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Creating a different space

Having spent the last year researching and developing the latest Emergency Happiness programme Lead Like A Human, I had the pleasure of talking to hundreds of different leaders from all walks of life. 99% of them spoke about the daily challenge of finding space within the craziness of their lives ‘to just breath and think’. In most cases they were referring to their own internal mental space, however, when I dug beneath the surface of this confession, very often its ripple spread outwards to include the need to find a ‘space to think’ within their teams, intimate relationships and within the organization for which they worked. Some of them even spoke about a burning desire to create a new space in which to innovate and connect with people on a global scale.

So what do they mean by ‘space’ and why does the creation of it appear to be such a difficult goal to achieve?

In my view there are three distinct types of space being eluded to here.

  1. Head space – our ability to slow the constant, high velocity flow of thoughts that race through our minds at a million miles an hour in order to take a calmer, more objective look at our lives. Some of our greatest insights and ideas come to us when we are relaxed and in a ‘flow’ state. (Mihay Chickimehay). Being able to create a calm, resourceful state in your head- space is essential to your health, growth and how often you smile.
  2. Team space – whether it’s the connection between two individuals or the bond between a group of people, for any relationship to be truly fulfilling, successful and long-lasting, it needs to be created in a space of true respect and commitment. This shared space needs to be created again and again for connected relationships to flourish. The most kick ass partnerships and highest performing teams are the ones who are constantly renewing their shared space of connection and purpose, respecting and enjoying each other’s evolving strengths and life journey’s.
  3. Collaborative space – As humans, some of our greatest achievements happen when we align our vision and work together towards a common goal. When we create a space between a group of people where creativity, authenticity and responsibility are the norms, then true collaboration shines through. Through creating a collaborative space, organisations can empower their people, innovate in their industry and create commitment to their company vision. Leaders who are able to create a collaborative space in any part of their lives tend to be those who create the most positive change for themselves and for those around them.

So we all know the theory, then why do we find it so hard – when immersed in our personal, work or social lives – to apply it?

How often have you continued an argument with your partner or a family member so you could ‘be right’ when you knew creating some head space would help you to renew your relationship team space from a different angle? At work have you ever pushed yourself and others to meet a deadline, failing to practice true respect for different points of view and sacrificing team moral in favour of on time completion? Perhaps a greater focus on team space would have led to an exceptional collaborative space and higher performance overall?

I have observed many people who ‘know’ (cognitively) that creating these spaces are important in order to create high levels of performance, success, and happiness in all areas of their lives and yet in the heat of the moment they didn’t know ‘how’ to choose to create them.

If you are finding that you lack quality ‘space’ in your life or the simply lack it full stop, then you might want to join us on the 1st Dec for our Lead Like A Human masterclass. Here we are bringing together leaders from various different backgrounds and industries to talk about how we can start to create more positive space in our heads, in our teams, in the organizations we work for and in society as a whole.

Click here for more details.

Lets create some new spaces together!

The Art Of Human Leadership

Back in my corporate days, when I worked horrifically long hours and getting up at 4am to catch the red eye flight was the norm, leaders who could give me a reason to keep going and even better, to have fun, were few and far between. But they were there.

The types of leaders who stood far above the crowd for me were the people who lived somewhat differently to the rest. They were the ones who were supremely comfortably in their own skin, were confident making decisions with integrity and were guided by their own moral compass to do the right thing. They were not afraid to be different and express who they uniquely were as people; driven, pressured, caring, glorious, genuine, funny, sometimes sad, always them.

Things haven’t changed much today and it is still these types of ‘human’ leaders who impress the hell out of me. Leaders who have the ability to wake up to our own ‘humanness’ and honor the gifts that only our species have been given on this planet.

In the box of human tricks lies;

  • Consciousness – the human ability to become more and more aware of our own patterns of thoughts, emotions and belief’s; spending our lives enhancing, evolving and changing these for the good of ourselves and others
  • Curiosity – far from killing the cat or anyone else for that matter, the human ability to be curious about why things are happening in our lives and the role we play in creating them, allows us to make different decisions and work towards growing levels of awareness and maturity
  • Creativity – we are truly some of the most resourceful creatures in the universe aren’t we? From the discovery of fire to the invention of the wheel, to more recently the creation of the internet and nanotechnology, humans have an amazing ability to overcome adversity and create breathtaking solutions when we put our hearts and minds to it
  • Connection – When humans decide to connect fully, deeply and passionately to something, the results are stunning. Whether this is another person, a work project or our life vision, once connected we have the ability to move mountains if necessary in order to achieve our goals
  • Responsibility – Taking full responsibility for something often means transcending our own personal human needs and taking on responsibility for helping others to fulfill theirs. When fully committed, this becomes an enjoyable and satisfying act that nourishes our own sense of development, validation and happiness.

