

· encouraging a solution-focused approach

After a short training program aimed at teaching managers to improve coaching competencies, the result was a 40.2% increase in overall coaching ability ratings across all nine categories, on average.

Consider the key takeaways from this research:

1.   Be clear on what coaching is and what it isn’t.

2.   Let leaders practice coaching in a safe environment before working with their own teams.

3.   Invest in some form of training that includes time for participants to reflect on their coaching skills. Ask “what’s working” and “what can we do better?”

4.   Feedback from coaching experts in order to improve is helpful; how well are the coaching skills being applied.

5.   Consider regular peer coaching, in the presence of a coaching expert to provide a safe environment, and to facilitate discussions about how to overcome coaching challenges.

So, leaders take note. Coaching may not be what you thought. But real coaching leads to increased accountability and increased outcomes and problem solving. Coaching can be a significant opportunity for leaders and staff to embrace and coaching can be learned.

In designing an approach, consider the importance of learning effective coaching to ensure that leaders are not reinforcing poor coaching practices among themselves.

Wanting to create a coaching culture in your organisation? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to discuss coach training for leadership.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

 

7 Opportunities To Build Your Self-Acceptance

bakjac mirror.jpg

Often, we have to reflect on whether we like and accept ourselves for who we are. We have to ask: “Do I accept myself?”

As it turns out, self-acceptance is not an automatic or default state. Many of us have trouble accepting ourselves exactly as we are. It may not be so hard to accept the good parts of ourselves, but what about the rest? Surely, we shouldn’t accept our flaws and failures?

But, in fact, that’s exactly what we need to do.

If we are going to look at our opportunity to develop our resilience, mental toughness and wellbeing, then we first need to accept who we are.

I recently came across this great article that gives some great strategies to develop our self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance is exactly what its name suggests: the state of complete acceptance of oneself. True self-acceptance is embracing who you are, without any qualifications, conditions, or exceptions (Seltzer, 2008).

 “[Self-acceptance is] an individual’s acceptance of all of his/her attributes, positive or negative.” Morgado 2014

This definition emphasizes the importance of accepting all facets of the self. It’s not enough to simply embrace the good, valuable, or positive about yourself; to embody true self-acceptance, you must also embrace the less desirable, the negative, and the ugly parts of yourself.

If you’re thinking that accepting all the negative aspects of yourself sounds difficult—you’re not wrong! It’s not easy to accept the things that we desperately want to change about ourselves; however—counterintuitively—it is only by truly accepting ourselves that we can even begin the process of meaningful self-improvement.

Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Esteem

Although self-acceptance is closely related to other “self” concepts, t is a distinct construct.

Its close cousin, self-esteem, is also centred on your relationship to yourself, but they differ in an important way. Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself—whether you feel you are generally good, worthwhile, and valuable—while self-acceptance is simply acknowledging and accepting that you are who you are.

As Seltzer (2008) puts it:

“Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves, self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves—not just the positive, more ‘esteem-able’ parts.”

Full self-acceptance can lay the foundations for positive self-esteem and the two frequently go hand-in-hand, but they concern two different aspects of how we think and feel about ourselves.

Using Self-Acceptance

What is important to be aware of is that a lack of self-acceptance is related to lower levels of wellbeing, and perhaps even mental illness (Vasile, 2013).

If low self-acceptance causes (or results from) mental illness and low levels of well-being, it stands to reason that higher self-acceptance can act as a protective factor or a buffer against these negative experiences.

Self-Acceptance in Practice

Now that we know what self-acceptance is and how it can benefit us, we can move on to another important question: What does self-acceptance look like? How do we know when we have “reached” self-acceptance?

Marquita Herald (2015) from the Emotionally Resilient Living website puts it this way:

“Can you look in the mirror and truly accept the unique, wonderful work-in-progress person staring back at you?”

You will know that you have achieved your goal of self-acceptance when you can look at yourself in the mirror and accept every last bit of what makes you who you are, and when you no longer try to mitigate, ignore, or explain away any perceived faults or flaws—physical or otherwise.

Techniques you can implement to enhance your self-acceptance:

1.   Practice relaxed awareness. What is relaxed awareness? As opposed to constant distraction, or concentrated focus, relaxed awareness is a soft consciousness of our thoughts, feelings, pain, self-rating, and judgment, etc. It’s an awareness of our existence, and the stream of phenomena that is occurring at this moment, including thoughts and emotions and outside stimuli. To practice: close your eyes for a minute, and instead of pushing thoughts away or trying to focus on your breath, just softly notice your thoughts and feelings and body. You might see negative thoughts or emotions — that’s OK. Just notice them, watch them. Don’t try to turn them into positive thoughts or push them away. You can do this practice for 5 minutes a day, or up to 30 minutes if you find it useful.

2.   Welcome what you notice. When you practice relaxed awareness, you’ll notice things — negative thoughts, fears, happy thoughts, self-judgments, etc. We tend to want to stop the negative thoughts and feelings, but this is just a suppression, an avoidance, a negating of the negative. Instead, welcome these phenomena, invite them in for a cup of tea, give them a hug. They are a part of your life, and they are OK. If you feel bad about how you’ve been doing with exercise, that’s OK. Hug the bad feeling, comfort it, let it hang around for a while. They are not bad but are opportunities to learn things about ourselves. When we run from these “bad” feelings, we create more pain. Instead, see the good in them, and find the opportunity. Be OK with them.

3.   Let go of rating yourself. Another thing you’ll notice, once you start to pay attention, is self-rating. We rate ourselves compared to others, or rate ourselves as “good” or “bad” at different things, or rate ourselves as flabby or too skinny or ugly. This is not a very useful activity. That doesn’t mean to let it go, but just to notice it, and see what results from it. After realizing that self-rating repeatedly causes you pain, you’ll be happy to let it go, in time.

4.   Gratitude sessions. Wake up in the morning and think about what you’re grateful for. Include things about yourself. If you failed at something, what about that failure are you grateful for? If you aren’t perfect, what about your imperfection can you be grateful for? Feel free to journal about these things each day, or once a week if that helps.

5.   Compassion & forgiveness for yourself. As you notice judgments and self-rating, see if you can turn them into forgiveness and compassion. If you judge yourself for not doing well at something, or not being good enough at something, can you forgive yourself for this, just as you might forgive someone else? Can you learn to understand why you did it, and see that ultimately you don’t even need forgiveness? If we really seek to understand, we realize that we did the best we could, given our human-ness, environment, what we’ve learned and practiced, etc. And so we don’t need to forgive, but instead to understand, and seek to do things that might relieve the pain.

6.   Learn from all parts. We tend to try to see our successes as good, and the failures as bad, but what if we see that everything is something to learn from? Even the dark parts — they are parts of us, and we can find interesting and useful things in them too.

7.   Separate from your emotions. When you are feeling negative emotions, see them as a separate event, not a part of you, and watch them. Remove their power over you by thinking of them, not as commandments you must follow or believe in, but rather passing objects, like a leaf floating past you in the wind. The leaf doesn’t control you, and neither do negative emotions.

8.   Talk to someone.  We get so in our heads that it’s difficult to separate our thoughts and emotions, to see things clearly. Talking through these issues with another person — a friend, spouse, co-worker — can help you to understand yourself better. Use the talking technique together with one of the above techniques.

 

Want to know more about developing self-acceptance and your personal wellbeing? Contact Michelle to discuss personal coaching.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.