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Being heard

Have you ever met someone who not only listened to you but really tried to understand you?
How did you feel about the person?
Have you been heard recently?
I mean, 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒅.
You may have to think long and hard about that question.
It may have been quite a while since you feel that you have been heard.
Can you remember what it felt like?
What words come to mind?
We can all seek to be heard beyond simply the words that we are speaking.
As a coach, frequently I find that coachees want me to know and hear the feelings of their heart.
Sometimes that can take a few sessions to achieve.
My experience has taught me that if you have been heard, then you are much more willing to listen.
Real listening can’t happen unless we have a sincere desire to understand what we’re hearing.
Sometimes – that isn’t easy for many of us, including me too!
Why? Because we also need to suspend our judgement.
You know that voice in your head that says – I know better.
Or that frustrated impatient feeling in your heart which says – I already know how.
When actually – we don’t know better or how at all.
We may think we do, but we don’t!
Listening to someone means getting out of your own head and trying to understand another person’s mind.
It’s all about empathy.

Here are some tips…

1. Slow down.
2. Let go of your own thoughts and opinions
3. Listen with your whole body, not just with your ears, eyes, and head, but by mirroring their body movements (without being too obvious.)
4. Be genuinely curious, by focusing all your attention on the other person and being present.
5. Become comfortable with silence, allowing the other person space and time to access their inner wisdom.
6. Don’t interrupt and wait until the other person is ready for you to speak.
Listening is crucial to presence.
Why not take a moment, reflect on the tips above and help someone to be heard today?
#heard #presence #listening #empathy #silence

Mission Service

Recently, I have been asked this a few times; “What do you do as Mission Leaders?”

My response was “Many things!”

One of our key responsibilities that Monic and I share is for the well-being of our missionaries.

Let me explain further….

Mission life is segmented into a 6-week transfer cycle.

Each cycle starts and ends with arrivals & departures of missionaries.

In between our days are regularly filled with preparation, planning, training sessions, conferences, leadership meetings, travel, medical issues, phone calls, zoom sessions and much more, not forgetting of course, our precious regular catch-up time with family time too, via Zoom!

Professionally, as a coach and counsellor, one of my favourite things to do in life has always been 1-1 coaching sessions. During the 6-week cycle, every missionary in the mission (currently 51) has personal 1-1 time with each mission leaders. In mission lingo, they are called interviews, but essentially, having sat through thousands of coaching sessions, that is exactly what they are.

The last few days have been filled with these sessions.

Each interview (mini coaching session) begins and ends with prayer.

In between, we slow down, talk, laugh, cry, catch up, share, consider, counsel, challenge, soften, teach, learn and ultimately, we listen.

Listening

In fact, we listen a lot.

Then we listen a little more.

Some time ago, I shared a thought about the word “listen”.

The word has six letters. Rearrange them and the word “silent” is formed. In Dutch the six letters become even shorter, with only four “stil”

Frequently, I find as I listen, oftentimes a missionary will suddenly go quiet. Years ago, I used to feel a little awkward when the first quiet spell sets in, but now I understand that these are the moments of real inspiration, when they are thinking.

I don’t know what they are thinking, only that they are thinking!

Experience has taught me that it is in these very quiet active times, when the least seems to be happening, that the most is actually happening.

In those quiet moments one missionary recently shared this verse of scripture, found in Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…” Regularly, we hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost to guide each of us in our missionary work. It is beautiful, reassuring and fills our hearts with love and pure knowledge.

Learning to be still

To listen and to be silent (still) are inseparably connected.

These short interview sessions are by design an opportunity to learn, to listen and grow.

What I have learned most in my life has come in many ways, but the largest part has come from listening to those with much greater experience than me. Generally, it tends to be those who have lived longer and learned many important things that I needed to know – one of which is learning how to be quiet, to be still and to listen.

Now however, we are being taught frequently by those much younger than ourselves. Daily we find, tender mercies from the Lord, as He has prepared these young people (18 to 26 years of age) to preach the gospel to the world. Indeed, it is a mighty miracle.

We are off to do some more mini-coaching sessions.