Human leaders are the people who bring all of these traits to some degree or another into their lives and their interactions with others. Human leaders harness these abilities not just at work but in guiding and enhancing their personal, spiritual and social lives as well.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from the mouth of Ken Thiry, CEO of Da Vita, a company that strives to bring human interactions and values into every aspect of their business operations. He said:

In order to become a better leader, you need to become a better human. You need to approach becoming a better human with as much rigor, relentlessness and creativity that one uses to acquire traditional business skills’.

It is amazing how many people in positions of leadership seem to forget this in favor of focusing on targets, processes and the bottom line. Ironically, there is a massive amount of research available clearly demonstrating that in companies where a high percentage of leaders work to develop and enhance the human traits mentioned above, their commercial performance reaps the benefits. Employee satisfaction, loyalty, retention and performance all benefit from having leaders in place who demonstrate human skills and encourage those around them to do the same. You can imagine the positive effect this then has on their customers and the local community right?

Bingo! Literally, winners all round.

It was my years of experience working for both excellent human leaders and their nemesis’s (the self involved, egocentric managers) that really got me thinking about how you can develop these invaluable human leadership skills.

It was for this reason that we created the Emergency Happiness, Lead Like A Human programme. If you are as passionate as I am about becoming more ‘human’ then it would be great to have you join us for our upcoming free teleseminar where we will shoot the breeze, make connections and get curious about what it is to be a human leader.

Join us, it is going to be insightful and fun!

For more information on the Lead Like A Human programme and the upcoming free tele-seminar, go to www.leadlikeahumanseminars.emergencyhappiness.com

When things don’t go your way

It has been a strange week.

I had the privilege of going skiing with my partner and stepchildren in the beautiful Austrian Alps. An experience that brought with it a steep learning curve, teaching me a lot about my approach to adversity (with each lesson being emphasised with its very own bruise).

Through the process of learning how to fall and get back up again, I was forced to face my own limiting beliefs and negative emotions about ‘not being very good at something’ head on. This was a very enlightening and humbling experience. I had to admit that despite being a coach (who is supposed to have their emotional s**t together) I was still prone to the same outbursts as everyone else when things didn’t go my way.

When things don’t work out the way we expect, or we suddenly encounter a situation that clashes with our view of how the world should be, in my experience humans do one of two things, they either:

a)    Get very defensive/angry at the world, pulling the ‘why me’ (aka victim card)

Or they:

b)    Get curious about the situation and their own reactions to it

In my very recent and physical experience, option A only leads further down the track of pain. When we are in ‘victim mode’ we relinquish our power of choice. We decide that no matter what we do, we will loose and therefore there is no point in even trying. Life is happening to us and we have no ability to control events or our reactions to them. Life is a series of random experiences, some good and some bad.

DEPRESSING!

Who in their right mind wants to live here? Scary thing is, I think if we were all made to swear on the bible then we would have to admit that we all choose option A occasionally. Some of us more than occasionally!

Option B on the other hand opens the magical doors to awareness. When we catch ourselves in an emotional tizz or about to rant at the world, taking a moment to get curious about why we are choosing to react in this way is like a margarita on a hot summer evening to our psychological state. It brings on an instant awareness that even though we are feeling bad about something, we can take a moment to identify why and choose to give it a different meaning and thus a different feeling.

Whilst I was up on the slopes having fallen over for the millionth time, I was forced to look at the meaning that I was giving to my incompetence. I was choosing to blame a weak hip, tired legs, tight ski pants, even a rock to get away from the inescapable fact that I was simply not very good at skiing yet and I had a healthy fear of careering off the edge of a cliff! As soon as I admitted to myself that fear was the underlying factor in the whole thing then I was able to give a new meaning to my experience. I decided to see the whole thing as a massive lesson in ego and limiting beliefs and laugh at myself for falling into the same trap that I teach many other people to avoid. My whole outlook changed, and as a result, my feelings about the situation changed.

Luckily enough my physical performance also changed and by the end of the three days I proudly skied down the whole mountain with my family.

Curiosity is the essential ingredient to learning and expanding your self-awareness.

It may have killed the cat but it will certainly save you from a future of victimhood!

Peace

 

 

 

 

 

Finding what makes you uniquely attractive

Heard the acronym USP? Yep, most of us have, especially when we are scouting the job market for our next big career move. Personally I don’t like it. ‘Unique selling point’ to me implies that you have had to come up with a spiel about why people should like you / pay you because the true strength of who you are isn’t shining through. Too many people copy what is on a hundred other CV’s when they describe their USP’s – kinda defeats the object of ‘unique’ don’t you think?

