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Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Based on the title you may be thinking that these things are totally un-related, but you’re here, so thank you!  I lead a group therapy session a couple of times a week with about 10 attendees and the topic of animals and our connection to them recently came up.  We discussed different kinds of therapy approaches, like dog therapy, or equine therapy for example.  The same day I had a friend bring this topic up, which I figure is enough for me to write down some thoughts, since this is something I have experience with.   The interesting part is corporate training, personal development and equine therapy, are in fact, connected.

A few years ago I went through the process of getting certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).  This association is the international leader in equine training specifically for mental health and personal development purposes.  What this means is that they certify psychotherapists and horse professionals, to work together to facilitate different kinds of experiential learning. These experiences can be for the purposes of individual development, individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy or corporate/group training.

So the question may be, what one thing has to do with the other?  For someone that has never seen this process unfold, it may not seem like a relevant fit.  The way horses and horse professionals can help to work through challenges with individuals or a group, is essentially through observation.  For example, a typical Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) session, consists of the facilitators (therapist and horse professional) giving the individual or group a task to accomplish with the horse.  This task could be to help move the horse through a gate, move the horse around an object or help a horse move in a direction without touching it. There are many activities/tasks that can be implemented but they are all ground activities, not requiring the participant to ride the horse.

During and after these activities both the therapist and horse professional make observations of how the person or people are engaging with the horse and each other.   What shows up here is powerful.  Just like in experiential education, when giving a group a task to accomplish together there are markers that form organically – personality styles, communication style, natural leaders/followers, conflict and/or resolution of conflict etc.  What is most interesting about the EAP/EAL process is that the horse acts as a mirror for behavior and engagement.

During my time training as an EAGALA practitioner I was astounded by how fast things came to the surface through this process.  For instance, when watching a family interact with an animal and attempt a task, it became immediately obvious what kinds of challenges the family had in their communication with each other.  In this example it was easy to see which member wanted to control and override the input from other members of the family.   This created conflict of course and made it more challenging for the family to accomplish the assigned task.  Part of the feedback came from the horse as it experienced the intensity from one individual.  Part of the feedback came from other members as they became frustrated with the challenge of the task, which the horse also reflected.  It was powerful to watch.

So how did their communication styles come up you ask?  This is the value of working through an EAP/EAL program. The response you get from a horse is authentic, immediate and not bound by the same kind of bias that people have.   In addition, the horse professional helps to make observation of behavior of the horse while the therapist observes how the person is engaging.

Horses are able to pick up on the subtleties of behavior and intention because they are sensitive prey animals.   So this means that if there is fear, anger, ease, curiosity or frustration – the horse will give feedback to these emotions/behaviors.   Because the horse is so sensitive it gives immediate clues and reactions to the behaviors and intentions of individuals and groups.  Some of these behaviors would be easily recognized while others are more subtle, which is why it is helpful to have a horse professional present. In the therapeutic context, understanding and processing behaviors and emotions can impact personal development and resolution of some of the challenges.

At this point you may be asking if this type of intervention has any credibility from research. The answer is yes, it absolutely does.   For example, one study found that well-being and reduction in psychological distress immediately improved after EAP and held stable after six months.   For a more detailed look at research as it compares to traditional therapy approaches, consider this article that acts an overview and comparison.

So how does this therapeutic approach have anything to do with corporate training or leadership?  This is where EAL enters the picture.  EAL differs from EAP in that EAL focuses more on education and learning rather than a therapeutic approach of resolving mental health issues or challenges.

In an EAL setting valuable skills can be obtained that would certainly impact the effectiveness of an organization.  For example, often times EAL is done with teams on an organization in order to improve communication skills, leadership or team building.  This process is still facilitated by a mental health professional and horse professional, but the intention is different.

In an EAL session with a team of professionals for instance, a simple task will be given to the team to accomplish with the horse.  This task results in emerging behaviors and communication styles that will then be valuable for the team to later process.  For instance, within a given task there may be leaders that emerge, communication that happens (or doesn’t), response style of collaboration or anger. In addition, there may be partnerships that naturally form on the team that previously did not exist or resentments that manifest that perhaps hadn’t previously.