Please choose to slow down, be quiet, learn to listen, listen to learn, then you too will hear the whisperings of the spirit of the Lord.

#HearHim

Change 6 things!

Facilitating a meeting earlier this week with our Mission Leadership Council, I used one of my favourite little change activities. I paired each participant up with a buddy, had them stand back to back and then invited them to change 6 things about their appearance.
I always love running this activity as it is such a great little icebreaker. It went very well and everyone had some fun together.
There were also some great points made by the participants and some very positive in the moment learning takeaways…
Two points I want to make today about this little activity.
Firstly, I always change something about myself. It is always very difficult for them to spot. When they are all busy changing various things about themselves, I simply sneakily remove my wedding ring. Eventually, after several guesses, someone always identifies the change. I then explain how difficult it is to remove my ring. Its been there a long time – 27 years! And it has great sentimental value, which brings back many memories too.
𝐋𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝟏- Change is sometimes difficult because we have been doing things the same way, for a long time. Little things, are often BIG things!
Secondly, after the activity, everyone changed their appearance, back to how it was. I didn’t ask them to do it, yet every single one of them did!
Why did they do that?
𝐋𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝟐- Simply stated, because that was the way they were before and frequently its much more comfortable there!
Two simple reasons why change is sometimes difficult to achieve!
William Bridges Transition Model, is a great place to start to understand more about change.
What change are you facing today?

Understanding

“Do you understand what I mean?” he asked.
In many relationships, one of the big barriers to understanding is a lack of communication, a lack of talking things out, a lack of keeping things in the open. Oftentimes whilst counselling, one half of a relationship will sit in brooding silence, hugging any grievances close to their heart, rather than being open and honest.
Pressures can mount, small things are magnified and frequently much more than is true can be imagined in their minds by either party. Fragmentary listening, misinterpretation of ideas, and mistaken meanings of words can cause misunderstandings. And so there is much not knowing, much mistrust, much heartache, much unhappiness and sitting hurting, in silence. Happiness will not survive in pent up places.
So how do we strengthen these relationships?
We need to engage in meaningful conversations.
It all starts with the greatest of all the communication skills, and that is being an effective listener. That means slowing down. Being listened to is one of the highest forms of respect and recognition. Really listening is not about gaining information, rather it is to gain understanding.
Some years ago Marvin J. Ashton said “Communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings, and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally.”
Regularly setting aside time to talk where there are no distractions can help to solve problems.
Why not start today and resolve to listen a little more.
When will you set aside time to communicate and really listen?

To don’t list!

“How about a “to don’t list”” – that’s a new idea I thought.
Working smart has been at the forefront of my mind the last few days. With an increasing challenge of fewer missionaries in country due to COVID-19 set to continue for the next few months, I’ve been thinking how we can work smart to address all that we need to do!
Once you accept that you have more to do than time to do it all, that is actually a very freeing concept.
We all know about to do lists, but creative thinking techniques encourage us to turn things upside down.
A “to don’t list” seems a bit of a weird idea, but actually thinking about it more, it seems to provide a lot of positives! I am starting to recognise that many times what you do not do is far more important than what you do do! Perhaps a little experiment is in order.
For example here are some ideas for starters…
– Don’t thoughtlessly scroll through social media
– Don’t always try to be right
– Don’t stay up too late
– Don’t try to please everyone
– Don’t interrupt others
Consider any bad habits you want to eliminate and anything that distracts you from being productive – that’s the key.
Go on, give it a go and write your “to don’t list” today!

Asking Questions

What will you do differently because of what you learned today?

Asked any good questions lately?

Questions can be extremely powerful. They help us to think, feel and do things differently.

We all need to learn how to ask great questions!

Some professionals like doctors, lawyers and journalists are taught how to ask great questions as part of their training.

In my own professional career through sales and coaching, I have found it equally important to be able to formulate and ask the right question.

Questions aid performance, close sales, help provide inspiration and direction, they even help to build trust and rapport.

“Management teams aren’t good at asking questions. In business school, we train them to be good at giving answers.” – Clayton Christensen.

It’s time to be a little more curious. Asking questions is an important part of life and learning.