My preferred lingo in this area is UAF (unique attractor factor).  What is it that is attractive and magnetic about only me? How am I different from the herd? How can I be the one person on the planet who has the unique ability to change this situation / business partnership / relationship for the benefit of all parties concerned? And so on….

The interesting thing is that this is precisely what people DON’T think about. I regularly ask people attending my happiness workshops to give me one interesting fact about them. Guess what? Most of them can’t answer! I am getting used to looking at a sea of blank staring faces and false humility when people who are actually desperately searching for something to say that will make themselves and others think they are interesting actually utter ‘Oh, well my life is all interesting so it’s hard to pick just one’. Serious BS o-meter moment.

The truth is that we don’t think about it – we should.

Take a moment, seriously. Put down the mobile phone, I-Pad or cup of caffeine and think about it. What is it that is different about you?  What do you have that no one else has?

Warning – Steer clear of ‘qualities’ that are prone to repetition by every other member of the human race (I am a ‘hard worker’ etc) and focus on your….

  • Life experiences
  • Beliefs about the world
  • Passions (even if you think they are sad)
  • What makes you sing in the shower (or anywhere else for that matter)

And even, yes you can believe I am about to say this….

  • Your gigantic mistakes that you learned valuable lessons from. This adds spice to the above and shows you are confident enough to learn from your howlers

These are things that make us who we are – when we can talk about them honestly, we are in a place of true authenticity and people love us. We radiate energy and we are powerful people.  Take the time to think about your UAF’s today and then go out and tell the world!

 

 

Can we measure happiness?

Hi All,

I want to introduce you to my first guest blog post of 2011. Written by an amazing friend, colleague and trainer Lem Leon, this weeks Evolution Now blog features Lem and myself thinking about how we measure happiness. Enjoy!

In Late November 2010, David Cameron announced that he had kick started the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to measure the nation’s psychological and environmental welfare – Also known as happiness.

A former US Senator was once quoted saying that a country’s Gross Domestic Product (a total sum of either what everyone has earned or spent in a year: GDP for short) measure everything except that that makes life worthwhile.
Nearly three months on and we have still yet to see exactly how this coalition intend to proceed with this on paper. So it begs to ask the question: how DO you measure happiness?
Evolution NOW spoke with one of the happiest people we know, Genevieve Boast, who runs a company called Emergency Happiness. Gen was (pun intended) more than happy to help and when asked these are some of the marvellous tips she provided on how to measure your own happiness:
·   Do I wake up in the morning looking forward to the day no matter what I have to do?
·   Do I celebrate the small things in life almost as much as the big ones (i.e my train being on time on a rainy day vs. winning a new contract at work)
·   If I take joy in helping others no matter how small the gift (like a smile)
·   How often I think about the things in my life that make me happy and feel gratitude for having them
·   Whether I love myself and feel loved by others
·   How often I catch myself judging people or situations and choose consciously to stop it
·   How often I can say I am learning something new and growing into a better person
·   By how powerful and in control of my life choices I feel
·   By how connected I feel to my life and the people in it
·   By how quickly I spring back from ‘challenges’ and step up to try again
·   By how playful and energetic I feel
Do you think these types of questions will be included on this questionnaire when it does eventually materialize? Or do you think its one of DC’s gassed idea’s that may never come to fruition?
Either way, happiness is something everyone would like to have in their lives all the time. If you don’t think you’re getting enough, then change your way of thinking and the world will change with you.

Finding Flow

What is flow and how do you find it anyway? Both are valid questions. The one thing I have discovered is that even if everyone describes the feeling of flow in different ways that are specific to them, we all know what it feels like to be there.

Flow is that rare and ecstatic state where everything in the world is just….well….right. Things happen in a seamless fashion and synergistic miracles slip into place one after another. The world is beautiful, perfect and life enhancing in equal measure. We perform at our best and people see the best in us.

The challenge with this blissful state is that is rarely lasts. The vast majority of us get fleeting glimpses of it’s stunning synergy once in a blue moon if we are lucky and able to raise ourselves above the daily grind to attract it to us. Many of my coachees bemoan the fact that they can’t seem to stay in flow once discovered and then it appears even harder to get back to once lost.

After many evenings pondering this phenomena (and several bottles of red wine later) I reached one obvious conclusion. Humans, at least normal humans, are not supposed to experience prolonged periods of supreme bliss and flow. If we did we would become so lost in its exquisite nature that nothing else would get done, the house would become a tip, the kids would go to hell etc etc, the list goes on.

The true beauty is in the contrast of life. Knowing when we are in flow and synchronicity gives us a target to aim for when we are lost, down and disheartened. If you didn’t have the shadow, how would you fully appreciate the light? The real trick is in becoming aware of the activities, people and places that help you personally to find your flow state and then finding ways to bring them more regularly into your life. I would never think to suggest that you try and become blissed out whilst cleaning the bathroom (although there may be some of you for which this is your ‘thing’ and I’m not knocking it) but for the majority of us it downright sucks. There will always be the things in life that aren’t as super shiny and fun as others but knowing what your fun and flow activities are in the first place gives you the opportunity to balance these out with things that make you glow.

