Posts

Discouraged?

๐–๐ž ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐›๐จ๐ซ๐ง ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ฒ โ€“ ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ?
Yet, sometimes life happens and it can be discouraging.
At times things we hope for and dream about just don’t turn out that way.
– the pay rise didn’t happen
– you didn’t get the expected exam grade
– the relationship you worked hard at didn’t work out
– you didn’t get the job
– the house purchase fell through
– redundancy became a reality
– ill health sets you back
– you just can’t understand that new language
– its just been a really tough day
When things don’t turn out the way you expected, then discouragement can settle into our minds and can make us feel sad.
None of us are immune from discouragement and especially in these difficult times, reality frequently does not conform to our wishes.
Discouragement does not have to mean defeat!
See it as it really is and donโ€™t blow things up out of proportion.
Overcoming discouragement is absolutely critical for all of us if we are to bounce back and move forward in life.

So, what can you do?

First and foremost – you can change your attitude. Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do.
Secondly, find something that you are good at right away, get on with it and dispel any negative self-talk, feelings or emotions that may be impacting upon you.
Thirdly – don’t compare yourself with others, remember you are on your own unique path in life.
Fourthly – turn to a friend.
Fifthly – count your many blessings, name them one by one.
Finally โ€“ pray about it, to understand and find the lesson.
โ€œThen shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I amโ€ (Isaiah 58:9).
To receive comfort and guidance from our Father, we simply need to reach out to Him. I know He is always listening.
It is through the experience of disappointment and discouragement that great treasures and pearls of wisdom in life frequently appear.
What do you do when you feel discouraged?

N.O. Two simple letters – No

Do you ever say โ€œ๐˜๐ž๐ฌโ€ to someone, when you mean to say โ€œ๐๐จ?โ€
Its not a bad word.
Sometimes, we commit to do something because we donโ€™t want to appear rude, or we may be afraid to upset someone.
Do you know that feeling?
However, by always saying yes, we can make ourselves ill too.
Saying yes all too often, can and will have a direct impact upon our own wellbeing.
I know that self-care is really important, especially when you are tired!
It really is okay to set personal boundaries and say โ€œnoโ€ especially when you may already be juggling lots of different things and multiple projects at the same time.
That said, it can be tough to say no!
N.O.
Two simple letters – No.
One simple word and yet so many of us have a real problem with it.
It’s okay to say no!
If you are just learning to say no, then please be gentle with yourself and be kind too – it can take time.
It is also important to recognise when you have said yes to something, when you should have said, no instead!
On those occasions, I suggest that you make a mental note, and then let it go.
Learning to say no takes practice!
In fact, it’s absolutely essential if you want to simplify your life.
Setting some personal boundaries can help.
Boundaries can be defined as the limits we set with other people.
Our boundaries indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in others behaviour towards us.
Boundaries reflect what we value most deeply.
They are a form of empowerment, strength, and a way for us to align with our identity, our desires, where we stand and what we stand for in the world.
Having strong boundaries means knowing what you like, what you accept and equally, what you can tolerate.
Are yours discernible?
We need to recognise them and protect ourselves against hazards that will come in life.
One of those boundaries may be to recognise that it is okay to simply say no.
When you say ‘no’ to others you are making an important statement on boundaries, limits, and respect for your own time.
You also teach them about who you are as a person, and what’s important to you.
Finally, my top tips –
Saying no doesnโ€™t require a thesis length explanation!
For example, some ways to say no, could include the followingโ€ฆ
โ€œIโ€™d love to, but I canโ€™tโ€
โ€œThat doesnโ€™t work for meโ€
โ€œIโ€™m not comfortable with that, so no.โ€
Is today the day, you finally empower yourself and say no?
What helps you to say no?

Learning takes practice.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ค?
Growing up in Scotland in the 1970โ€™s was a fun place to be.
I was oblivious to many of the challenges of the era, but I do recall one occasion at Primary school when I was around 9 years old, that Iโ€™ve never forgotten.
An announcement was made in class that a recorder group would be starting in school and that anyone interested to learn how to play should come along to the next practice.
I had grown up listening to my dad playing regularly on his chromatic mouth organ and like him I wanted to do something musical โ€“ he always seemed to be having so much fun!
The day came and along I went.
I was given a small descant recorder and duly started practicing in the weeks that followed.
Through lots of lessons, my playing began to improve, and I learned to read music too.

