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Clear Your Mental Clutter

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‘The more we postpone making a decision, the longer the spin cycle and the bigger the load…’

(If you prefer to view this content in video format, click the link above).

My friend and Professional Organiser, Denise Allan, was sharing tips on morning TV the other day about how to keep your home tidy and she said “Clutter is postponed decisions”.

Wow! Powerful.

And then I began to look about me. The areas of clutter in my own home (Those drawers that contain stuff that we never use, but haven’t decided what to do with them. That pile of papers, not urgent, yet waiting for a decision. The neglected area of the garden, waiting for us to decide whether to plant or pave it).

Consider then the tidy areas (The utensils, we decided exactly which ones we want in the drawer. Those we use only on rare occasions are kept in a different cupboard. The living areas are tidy – most of the time! Everything has a place and is put away at the end of each day). It seems therefore, that clutter does indeed represent postponed decisions.

Did you know, however, that a similar thing happens in the brain – the clutter, or mental chatter, that accumulates. The endless spin cycle of thoughts, that take up so much head-space.

The more we postpone making a decision, the longer the spin cycle and the bigger the load.

When you feel exhausted, and there is no apparent reason for it (that is, you haven’t been up for hours, or pushed yourself mentally or physically), ask yourself what are the thoughts that are going around in your head? What decisions might you be postponing?

Raj Raghunathan PhD. Associate Professor afilliated with Dept of Marketing at University of Texas, McCombs School of Business ran a study to look at mental chatter.

He got the students to write down their spontaneous thoughts. These are the thoughts that occur before the student attempts to put a positive spin on them.

Prior to the study, most students predicted that 60-75% of their thoughts were likely to be positive. The results were surprising. Up to 70% of the spontaneous thoughts that were actually recorded were negative.

According to Professor Raghunathan’s study, the thoughts fell mainly into 3 categories:

Inferiority eg: Will someone else do better than me?

Love & Approval eg: Why wasn’t I chosen?

Control Seeking eg: Why won’t people listen to me?

You will notice how these thoughts are all about external validation and comparison.

So what is the connection between clutter clearing at home, mental clutter clearing and this study?

Once again, we’re back to decisions.

As a Leader, you can buy yourself head space and clear some mental chatter by making decisions. Successful leaders are in the habit of making many decisions up front. They plan for them. For instance:

o How they are going to represent themselves

o What they are going to wear (they adopt a ‘look’ – no pulling out all the possible options at 6:30am for them!)

o How they are going to lead their team

o What culture they are going to create

o What standards and expectations they expect of themselves and their team

o What they will do to meet their objectives

o How they are going to deliver value for the organisation

And so on…

With these decisions already made, they have automatically freed up space in their heads so that they can tap into their creativity, be more resilient and self-assured, gain clarity and the energy needed to deal with important matters. It really is like opening the filing cabinet, boxing up everything unnecessary and archiving it.

When we work with clients, we focus on simple, practical steps that make the biggest difference to them, their teams and their organisation.

By the way – if you could use some clutter clearing tips for the home, here is that clip of Denise in action.

To read an article about Professor Raghunathan’s study, click here.

To find out more about how to be an EPiC leader, click here to arrange a conversation with one of our Consultants or call us on 00 44 1932 888 885.

The Art Of Dilation

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Leaders, public speakers and anyone in a position of influence need to develop a sense of dilation when preparing to speak, meet, influence, pitch or perform through face to face communication.

What am I talking about? Am I talking about the pupils of the eye dilating when you enter a darkened room? Well, sort of.

Dilation is defined as the action or condition of becoming or being made wider, larger or more open.

So what does this mean and why is it relevant to leaders and communicators?

Let’s take a step back. What‘s the point of public speaking? Actors and professional speakers understand that they are there to move people from one position to another. To move you to tears, to change your view, to enlighten you about a particular point of view, to engage you in a new or refreshed way on a subject that might have turned a bit stale…? You get the point.

In order to accelerate this influence and for it to be energised, impactful and memorable, the communicator needs to dilate!

In the terms of a being a more influential leader and communicator, Dilation happens when:

1. The speaker’s energy is controlled

2. The gestures are energised for instance hand gestures – so that the message is fully committed and not diluted by weak energy that allows the gestures to ‘leak’ away. Imagine the energy flowing through the ends of your fingers and out into the atmosphere. Don’t stop the energy flowing too soon, otherwise your fingers might look like damp lettuces at the ends of your arms!

3. The words used are energised. The vocal delivery is fully supported by the diaphragm and is clear and resonant. The delivery ‘hums’ and hits the target. There is a sense of crescendo in the energy of your speech.

4. The thoughts are present and alive! The speaker is fully alert to what is going on around him or her.

5. The atmosphere is electric. The speaker is reaching out to the audience with strong stories that stimulate the audience’s imagination – so that they are fully engaged.