As a coach, I am constantly asking questions to help clients move forward.

– What do you really want?
– What do you need most right now?
– So what?
– Why now?
– How can you be truer to yourself?
– Can you tell me more?

What question can you use today to unlock your own potential?

Deep Change

“What is your favourite book on change?” asked a course participant.

I’ve spent the last week talking and facilitating workshops all about change (again).

It is likely you are aware of a few change models, including the Kubler Ross Change Curve, Kotter’s 8 stage model, Bridges Transition model, Prosci’s ADKAR model (lots of models) et cetera.

But if you want to really change in your personal life or in your organisation, consider this thought from Deep Change – Discovering the Leader Within from Robert E.Quinn – “Deep change differs from incremental change in that it requires new ways of thinking and behaving. It is change that is major in scope, discontinuous with the past and generally irreversible. The deep change effort distorts existing patterns of action and involves taking risks. Deep change means surrendering control.”……

This is an introspective journey that will challenge your thinking, you’ll need a reflective journal, in Bob’s words it’ll be like “walking naked into the land of uncertainty”.

You will be introduced to new ideas, new ways of thinking, new ways of behaving and can put an end to the slow death dilemma forever.

Consider this book a masterpiece!

Deep Change reveals the remarkable capacity each of us holds to change ourselves and ultimately our organisations.

Do you think I enjoyed it!?

You will too.

Don’t just do something, sit there!

“Don’t just do something, sit there!”- is a phrase I have stumbled across several times recently.

It’s extremely difficult NOT to do something these days. In the frenetic pace of life, whether it is a work task, an urgent assignment, homework, something needs fixing, the school run – taking time to “sit there” and think, rarely (if ever) tops the list of things to do.

We think far too seldomly. Conversely, we tell ourselves not to think, by saying “don’t just sit there, do something!” In several coaching sessions and workshops recently, this theme has been a topic of some healthy conversation. Ultimately, our discussion peaks at the realisation that we need to think, before we act. The lesson is that we need to put the thinking in before the doing.

In my own life, there have been many times that I have felt a bit harried, time poor and harassed. Then, some years ago, I decided and chose to change. I realised that I needed to simply “sit there” for a while every day and declutter my noisy mind. As an early riser, the first hour of every day is my precious contemplation time. Those 60 minutes of thought and study are a daily gift to myself.

A little time set aside daily to think about what really matters makes all the difference.

When will you “sit there?”

Mind the Gap

In a podcast interview yesterday I was asked, “Why is personal development so important?” I shared a few ideas at the time, however….
On further reflection post interview this morning, I recalled a regular pre-lockdown experience during my travels taking me through the London Underground. The phrase “𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒈𝒂𝒑” is both seen and heard every time you board the tube. It’s a simple a safety announcement, a caution to remind every traveller of the small gap between the platform and the tube. That small gap varies from station to station and in turn it helps us to be much more observant and self-aware of the challenges all around.
In a similar manner, personal development is all about being prompted to “mind the gap” in our own learning in life between who/where/what we are and who we really want to become.
Personal development helps to build our self-awareness by bridging the gaps in our learning. It gives you the opportunity to take a long hard honest look at the areas of your life that may be in need of some improvement. It also enables you to get to know who you really are, what motivates you, what you are passionate about, where you would like to go in life and what your true values are.
What gaps do you need to bridge in your personal development?

Are you FITT?

Are you FITT?

The FITT principle is a smart acronym that gives athletes a workout plan to help them achieve their goals – yet, in a very similar manner it applies to our learning and development habits too.

Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you what FITT stands for – as follows;
F-Frequency: refers to how often you exercise.
I-Intensity: refers to how hard you exercise.
T-Time: refers to how long you exercise for.
T-Type: refers to what kind of exercise you do.

The FITT Principle can help you create your own powerful learning & development plan.

For example – let’s consider studying for a new skill or learning requirement:
Frequency – how often you study
Intensity – how hard you study
Time – how long you study
Type – what type of different study tools you use

If you want to improve your learning & development ‘fitness’ – then apply the FITT principle to your plan and routine. It won’t be long before you witness a difference and your learning will be a winner!