A-Head for Success

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Your Stress at Work

stress at work

The Your Stress at Work Survey has been completed and it has some interesting insights I wanted to share with you.

It seems that stress has reached epidemic proportions, and the impact on individuals at work has been significant.  The main themes are given below.  So, grab a coffee (or chamomile tea) and read on.

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What is Integrative Coaching?

Integrative CoachingCoaching is a wonderful tool for those who care about getting results with more ease:  it helps you achieve your goals by creating practical action plans, using tools and techniques to help achieve them and helping you to build skills to facilitate the change you seek.

Integrative Coaching does the same but it goes deeper, if required.  Because sometimes there is a reason that goal achievement is elusive, or perhaps challenging.  Integrative Coaching looks at what is blocking you.  Unless the blocks are removed, problems will recur, especially in times of challenge.  Integrative Coaching, a more sustainable approach, will look at the psychological blocks, the biological ones (tired all the time is a common factor), the emotional ones (stress and anxiety for example) plus more.

Author Philippe Rosinski says it is “… a holistic approach that calls upon multiple interconnected perspectives to facilitate the unleashing of human potential towards meaningful pursuits … from the physical to the spiritual.”  In the A-HEAD for Success terms, spiritual is all about purpose and meaning.  When you are aware of and completely aligned to that, everything else becomes easier and clearer.

Three Levels of Integrative Coaching

Integrative Coaching is at the forefront of The A-HEAD for Success 5D Coaching Model ™ which helps provide three levels of integrative coaching through the 5 Dimensions (Clarity, Skillset, Mindset, Stress-Resilience, Health and Energy).  Of course we only work at the level of need but the process helps identify the need which is different for everyone.

  1. Integrating a variety of approaches tailored to suit your specific needs
  2. Integrating mind and body. A good example is that a client may present with any number of physical symptoms.  For example: exhaustion  (my latest book explains how complicated this condition is and why the integrative approach is so important), insomnia, headaches or Irritable Bowel Syndrome to name a few.  Though there may be physical causes to these, there may also be emotional and lifestyle factors involved.  Stress is very often a factor in IBS so we deal with it from a multifaceted perspective.
  3. Integrating parts of the self. This deals with self-sabotage which may be impacting performance, health, relationships and more.  So we address this internal conflict:  if you feel that you have your foot on the breaks and the accelerator at the same time, self-sabotage may very well be at play, but it is often subconscious so you need to work with an expert to deal with it.

Conventional coaching tends to be somewhat formulaic and will not always address the finer details which can so impact on us.  Integrative Coaching helps address the complexity of what it means to be a functioning person in a dynamic world.

Want to know how it might help you?  Call me, Tricia Woolfrey, on 0345 130 0854 to find out more.  Calls are no-obligation and completely confidential.

© Tricia Woolfrey

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Sources of Negative Stress: Poor Working Relationships

Help for poor working relationshipsThey say that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.  What about work colleagues?  When it comes to poor working relationships, for the most part we are either stuck with them or we find another job.

The longer we put up with it the worse it can be and the higher our stress levels.  So, what to do about it?  The causes can vary widely from problems at home, to differences in communication style and many more.  This is such a broad subject – worthy of a book of its own – but a simple strategy can help:

1. Understand driving values

A good starting point is to look at the motivations/values of the person you are having difficulty with.  When you understand where they are coming from it makes it easier to communicate with them.  I was working with one client whose values included getting things right, whereas his colleague’s was all about being on time.  They often had rows about the quality of things before release.  It wasn’t even that one didn’t respect timing or the other quality, it was the driving value which got in the way.  More about this later.

2. Find common ground

Though there may be much you disagree on, there will also be common ground.  Build on this and everything becomes that bit easier.  In the case above, the common ground was that they wanted to be perceived as doing the right thing for their boss, they just disagreed on what the right thing was:  to be on time or be perfect.

3. Take the pressure off

Remember that you aren’t there to like each other but to produce a result.  Of course it’s always easier if you can get along but the acknowledgement that you don’t have to like the other person can take the pressure off.  Conflict can turn into respect which can turn into collaboration.

4. Choose your style

The following image helps you to decide whether it is important for you to compete, collaborate, avoid, accommodate or compromise.   This is essential when considering your working relationships Each requiring differing levels of assertiveness and co-operativeness.  Each have a role to play but you need to think very carefully before competing, avoiding or accommodating as these can have negative consequences even though they may at times seem like the easiest option.

 

For example, accommodating someone who doesn’t listen to your needs simply teaches them to ignore your needs in the future causing deepening resentment.  On the other hand, it can be helpful to build goodwill.  It is all a balancing what you are giving up versus what you are gaining and simply choosing your default mode can build problems instead of neutralise them.  It helps to be more strategic than reactive.

Apologies but I am not sure of the source of this graphic so thank you, whoever you are!

For the most part, collaborating and compromise are the best way.  It certainly was in the case I described above but they were treating the situation as a competition.  As it happened, quality was much less important than timeliness in this case.  But sometimes it is the other way round.  And at other times it may be a little bit late and a little less perfect.  It is about understanding the bigger picture.  But often we get engrossed in our own perspective and lose sight of what’s really important.

