Empowering Yourself

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Many moons ago I was training as a Coach/Facilitator with Ferdi, the best coach I had the privilege of working with. He had me work a room of 100 plus people for an hour. At the end of the evening as we relaxed with a cup of tea, he asked me how it had been? What had worked, what hadn’t, what was good and not so good, what had I learned?

I gave him a reasonably lengthy answer, to which he replied, “Do you know you have told me only things you did wrong.” “Now tell me all the good things, you did, what worked, where did you provide real value, what had people free to participate?”

I have never forgotten Ferdi or the work we did that night. This was the first time it was distinctly apparent, how “Perfectionist Bruce” only saw the negatives in what he did, never the positives, nor the good things others think or say about me. I was a highly able and effective person, yet I diminished my personal effectiveness by being very self-critical.

I was reminded of this today when I read an article in the DominionPost by Bevan Eyles – “Look to Others to Show You Are Special”. Bevan was trying to motivate clients working out in his Spin Class to produce a higher level of performance. He asked the class to think of things others admired about them. Why are other people’s lives better because you are in it? When people talk about you, what are the great things they share with others?   The body language suddenly became very positive. The enthusiasm, energy and output of the Spin Class lifted markedly.

The key message was that allowing ourselves to see the good within, provides inspiration and motivation. Which in turn can take us to a much higher level of personal effectiveness. Energised, highly productive, open and free.

I’ve been advising my clients to list out the positive things about themselves so they can see how great they really are.   To regularly add new items to it. And to keep the list present everyday.

What if we adopted this as a practice? Something we do as a matter of course within our day. Bringing realism to our self-assessment. Still seeing things that we can improve, and areas for development, but equally seeing the positive things we do, the contributions we make to others, and the good things others say about us. What if we viewed ourselves as our good friends, or colleagues do? We would have the ability to empower ourselves whenever and wherever we want.

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The Power of Self Belief

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I love this quote. Some may say they are just words from a fantasy story. But are they? How much personal power would you have if you could believe in six impossible things before breakfast, and then realise they are completely possible for you? How empowering would it be for you as your day proceeds? What would it feel like to have these things occur in your life? Who is to say that you can’t do this? Probably only you? Maybe a few other Nay Sayers, but why would you listen to them anyway?

Why not try it? What have you got to lose? How would your life be if you could manifest the six top items on your wish list? Write them down, in the form that they are already achieved. In priority order. The most important wish at the top. Then start taking steps to accomplish each one. Then another and another.

It may mean you have to be bold. It may mean you have to step out beyond who you have been before. It may be uncomfortable as you think about taking that step. It may mean you have to declare what you want. That could be a big risk in itself! It may mean you have to ask for assistance and support. It may seem risky. But check in with yourself as to the worst thing that could happen? Mostly it would be the regret you would have in not even trying to realise your dreams. That you let your fearful negative self-talk stop you going after what you want most in your career or life.

Keep your six impossible things in existence. Read them regularly. Check in with where you are up to? Acknowledge yourself for the steps you have already taken. Decide what the next steps are. Think positively. Ignore any negative self-talk. Ask for the support of your trusted advisers. Most importantly, keep believing. Belief is omnipotent.

And guess what? If you do this, you will be so pleased with the outcome!!!

I dare you. Just try it.

Realism and Self

I was a successful young manager, doing well, and progressing well in my career. That’s what my managers told me and what was written in my performance appraisals. My internal conversation was quite different. I would worry, and be so nervous about making presentations to staff and colleagues, let alone the wider business audience. I avoided making them as much as possible.

A kind supportive more experienced colleague could see right through my projected image of “perfection”, and encouraged me to join Jaycees and participate in their Public Speaking course. Thankfully I did.

Although at the time it seemed quite traumatic. I vividly remember having to prepare a 1 minute presentation. On any topic I chose. 1 minute only! That should be a “doddle” you would think. To make it worse a video was being taken of the presentation to be replayed upon completion. From memory I had a least 7 cue cards, and practiced and practiced.

It was my turn to speak. The conversation in my head was the fastest I think I had ever experienced. I managed to get through 45 seconds, got completely flustered, forgot what I intended to say, realised I had shuffled my cue cards and that they were out of order. Out of my mouth came the words “Oh S… I’ve stuffed this up”. My Tutors encourage me to keep going, it seemed like minutes were flashing past me and I was stuck for words. Eventually I got back in to the presentation and made it through to the end. I sat down thinking I was complete failure.

As my heart started to slow down I realized next on the agenda was the video replay. Oh no. In front of my eyes I watched a very well presented young businessman, who appeared to have really good self-confidence, speaking with charm and persuasion. At one point he paused in what seemed to be a very natural tempo and said “Oh S… I’ve stuffed this up”.

A great learning experience and eye-opener for me. How I presented to the world, how others saw me, was at the opposite extreme of my internal assessment of myself. It was the start of a journey to “get real” about myself. Being realistic in my self-assessment. Listening to others feedback about the effective, powerful likeable young businessman. Seeing more of the positive things about myself and what I did, rather than just automatically believing my negative self-talk.

Moving a long way further on, I believe personal power is taking responsibility for bringing realism to your self-assessment. If you know your tendency is to be highly self-critical of your deeds and actions, and you can notice when you do it, then you have an alternative. You have no excuse for not reflecting on the successful things you have done, the positive things you have contributed, the difference you have made in your presentation, project, your job, or whatever it is that you have been doing. And to use this realism to empower you in your life throughout the day.

Abundant Thinking

Abundant Thinking 

The voice in my head had been talking to me for decades before I consciously heard it. And once distinguished it was always, always there. Omni-present. Present as I woke in the morning. Still there when I went to sleep at night. My personal radio station, on automatic continuous play, all of the time. As Freddie Mercury sang – “Radio Gaga. All I here is Radio Gaga”.