Lessons Learned

I began to understand that
  • Growth and development take time.
  • Learning takes practice.
As time passed by, one day I recall being picked upon and bullied by several boys.
โ€œYouโ€™re just a big namby pamby, a big sissyโ€ theyโ€™d say to me, along with a few other belittling terms.
Why?
I was the only boy, playing the recorder amongst a group of around 15 girls.
Despite the regular taunts, insulting and smart-alecky remarks, I continued playing the recorder throughout my school years and developed a resilient spirit to the comments.
Playing simple melodies, always brought joy to my youthful heart. And it still does!
In later years, in a little tender mercy, I discovered that like me, Monic too played the recorder.
Sometimes in life we have to persevere when opposition comes our way.
Oftentimes, its listening to the feelings of our heart, that can overcome the challenge of the day.
What challenge might you face today?
What does your heart think?

“Its as easy as ABC”

“Oh yes” I thought, “its as easy as ABC.”
At extremely short notice recently, I was asked to design and deliver a virtual workshop primarily on change. After a discussion with the client, I got down to the tricky matter of bespoke design. Never easy at the best of times and now the time pressures were on too!
It meant some last minute personal changes in my own schedule and working all day on a Saturday. Sometimes when in design mode, thoughts come very slowly. However, that day, inspiration flowed freely, I was in the zone! I loved it! Job done!
Then it hit me, I forgot one key aspect, the client also wanted to understand a little more about building resilience for the leadership team. Scratching my head, contemplating a few different models on the topic, a favourite popped into my mind, from cognitive behavioural theory – “its as easy as ABC!” Eureka!
In short, Albert Ellis developed the ABC model to help us understand the connection between adversity or an activating event (A). How we think about this creates beliefs (B). These beliefs then influence what we do next, so they become consequences (C) – our emotional and behavioural responses.
By challenging our ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’‡๐’” we can build our resilience and bounce back.
How do you bounce back from adversity?

Determination

And then it changed.

In our virtual session, all of the participants were viewing images representing different experiences or emotions connected with ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž. Each participant was to select an image that really resonated with them personally.

I asked the session producer to select one of the many images and asked participants to identify themselves if they had selected that specific image. The producer randomly chose one of those participants… and then it began.

The image chosen – ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง.

I asked the participant why this image resonated with her. She then shared a portion of her life story that had been filled with adversity, physical challenge and major setbacks. Yet there was a determination not to let those setbacks get in the way of her own ambitions. In that moment, we all listened intently, in wonder and awe – each of us touched by her emotional testimony. I’ve tried hard to imagine what her life may have been like.

No matter whatever life had thrown at her, she chose to carry on enjoying the challenge of life with optimism, a positive outlook and a gritty determination.

Resilience is a choice, we can all develop much more.

What is your reaction in the face of adversity?

The 4 best ways to get through tough times.

In difficult times, I frequently find little gems of insight by revisiting defining moments in my life. Fortunately, I have recorded lots of those occasions in my journals. This weekend was a challenging one and I turned to my journals reading excerpts from 1982 and 1983. A powerful lesson emerged that I’d like to share.

What was happening in 1982?

My journal entries reveal a lot about what was happening in 1982. The Falklands War. Margaret Thatcher held a huge majority. Italy won the World Cup. ET, Gandhi and Chariots of Fire were all in the cinema.

Friday 14th May 1982 was my last day at school and 5 days later I turned 17. I had no immediate plans and found some casual work through family and friends. (It was a number of years before I made it to University.) My entries reveal that it was a time of testing and trial. Mum & Dad gave me regular encouragement, in time becomingย my cheerleaders.ย  Summer quickly passed into autumn and a regular pattern emerged in my journal.

It was abundantly clear that I had loftier aspirations, and my journal indicates that I expended daily effort to find alternative employment. In fact, there are entries aplenty of a journey of exploration into lots of different possibilities, where I focused on writing letters, making applications and securing numerous interviews. It was evident that I was determined to make progress. On reflection, all these years later, I recognised that establishing habits and routines made me strong enough to endure the constant disappointments of the almost daily rejections I received through the post. Quite incredible really, for a young 17 year old. Sticking to a task, with gritty determination to succeed, appeared to be my mindset of the time.

And it came to pass…

One entry stated in early October stated that I had 47 live applications in due process! 47!! Eventually, success arrived. After six months of trying, on 23 December 1982, my efforts were rewarded with a job offer from Standard Life Assurance (as they were then). A few weeks later I walked to Dunfermline Station, starting in Edinburgh on 10th January 1983 and I caught the train into Waverley Station. I worked with Standard Life, for around 12 months before embarking upon another great adventure in London.