The same question may emerge regarding efficacy of this particular kind of experiential education.  One of the more interesting pieces of research on EAL has to do with Emotional Intelligence, a current point of focus in many leadership and team building approaches.   This research is a great review of the field of EAL as well as Emotional Intelligence. The research found positive results for EAL as an intervention for improving Emotional Intelligence.

So, as we’ve seen, horses, therapy and leadership are in fact related!  For more information about EAL and EAP, I recommend visiting the EAGALA website – http://www.eagala.org/.  For more information on Emotional Intelligence as it relates to leadership, consider this article by Daniel Goleman.   If you are interested learning more about this topic or discussing a potential workshop to build team or leadership skills, please contact us!

Keep Learning,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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Beat the Post Vacation Slump!

 

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

It’s that time of year.  You may have recently returned from a trip, visiting relatives, vacationing with friends or maybe just enjoying a few days off.  However your holidays were spent, I hope they were rejuvenating and enjoyable.  Getting back to the grind can be a challenge.  I’ve certainly experienced it and I know many friends, family and clients have too.  Today I want to talk about how to beat the post vacation slump!

Whether the holidays were filled with fun, laughter and excitement or anxiety, busyness and overwhelm, coming back to a routine may be tough.   Below you’ll find some strategies about how to get back to being at the top of your game in work and in life, in addition to some tips for the next time you go on vacation.

Be Clear 

Personal Life – This is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, woohoo! The truth is that the majority of them don’t stick.  According to some data, only 8% of people accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, there are many strategies on how to improve the likelihood for change that lasts.  I would argue that part of the reason people don’t accomplish their resolution is that there is not enough clarity around the goal.  In order to get back in work mode and also work towards new goals you have, consider outlining the details in order to build clarity.  This could mean creating a yearlong vision and then working it backwards to a six month goal, a three month goal and eventually an action step you can take today!

Work Life – Meetings often are less productive after many people have been out their routine or away from work.   You may see less productivity in the meetings outside of work too.  To remedy this, set clear expectations for what the meeting will review and accomplish and do not veer away from this objective.  Make sure there are clear action steps for all members of the meetings you attend.

Stay Focused

Personal Life – In order to stay focused on our personal goals and re-engaging in our routines post-break, there needs to be some way to stay motivated.  Build focus through keeping reminders around that are visible and related to your goal.  Alternatively, creating a writing practice that explores the reason for working towards this goal can help to stay motivated and focused.  Also, creating accountability in some way may be helpful in building focus.  Accountability could be created through working through a goal with someone else or hiring a coach to help explore what is holding you back.

Work Life – Lack of focus at work often shows up in the context of getting tasks accomplished or having a productive meeting.  Often times meetings set out with many things to accomplish and by then end have not completed their intended outcome.  Stay focused on what is most important and do not add too much to the meeting, always expect that things may take longer than anticipated.  Have no more than three main objectives per day that are on your “must complete” list.

Action Items, Expectations and Deadlines

Personal Life – Reaching goals is all about combing process and product.  It’s great to read self-help books, follow thought leaders, or engage in philosophical debate about mindset, intention and positivity.   The next step is combing all of this wonderful theory with small steps in the right direction.  Keep in mind that these steps can be small, but should be consistent.  Keeping after deadlines and continuing with actions items after exploring ideas will lead to progress.

Work Life – The same issues exists in the work world when we have meetings or discussions around an idea.  Ideas often need to be translated.  People feel that meetings are a waste of time when there is no clear outcome, objective or “to do” item.  Always be clear about expectations for all attendees.  Have attendees commit to their particular action item as well as deadline so everyone is clear on each person’s objective.

Keep your Routine in Check

Personal Life – Having some kind of routine in your personal life will do wonders for your mood, clarity, energy and productivity.  The holidays are an easy time to get thrown out of a routine, whether is exercise, eating healthy or a daily practice, it’s a challenging time of year to keep up with our best intentions.  Here is a great resource from The Model Health Show about holding onto a good routine, even during the busiest time of year

Work Life – Getting back into a routine is easier to do with work when it isn’t totally avoided during a break. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to be checking email every day or doing work on vacation….that is definitely not recommended.  But keeping sleeping in to a minimum may be helpful when it’s time to get back to work. Also, reading while on vacation may help to keep your mind active and productive so that it may be easier to re-engage when its time.