So before you start wishing that you could have spontaneous flow moments of awakening like the great spiritual masters, why not try to spend some time writing down the things in your life that simply make you happy? Happiness is the fast train to flow which, in turn leads back to more happiness. One of the great virtuous circles!

Keeping Time

I am possibly smack in the middle of one of the busiest times I have chosen to experience in the last few years of my life. My business is accelerating like an Audi R8 (of which I have my heart set on being the proud owner of one of these days). The love of my life is currently working in Munich which means that I currently split my time between England and Germany on a bi-weekly basis and have taken on the unfamiliar (and slightly scary) role of mother / home-maker with my two step kids. To add into the mix, my sister just had a beautiful new baby, I am halfway through two new coaching qualifications and am managing to squeeze in 6.5 hours of exercise a week….. phew!

Now where some of you will be reading this thinking ‘that sounds like a light-weight version of my life’: others will be thinking more along the lines of  ‘she is definitely heading for an early heart attack, nervous breakdown or spontaneous human combustion’

The point is we all experience chaotic, running at a million miles an hour, ballistic periods in our life. Some of us choose to experience these for longer than others but solidarity brothers and sisters because experience them we all do!

Now if you go into the physics of it all, time is not only a construct of the human mind but irrelevant in terms of how the universe works. Hang on, rather than wanting to punch this blog entry, hear me out. We all live in a human world of time, regardless of whether we invented it or not. We all have the same amount of hours, days and months in which to go about our lives (providing we aren’t struck down by a bus in our prime of course but who wants to live their life with that assumption?).  What I am getting at is that we can choose how we spend our time and in that choice lays freedom from the sense of overwhelm, chaos and confusion that often arises in these times of high activity.

Most of the negative feelings above arise when we feel that we aren’t the ones in control of our time. When we are spending our precious energy and moments doing things that aren’t helping us to feel a sense of achievement, joy and growth then we start to wonder what is the f***ing point anyway? What sorts of things tend to fall into this category?

  • Work that is done for money and nothing else
  • Favours done for people when you resent it or are doing it to ‘get’ not ‘give’
  • Activities that give no sense of recognition or growth (ironing and listening to moaning people are both definitely in this camp for me)
  • Surfing the internet or TV for the sake of it or because you are too tired to do anything else (because you have spent your precious energy and time on activities above)
  • (this line left blank for you to fill in your own form of meaningless, time wasting activity)

How much of your time and energy have you been squandering on similar activities to those above? When you reach the end of this glorious life, what time will you remember? Will it be the days wasted on a job you hated, the time spent in a relationship that you knew wasn’t where you were supposed to be. Or will it be the moment of peace when you were laid in the sunshine reading your favourite book? The sense of achievement and sparkle as you finished an amazing project that gained you unbelievable recognition from your boss and colleagues? The look of love on your partners face when you have weathered months of home craziness to allow them to settle into their fabulous new job?

It’s all about choice. One thing I have realised during the last crazy 8 months of setting up my business is that the happier, more challenged, more alive you are, the more you get done and the better you feel. Efficiency is filling your time with things you love and the things that make you feel like you are achieving, growing and helping others. This is all completely possible within the realms of ‘normal life’. Which parts of your job do you love? Do more of that. What are the special times with your children that make you smile for months or even years afterwards? Swap TV time for more of that. What is your favourite way to spend time when you are on your own? Instead of going out with friends / to your mothers etc one weekend, be vicious with your own time and do something that makes you shine on the inside and outside. In the immortal words of L’Oreal… you are most definitely worth it!

Now this is all very well. As we all know, it is a million, trillion times easier to say these things than to do them. My approach to ensuring that that do the do is to schedule them. They become a meeting in my diary and I have time slots every day for personal time, kids time, partner time … you get the point.

I have also introduced the concept of MIT’s into my time life.

MIT = Most Important Tasks.

At the start of everyday, I make a list of my MIT’s. I have a head MIT, a heart MIT and a soul MIT. This way I balance across the things I need to get done for work or for family vs. the things I need to get done for my own mental, emotional and spiritual sanity.

The secret to this working is that the time slots are 90% nonnegotiable. E.g. – if you get the chance of a lifetime to suddenly land a fabulous business deal and it happens to clash with your yoga class then guess what happens. As long as your heart and soul MIT’s aren’t sacrificed on a regular basis then the system works fine.

Your time is your own and no one else’s. Claim it back, reveal in it. Regain power in your life. It is then that you end up in the times of chaos thinking ‘alive’.


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