I’ve been thinking lately about the core traits for high performance; the core traits for enabling efficiency, productivity, and delivering the value that we all have the potential to deliver. One of the key attributes, that may seem obvious, but is often overlooked, is the power of our focus. Focus doesn’t just mean eliminating distractions and being focused on the task right in front of you. It also reminds us to ask, ‘What is taking up your mental space? What is taking up your mental capacity and absorbing your mental energy without adding any extra value?’ Improving your focus isn’t just an act of vigilance or showing more willpower, determination or discipline. These are all good things, but they often only lead to short-term results. They are a short-term strategy. In today’s video I review the long-term strategies we can use to maximize our focus, and maximize our results.
With a hint of regret and a look of disappointment, a client recently revealed that she just doesn’t feel like doing much in the evenings after a day of work. She was too tired to think, too overwhelmed to see clearly and “…just needed some ‘me’ time to unwind”. Of course, she’s not alone. It’s a common malaise of today’s “always on” way for many people – demands continue to rise yet our capacity to meet those demands doesn’t naturally rise along with them. This often leaves us in a deficit of time, energy and enthusiasm for what matters to us outside of work (and many important things in work too). We would never say it’s what we think, but our behaviour often shows that part of us believes that because technology runs at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time, then we should to. Illogical, but the truth for many of us nonetheless. Is there an alternative? Is it possible to break this cycle? Of course there is. Sometimes we just need to slow down long enough to notice, to think and to reset our perspective on where we want our energy to be directed. The first thing to understand is that unlike machines and technology that run on one or two sources of energy (e.g. electricity, petrol), we humans run on – and need – four sources of energy. Physical energy is the foundation. It’s the quantity of energy we have on a daily basis directly influenced by sleep, what we eat and drink, and how we exercise (or not). Without physical energy we are fairly useless to ourselves and others. Emotional energy is the quality of our energy. We are fuelled [...]
How do you approach conflict? How do you handle difficult conversations? It may be at work, where teams aren’t getting along, or you’re not getting along with your manager. It may be a family situation, be it with extended family members or in your relationship. When conflict arises, one of two things happen: we either grow together or we grow apart, even if in small amounts. As one person once told me in a creative workshop, it’s never about the idea itself, it’s about how you treat the idea. Similarly, it’s never about the conflict, it’s about how you treat the conflict. I’ve worked with many companies over the years, and as they evolve to reach the next level, they often treat this change management through creating and implementing strategies and tactics. What I’ve witnessed is that the eventual success or failure of these companies through change management is less about strategy and more about how they approach change. This is what makes winning companies win. It’s the mindset and heartset of the leaders as they move through that change. How do you respond when conflicts arise? Do you retreat? Or do you attack? Do you think reflectively? Do you react thoughtfully? Or do you get scattered? The thing to think about is that if you want to improve your relationships, whether at work or at home, it’s fundamentally about looking in the mirror. In today’s video I talk about how we approach conflict, and how conflict can actually bring us closer together by reflecting on how we can handle it better.
Just like the financial loss of a unattended credit card debt or an unused monthly membership, whether you realise it or not, you are paying a significant price for some of your thoughts and words. It’s a concept you’ve probably never considered, but the payoff is huge. Which thoughts and words? The most expensive words you’ll ever utter are the excuses you use to rationalise not doing the things you know need to be done. But guess what? You probably have just a few (instead of dozens) different and recurring excuses you repeatedly use to get out of doing what needs to be done. If you make a shift and eliminate those, you’ll experience a tremendous boost in progress and happiness. The bad news? You might not be aware of these thoughts and words in the moment because they seem so natural, so appropriate and so accurate and rational for what you feel. Yet, when you stop and reflect on them you’ll see them for what they are – just excuses that give you permission to stay in your comfort zone. What’s more, you’ve probably been nurturing these excuses for so many years that they’ve become ingrained in your psyche and happen in a flash — stopping you in your tracks, and shutting down your growth without you even noticing what’s happened. Understand this: These thoughts and words are preventing you from getting what you want. Said another way: these are the excuses that are keeping you from your dreams; that create chronic internal conflicts (which pull your heart, head and gut in three different directions); that shatter your confidence and self-esteem; that train you to play smaller than you are capable of; that zap your energy [...]
This week I was inspired by a document I read: Train your Brain – Thrive from Nine to Five. It asks, what’s is in better shape, your body or your mind? A scary question? Or perhaps an interesting one. In today’s culture we are often inundated with messages about body image, leading us to often think about the fitness of our body. But how often do we think about the fitness of our brain? Our body is something we can measure and we can feel; the brain is a little more challenging that way. It prompted me to think, what am I doing to improve the health of my brain, and in what ways? Biochemical health: am I feeding it the right nutrients it needs to function well? Emotional health: are my thoughts and thought patterns supporting the health of my brain? Thinking ability: am I using my brain in the most effective way in terms of focus, engagement, thinking clearly and critically. So, how can you optimize your brain this week? And what’s distracting you from optimizing your brain’s health? In this week’s video I go through three ways that allow you to optimize your brain power.
