Are You "Above The Line"?

Let’s be honest – we can all get trapped in a negative space and fall “below the line”. After all this is actually normal and natural and our body and brain’s default position is to ensure our safety and look for anything that might threaten us. So, we focus on problems, get frustrated and look at all the negative things that are happening in our lives.

So how can we actively refocus ourselves on being back “above the line” and consider how we can take responsibility, look at the options we actually have, think of the possibilities and solutions that we could consider. 

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We need to recognise that we have a line of intent that exists in our lives. You can always ask yourself the hard questions and consider where that line is sitting and how you are choosing to operate in your life. Just take a moment for a bit of a personal audit. How is your personal health and wellbeing? Are you operating below or above the line? What about your finances? What about a personal relationship, someone that’s close to you? Are you above or below the line?

Do you intuitively know when you are above the line or below the line?

Recognising when you are below the line

We need to be able to recognise when we are below the line or heading in that direction.

Fear – this is when we tend to withdraw from situations or people and retreat. What we in fact need to do is push for the connection. Lean in… connect to the thing you are afraid of rather than run away.

Anger – when we are angry, we tend to separate ourselves from others and firmly put ourselves into isolation or containment and reject and push judgment onto others. But instead, how can we take responsibility and break down walls and barriers between yourself and others.

Pride – this is arguably still below the line behavior. In deep pride we take responsibility for our own or someone else’s success. But how can we actually think of ourselves less. Humility is the key to pride and we have the opportunity to focus on gratitude for others.

Blame – we look instinctively for someone or something to blame for a situation. How can we remove this focus and look at opportunities to take responsibility for a situation and in fact what we could learn from a “failure” which will give us an opportunity for growth.

 

Recognising when you are above the line

Problem solving – we often get so bogged down by ruminations of what went wrong and how bad it is, rather than focus on how we could actually solve the problem.

Are we like this….

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 Or are we like this….

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How can we focus ourselves on solving the problem rather than the problem itself.

 Courage – when we are above the line, we are much more courageous. We recognise that when we step outside our comfort zones, we have this amazing opportunity to experience growth. So…Let go and grow

Acceptance – We can be very judgmental when it comes to individual differences. Acceptance is the opposite of anger – when we approach every situation with compassion we replace judgement with acceptance. So… how can you replace judgement with compassion

Love – this is our opportunity to develop greatness in others. If you are struggling to know the right way to manage an interaction you can ask yourself a basic question. I know it sounds a bit corny, but ask yourself “what would love do?”. If you ask this question, it will immediately set you on the right track.

 

 So think of a situation that is giving you some issues at present. Ask yourself right now “Am I Above The Line?” If you’re not, then how could you get there?

Want to know more about getting back above the line? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to enquire about coaching to build your personal strategies.

5 Ways To Boost Your Employee's Wellbeing

It’s almost unimaginable that people once smoked at work, let alone at all. So too, is the idea that a bottle of whiskey accompanies a meeting. Fast forward thirty years and workplaces have transformed to stand up meetings to maximise efficiency, no phone zones to ensure sustained attention and many businesses implement a zero tolerance for alcohol at work. Yes, today’s workplace is nothing like a scene from Mad Men.

 This post from Business Daily gives some great food for thought

 The new rules, programs and initiatives we have today have a genuine goal, to improve employee physical health, productivity and performance. It was once believed that if we reduce negative behaviours, it results in increased performance. The theory went like this, avoid certain behaviours (smoking, drinking, sitting down for too long, social media distraction) and you will be healthier and more productive at work. This mindset informed basic workplace practices and companywide wellbeing programs. Well, that’s until the research showed it didn’t always work.

 The latest thinking in the science of human behaviour, and positive psychology suggests this approach doesn’t cut it. Instead, if organisations want individuals to perform, and increase their bottom line, then they need to create individuals and workplaces that flourish. This means helping employees to experience higher levels of wellbeing, to feel good and function well.

 To do this, workplaces need to adopt evidence-based practices that promote how individuals positively experience life and this goes well beyond physical health and avoiding certain behaviours. Instead it urges employees and workplaces to start finding time to promote more of the good stuff and help people live flourishing lives.

 So here are five simple ways to improve employee wellbeing:

 1. Cultivate a culture of compassion

 Compassion embodies empathy and kindness. It relates to our ability to care for others and ourselves in the way we would care for someone close to us. In a workplace, when people are tired, stressed and busy, organisational culture can lack compassion. However, research shows that being compassionate towards others increases our wellbeing. It has also been linked with a whole lot of other outcomes such as feeling more positive, improved relationships and feeling less stressed.

 A really simple way to improve your level of compassion is to stop, reflect and ask yourself; what level of compassion am I showing myself and the people I work with? Self-care is not selfish.

 

2. Attention and Mindfulness matter

 As access to neuro and cognitive science increases, technology companies ensure people are as addicted as possible to their devices. Add to this, the hustle of the workplace today and its “instant rely” mindset. This makes finding time to bring sustained attention to our daily living more difficult than ever.