Push Yourself!

Personal Life – I hold the firm belief that we are much more capable than we often give ourselves credit for, in every sense.  Care to experiment with this idea?  Try pushing yourself past the invisible finish line that you’ve set for yourself.  Go to the extra class, read the extra chapter, do another set, run the extra mile, take the risk in a relationship. Make a consistent effort to go past your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Work Life – The same concept of going past where we think we are capable of applies to work.  Consider how much you get done in the typical day and see if you can double it.  No, I don’t recommend working 16 hours instead of eight.  Working more efficiently and pushing past some of the self-set boundaries is a better (and healthier) experiment to try.  Consider how much time you spend during the average day being distracted by non-work related issues or work that doesn’t necessarily make you more productive but makes you busier.   Evaluate how to be the most productive version of yourself and push out any limiting beliefs that may have held you back previously regarding how much you could accomplish in a day.

Re-Evaluate

Personal Life – This time of year is a great time for downsizing, clearing out, resetting, cleansing and letting go.  What has been serving you this last year and what no longer helps you to become the best version of yourself?  You can pose this question to any facet of your personal life from your relationships to your diet to how you spend your time.  Evaluating the different aspects of your personal life allows you to set clearer goals and intentions for the year ahead and also helps to come back stronger from time off.

Work Life – Is the job you’re in the one you want to be in? Taking the time to evaluate how much you are really committed to the work you are doing can be a helpful way to not only improve your re-engagement post vacation, but also help you make changes to your current situation.  If you are certain the work you’re in is for you, great!  Take the opportunity to evaluate how you will make this coming year a better one than the previous.  If you determine that your purpose is elsewhere, come up with an exit strategy. Outline your strengths, objectives and timelines.  This will help make the rest of your time in your current position not seem as daunting.

*Challenge of the week*

Pick one of the strategies above and take action!  Just one.  After you’ve experimented for one week, come back and leave a comment below and share what you learned. Let’s help each other make significant changes this year!

All the best,

Michael

 

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

The Human Side of Business

 

Welcome to my first Vlog!  I may be experimenting with these more in the future.   I was recently featured on an article via Askmen.com titled Ways Relationships are like Business.   I thought this was interesting and a good tie in to the idea of the human side of business, which I often reference.

Please see three tips below on how relationships are like business.

 

I would love some feedback about your experience with the dynamic of relationships and business.  As a spring board for comments, consider answering any of these three questions below –

 

How have you seen the human side of the business you are involved in impact the success or struggle of that business?

What other examples can you provide regarding the commonalities between business and relationships?

What is one thing you would change about the interpersonal dynamics of your workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

I recently wrote an article for a website called inspiremetoday.com.  This article answered the question –

“If you only had 500 words to share, what wisdom would you want to pass on to humanity”

Of course this is a complicated question, but fun to answerMy answer consisted of ways to build inspiration, courage, congruence etc.  I wondered though, how does one hold on to inspiration?  I want to take this opportunity to discuss not only how to hold inspiration but particularly how to hold inspiration and engagement in the workplace, where most of us spend the majority of our time.

Inspiration is hard to hold on to sometimes.  However, this should be of primary concern to companies.  Here are three tips identifying why it may be beneficial to inspire employees and encourage employee engagement –

  • Employee turnover is expensive, unproductive and challenging.  Keeping employees engaged and enthusiastic about their work will reduce employee turnover and ultimately reduce costs and lost productivity for the company.
  • Most employees report that one of the most desired components of a positive work experience is being appreciated. One way to show appreciation for employees is making sure they are engaged in what they are doing, thus improving employee experience and reducing likelihood of turnover
  • Understanding the match between the company’s values and employee’s values is important.  If this is unclear, consider bringing in consultants or coaches that can evaluate and mediate this discussion.

So this may pose the question – how does a company get leadership to buy into this importance of employee engagement?

Companies can encourage leadership to understand the importance of employee engagement through modeling it. This means that HR and executive leaders should feel engaged in their work so that they can experience the value of what they will be teaching to other leaders in the company.

If leaders are experiencing a congruence between the values of the company and their own values, this will certainly inspire employees in the workplace.   This does seem relatively intuitive in nature, that if values match then positive outcomes will result. However, now there is a building mountain of evidence to support the importance of engagement, value alignment and inspired employees, as it relates to the successful business.

