Reflection is one of the most underestimated, yet powerful activities that we can gift ourselves. It’s a brilliant way to become aware of what drives you, what and who triggers you, and what your standard responses and ‘bad habits’ may be. It can help you on your way to self-awareness and eventually self-care.
Today I’m sharing my own approach to Reflection, AURA.
By learning to slow down, and reflecting with the AURA approach, you start to understand where your natural responses take you. Ask yourself ‘what happened in a situation and ‘what you could have done differently? Get in touch with your feelings. How did the situation make you feel? Does a specific person ‘bring out the worst in you?
You will need to apply what you have learned, so the next time you’re in a similar situation, you will have a different response to hand, to try out. Don’t however get frustrated. Change is not easy and your brain will want to take the road most traveled and you may fall into old habits.
Without change, you stay stuck in old patterns and you will get the same result. However, understanding where your ‘programmed responses’ stem from, can help you to take a more emotionally intelligent stance in your next encounter.
When I immigrated 9000 km to another part of the world, my father told me that nothing would really change in my life.
How could that be true? I would be living in a different country, I would need to learn a new language, traditions and culture so how could it be possible that nothing would change?
My father was not referring to the excitement and changes of living in another country. He was advising me that how I lived my life, the choices I made and the natural rhythm of my day-to-day comings and goings would not change.
My father was right. Nothing changed.
Every weekday I woke up, had breakfast, went to gym and to work, came home, had dinner and spent time with my husband, watched tv, read a book and went to bed.
Whether it’s weight gain, weight loss, showing up differently at work, going to bed earlier, becoming more confident, managing emotions, becoming less defensive, exercising……. What constitutes your rhythm and what stands in your way of changing?
Our brains are built for speed, so many of our decisions and choices are based on our past experiences and the (positive) outcomes that we have had. If there’s a quick decision to be made we often choose the path of least resistance to get things done, and quickly.
Change feels uncomfortable. It slows us down and takes us through stages of ‘unconscious incompetence’ or what I refer to as, ‘ignorance is bliss’. It is blissful not knowing that you need to change but, once you know what needs to change, there’s no ignoring it and no going back.
The next stage we reach is ‘conscious incompetence’ i.e. having to make a conscious effort to make any changes. This is where many people give up, as their natural rhythm of life and ‘bad’ habits get in their way of change. You may start asking yourself ‘Why do I need to change? It can’t be all bad as I’ve gotten to where I am today, doing what I’ve always done!’
When we reach the stage of ‘conscious competence’, we’re starting to make good headway. We are slowing down, reflecting and making new choices without feeling that we are compromising.
Through self-awareness, being aware of what needs to be unlearned and constantly and consistently choosing the new path, we finally reach the stage of ‘unconscious competence’. At this stage our brain is rewiring itself and creating new neural pathways so that our new choices can be supported and we can once again act as speedily as before.
To encourage change, you may need to consider your current rhythm and how you mentally reward yourself e.g. if you say yes to many activities at work, yet feel overwhelmed and overworked, you may ask yourself how you benefit from saying yes? Old habits’ may ‘die hard’ but when we start listening to what’s really good for us we can change to ensure that ‘old dogs learn new tricks’.
A lack of sleep can make anyone irritable, but add headaches, mood swings, self-doubt and hot flushes to the mix, and it can start to have an affect on your decision-making and your career.
I started the menopause in my early forties and before I was 50 and I had made some decisions I doubt I would have made had I not been peri-menopause.
Menopausal symptoms are seldom topics that women wish to discuss with their managers (male or female) for fear of being seen as old, difficult, or over the hill and possibly being disregarded for key roles. Ignoring symptoms however, don’t keep them at bay.
There’s a reason why we say ‘old habits die hard’; we don’t really want to change…..Well we do, but our brain doesn’t!
Change is uncomfortable and it slows down your brain’s response rate, and since your brain is built for speed, it will resist any form of change.
My analogy to describe change is that your natural responses (neurones) are like sports cars, travelling at 200 miles an hour on an empty 10-lane highway in your brain. Any change, is like seeing a deer, jump onto the highway in front of your beautiful car. You need to brake and avoid crashing into the deer, and take your sports car off the highway, onto rough terrain, which is bumpy and very uncomfortable.
Each time you recognise yourself falling into old habits or response patterns, you will see that deer on the highway and you will need to slow down and veer off-road. The bumpy, grassy, path eventually does become smoother, the more you drive on it, but it will never be as smooth as driving on the highway.
Without change, you stay stuck in old patterns and you will get the same result, but how willing are you to embrace change.
Learn to slow down and reflect, so that you can understand where your natural responses take you. Ask yourself ‘what happened’ in a situation and ‘what you could have done differently’? Get in touch with your feelings. How did the situation make you feel? Does a specific person ‘bring out the worst in you’?
You may find it really interesting to understand where your ‘programmed responses’ stem from and how you can take a more emotionally intelligent stance to your next encounter.
I moved to a new house but, I continued to walk home to my old one?
One may quickly question the sanity of this individual as it goes without saying that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’, Henry Ford.
But, ‘how do you facilitate change in your organisation?’
When processes, product lines, strategies, company beliefs and values are changed, are the impact that these changes have on the workforce even considered? Will employees be required to work differently and how will this be supported?
Change has become a constant and managing it has become an expanding discipline. Yet, research states that ‘70% of change projects fail due to resistance to change’, Beer & Nohria.
How leaders facilitate behavioural change determines how employees embrace change, as well as the outcome for their organisation.
It’s natural for individuals to resist change. Oftentimes they don’t believe in their own ability to change; with doubts arising like ‘am I able to do this new job?; ‘will I shine in this new world, as I did before?’; and it seems easier to retain the status quo, than to rally behind transformational change.
My latest research focuses on changing behaviour in 3 months, with a success rate of over 70%, which balances the odds of your change programme failing.
By training and coaching individuals through change, it feels far less uncomfortable.
Are you letting your employees take the long route home? Or, are you ensuring that new behaviours clear the path to success?
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.
What would motivate you to change? Money, what other people think, or is it something else?
As a coach and someone who is interested in changing behaviour, I’m curious to know what inspires individuals to make a decision to behave differently.
Daniel Kahneman, a nobel prize winner and recognised psychologist, notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, challenges the assumption of human rationality. In his book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, he suggests that individuals are driven more strongly to avoid losses than to achieve gains; individuals are not only loss averse but are also motivated by the negative instead of the positive e.g. if an individual were to be offered a good sum of money to finish a project, they may not finish it, yet they may finish the project if their job is threatened. I’m not suggesting that managers use the stick instead of the carrot, going forward, but this is definitely food for thought.
The book goes on to discuss how individuals are nudged by ‘what other people think or do’. Many of us have stayed in hotel rooms which use a sign in the bathroom, requesting guests to ‘Save the planet and use your towel again.’ Kahneman’s research however shows that using the sign, ‘Join the 75% of our guests, who re-used their towel’, had a greater impact in re-usage than the average. 10% more, in fact! Small changes can have enormous impact.
Companies can change all that they want (processes, management, new ways of working, reorganisations, etc.) but it’s the individuals working in those companies, that need to embrace and implement change. Without the support of individuals, change doesn’t happen. So how are people motivated to change?
How are you motivated as an individual?
Or, how does your company guarantee successful change?
I welcome you to share your comments.
Further recommended reading:
Nudge (improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness), Thaler & Sunstein
The power of Habit (Why we do what we do and how to change), Charles Duhigg
The Marshmallow Test (understanding self-control and how to master it), Walter Mischel