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Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

 

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Being an emotionally intelligent leader may sound like a challenge, or a farce or maybe a task that may not reward?  However, the evidence continues to build for emotional intelligence and how it impacts everything from productivity to rapport to leadership.   Here is an excellent business case for emotional intelligence.  For instance, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, one study shows that the primary causes for derailment in executives involves deficits in emotional intelligence.  This research points to qualities like difficulty working in teams, problems with interpersonal relations and challenges with handling change.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader doesn’t mean losing track of specific goals, directives or the hard data that often drives decisions.  Having emotional intelligence may mean changing how we communicate and engage with others.  First let’s define what emotional intelligence is –

What exactly is Emotional Intelligence? 

My short answer for this is that someone’s emotional intelligence is their ability to understand, communicate and empathize with their own emotions and other people’s emotions.  However, the standard definition is – emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Often time’s organizations will bring in individual executive coaches or leadership coaches to work with employees within the organization on building emotional intelligence.  In addition, utilizing assessment tools with individuals and teams that help to build empathy and understanding of each other’s strengths is another way to build emotional intelligence in the individual or group.

Within the context of leadership, leaders may benefit from working towards building the following skills (all related to improving their emotional intelligence).

Three tips to improve emotional intelligence

  • Improving empathy towards employees through exploring their strengths and specific styles as well as how these styles can be complimentary to others within the team/organization.
  • Improving empathy towards one self through improving self-care practices, self-reflection, and self-awareness.
  • Exploring communication style and understanding strengths and blind spots in how they communicate as it relates to the leader’s ability to connect with employees.

Leadership is certainly not limited to the organization.  We can improve our leadership skills as individuals through understanding how we engage as friends, partners, relatives or parents for instance.  There is always opportunity to build our leadership skills.

Here are a few examples of how to improve your leadership in other avenues of life outside of the corporate world –

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a Parent

Emotional Intelligence is quickly becoming recognized as a key factor that determines not only good leadership but also a crucial factor in how people communicate, interact and collaborate as adults.  The implications here are huge as children move into becoming independent adults. Consider these tips –

  • Teaching children to communicate their feelings at an early age can help with development of emotional intelligence.
  • Supporting children in expression of their own emotions, recognition of emotion in others and providing guidance in ways to be expressive can be helpful.

In my professional opinion, teaching children how to express themselves and recognize emotion in others is just as important as academics.  Given the later implications for how this may impact career and relationships, it seems that this is a crucial part of educational development.

Since we have seen such a rise in emotional intelligence being an important factor in an employee’s ability to lead as well as interact with others, the risks of not developing emotional intelligence may be great.  In addition, we see communication and ability to express one’s self being influential factors in relationships, both intimate and professional.  The risk of not developing emotional intelligence may be multifaceted for adults.

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a Partner

Being able to improve our ability to empathize and understand our own emotions as well as others is particularly important with our significant others.  But how does one lead with these qualities?  Building a strong connection and leading with emotional intelligence in relationships can be expressed in a number of ways. Consider these tips to practice emotional intelligence with your partner –

  • Practice offering empathy, asking questions and being curious. Instead of making assumptions about your partner, remain more curious about truly understanding their feelings, perspectives and states of being.
  • Explore your own assumptions and sense of feelings. Being willing to be vulnerable with your partner shows leadership in emotional intelligence and offers an invitation to connect on a deeper level.

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a friend

Even in our friendships we always have the opportunity to model what kind of relationship we are wanting to engage in and how we want the dynamic to exist.  Part of the challenge around this is first understanding what kinds of friendships you want to cultivate as well as how you want your current friendships to change, or not.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader among friends doesn’t mean you are guiding your friend’s behavior.   Being a leader is about setting example, inspiring and living congruently to your own values and principles.  This way of being is always possible in any relationship, leaving the opportunity to be a leader always an option.

Consider these tips for being an emotionally intelligent leader as a friend-

  • Understand your own boundaries, values and principles and be willing to communicate them. Some people may push back on this but the kind of friends that truly identify with you will resonate more strongly if you are clear about who you are and where you stand.
  • Communicate the kind of friendship that you expect. Being able to communicate clearly with friends about your own expectations, feelings and experiences will help to build stronger connections and model the kind of dynamic you hope to create.
  • Remain curious. When in conversations don’t wait until someone is done speaking so that you can respond.  Really try and remain curious about who they are and the message they are portraying.  Building curiosity rather than response will strengthen connection and impress upon your friends that you are truly invested in what they have to say.

 

How have you worked towards building emotionally intelligence in your life?

How was it helpful?

Did this shift any of your personal or work relationships?

Share in the comments below.