 However, attention training, or the practice of mindfulness, has been shown to have huge benefits in our overall wellbeing including our performance at work. On a basic level, this means workplaces need to rethink their “always available” mindset and create opportunities for employees to have time and space to bring their undivided attention to themselves and their work tasks.

 

3. Coach for competence

 Individuals need to feel a sense of competence. Employees need to feel as though they can do, at least at a basic level, what is required of them. This is not achieved through rigorous performance management but instead by creating a coaching culture where individuals have access to formal and informal coaching that provides paths to progression, learning and that transforms behaviour.

 

4. Foster a culture of ‘feeling in control’

 Individuals need to feel in control of their life. They need to feel like they have choice in how they live and work. At work, this means creating a culture of trust. The days of micromanaging are gone, in fact real creativity and innovation occurs when people have autonomy. Giving employees the time and space to think about how they tackle a problem and turn it into an opportunity is the key to making them feel in control.

 

5. Other people matter

 Workplace relationships are one of the most important relationships in our working life. In fact, in one study research shows at work, workers who had a poor relationship with their boss were found to have a 25 per cent higher risk of heart problems, and this risk increased the longer the employee had worked for that manager.

 

For workplaces and managers, this means, taking time to get to know your staff, to show compassion and authenticity but it also means investing in creating a great place to work where individuals feel heard, valued and part of a team.

 

When it comes to improving the performance of employees, wellbeing is more than just physical health and green juices. Wellbeing programs also need to move away from taking this away and move towards creating environments where people can flourish. This can be as simple as making some of these minor changes to the way we work.

 

 Want to know more about enhancing your organisation’s wellbeing? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to enquire about training and coaching to build strategies to enhance your team’s wellbeing.

 

How To Resolve Conflict In Your Team

Despite a leader’s best intentions, it’s impossible to avoid conflict. But actually, do we always want to avoid or suppress conflict? After all, isn’t it normal and natural when you have different people working together, that they will see the world differently? And consider… without conflict, we would never have innovation.

A really good leader is not going to be satisfied with maintaining the status quo. Instead, they support their teams towards improved performance. As agents of change, leaders should naturally expect to encounter push back and yes at times, outright resistance from time to time.

So, what do you need to know about conflict and how to resolve it? I really enjoyed reading a recent article from fellow coach Sonia McDonald. Take a look.

So, as a leader and team member, how can you deal with and manage conflict?

The Cost of Unresolved Conflict

While it might be tempting to ignore conflict, especially if it’s minor, don’t!

Unresolved conflict damages morale. It creates barriers to communication, cooperation, trust and respect. It creates resentment and can split your team and stop your workflow.

To be an effective leader, you must expect and deal with conflict.

Understanding the Source of Conflict

Where does conflict come from? Is there always a “right” and “wrong” party? The answer is no.

The source of almost all conflicts can be reduced to one of two things: miscommunication or emotions running out of control.

Once you pinpoint the source, you can plan how to handle it.

Miscommunication is a big issue

One of the biggest sources of conflict is misunderstanding. Someone gets the ‘bull by the horns’ and it starts trouble. That’s why it’s so important to be careful with what you say, and make sure everyone has received the correct message.

A good leader works hard on their communication skills, and they usually spend a lot of time talking with their teams. That’s important because it lets the team get used to the leader’s communication style, which makes it less likely they’ll be misunderstood.

Improving your communications with others will reduce the likelihood of conflicts within your team.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever become caught up in the moment and said or done something that you knew you’d regret, but you said or did it anyway?

It’s OK to admit it! Nearly everyone, at one time or another, has let their emotions get the best of them. When this happens, conflict soon follows.

Smart leaders learn how to use their emotional intelligence to help them “calm down” in difficult situations. They self-regulate and control their emotions, so they can pause and take a breath before they act.

When you’re dealing with a team member who’s hot under the collar, remember how you felt last time you lost it, and let the person get all that emotion out before you try to solve the problem. When the emotion is spent, you can start to talk rationally to each other. And don’t hold it against them. We all say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment, and sometimes there’s an element of truth there which you would not have picked up on any other way.

Eliminate Hot Spots of Contention

Being an effective leader isn’t just about improving your communications and defusing a crisis. One of the best ways to reduce conflict is to anticipate situations where it’s likely to occur and put plans in place to avoid it or minimise the impact.

This is a pretty good framework for conflict reduction in your workplace:

Create Clarity Around Roles

Conflicts happen when members of your team don’t understand their role and responsibilities. Take the time to talk to your people about their job duties, and make sure they know what they are responsible for.

See the Opportunity in Conflict

Conflict isn’t always bad because it can act as a bridge to greater understanding between parties. Examining the events that led up to the conflict, and, taking steps to resolve it can be a great teaching moment where everyone involved can learn more about themselves and others. Remember to talk about the conflict once it’s resolved to help your team members discover the learning moments for themselves.

Make Certain You Understand Everyone’s Motivation Before You Weigh In

Leaders act as facilitators and bring others together. When it comes to resolving conflicts, however, you must make certain you understand everyone’s motivations before you take a stance.