For example, according to Towers Watson, companies with a  highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a 12 month period while companies with lower engagement saw a 32.7% decrease in operating income.

However, according to a study by Accenture, less than 50% of chief financial officers appear to understand the return on investment in human capital.   Even though this may be changing, continued awareness is important.  For additional evidence regarding the value of addressing engagement and other human dynamic issues, here is an extensive list of studies pointing to the value of improving employee engagement, culture and satisfaction.

How is your current level of engagement in your work?

What would it take to inspire you?

Best,

Michael

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Trusting Your Intuition

 

Trusting Your Intuition

Trusting Your Intuition

Here is a challenge I’ve been having this week. How do I determine the difference between what my gut says vs. an old pattern I have or the difference between recognizing an intuition vs a fear?  So why not write about it.  There are definitely some questions I find helpful when exploring if/when to trust your intuition.

But before we get into tips let’s look at some research around intuition.  According to  an article on Psychology Today – two different studies reference people’s ability to “intuit” correct answers, in very different scenarios, before the answers were provided.  This was measured by a physical response that was happening as a reaction to the answer.

Another study looked at intuition as it relates to major life decisions, such as buying a car.  In some studies it shows that people who have trusted their intuition first often end up happier than those that analyzed thoroughly and decided against their own first instinct.  However, there is of course some debate about this.  Psychologists and scientists continue to debate the nature of intuition.

Some believe that intuition comes from a reptilian part of the brain that is tapping into some unconscious awareness of danger.  While others look at intuition as a tapping into the unconscious, but in a way that looks at stored information that is available to us but perhaps lost from our conscious mind.

Regardless of the debate, it seems that there exists large bodies of literature that at least agree on one thing – your intuition is worth listening to, for a variety of reasons.

I often live by my intuition…perhaps too much at times.  So finally, here are some strategies that I think are helpful to explore when looking at ones intuition –

Evaluate how this relates to old patterns –

To consider trusting your intuition vs an old pattern of decision making, evaluate it.  Does the decision fit into a habit or pattern for you, or is it an instinct that you have?

Fear wrapped up in intuition –

When there is a hunch towards a decision, make sure that the hunch is not just preventing a direction that may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable.  Of course, this should be weighed with reason, but determining if it is intuition or fear that is driving the decision may be beneficial.

What is the impact of this decision in 5 years or 20 years –

Trusting your intuition can be hugely beneficial! So can weighing out the implications of your decisions.  For instance, if this decision won’t make that big of a difference in 5 years, then perhaps it’s ok to move forward.  On the other hand, combining intuition with some logic may be worth exploring if this decision will impact you in 20 years.

If I don’t trust this intuition will the result be regret or potential failure –

Remember, logic and reason is great, but so is taking risks.  Ask yourself if the decision will result in feeling scared, or regretful for not doing something different.  A little fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A great quote by Lucille Ball –

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done”

How has my intuition been accurate in the past and where has this led me –

Looking at past gains and failures may be advantageous.  Making a list of the times intuition has led to positive results may help to instill some confidence in trusting yourself.

 

How has intuition worked for you?  I would also be curious to hear from anyone who chooses not to trust their intuition.  Please share or comment below.

Thanks,

Michael

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Growing Self-Discipline

Growing Self-Discipline

Growing Self-Discipline

Discipline has been on my mind lots in the last few weeks, so I thought I would do some exploring.  I am currently experimenting with a month long restricted diet (Whole30), definitely an act of discipline.  However, not in a bad way.  Most of the time when I explore ways of eating, exercise routines or other practices I find it interesting and at least somewhat eye opening in some way.  Usually I find that there are discoveries to be found when pursuing an act of growing self-discipline.

I found that it my life, practicing martial arts has been a continually evolving way to build self-discipline.  Certainly there are many ways to build self-discipline, but the question may be – why?  There are many findings on the impact of self-discipline across many aspects of the human experience.   The advantages of having good discipline start when are young.

In a longitudinal study by The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that self-discipline accounted for twice as much variance as IQ in final grades of eight grade students.  These habits and their results may have significant impact on children’s ability to be successful later in life.