How often do you start your day by getting all the little things ‘out of the way’ first – clearing email, cleaning your desk, catching up on niggly out-of-date to do’s that are stressing you out since they still haven’t been done? All done in an attempt to get the smaller, mundane (or urgent) things off your plate so you can settle down into your day and finally get to the important stuff. It’s a strategy most of us use on a regular basis – but for most of us, it’s flawed. And usually painfully so. While this approach often feels like the best thing to do, how often do you actually get to the most important items? Chances are, it’s rare and often at a cost. The time cost of sacrificing our evenings with family or friends because you need to work a bit later as more little things came up during the day and you didn’t finish what you wanted to. The attention cost of being distracted with other people’s demands or urgent problems which never allow you to be fully engaged and focused when you finally get the space to do the really valuable things. The energy cost of being tired, drained or completely exhausted by the time you get to what matters most, causing you to put it off to another day. And all these costs add up to a dramatic reduction in your productivity and performance. So what is the alternative? It’s a standard approach of the top performers, a key strategy of the world’s most productive leaders…and a simple enough idea that everyone can do. For a rapid boost in your personal performance do the “first things first”. Popularised [...]
This is a wonderful yet crazy world we live in. We live in a time of incredible opportunities, limitless access to ideas, and convenience all around us. It’s also a time with a lack of security, constant and rapid change, and seemingly unavoidable distractions pulling us in multiple directions at all times. So within this paradoxical storm it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing or feeling a wall of barriers in front of you, blocking your path to your ultimate success and fulfilment. However, the reality is there is one factor that rises above all others that prevents you from getting all you desire. This one factor is the single biggest factor that prevents your progress. This one factor erodes your confidence and creates paralysing procrastination and frustration, making your dreams seem painfully further away than before. This factor alone increasingly causes more and more people to ‘play small’ in their life and end up looking back with regret and disappointment – in themselves. The single biggest factor stopping you is you’re not doing what you really want to do I don’t just mean the big picture of you not doing the job or work that you’re really passionate about. For many people that is a big part of it but mostly – and most painfully – this shows up on a daily basis in the little things: not following through on your promise to yourself to get to the gym in the morning, not spending needless hours on your computer or email rather than enjoying time with family, not facing the uncomfortable feelings and having the necessary conversation with your boss. When you consistently fail to act on your thoughts of what you [...]
The path to success often means MORE. More health, more money, more time with family, more promotions, more holidays, more ‘more’. Our society seems to relentlessly push us to want more and need more. “Do more with less” is a common mantra in today’s businesses, cutbacks in staff means to continue on the path of ‘getting ahead’ you simply need to put your head down, nose to the grindstone and work harder. All in the name of more. However, there is another side. If you surveyed a group of people, and asked them for one word that describes success, they will come up with terms such as (examples in brackets): Progress (taking steps towards, see/feel improvement) Achieve (promotion, salary rise, award) Gain (knowledge, skills, health) Grow (confidence, talents, relationships) Acquire (insights, partnerships, tools) Any of those terms could apply to your health, finances, spirituality, business or career, and relationships. “If it’s not growing, it’s dying” as the saying goes. All of those points are true, accurate, and an important part of any success equation. But there is an equally important, equally powerful yet commonly overlooked part of the success equation. Often, on our road to our own success, we reach a point where not only do we need to continue to acquire, but we also need to let go. The flip side of the terms listed above are all incredibly important for you to continue on your journey to fulfilment and satisfaction: Release Relinquish Let go Leave Die You got to where you are by all your actions, attitudes, beliefs and values you’ve adopted over the years. However, to get to where you want to go and be in your life, sometimes (…more than you realise) you need to let [...]
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to stop. Stop chasing deadlines, stop pushing harder, faster and just…just slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-w down…to a full stop. Spend a bit of quality time with yourself to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Are you able to spend time on the things that really matter, that you really want to do (or at least a good portion of your time on these things)? Research shows that people that are stressed and overwhelmed spend less than 25% of their time on things that are fulfilling to them. This can be at work and at home and at play. Are you being distracted from the important? Under demand from other people’s requests? Under delusion that the majority of your time on certain tasks is the best or fastest way to achieve your desired outcome? Of course, we all spend time in these phases, and indeed we need to spend time on the not-so-urgent-or-important duties during our days and weeks. But every once in a while we need to take a step back. When is the last time you stopped? Took stock of where your time and attention is going, and should go? What is working for you (i.e. when are you at your best, where are you most productive and/or fulfilled, how are you managing your time and attention, where are you not coping as well as you’d like to)? By the way, this doesn’t need to be a deep, soul-searching exercise. It can be a simple health check or audit of what’s happening right now in your life and what you could do to improve and increase your happiness or zest for life, work, family, friends, community, [...]
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege and honour to deliver training workshops and coach individuals from over 18 countries. Some in person when I travelled to Australia, Russia and Germany; some over Skype to America and Spain. While everyone has their own challenges and ambitions, what continues to strike me is the absolutely critical importance of CLARITY. Clarity is at the heart of progress and achievement. When you have clarity, you (for the most part) can confidently march forward towards the result you’re after. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or effortless but it does mean that there is a certain force of energy, focus, conviction or commitment directing your every step. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it can be painfully obvious when you lack clarity or feel like you have no clue on what you should do. You stop, get stuck and barely make any progress. But the tougher, more challenging and more dangerous place is somewhere in the middle. You THINK you are clear, you ARE putting in the effort but the results are underwhelming-to-non-existent. It’s kind of like counterfeit money – it looks real, it feels real but using it too much can get you in serious trouble. “Counterfeit” clarity applies equally to the small things – for example, prioritising your daily to-do list – as well as the big things such as the direction of your life, relationships and career. You may start out ok but before long your momentum slows and more and more problems, hurdles, delays or distractions get in the way. Can you relate to any of these? Poor time management, easily distracted, continually chasing new ideas and ‘dabbling’ in a lot of different [...]