What can we learn from our ‘baggage’?

How often have you heard someone refer to their past experiences, as ‘baggage’, e.g. an ex-spouse, partner, redundancy, debt, etc?

We can’t change the past, but we can change the way we deal with similar situations in future.

Becoming self-aware helps us to understand and break through our beliefs about past experiences, helping us to learn and grow.

Asking ourselves questions like ‘What happened?’ and ‘How could I have done things differently?’ is a simple way to start an internal dialogue.

I like to think of my past in a positive light. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if it weren’t for all of my experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. I have chosen to forgive and forget those things that do me a disservice and I use all of the experiences that serve me well.

What can you learn from your past?

Why, what is how

Have you ever done something really awful and asked yourself ‘Why?’

Have you ever been asked ‘Why did you do that?’ and felt attacked by the question, making it difficult for you to answer?

I was part of the ‘why tribe’. Awake at 3am, asking myself, why I’d messed up in a meeting? Why I had, or hadn’t said something? Beating myself up and getting nowhere with answering the question, other than further down a rabbit hole…which at 3am, is a very dark space.

Asking yourself ‘why’, can force you on an emotional rollercoaster, as you can come up with a million subjective answers.

Asking someone else ‘why’, can feel like a personal attack or criticism; putting them on the defensive.

So how can we do things differently?

Slow your brain, take a mental step back and ask ‘What’ happened?

Keep to the facts! We learn best when we feel safe.

Think about who said, or did ‘what’. ‘What’ was said; who was there, etc?

Once you’ve gathered the facts, ask, ‘How’ you could have done things differently? Not better, because this too is subjective. Better in whose eyes.

Once we have answered ‘What and How’, we may even be capable of answering, ‘Why’.

New behaviours, which lead to a positive result, are learned quickly by the brain, so the next time you are in a similar situation, you will know what you should do differently to achieve a different result.

Helen Martin has an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural change and focuses on developing self-awareness and reflection with her clients.

The pros and cons of intergenerational teams

An article about the advantages of developing an intergenerational workplace, prompted me to share this personal story.

My aunt was a prominent figure in the Insurance sector and had a traditional, yet successful career. Nearing retirement, (at 59 years old) she was approached by a forward-thinking, new firm in the market, offering her ‘many times her annual salary’, (in permanent employment) to grow their business and to share her knowledge and coach the younger generation in their firm.

Ten years later, the same insurance company became an active shareholder in my aunt’s first commercial venture, whereby they still received ongoing advice from her (as a consultant) and she had the financial backing she needed to take a step, she had never thought possible.

According to Birkman’s paper, ‘How Generational Differences Impact Organizations & Teams’, Baby Boomers tend to be optimistic, ambitious, competitive, and focus on their personal accomplishments. However, nobody’s perfect and the paper deals with the many issues that organisations can experience with inter generational teams. ‘The good news is that common ground exists among members of different generations. Differences exist on all teams regardless of generation and can be successfully addressed through training, and coaching. Other differences, such as work and communication styles, are an outcome of changes in the workforce that can be addressed in a variety of ways.’

Whilst knowledge may be perceived to some as power, sharing that knowledge is worth its weight in gold. It’s how organisations use the knowledge of individuals in their ‘golden years’, re-training these individuals to advise, mentor, coach and train, that makes these organisations more successful than those that choose to make these ‘senior citizens’ redundant.

Companies who want advice may also wish to read:

Helen Martin is a leadership coach and can be contacted for more information.

How important is self-awareness?

Having researched ‘how to change behaviour in 3-months’ as the basis for an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural change, I was surprised to note that 70% of my coachees lacked self-awareness i.e. low to very low.

This was confirmed by an HBR article which states than between 85 and 90% of individuals they surveyed lacked self-awareness.

Self-awareness is at the foundation of emotional intelligence; without it, it becomes hard to develop meaningful (business) relationships and since building relationships are vital for business growth, it’s a skill that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that emotional intelligence can be learned. Psychometrics and Emotional Intelligence models are invaluable to help you understand what can help and hinder you in business, and coaching, can be valuable to unlearn bad habits.

Contact me if you would like to find out more.

Fight, Flight or Freeze?

I love change; whether it’s moving to another country, managing a challenging project, or learning a foreign language; but, when I was made redundant, I abandoned all sense of reason and froze.

Many experts have written about the amygdala and how it is responsible for emotions and survival instincts, and triggers our ‘fight, flight or freeze mechanism’. No matter how much individuals love change; myself included; they may react differently to change which is imposed upon them, than to change which they have planned.

To put this into context, we use the ventral striatum and the amygdala for judgment and decision making, calculating the reward or degree of threat of a situation. The prefrontal cortex, contains the historical context of a situation and regulates the response of the amygdala and ventral striatum, depending on the context of a situation.

Individuals often ‘freeze’ and find it difficult to make decisions, when they are faced with a situation for which they have no point of reference, so they may have no idea of how to react.

Having come through imposed change unscathed, and having coached many others through the same situation, I understand why my clients often fear change. They fear a distant memory of what has yet to come. So, whether an individual chooses ‘fight, flight, or freeze’, the emotions experienced during change can be traumatic and cannot be ignored.

Fortunately, our brains plasticity means that we have the ability to rewrite how we choose to remember past memories, which helps us to unlearn bad habits, discard our limiting beliefs and, focus on realising positive future outcomes.

To find out more about my practice, please visit: www.helenmartincoaching.com, send me a note, or click the Home tab.

Visualise to succeed

As a coach, I often ask my clients to visualise what they want to achieve in their minds-eye, and to think about how they will feel when they have achieved it.

I then ask them to think about the incremental steps that they will need to take each day to reach that goal. By breaking a goal up into bite-sized chunks, it becomes easier to attain.

This practice can be compared to a business that creates a strategy and breaks that strategy into the tactical steps it needs to take, in order to reach its goal.

How do you (and your team) practice visualisation and achieving your goals?

During a 90-minute one-on-one coaching session, or a half day workshop with you and your team, I can help you regain focus to achieve your goals.

Contact me!

5 ways to improve your life in 2018

Here are a few of my own simple tips to improve your outlook on life. How will you be living your life in 2018?

1. Worry less and reflect more.

Look at any problem as an objective bystander, and ask yourself:

What went well or not so well?

How it made you feel?

What you could have done differently?

What you learned from the experience?

Then move on in your mind and do not brood on the issue.

2. Love yourself as you are.

Add a ‘Hello gorgeous’ to yourself every morning, when you look in the mirror.

3. Accept people as they are.

You cannot change other people, but each little change that you make, may extract a different reaction from other people.

4. Be grateful.

You may already have a lot more than most. Be thankful.

5. Visualise….visualise….visualise.

The skies the limit. You can achieve anything you truly desire; work diligently towards any goal and visualise what the end goal looks and feels like will help you get there!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Helen

If anything in this article has piqued your interest, please contact me.

Helen Martin is a qualified coach and trainer and lives in London. She is a member of the Association for Coaching and coaches individuals through change. She can be contacted here.