Through discussion with a group of 100+ people, it became clear this is a normal human condition. Not peculiar to me, or anyone else. Everyone has their own version. Not good or bad. Present as a normal condition of being human.

Radio Gaga can have a profound effect on how we live our lives. But only if we let it. As the broadcast is mostly negative, if we treat it as truth, and live by that truth, then our lives will be immersed in disempowering negativity. Not a good place to dwell.

I often see advice suggesting things to do to eliminate Radio Gaga. But I don’t think there is an on/off switch. Radio Gaga only switchs off when we die! Not a recommended control mechanism!

Once you distinguish the voice in your head as self-talk, your own Radio Gaga, then you have power. You don’t need to turn it off. You have insight to see how clearly it lies to you, broadcasting fallacious propaganda. You have the power to ignore it, laugh at it, let the thoughts pass on through your head.

You can do anything or nothing with your thoughts. They are just that – thoughts. Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you have to be that thought, or live that thought.

Whenever you want you can create your own positive, empowering and grateful thoughts. When you generate positive, grateful thoughts, you become energised, effective, solution oriented and happy.

Always remember. “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make our world”.

You hold the power. So use it wisely.

Find the Silver Lining

It’s Wednesday. I always like reading Neil Rosenthal’s “Intimacy” column in the DominionPost supplement “Life”. He always passes on wisdom in the area of life and relationships. As a Career Strategy and Leadership Coach I find there is always gold in reading his column.

What issues in our jobs and careers are not life and/or relationship issues?

One of many pieces of gold from Neil this week:  “When you focus on what you have or what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll feel better. When you focus on what you don’t have, what has failed, what you’ve lost or what hurts, you’ll feel badly.”

It sounds so simple, yet often we lose perspective on how simple it can be for us. Here we have mindfulness, gratitude, creating possibility, and responsibility for self wrapped up in a couple of sentences. Focus on where you are going, and how to get there, not where you have been.

“Be willing to take some big risks attempting to create what you want. It’s the risks you don’t take that you’ll regret the most later on”. And time is marching on for all of us, so put your concerns aside and get on with it. Keep taking steps toward the job or goals that excite you.

Work Stress – Hidden Consequences

You can call me old fashioned! In some cases this is very true. I still love reading newspapers. My daily read is The Dominion Post. I particularly like Tuesdays “Life” Supplement, and Thursdays “Well and Good” page. They are always a valuable read.

Last Thursday May 28, Dr Libby had some great advice about stress. That long-term stress can send a message to every cell in your body that your metabolism needs to slow down, in order to store fat, in readiness for flood, famine or war. The body can’t distinguish that the source of our stress in these times is different – coming primarily from work, financial, relationship, health or weight worries.

So for some of us, long-term stress can cause weight gain. But if our strategy is to diet in order to combat the weight gain, we are confirming that food really is short. The body then kicks in to accelerate fat storage.

When you restrict food intake on your diet you slow your metabolism further, making it feel like you only have to look at food to gain weight.

If you are in this position my advice is to eat normally and regularly. Don’t go on a stringent diet.

Dr Libby’s recommended actions to bust the stress are:.

  • Long slow breathing so you can feel your diaphragm moving, communicating to your body that you are safe, not under threat.
  • If you are using caffeine to amp up and wine to slow down, simply swap caffeine for green tea and wine for sparkling water. This will give your nervous system a break, producing a huge influence on fat burning and appetite.
  • Practice gratitude. It is impossible to feel stressed when you feel grateful.

Remember – The less we worry about what people think, the less complicated life becomes. Be You – The world will adjust.

Eat Well – Perform Well

Eat well – Perform well

A number of years ago I attended a weeklong live-in development programme. As a mandatory element of the programme we adhered to a Pritikin eating plan. This focuses on healthy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fish. It is naturally low in total fat and sodium, and rich in unprocessed carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, beneficial phytochemicals, antioxidants and dietary fiber, and it has adequate amounts of protein and essential fatty acids. In addition we agreed to no alcohol, caffeine and refined sugar.

OMG!!! How did you survive that?

It was easy. After a couple of days we were so alive, so energized, awake and present to fully participate in the days activities. Needing far less sleep than back in our normal home/work environments.

I learned two key things:

  • Eating well and taking good care of my health is the foundation for success in my life and career. Healthy me – healthy career.
  • If I have important matters to complete at work, or in life, eating sensibly will ensure I have the energy and enthusiasm to get them done. Just manage myself well and the outcomes will be good.

If you’re hooked – keep reading

It was an article about gut bacteria in Mondays DominionPost that reminded me of the course experience. The essence of the article was two-fold.

  • A guinea pig dieter killed off one third of his good gut bacteria by living solely on McDonald’s burgers, chicken nuggets, chips and coke for 10 days.
  • Changes in our gut microbe community are likely to be responsible for much of our obesity epidemic, and consequences like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

There is increasing evidence that a healthy gut is linked to a strong immune system, and good health and wellbeing. It’s not rocket science. To optimise your health and wellbeing, optimise your gut bacteria. Put good food into mouth.

I challenge you – Try it for 2 weeks.

Eat well

Cheers Bruce

Young Man Steps Out

Well.  Here I am.  A good friend has been telling me to write a blog.  So, better to be in action taking steps to get there.  The more steps I take the closer I will get to achieving my goal.  Learning and growing by doing.  Starting something new in the Universe.  Then seeing how the Universe responds and aligns.  What a powerful force!!!!  Thats all for now.  Have the most wonderful day.  I am.

Cheers Bruce