When faced with a decision, try not to think about who’s wrong or right. Instead, think about the motivation of each person and look for ways everyone can “win,” or achieve some of their goals. That’s the way to create a solution everyone can live with.

 

Want to know more about enhancing communication in your team and managing conflict effectively? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to enquire about training and coaching to build strategies to enhance your conflict resolution skills.

 

 

Wellbeing Is Not A Spectator Sport

I see many people each week who come to see me feeling distressed, overwhelmed and burnt out. They sit in the chair opposite me and explain that they work 12 hour days, don’t have time for breakfast and lunch – come home exhausted, change into their PJs and fluffy socks the moment they walk in their front door and then fall asleep in front of the TV. Then they sit opposite me pondering why they feel so low and lethargic with no energy to spare.

Well I have to say – the answer is not rocket science!!

WELLBEING IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT.

If you want to get something different or feel something different then you have to do something different.

We really just have to consider the investment we put into ourselves is the investment we will reap. So, you have to sit in a bit of quiet reflection and actually ask yourself – “How much do I invest in myself every day, every week and every year?”

 In addition to nourishing your body and participating in physical activities you enjoy, there are many other ways you can improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Well-being is associated with balance, understanding, acceptance and constant growth. Consider some great ways you can enhance your personal wellbeing and thrive:  

 1. Accept your emotions. 

Some would argue that most of our physical, mental and relational problems come from our inability to adequately experience emotions. We deny, bury, project, rationalise, medicate, drink away, smother in comfort food, sleep off, sweat out, suck (it) up and sweep under the rug our sadness, anger and fear.

We tend to spend more energy on avoiding our emotions than we do on actually feeling them. The key is to give yourself unconditional permission to experience your emotions. When we let our guard down and experience our emotional responses to situations, we may then be able to better understand why it hurts and what we want to do about the situation.

Writing about negative emotions also helps. According to clinical psychologist Darlene Mininni, research has shown that people who write about their deepest emotions are less depressed and more positive about life than before they started writing.

 2. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. You have probably heard of keeping a gratitude diary. I also think it’s great to keep a “PUSH” diary.  Structure and routine are important. But you also might get stuck in a rut. And that means you’re not growing. So, challenge yourself and PUSH yourself outside your comfort zone at least once a day. Challenge yourself to take a risk each day, whether it’s talking to someone new, buying a different coffee than you normally would, asserting yourself, trusting someone, dancing, setting a tough workout goal or anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone.

 3. Be introspective. Avoid coasting through life without assessing yourself and reflecting. Ask yourself questions such as “Am I in denial about anything or resisting anything anywhere in my life?”

You can also take a step back and consider where your thoughts, feelings and behaviours are coming from. Ask yourself “Is that thought helpful?” “It this behaviour necessary?”  “Is there a better option?”

4. Laugh.  Let’s be honest – we really do take life far too seriously. Did you know that kids laugh about 200 times per day and we adults only laugh an average of 15 times per day. What if we simply took the opportunity to laugh as many times as we could. How could this make us feel?

 5. Identify and use your strengths. Using your strengths can have a fantastic way of focusing us on what we are really good at and what energises us. We so often think about a negative experience and all the things we are lacking when considering how to manage the situation. Instead focus on what you can do based on the strengths that you have.

Not sure what your strengths are? Then take this link and do your VIA Character Strength’s profile.

 6. Reassess what you believe. We psychologists are aware of the fact that “A belief is just a thought that you keep on having”. So what do you keep on saying to yourself? What vicious cycle of negative thinking are you trapped in? These negative thoughts not only sink our mood, but we start to see them as truths. How about considering how you could challenge some of your thinking.

 7. Do what makes you happy first thing. Sometimes it can feel like you’re going through your day on autopilot, and that can get tedious and depressing. Start your day off on a positive note by engaging in an enjoyable activity every morning. Take your dog for a walk, go for a swim (now that the weather’s getting warmer), eat something nice for breakfast, meditate or sit out in the garden and drink your morning brew. This can completely shift your outlook and lift your mood to start your day.

 8. Get rid of rotten eggs.  There’s usually at least one rotten egg in your life that’s dragging down your mental outlook. Identify your rotten eggs and figure out how to remove them. Your rotten eggs might seem small. But even annoyances can add up and chip away at your mood and well-being.

 9. Ta Da List we have all heard of a “To Do List”. Well how about writing a “Ta Da List”. Write down a list of as many things you can think of that recharge and rejuvenate you. It could be sitting with your family for dinner, a long talk with your partner, reading a book in the sunshine, a mindful walk, taking a bubble bath. What ever you can think of that takes under 30 mins. Have this list as long as possible and filled with as many pleasurable experiences as you can come up with. Then dedicate yourself to ticking off two of the things on the list each day.

 10. Design your WAP. A WAP is a “Wellbeing Action Plan”. You can’t just hope you will wake up tomorrow and have wellbeing. You have to want it and you have to work for it. Remember “wellbeing is not a spectator sport”. So, what are you going to do about it? What plan could you design for yourself to promote your personal wellbeing.

Want to know more about maximising your wellbeing? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via email michelle@bakjacconsulting.com