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Resilience at home

Beat the Dark Side of Greatness: How to excel at work without losing your soul

id-10081666Achieving greatness at work

You work hard for success, recognition and greatness at work. You love the rush of firing on all cylinders, and being engaged and committed to your work. You naturally receive rewards and recognition …… which drives you to work even harder.

 The dark side of greatness

But ask yourself:

  • Does your success at work come with a heavy price in other areas of your life?
  • Are your powerful strengths also responsible for your worst failures?
  • Do you struggle to meet both work and home commitments?
  • Do you have little energy for life outside of work?

There is a dark side when the greatness achieved in one area of life comes at a significant cost in another. It may happen to high-flying executives who are so dedicated to their work that they become helicopter parents, disconnected from their children.  Or to a highly respected doctor who becomes emotionally distant in order to cope with suffering seen daily. Continue reading

Performing under pressure when it counts the most

Highly successful people are able to perform under pressure when it matters the most. Even when there are high stakes outcomes, they are able to stay focused and achieve their objectives.

In contrast, for most of us asking for a salary increase, dealing with a workplace bully or coordinating multiple projects are very difficult situations. The higher the stakes, the greater the pressure and that’s when our brains turn into porridge.

Fortunately we can learn from highly successful people who cope well with pressure. Build your resilience to improve performance under pressure by doing the following: Continue reading

Is your home more stressful than work?

Work is stressful, but home is less stressful, right? That’s what many of us say, but not necessarily what actually happens.

According to a new study from Penn State University, both men and women have significantly less stress at work rather than at home, and this difference is even more pronounced for women than men. In addition, they found that the women in their study were happier at work than at home, whilst in contrast, men felt happier at home than at work.

Whaaaaat? How can that be? Continue reading

Your stress is not my stress – why stress is experienced differently

ID-10065994No one welcomes the feeling of being stressed. We prize performance, competition and perfection and if we don’t feel competent it causes stress.

So is stress bad? The answer is yes and no. Without some level of stress, life is positively boring, but on the other hand too much stress is debilitating. Thus there should be an optimum level of stress for motivation and engagement for every one.

It turns out that this is true, but what is experienced by one person as motivating and exciting, may be experienced by someone else as overload resulting in anxiety and reduced efficiency. Continue reading

How to ask for help and enhance your reputation as a leader

ID-10046852Successful leaders get things done. They think big, drive for results, take risks and deliver on their plans. They also do something that is less known, and that is they ask for help. When facing difficulties, they ask for help in a way that builds cooperation and respect.

Some leaders don’t feel comfortable asking for help, when self-sufficiency is prized in our western work. They fear asking for help may be seen as a sign of weakness or that they are not competent. Yet, the same leaders often struggle with an increased work load and lament the lack of cooperation in their organisation.

If leaders are reluctant to seek help themselves, it sends a signal to their team members that admitting vulnerability and not coping is unacceptable in the organisation. If this happens, feelings of isolation and alienation will increase with the rise of organisational uncertainty.

It’s only when leaders model that seeking help is not only acceptable but is actually desirable, that the team and ultimately the organisation will be able to proactively get the resources they need to support themselves and to transition the organisation through difficulties.

This was also borne out in my research on personal resilience (more here), which found that asking for help and also giving help was one of the seven components of resilience.

So how can you overcome an inherent reluctance to ask for help, and to ask for help in a way that enhances your reputation as a leader, rather than diminishes it? Here are some ideas: Continue reading

Get your free copy of The Building Resilience Handbook!

The Building Resilience Book

The Building Resilience Book

The Building Resilience Handbook is normally available as an e-book from Amazon Kindle at US$11.39. To thank you for reading my newsletters about resilience, I am making it freely available to you for a limited period. It will be only available free from 25 May to 29 May, 2016.

Have a look at some of the reviews of the book:

  • “Inspiring and applicable throughout one’s lifetime” Fred Irumba, science teacher, Jakindaba Senior Secondary School.
  • “Easy to implement at work and home. The results are remarkable!” Brent Beilinsohn, Manager, Old Mutual Investment Group South Africa.
  • “Mind blowing! Implementing these practical exercises has made me a better person” Fanuel Kakuiya, Senior Superintendent, South African Police Services.

Imagine having abundant inner strength and resourcefulness to withstand and recover quickly from whatever difficulties life may throw at you. With The Building Resilience Handbook you can.

Packed with practical exercises and inspirational stories, this groundbreaking, research-based book of 314 pages will guide you step-by-step to develop inner strength and realistic optimism. It’s the formula to not only survive but thrive in the face of life’s challenges. Continue reading

Help! I’m tired of being tired!