Need more help to improve poor working relationships?

Working relationships are so important to achieving more success with less stress and I do hope that the above go some way towards improving yours.  If you do need additional support on this complex issue, why not call to find out how.  I can be reached on 0345 130 0854.

I also run courses on Influencing Skills where we cover this.  Let me know if you are interested.

 

(c) Tricia Woolfrey

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Source of Negative Stress: Regrets

Stress and regretIt’s hard not to get through life without a sense of regret:  something you did which you shouldn’t have done; something you didn’t do which you should have.  We’ve all had those moments.  And of course sometimes there are consequences which could not be foreseen and for which we chastise ourselves nevertheless.

The repercussions can be subtle or profound.  But, internally, guilt or shame can be uncomfortable consequences.  And it can really impact your stress levels.

What do you regret?

  • Not putting enough effort in
  • Not thinking through possible consequences of a decision
  • Not planning contingencies in case things don’t go well
  • Not being honest enough
  • Not being diplomatic enough
  • Not being good enough
  • Something else?

The list goes on.  But, what’s important to know is that the past is irretrievable.  The present is all there is because the future hasn’t happened yet.

So, what to do?  First of all, understand the difference between guilt and shame.

The difference between guilt and shame

Guilt is the concept that you did something bad; shame is the concept that you are bad.  One is about behaviour, the other is about identity.  Too often we let shame be our judge and shame is a destructive emotion which belittles, dishonours and disconnects.   It certainly skews perspective and can paralyse.

Remedial action

Where possible to take remedial action:

  1. Correct the mistake.
  2. Make a sincere apology. Never underestimate the effect of this.  An apology takes humility and courage.  Done well, it can build bridges and restore – and even create – trust.  Certainly for me, if I have experienced very bad customer service, my faith is not only restored if I have received a heartfelt apology but actually I can become fiercely loyal to someone who has had the integrity to apologise:  it is such a rare trait.
  3. Learn from your mistake. I like to think of not letting anything be wasted:  the problem is wasted if you do not learn and grow from it.  What is the lesson in this?  How can you avoid this happening again, without shrinking into obscurity?  Remember that the only way you don’t make mistakes is if you don’t achieve anything.  And that’s a whole different level of mistake:  opportunities lost, potential unfulfilled and even more stress.

Yes, regret can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to define you.

If you are stuck in regret and need additional help, do call me on 0345 130 0854.  You don’t have to do this alone.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey

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Source of Negative Stress: Deadlines

Stress and deadlines
As we near the end of my series of articles on sources of negative stress, we will explore the common stressor:  deadlines.  Deadlines can certainly add to your sense of stress, especially if there is a lot at stake:  perhaps your reputation, or a valued customer, or an important sale which is the difference between making target or not.

Yet, without deadlines, tasks can stretch to fill the time available.  And, of course, if there is no deadline, the time available is all the time in the world.  That is until the consequences are felt too strongly and too late to do anything about it.

There are five main questions to consider about deadlines:

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Source of Stress: Failure

Source of Stress: FailureI doubt there is a person alive who enjoys the prospect or experience of failure.  But for those who value success, failure is a necessary part of that journey.

A popular NLP concept is that ‘there is no failure, only feedback’.  And Thomas Edison really understood this principle when he viewed his many attempts to create a commercially viable lightbulb not as failure but that he had found 10,000 ways in which it did not work.

What this shows is that success is a process.  That you have to learn to get up when you fall down; learn from your mistakes; and have a relentless vision to keep you going.

Famous Failures

Any person who has failed in any endeavour will be in good company – other ‘failures’ include:

Steve Jobs who was fired from his own company;

Walt Disney who was fired for lack of imagination;

Oprah Winfrey who was demoted as a new anchor for being unfit for TV;

The Beatles who were rejected by Decca  who didn’t like their sound and thought they had no future in show business;

Einstein who couldn’t speak until he was 4 and whose teachers said he wouldn’t amount to much;

Bill Gates, a dropout from Harvard, founded Traf-o-Data.  The product had too many bugs and the company closed.  He is now the richest man in the world;

Marilyn Monroe who was told by Colombia Pictures that she wasn’t pretty or talented enough to be an actress.

So, you see, failure is not an affliction.  It doesn’t have to define you.  It is your attitude to it that defines you.  With all the people mentioned, they used it to spur them on.  They learned from their mistakes so that they could improve, and improve some more.  And improve again.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers describes the ‘10,000 hour rule’, emphasising that success is rarely by accident but rather by practice.  Somehow, in this world of ‘instant fixes’ we have lost sight of the fact that anything worth having takes effort.  And persistence.  And the ability to not take things personally but rather to use every challenge on the ladder towards success, knowing that you will slide down the odd snake as you work your way up, only so that you develop resilience, resourcefulness and insights that will serve you well.