Another way to look at Dilation is to regard the whole process of communication as an energy flow similar to that of a river or a sea tide that carries any debris or blockages along with it and builds towards its call to action. Irrepressible, unstoppable, irresistible.

If you like receiving Insights, please share your enthusiasm with your friends and colleagues. Our mission is to create a happy, productive work environment that lays the foundations for success.

If you are interested in this topic or would like to discuss communication in your business, click here or call us on 01932 888885.

Feel Great When You Have Every Reason Not To!

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“These scenarios and many more have an uncanny knack of throwing us out of our flow…”

Hands up who’s been to a networking event or social gathering and the conversation has been clunky or awkward. People talk over each other, they ask boring questions like ‘what do you do?’ then don’t listen to the answer because they are looking over your shoulder for someone more useful to them. There might be a sense of competition between those vying for attention. Others just don’t ask any questions at all but ramble on about themselves.

How about working in teams where there is a whole range of different dysfunctions: lack of purpose, conflicting agendas, demotivated members, disgruntled members, friction around role specifications and functions. These are examples of situations that can put you off your stride, out of your flow.

What does flow mean?

When we are in the flow, everything seems to fit together. Productivity is high, conversations click, inspiration is abundant.

What takes us out of the flow?

The biggest reason we step out of the flow is this: When our experience at any one time does not match what we want. Or in other words, someone does something that we either didn’t expect, or we didn’t like, or we anticipate that they will do something unexpected or that we won’t like.

Typical examples:

Networking – worry that people won’t want to spend time with you, or being ‘cornered’ by someone who you have nothing in common with

At work – anxious about your upcoming review, or feeling undervalued by Head Office

At home – anticipating a lack of support from your partner, or dealing with confrontation from your child

All these scenarios and many more have an uncanny knack of throwing us out of our flow.

When we are out of the flow, we notice that we are physically and emotionally uncomfortable and that fires up all sorts of feelings and triggers all sorts of reactions.

How can you get back into the flow?

Most people when they notice they are out of the flow, seek to justify why they feel like they do. We’ve all been there at times – at least, I know I have. For instance, you might think, ‘If my colleague had done what they were supposed to, I wouldn’t be here now picking up the pieces.’

If you believe, as I do, that it is more important to get back in the flow and feeling good, than to pick over why you are out of it, then the following might help.

  1. Accept the situation – Things aren’t as you want them to be in this moment
  2. Embrace it – It’s OK! Life throws us many curve balls, here’s the latest one. Decide not to analyse it, or worry about it. Instead just notice how you feel without judgement of yourself or others
  3. Say to yourself “I choose to feel _____________”. Whatever it might be. With choice, comes a sense of control and empowerment. What might change, for instance, if you choose to feel confident, compassionate or capable in this moment?

Getting you back in the flow.

To find out more about the services we offer, click here, or call us on +44 (0)1932 888885.

Save Time and Money by Focusing on Trust rather than Blame

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magical  loving heart

This is a big issue at work.  When the project is delayed, when the cost is higher than expected, when the customer is unhappy, when the **** has really hit the fan, who is to blame?

Trust in some organisations is a paper thin veneer.  It doesn’t take much at all before people begin to point the finger by way of self-preservation.  When we are working day in day out in this type of culture it feels very unsafe to us.  And what happens when we feel unsafe?  Our need for security becomes our prime focus.  So much so that it can become difficult to maintain clarity and be open to ideas and useful suggestions.  We see everything as a potential threat.

In fact, this issue is not just prevalent in work organisations.  It runs right through society at all levels and manifests in many different ways.

Why does it matter?  It matters because it directly contributes to:

  • workplace stress
  • procrastination
  • limited achievement
  • reduced enjoyment
  • increased cost
  • decreased productivity
  • disaffected staff
  • disaffected customers

Trust within the organisation, or the lack of it, directly affects the bottom line.  So who’s responsible for creating Trust?  Is it the Board?  Or, can we all be empowered to cast our net of trust and create a better working environment?  How do we change the dynamics in the workplace and create the trust?

  1. Values – putting words into action
  2. Needs – understanding needs and how we apply them
  3. They’re wrong! – investigating blame and knowing our triggers
  4. Stress factor – physiology and how to stop resisting reality in order to change it!
  5. Group dynamics – how they work
  6. Empowerment – owning the trust
  7. Magnetism – how to change the environment around you

Over the next 7 weeks, we will explore each of these in more detail here, so lots of great content coming your way!  If you would like to know when there’s new insightful content for you to enjoy, please make sure you let us have your email address before clicking away.

To find out how The Performance Business can help  you and your business, please call us on 00 44 (1) 932 888 885.

Have a great week.

Lucy x

Lucy Windsor is a Partner in The Performance Business.  She is also a Dramatic Breakthrough Coach and heads up our Roleplay division.

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