Have a great day!

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 Best Listener at Work

 

The Best Listener at Work

The Best Listener at Work

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

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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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.

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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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Expressing Your Anger at Work

 

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Getting frustrated at work is common.  However, how you express it or don’t, may greatly influence the environment that you’re in, as well as future opportunity.  While expressing your anger at work may be generally frowned upon, there are certainly strategies that will help with this process.  Consider these three tips below when expressing your anger at work.


  1. Timing is important – Remember that when you are anger this may not be the time to resolve an issue. However, coming back to a situation after decompressing and letting the parties involved know how it impacted you will allow you to be a better communicator and express the importance of the situation, improving the likelihood of resolution.
  2. Understand what helps you decompress – Having an understanding of what kinds of strategies are most effective for you in reducing anger is important.  This may be walking, exercise, writing, listening to music or a wide variety of other things.  Taking the time to explore what works best will benefit you in the long run and give you the chance to effectively express and reduce anger instead of letting it become a problem.
  3. Remember the context – This is a very important component. Even though telling someone exactly how you feel may seem like the best idea at the time, the context may suggest otherwise.  Being mindful of how and where you are expressing anger, if at all, may be a very important factor to consider.

The better question to ask may be how to reduce anger in general.  Understanding how to control our feelings may be beneficial in many different environments. Having the ability to respond to events rather than react, may serve us well.  If we know how to control our sense of reactivity then we may respond in a more appropriate way. Understanding ourselves, how we respond/react and triggers that we have, may involve some self-exploration.

Interestingly, the expression of anger may be totally culturally contextual anyway.  In our culture we tend to look at the expression of anger to be generally unfavorable.  In other cultures expression of anger may actually be of health benefit.  In a study by The Association for Psychological Science, they found that expression of anger in Japanese culture was associated with better biological health.  This suggests that anger isn’t necessarily positive or negative but the meaning that it is applied to it may impact the results of its expression.

This idea of exploring our anger to identify what kind of meaning we apply to it may give us another reason for self-exploration.   Certainly the negative or positive consequences of expressing anger are still being studied.  In the meantime, we do know that improving our understanding of self and how we respond and react can have a great impact on our work and home environments.

 

Thanks,

Michael

 

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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The Best Way to Improve Productivity

 

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

There are an endless amount of resources out there for how to improve productivity.  In my search I did not find a definitive answer to the best way to improve productivity.  I think there is an answer to this question though.  The best way to improve productivity….is your way.

Finding out ways to hack your own laziness, distraction or “busy” lifestyle is tricky.  But the most effective way to improve productivity will be the one that is most connected to you.  A place to start when identifying what kinds of practices to experiment with may be the endless lists online, such as this one on – boosting productivity in real life.   As you may notice, I even wrote one of these tips.  The tips and strategies are definitely good to start with.

Experimentation and practice is where the rubber hits the road.  The next step is exploring the strategies in a way that answers the question of – how does those strategy resonate with me?   Using strategies that are most connected to who you are will yield the best results.

There are certainly some exercises and strategies that are more about self-exploration than others.  Here is a short list of strategies that may help to improve productivity, but more importantly offer the opportunity to explore what’s holding you back, and who you are.

Personal Development and Productivity

Take a vacation 

This may seem counter intuitive since taking a vacation is not necessarily the most “productive” of activities. However, letting go of some of the demands and hustle for a few days can help you to re-identify what is truly important, as well as give you a boost of energy when you return.

Create a daily practice

When looking at habits and common traits of successful people, one thing is usually consistent, they have some sort of regular practice. Having a daily practice helps to create mindfulness, discipline and routine – all things that impact productivity.

Practice discipline, everyday

Similar to the daily practice, focusing on ways to practice discipline can help to build routine and productivity in many areas in life. Discipline can be practiced in a number of ways through fitness, healthy eating, work duties, behavior in relationships, self-reflection and many other aspects in life.  The practice of the discipline itself may be just as important as the goal related to it.

Get up and move

You may have heard the recent commentary about sitting being the new smoking. There is substantial research to back up the idea of sedentary lifestyle greatly impacting health, wellbeing and productivity.   Exploring ways that help you to enjoy regular daily movement will make these little breaks easier to commit to and more likely to stick.  Again, this is about personal exploration of what works for you.

Explore your passions and purpose

Understanding what you are passionate about will help in building strategy around all of the previously mentioned tips. If you aren’t sure, that’s ok, start experimenting.  Start with these two questions –

  • What would I love to do every day if I had an unlimited amount of money?
  • If I had unlimited resources and I could only do one thing to help the world, what would it be?

How have you enhanced your own productivity? 

Thanks,

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