The Three Worst Things You Can Do

If you make a mistake, the three worst things you can do are:

  1. Pretend it didn’t happen. Denial is no friend.
  2. Take it personally. Blaming and shaming get in the way of learning and growing.  Think of the difference between “I am a failure” and “It was a failure”.  One is a about identity and the other is about process and results.
  3. Give up.  When you give up, you miss opportunities.  Sometimes success us just around the corner.  You also deny yourself the sense of achievement you can only get when you have worked hard to achieve something, navigated difficult waters, climbed a mountain or five, and made it.  You don’t get that sense of achievement when everything is easy.

Show me a person who has not failed at some point in their lives and I will show you someone who has not reached their potential or who has lived within the safe but entirely unexciting and unrewarding confines of their comfort zone.

If you would like more help in overcoming a fear of failure, or learning how to grow from failure, why not book a session?  You’ll be glad you did.

 

(C) Tricia Woolfrey 2019

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Sources of Negative Stress: New Year Expectations

Stress of New Year Expectations

New Year: Make it Happen

The New Year is always full of expectations.  One week into the New Year and I am noticing three things:

  • One person is completely fired up and wants to leverage this focus and energy to get her year off to a great start – she’s sick of the excuses she had throughout the last year
  • Several who started with very good intentions which have already fallen by the wayside in the face of competing demands
  • Several more who have started the year overwhelmed and not sure where to start

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Sources of Negative Stress: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is StressfulYou may say that it’s good to have standards.  And I would agree:  taking pride in your work is a reflection of you and your business.  With competition fierce, you want to make sure that you are showing the level of quality you bring whether as an individual or a business.

However, if perfectionism becomes your tyrant, it can be your biggest source of stress and so can undo much of the good work you are trying to achieve, because when we get too stressed, performance suffers.

It’s important to remember that perfectionism is not a human condition.  It is, though, a direction to aim for.  And if perfectionism has become your tormentor, it may actually impede results. I have clients whose perfectionism stops them from finishing anything for fear of a mistake being discovered; or even starting something in case they can’t live up to their own ideals.  Or it may be that they are working in a blame culture which can have a toxic impact throughout the organisation.

Perfectionism and Procrastination

Perfectionism can be a key factor in procrastination and most people can’t afford the delays which come with it.  Is it better that a deadline is met, an outcome achieved, or that results wait as perfection is honed?

Perfectionism and Fear of Failure

If the issue is fear of failure, understand that avoidance feeds into the fear so you feel more stuck and helpless each time you give in to it.  The longer it goes on, the more entrenched the behaviour is.  I don’t think I have ever seen a constructive partnership between fear of failure and perfectionism in all the years I’ve been coaching – it’s a bit like having your foot on the brakes and the accelerator at the time – so it’s a important issue to address before the consequences catch up with you.

Mistakes and Attitude

It isn’t the making of mistakes which is important but what you do about it afterwards.  From my own experience, my biggest loyalty and respect goes to those people/businesses who made a mistake but did a really good job of remedying it – especially their attitude about it.  If they take the ‘It wasn’t my fault’ approach, that does nothing to build loyalty or confidence in them.  In addition, blame culture cripples creativity and growth.

Improve and Evolve

Mistakes are our best teacher – it’s the best way to improve your skills and your processes, if you use it as an opportunity.

What is Good Enough?

For most situations the 80/20 rule works well:  80% good enough is good enough.  Usually the 20% doesn’t have a significant bearing on the results of an endeavour.  So, when perfectionism is causing you to take too long, miss deadlines or even opportunities, consider the cost of that 20% versus the result it would have given you. Better that something is done 80% well than not done at all in the majority of situations.

A Final Word on Perfectionism

Look on perfection as a direction rather than a despot.  Learn how to manage expectations and disappointments and use mistakes to help you develop.  Then, step by step, you will evolve your skills, increase your confidence, and lower your stress.

To your success.

 

 

 

© Tricia Woolfrey

 

PS  If you still feel perfectionism is driving you and you want to know how to manage yourself and others around this subject, do call for support.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Sources of Stress: Fears about the future

Stress: Fear about the future

 

Stress.  In our VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), it is no wonder that fears about the future are high at the moment.  And, let’s face it, what’s more stressful than fear?

There is so much to think about, so much which is uncertain and unclear, and the risks are bigger than ever, so your stress levels can be sky-high.

But as the saying goes, it is what it is.  The ability to accept reality, without losing sight of vision, hope and motivation are key components.  And that’s easy for me to say, I know.  So, how do you do that?

Here is my 9-Point Plan to help you:

 

 

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How is Your Mental Health?

World Mental Health Day and Stress

It’s World Mental Health Day until the 10th  and I thought I would give you a heads up as a part of my Causes of Stress series.  Since my work revolves around performance, productivity, stress resilience and health and energy, mental health is at the centre of it all so it is a good time to reflect on it and to share with you something to help make sure that yours is optimal.

You see, we all have mental health.  The question is not whether you have it but in what condition it’s in.  Would you describe yours as Optimal?  Functional?  Variable?  Or On the Floor?  There are three main components to mental ill-health:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Of course, it isn’t as simple as that but it’s a really good start.  There will be times when you feel you can do anything, but there will be times when you do feel stressed, depressed or anxious and each day feels like you’re wading through treacle, with weights on your ankles and a monkey on your back.

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