ID-100157605 (2)People tell me that they feel more over-stressed and overwhelmed than ever before. They have so much on their plates that they can’t find the time to do everything, let alone take time out to recover and refresh themselves.

They say that their usual solutions don’t work. They can’t find time to meditate, or exercise and even sleep properly. Life-work balance is a joke. No matter how hard they try, they seem to be achieving less and feel exhausted by demands at work and home.

Like them, are you also tired of being tired? If so, here are seven actions you can take right now to break out of this distressing cycle: Continue reading

How to develop resilience – strength for life

DrowningWe all experience difficulties in life, but sometimes it goes from “In every life, some rain must fall” (YouTube link here), to a flood. It can be caused by an unrelenting volume or pace of work. Or it can be caused by something deeply upsetting such as being retrenched or ending of a love-relationship.

When difficulties reach flood levels, some people are stretched beyond their limits. They don’t cope well. They feel defeated and sometimes spiral into hopelessness. Its’s as though they are drowning in a flood of difficulty and hardship.

In contrast, others cope and recover well. They manage to keep their experience of stress positive and struggle well. They are like a buoy in an ocean storm, submerged from time-to-time, but quickly bob up again. Continue reading

How to develop the ability to struggle well

stormy weatherAre you over-stressed? I often hear people despairing that they are over-committed and over-stressed at work, and don’t know how to get off the treadmill. Work-life balance becomes unreachable, and they feel increasingly unable to be the loving parent or partner they would like to be.

This sentiment is echoed by M Scott Peck whose opening sentence in The Road Less Travelled is: “Life is difficult”. Even the Buddha teaches that the first of the “Four Noble Truths” is “Life is suffering”.

This is a rather bleak commentary on life, so let’s put it into perspective.

It’s true that we all experience some degree of difficulty, heartache, disappointment and even adversity. The practical implication for me is: can I minimise the suffering in a way that doesn’t also diminish experiencing the positive side of life?

Put differently, is it possible to cope well with what life throws at me and also to experience love, joy and happiness? Continue reading

How sports coaches up the performance of struggling teams

3135102614_748ba182ed_mRight now the world’s eyes are on international rugby, football, cricket and other sporting competitions.  Each match is “to do or die” for the players, with money, prestige and national pride riding on the outcome.

What do successful coaches say to their teams when they’re losing and are often frustrated and demoralized?

Is threatening the most effective strategy? In other words, motivate them by kicking their butts. Or is it more effective to find something that they are doing to praise? In other words, motivate them by making them feel good about themselves? Continue reading

Thinking errors that erode resilience

brain for newsletterWhen you experience difficult times, or when adversity strikes, you need to be able to recover and bounce back. That’s called being resilient or mentally strong. Being continually stressed or dealing with unrelenting difficulties however makes this difficult to achieve.

When we experience low points in our coping, our thinking and decision making can be most at risk. This is ironic, because it’s at these trying times that we need to be at our best in terms of thinking clearly and making good decisions.

There are five common thinking errors that you should be aware of that can substantially erode your mental strength and resilience: Continue reading

The Building Resilience Handbook is going free!

The Building Resilience Book

The Building Resilience Book

The Building Resilience Handbook is normally available as an e-book for Kindle at $13.65. To thank you for reading my newsletters about resilience, I am making it freely available to you for a limited period.

Have a look at some of the reviews of the book:

  • “Inspiring and applicable throughout one’s lifetime” Fred Irumba, science teacher, Jakindaba Senior Secondary School.
  • “Easy to implement at work and home. The results are remarkable!” Brent Beilinsohn, Manager, Old Mutual Investment Group South Africa.
  • “Mind blowing! Implementing these practical exercises has made me a better person” Fanuel Kakuiya, Senior Superintendent, South African Police Services.

Imagine having abundant inner strength and resourcefulness to withstand and recover quickly from whatever difficulties life may throw at you. With The Building Resilience Handbook you can. Continue reading

Are you over-stressed and over-worked?

drowningDo you feel really stressed and overworked?

Dinah did. Her work days were filled with back-to-back meetings which meant she frequently only got to her accumulated e-mails and voice-messages after supper. Tension caused pain in her shoulders, neck and stomach. She was not the senior manager, mother or partner she wanted to be.

She described herself as a fly trapped on sticky flypaper. No matter how much she tried, she could not break free. She felt dispirited and hopeless.

Our coaching focused on regaining her self-confidence and zest for life. We started with an exercise to help her reconnect with the important things in her life. It’s called the Best Possible Self exercise and has been proven to boost positive emotions, happiness levels, optimism and hope . Continue reading

Stop living your life on autopilot!

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Stop living your life on autopilot!