A study in The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology showed that implementing a school based martial arts program had a positive impact on children’s cognitive self-regulation, an aspect of self-discipline.

According to Alphie Kohn it may be more valuable for children to be able to build the capacity to choose when to exercise self-discipline as well as what kind of self-discipline, and that this ability to choose may be more valuable than the self-discipline itself.

However the impact of discipline is not just found in kids.  In a study by The Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, MO it was found that enhancing self-discipline and self-concept may improve subjective memory in older adults.

According to a study in The Journal of Depression and Anxiety, low self-discipline has been associated with anxiety and depressive disorders.


5 Tips for Growing Self-Discipline

  • Take your time – Building any new habit takes time. Taking small steps slowly over time will great the greatest recipe for success.  Remember that creating significant change is a process.
  • SMART goals – Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely will be the easiest to keep track of and the most likely to be achieved, leading to greater confidence and success overall.
  • Find your practice – Building self-discipline, will be most effective if the practice is something that you really enjoy doing. Finding a practice within the category that you are trying to create discipline around will help to build momentum and success overall.  You may find that creating discipline that is at least somewhat connected to your purpose or passion will be easiest.
  • Record your process – Explore the ups and downs of what it is like to create a new discipline in your life. This will be helpful in examining what works, what doesn’t and accomplishments along the way.
  • Practice creating routine – Practicing some kind of routine, even if it is outside the context of your goal will help in building the mindset of being more self-disciplined.  There are always opportunities to create new routines every day, take advantage of this.

How have you created self-discipline in your life?

Best,

Michael

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Building Motivation to Change

Building Motivation to Change

Building Motivation to Change

Motivation to change is an individualized experience.  What motivates us most is the unique combination of our passion and purpose.  I describe this as Authentic Motivation.  What this means is that when we are looking at building motivation to change we need to first tap into what is our truest sense of authentic self.

I recently read an article on how to find your life’s work.  This person had a series of steps where you could identify what your life’s work is, in 20 minutes.  It was a writing exercise that basically looked at brainstorming ideas until you wrote one down that moved you to tears.  I really liked this idea because it is a way to tap into what you truly connect with.  This idea will not only act as guidance towards work but also give you motivation to get there.

When considering how to make a change, motivation is the biggest factor.  We can set goals, have intentions, mark our calendars, get coaching, join a group or engage in many other strategies, but if we don’t have a grasp on what our biggest WHY is then we may not get to where we want to go.  Working towards change through authentic motivation will lead you to reaching goals faster and more easily.

4 tips on building motivation to change

 

  • Explore your strengths – Discovering where your talents are may help lead you to finding out what motivates you. We of course are drawn to things we are good at.  Unsure about what your strengths are?  Consider asking one person in five different areas of your life – family, work, significant other, religious affiliation and friendships.  Taking this inventory may bring up themes of strengths that you have that you may not have realized.

 

  • Identify what energizes you – Start taking note. For a period of three weeks take note of every time you feel excited, energized or strongly driven in a particular area.  This may not just be work related but could be in any area in life.  After you have a list of items, see what themes emerge.  These themes may be areas that you can work from when building motivation to change a particular area of your life.

 

  • Take a stand – Start to consider where you put significance in your life. What do you really have a strong opinion about? What area of your life do you have a strong passion in?  What do people tell you regarding what seems to be important you?  You can take the same inventory from step #1 to discover where your passions are.  Understanding what you are passionate about will help you to build authentic motivation.

 

  • Get additional resources – Still having trouble determining how to create authentic motivation? Download this free tip sheet on Authentic Motivation.  This will walk you through the importance of R.E.P.S. (Reflection, Evaluation, Persistence and Significance).  This strategy will help you to create the motivation you need to make real change.

 

Where do you find motivation?

Share any ideas or comments below.

Best,

Michael

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Telling Your Story

Telling Your Story

Telling Your Story

I recently wrote a guest post for The Cheerful Word on what it means to take a deeper look at your life story.  I also just came back from a few days in WI, where I grew up.  This trip had me thinking about my story and what informs my success, experience, challenges, relationships etc.   Since I recently wrote about the power of telling your story, I thought I would take a shot at telling some of my story.