My life has taken many twists and turns in the ensuing years, travelling near and far in the leadership development world. Remarkably, after 37 years, in some serendipitous twist of fate, I have come full circle. Over the last 18 months, (as an associate with https://www.ontrackinternational.com) I have had the marvellous opportunity to work with Standard Life Aberdeen (as they are now) once again. I have been lucky to facilitate a whole range of learning and development programmes and absolutely loved it. Now, these same sessions continue virtually! When working in Edinburgh, once more I walk to the same station and catch the train into Waverley, feeling a sense of deja vu! At peak travel times, sadly some of the rolling stock still looks very similar from years gone by. Fortunately, I do earn more in a day now, than I earned in a whole month in 1983!

Lessons Learned

In the midst of times of trials, we can choose how we wish to respond. There are two kinds of knowledge – cognitive (what we learn and know in the mind) and experiential (what we learn by doing). Upon reflection, I’ve recognised some key knowledge principles that got me through the challenges of 1982 and throughout my career too, yet they seem even more valid for the struggles of 2020. It is a simple formula for success, let me share it with you….

Encouragement: The action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope

+ Effort: Use of energy to do something; physical or mental exertion; a try and attempt

+ Exploration: To search out, to look into closely, investigate, to examine

+ Endurance: Ability to last, continue or remain, to hold out

= Rewards: Something given in return for effort, service or achievement

  • ๐™€๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™–๐™œ๐™š๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ + ๐™€๐™›๐™›๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ + ๐™€๐™ญ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ + ๐™€๐™ฃ๐™™๐™ช๐™ง๐™–๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™š = ๐™๐™š๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™™๐™จ

I recognise that these 4 E’s have been constants in my life. Indeed, they have been key principles that have enabled me to get through the toughest of challenges and most difficult of times. I’ve learned never to give up.

As you reflect upon your own challenges of today, please consider who encourages you, what efforts you need to apply in your own life, what do you need to explore and how can you endure it well? Although the road made appear to be filled with many obstacles at times, I know that following this simple pattern, always leads to success.

  • Who gives you encouragement to succeed?
  • Are your efforts appropriate for the challenges of today?
  • Are you exploring your possibilities?
  • What daily habits and routines have you established to enable you to endure well?

As a coach, facilitator, mentor and trainer, I regularly use this formula to help others find their way.

Choices

Earlier this morning, I discovered this poem circulating on social media – appropriately written for our time. Before hastily returning to your pre-lockdown life, please consider these words. I hope we will all choose a better way. Enjoy!

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

๐‘จ๐’‡๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’๐’๐’•๐’†: The poem is attributed to various authors from 1869, 1919 and even now in 2020 variations of the name Kathleen O’Mara, Catherine M. O’Meara and Kitty O’Meara. My own research indicates it was written only a few weeks ago for our day by Kitty O’Meara.

What are you choosing to change?

Fragility

Life remains fragile.

Like many people all across the world, I have been moved and concerned about COVID-19. It has led me to reflect upon how fragile many things really are. Under the semblance of control we think we have, sadly, we are sorely inadequate at so many things.

In the case of a fleeting few days, the world as we know it, has changed. Its actually a little scary to recognise how vulnerable and delicate our planet and life as we know it really are. The feeble foundation of the global financial system is one thing.ย  The deep cracks within many nations, another. The volatility and ferocity of Mother Nature. The frailties of the human body.ย  Need I go on? All have been exposed to turmoil and disruption.

Let’s be mindful of our fragility and ๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฝ hold of it, snuggle up to it. Oftentimes it is the fragile nature of something that makes it very precious.

Consider where you are unnecessarily fragile.

In the days ahead as we rebuild our lives and society starts to recover, lets be ever mindful of the ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ๐˜ด that will return once more. We must choose to construct our houses on rock, just like the wise man and not on a sandy foundation, like the foolish man.

All of us will need to dig deep and ensure that we stand on solid foundations so that we are prepared and resilient enough to withstand the storms which will inevitably return.

Do not Fear

In the course of our life, we do not exactly know what lies ahead. ๐™๐™ค๐™™๐™–๐™ฎ, people all over the world are fearful of the challenges ahead. What we do know, is that it will be filled with worry, anxiety, hazards, uncertainty, peril, difficulties and risks. The world is in commotion – pandemics, economic strife, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, panic buying – and that’s only this year.

I am however and always will be an optimist. Our capacities are likely to be tested and stretched. On occasions our hopes may even fade. But this dizzying moment of alarm and discouragement ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก pass. We will recover, triumph and bounce back from these setbacks and adversities.

In one for the many workshops I have facilitated over the last few years, I recall Darwinโ€™s “On the Origin of Species” in it he states, “it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to ๐™–๐™™๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ฉ and ๐™–๐™™๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.

Top Tips for building resilience:

– Remind yourself of your personal purpose in life

– Generate positive thoughts

– Connect with others – daily

– Take action, be proactive

– Focus on what you can do

– Look after yourself