Have you ever drunk a cup of coffee or eaten a chocolate bar and don’t remember how it tasted? Or had to turn back unnecessarily on a journey because you didn’t remember locking the front door? Or tuned-out while your loved-one was talking?

These are signs you are living your life on autopilot. It’s really sad if you are so stressed, distracted and unaware that you miss out on much of your life.

To check if you’re living your life on autopilot, ask yourself if any of the following applies to you: Continue reading

Stop over-committing with two actions!

OverloadedHigh achievers commit. They volunteer for projects. They take over work from struggling team members. As parents they take over and solve problems for their children. As loving partners, they do more than their fair share at home. They do so much that they are superheroes! Then they commit again… and again, until they often become completely over-committed.

There is a significant downside to being over-committed. They often don’t fulfill all their commitments despite working themselves to the bone. They feel guilty about letting people down and breaking their promises. Their emotional and physical well-being and also domestic relationships suffer. Burnout is always close.

Continue reading

Stress as an Issue for Women

Stress as an issue for women

Stress as an issue for women

Stress is a normal part of our lives, and while men and women stress differently (read more here), a recent study found that women in the workplace reported higher stress levels than men. These women felt more under-appreciated, tenser and regarded themselves as underpaid compared to their male colleagues.

In my coaching practice, I hear the term “burnout” more and more. Cathy (name changed) was criticised by her manager that she was not tough enough and just wasn’t “producing the goods”.

Cathy felt that she was being unfairly held to a different standard than her colleagues. She tried hard to meet other people’s expectations at work and at home, but no matter how hard she pushed herself, she felt she disappointed them.

Continue reading

Help! I am feeling overwhelmed!

Lost and Confused SignpostToo many people making demands on you, too much to do and too little time to do it do it in? Too many e-mails and too many meetings? Everyone wants a piece of you?

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. People working in organisations today seem to be increasingly stressed, having to achieve more with fewer resources.  In a recent Knowledge Resources survey, 80% of the respondents said their workload had increased substantially and most felt overwhelmed. This is in line what I have also found (more here).

You know feeling constantly overwhelmed is an indication of a dangerously high level of stress. You also know that high levels of stress will have severe negative impacts on you, affecting your productivity, your colleagues and your loved ones.

But if you’re like so many others, understanding the negative consequences of feeling consistently overwhelmed doesn’t automatically translate into knowing what to do to change.

Fortunately there are things you can do to help. Here are seven things that have helped leaders and managers I coach and may help you too: Continue reading

Develop mental strength with five powerful exercises

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Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed? If so, you are not alone. I am often asked how to cope when you are feeling really vulnerable, but you have to be strong.

The answer, according to the highly regarded scientist Angela Duckworth, is to develop mental strength, which she calls “grit”. She has found that mental strength is what differentiates people who persist and achieve long-term excellence, as opposed to those who start off well, but lose enthusiasm and give up.

Also, she has found that mental strength is the best predictor of success in school, the military and corporate sales, rather than intelligence or even luck (more here).

Would you like to develop your mental strength? If so, there are five powerful exercises, based on Angela Duckworth’s research, which I have found to be very helpful. These exercises will help you persevere and keep motivated when dealing with big issues like unwelcome change and stress at work or home, or even sticking to a diet, a financial budget or a study plan (more here). Continue reading

Positive thinking can be dangerous!

Silotte couple  phanlop88

We have all heard stories of how visualising a positive outcome helps create it. Oprah Winfrey, for example, believes “if you can dream it, you can do it”. The wildly popular book “The Secret”, based on The Law of Attraction, asserts “like attracts like” and by thinking positive or negative thoughts, one brings about positive or negative results.

If you want to lose weight, get rich, find romance or get promoted, all you need to do is really focus on and visualise your wishes coming true and that’ll make your dreams come true.

Simply put, health, wealth, love and business success are all the rewards of positive visualisation and positive thinking. If you fail, its because you have not thought sufficiently positively about what you want.

But does this make sense?

Continue reading

8 activities to enhance meaning in life

It’s perhaps obvious that having meaning in your life is important. Without meaning life is….well, just not worthwhile. But more than only making you feel good, meaning gives you the power to cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs.

When you have deep meaning in life, you are better able to keep perspective and still experience joy and happiness even when things are really tough.

I have found however, that people sometimes get confused between “purpose” and “meaning” in life. “Purpose” is complicated and often involves deep questions, such as is there a deity out there who cares about me and what am I supposed to do with my life? Some people have a life quest to find their purpose in life!

“Meaning” in life on the other hand, is fortunately much simpler. You seek your purpose in life, whereas you create meaning by what you do.

So what should you do to create and enhance meaning in your life?

Continue reading