In this post you’ll learn a bit about my background, my family and the Midwest.  If you haven’t been to the Midwest, then you should go.  Yes, I know it’s not on the way to anything.  However, lots of good pockets of entertaining cities as well as beautiful countryside and friendly people.  If you do go, don’t go in the winter time.  The summers are great though.   The picture for this post is actually right down the street from the farm I grew up on.  So, why does this matter for this post?  I am telling this story because I think the lessons are valuable things to highlight regarding personal development and self-improvement.  Since this blog is all about individual and organizational self-improvement, I thought this would be a good fit.

Once a year my grandmother hosts a party “Christmas in July” (actually August this year).   It used to be a Christmas party actually held in December but due to conflict with weather, we moved it.  It’s mostly family and close friends that have been friends with the family for decades, some many decades.  It’s a great chance to reconnect with people I don’t get to see often, but have spent time with for most of my life.

Whenever I go home I also have the opportunity to connect with some of my oldest friends, which is great. Through this process of reconnecting with old friends and family members, I was thinking I have much to be grateful for.  Below are some highlighted areas of gratitude and lessons I appreciate.  My guess is that this will resonate with some of you.

Some of the things I’m grateful for that I was reminded of while back in WI this last weekend –

Work Ethic – Whenever I go back to “the farm” (my family still owns the farm I grew up on) there are endless requests for help.  Although some may argue, this is actually something I’m grateful for.  Having grown up on a farm where there is always something to work on, taught me how to work hard and I think gave me a positive work ethic.  This is a quality that I see as being crucial in all the role models I have had over the years and in those that are truly successful.  Hard work pays off, always.

Humor – My friends and family are hilarious…or at least we think so.  Whenever there is a larger gathering there are usually no dull moments.   Humor can be so helpful in de-stressing, changing perspective or shifting the tone of a day.  I can often get too analytical and serious with things.  I am so grateful for my friends and family, who always put a smile on my face.

Nature – Being in a rural environment just feels more relaxing sometimes.  Even though my family’s farm is filled with work, it is also filled with a sense of relaxation and beauty.  Not being surrounded by commerce, vehicles and constant advertising is a great way to refuel and gather a new sense of energy.   It can be so easy to get swept away with the “to do” lists and constant distraction from media, technology and fast moving pace we set ourselves at.   Being closer to nature often allows me to take a step back, take a deep breath and remain grounded.

These are a just a few pieces of my story that I am grateful for.

What lessons or pieces of gratitude do you have from your story?

Share or comment below.

Thanks,

Michael

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Maintain Change Through Coaching

 

 

Maintain Change Through Coaching

Maintain Change Through Coaching

I was thinking recently about my own personal philosophy about how to really maintain change when searching for it, as well as how I bring this philosophy into my coaching practice.  As with most things I do, I take a holistic approach, which is the same for my coaching philosophy.   The following ideas can be taken as a guide to maintain change through coaching as well as a guide to understand how I work as a coach.

When working towards change, particularly when it comes to personal development, it is important to see all the aspects that may be helping or hurting progress.  We are complicated creatures.  Working towards the best version of ourselves is not just about thinking in a different way or practicing good habits (although these are pieces of the puzzle).

True change comes from evaluating all the aspects of our human experience.  When we look through all of our different lenses, we have the greatest likelihood for success.  We need to explore how we think, feel, act, take care of ourselves, strengths we have as well what/who we surround ourselves with.

As a helpful reminder for you, I’ve created a way to remember how you can check to see if you are evaluating the different parts of yourself and what may be helping or hurting your progress.  Consider the acronym CHANGE –

C – Cognition

H – Heart

A – Action

N – Nourishment

G – Greatness

E – Environment

Each part of this acronym has some important components to consider –


 

Cognition – The way we think.  Do you analyze, make decisions quickly, not quickly enough, make strong judgments, think poorly of yourself or too highly perhaps?  Both the way we think and what we focus on may be impacting our ability to change.

Heart – How we feel.  Our emotions play a big part in our ability to be successful.  If we can remain confident, happy, grateful, curious and positive then we may have a greater chance to work towards change.  If we are negative, depressed, sad, angry, overly reactive or closed off from our emotions we may have a harder time moving towards the change we are working on.  How we feel can also be related to our relationships and how they impact our ability to change.

Action – Habits and routines play a big role in our ability to change.  Thinking and feeling are important but it is the actions that we take that impact how our feelings and thoughts change.   Our action or inaction can play a big role in our ability to push things forward towards our desired outcome.

Nourishment – How we take care of ourselves.  It is not news that the way we eat, how much we exercise, and our general lifestyle all impact multiple facets of our lives.  This is the same for any change we are after. How we treat our body impacts our motivation, energy, creativity, strength and focus.  Considering how we are nourishing ourselves is important.

Greatness – What are your strengths, purpose, and passion? This is what makes up your greatness.  Exploring what is great about you not only leads to creating better leadership but also fulfillment, higher energy, better coping methods and a happier lifestyle.

Environment – What we surround ourselves with. I believe it was Jim Rohn who originally quoted – “We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.” This is a powerful quote and I believe it to be relevant.  When it comes to our own development, our environment goes beyond the people we are around.  Our environment could be our family, work, our city, community, or how our house looks and feels.   For example, if you know you function at a higher level when things are organized then keeping your house clean and in order may be an important factor in your own development.


All of these factors within the CHANGE acronym are important to explore during coaching.  When I work with clients this is part of the process I take them through.  My belief is that unless we focus on all of the potential areas that may be influencing our ability to make a change then we are leaving opportunity on the table.

It is also important to remember that any change one may be working towards takes time.  Remember that there is a particular pace that change takes. Be kind to yourself along the way.

Enjoy the journey,

Michael

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Dealing with Uncertainty

 

Dealing with Uncertainty

Dealing with Uncertainty

This week as I was searching for a topic to write about, I felt uncertain.  It’s not like there is a lack of things to choose from in the personal development, counseling or consulting arena.  There are a ton of topics to choose from.  However, I was feeling uncertain.  So, why not just write about it.  I think as a culture we are dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis.  Having access to 1,000 choices in every avenue of life will do that.   However, there are strategies to battle this uncertainty.

Feeling stuck is common.  We often are wanting a change from a career, a hobby, a relationship or a habit.  In my experience, getting caught in the weighing out of which decision to make can sometimes be exhausting. So how do we deal with uncertainty?

I was talking with a friend recently about a new relationship they are in.  We were talking about the draw to this new partner, the things they have in common, the fun they have etc.  When the idea of how or if to move forward came up, I had thought to ask the question – what is the motivation to be with this person?  Obviously we feel connected to others, we fall in love or we have a connection that isn’t so strong.  So my curiosity is about where this connection is coming from.  Understanding our motivations may help us to deal with uncertainties and move on from a place of “stuckness.”  Understanding what motivates your direction is a good starting place, below are five more tips to resolve uncertainty.

Five Tips to Resolve Uncertainty

Learning to Follow Your Gut – This may seem obvious but there is lots of power in understanding what our instincts tell us.  Since there are so many options in most things we come across, this may distract us from our own wisdom. Practicing ways to reflect on our own thoughts or feelings like journaling, therapy, meditation or some daily practice may help in learning to follow your gut.

Take a Break – It’s easy to get caught up analyzing a choice to death.  Analysis Paralysis.   Walking away from a decision or giving yourself a temporary break from deciding may offer up some new clarity in which direction to choose.

Unbiased Third Party – Speaking with an unbiased third party like a coach or counselor can be an effective way to work through a decision.  Having someone who does not know your situation may be able to offer questions or insight that a friend or relative may not see.   Sometimes when we are asked a unique question this helps to switch our perspective and make things clearer.  

Meditate – Meditation is a great tool to help with staying present.  More and more we see the benefits of meditation in reducing stress, anxiety and even have an impact on us biologically.  Being present is another way to tap into our own understanding of what is the best decision for us to make, and what our own intuition tells us.  In addition, meditation may also offer relief from dealing with the discomfort that often accompanies uncertainty.

Get Up and Move – The mind/body connection is present in everything we do, even when we are dealing with uncertainties in life.  When we are unclear about what decision to make, this creates a particular stagnation in the mind, and perhaps even in the body as we sit and weigh all the pros and cons of our decisions. Getting involved in some kind of regular exercise or even simple movement may trigger a new way to look at the problem.

What will you decide to take action on this week?

Share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael