Change is Great! On my terms only…

Adapting to ChangeOne of the first things that springs to mind when I think of Change Management is my cat. Cats do NOT like change. At all. Move the sofa slightly and watch him sniff disapprovingly, shoot me a filthy look then take a long time to get comfortable. Don’t even think about sitting in his spot – his stare will burn right through you. I love bringing both cats back from their ‘holiday resort’ after we’ve been on holidays and watching both of them explore the house, looking for something that has moved, changed or is brand new. Even the most delightful looking toy or a box is at first greeted with a wary look. Once deemed acceptable, the new item will be embraced into the family, and heaven help you if you try and take it away.

I truly believe that everyone loves change. Providing it’s done on their terms. Their way. In a way that is acceptable to THEM. So how do we manage ourselves during times of immense change when everyone is different?

What could go wrong?

In the business world, teams get together regularly to anticipate what could go wrong in a planned venture or project. And on a personal level, we pride ourselves on thinking of everything that could go wrong with any given activity from a house move to a new relationship. Brene Brown goes so far as to say we tend to “catastrophize” and imagine things that are as catastrophic in nature as they are likely. We can’t help ourselves. Especially when the change is being done “to” us, instead of “by” us. A lot of it is related to fear, and it holds us back. So, while you might be thinking you’re being the clever “devil’s advocate”, you may be getting in the way of your or someone else’s success.

I have seen clever, educated people fly off the handle at the prospect of change. They will jump to pick holes in the idea and attempt to bring it down before it’s even alive. They are not being mean. They are being human. We simply can’t help ourselves. We like to be clever.

What to do First

This is a difficult step that can be a challenge for some, but let’s learn from my cat. Case Study: Initially, when a cushion is found at a different angle, there will be hesitation followed by a disdainful look, but he will explore the possibility of leaning on the cushion at a different angle. Tentatively at first. There may even be another disdainful look. Before you know it, he is happily dozing. No cushion around? A keyboard will do (see image).

We can do this too. When change is imminent, explore the possibility first. There will be time later to criticize, but right now, in this moment, ask  youself:

  • “What possibilities does this create?”
  • “What’s good about this?”
  • “What positive things could come of this? For me? For others?”

The cool thing about asking these questions is you have opened up your unconscious mind to the world of possibility. Not only are you more likely to understand the change (and even accept it), but if it’s not shaping up as acceptable, your mind is open and ready to come up with great reasons why the idea might not work. You will be able to resourcefully provide great feedback that could impact the outcome. Win/Win, right?

How do you respond to impending change? What is your first response to something new? How could you change this to get more out of new opportunities?

Friday Optimism

Happy Friday physiologyDon’t you just love it when you see all over social media “Happy Friday!” “Yay, it’s the weekend!” etc? The statements are normally adorned with dogs doing high-fives or a cat wearing a shark outfit. Speaking of which, if you want to brighten your day, you simply must watch this YouTube clip.

On the flip-side, you don’t have to look far to find “Oh, no it’s Monday”, “Where did the weekend go?” etc. It can be a downer, right? One of my friends attributes his success to (in his words) “treating every day as if it were a Friday”.  This is sometimes met with “whaaaat?” or outright curiosity. How does he do it? He’s always (well, mostly) smiling and has a great outlook on life. He doesn’t go so far as to wear jeans to work, but he doesn’t need to. He chooses to approach each day in a way that brings him happiness.

How to treat every day like a Friday

This is available to everyone, not just “naturally optmistic” people. In fact, I would argue that term does not exist. Anyone can be optimistic if they choose. But sometimes we need some help. And help is on the way… What you need to do is this.

Next time it’s Friday, do something that energizes you and makes you feel amazing. It might be simply putting on your jeans and treating yourself to an egg and bacon muffin. It could be going for a walk in the sunshine. It could be posting a photo of a dog high-fiving on social media and sharing your Friday joy with as many people as possible. Or all of the above. As much as possible. This Friday has got to feel GOOD. Now, as you’re doing this, press your middle finger against your thumb. Make sure there is pressure there. Maintain the pressure as you are feeling all these good feelings. Keep feeling all these feelings, taking in everything you see and hear around you. As the good feeling subsides, take the pressure off. Throughout the day, as you feel great, return the pressure, so by the end of the day that feeling of your thumb pressing down onto your middle finger is fully associated with a great day.

To test, simply wait until Monday and  you are feeling a bit blah. Press your thumb and middle finger together and… Voila! Your Friday Feeling will return. Repeat as much as you need.

Get that Friday Feeling Anytime, Anywhere

By associating a physical movement to a great feeling, it means you can feel that feeling ANYTIME you want. Have you just given a great presentation? Do something with your body as you feel great about what you achieved. Next time you have a presentation to do, do that same movement. The feeling will return. We deserve to feel great all the time. And sometimes our thinking gets the better of us and we get in a slump. It can be hard to change our thinking when our mind is racing a million miles an hour, so don’t try. Instead, change something about the way you are sitting or standing, and enjoy the good feelings that come. Tony Robbins swears that a “physiology creates psychology” and Amy Cuddy gave an amazing TED Talk that backs this up with science.

What are you waiting for? Time to feel great now and always.

So, how did you go? Did you create an amazing Friday feeling? Feel free to share using your favourite button!

Don’t Stop Asking Why

Keep asking WhyDo you remember when you were a child, and your parents would ask you to do something and you would ask “Why?” Your parent would answer, and you would ask “Why?” again. Very patient parents would answer as many “why”s as they could before their energetic and persistent child eventually wore them down and the final answer was “Just because!” or “Because I said so!”

Fast forward a few years to life as an adult. You are sitting in the boardroom and someone mentions a term you are not familiar with, or announces a new strategy that does not make sense to you. How often to you speak up and ask “what does that mean?” or “why this strategy?” Of course, there are some people who do, and they are sometimes seen as troublemakers or time wasters. Over the years, we learn that asking “why” disrupts the delicate balance. If you don’t know something, find it out in your own time, don’t waste other peoples’ time.

Why do we stop asking Why?

I believe we lose our child-like wonder of the world and come to believe that what we don’t know we should know, and assume the reason “why” has already been agreed AND there is a great reason for it. Our parents (bless them) are probably partly to blame – in their efforts to find a little peace, the discourage our curiosity. They (and others) teach us that the world has boundaries, so stay within them. We then grow up to build those boundaries even higher, and before we know it, our wonder and amazement of what else is possible is gone.

Of course, some boundaries are there to keep us safe. Why do we not touch the hot plate? Because it is hot and it will burn and hurt us! There are many factors that contribute to doing things like putting on sunscreen, wearing gloves, taking your umbrella out with you. Somewhere along the line, we confuse those genuine needs for safety with the not so genuine needs. Some great questions to ask now could be:

  • Why do I have to go to university?
  • Why do I have to get a full time job?
  • Why do I have to learn this way?

The world is changing. Previous paradigms that were held true are no longer true. Our need to ask “Why” has always been there, and is now greater than ever.

How to start asking Why again

We are conditioned not to ask, so learning how to ask Why again means changing our conditioning. Changing our behaviour. I mentioned before that the people who speak up can be seen as wasting time or disruptive. It’s time to be disruptive but in an a way that serves everyone. And doesn’t waste time. Firstly, recognise a genuine need to ask Why – what is it you don’t know? Why do you need to ask why? (see what I did there?) Next, think how could I ask this in a way that serves the room. “Why?” can be confronting, and often leads to people being defensive or shutting down. Other ways to ask could include:

  • For what purpose?
  • What will that give us?
  • What does that mean for us?
  • What is this an example of?

Any question that can help align to a common purpose. Finally, when the question is answered, acknowledge it. The person answering it has no doubt stepped out of their comfort zone and thought about something in a way they have not thought before. Make sure they know you appreciate it.

How often do you question the purpose of something you don’t understand? How might asking Why more help you get better results? Feel free to share using your favourite button!

 

Be the Change

Nelson Mandela ChangeIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while,  you will know I love all things change. I’ve worked as a change and project manager and have always been drawn to the people side of change and human behaviour. I have always considered myself open to change and willing to try new ideas. I absolutely believe Nelson Mandela (may he rest in peace) when he says “we can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”. And, of course, Gandhi when he says “be the change you want to see in the world”. And I’m sure many of you do too. And it can be easy and effortless. Sometimes, it just means being the “bigger person”, letting a comment “go through to the keeper” or maintaining “leadership of self”.

I have been been dealing with some difficult people lately. One particular person has been untruthful and mean, and it’s affecting people I care about. It’s caused me to (well, get angry first… then…) reflect on what I can learn from this. We all deal with difficult people. In fact, I am convinced they are evenly distributed. No matter where you go, no matter how great your job is, there will be someone nearby who could be perceived as:

  • difficult, annoying, mean, stupid

or

  • someone who is there to teach you something

Being the change is hard when I’m surrounded by stupid people…

It’s not always easy. Sometimes the turkeys get you down. Sometimes you go to jail for 16 years for what you believe in. But you can still make a difference. What we need (among other things) are options. When faced with any situation, we always have AT LEAST two choices. We can:

  • remove ourselves from said situation – e.g. change jobs, change relationships, move house, move city, move country (!!)

or

  • ask “what can I learn?” and change how we perceive the situation

I love what I do, so changing the situation was not an option, so I had to ask what I could learn. And how I could perceive the situation differently Which was interesting because I was right in the middle of my 6 Core needs blog series, so I didn’t have to look far. This situation (and many others) is a reminder that everyone has different needs that are met in different ways. Going one step further, everyone has different skills or resources that they use in different ways.

We are all doing the best we can

I choose to believe that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have. If we had different resources, we would do things differently. So, looking past all this, I realised how grateful I am for the resources I have. I appreciate that not everyone has learned what I have learned. Or experienced what I have experienced. Without applying this learning and experience to my own life, this knowledge and learning is for nothing.

What has this taught me? Well, it’s taught me to step up and apply what I know to myself and be the change that I want to see in the world. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. But if can’t do it for myself, how can I do it for others? The situation is still the same, but by taking control of it and giving myself an action, it doesn’t seem so hopeless. And it definitely seems much better than before. I’m calling it a win…

Do yo have a situation that if you saw it differently and took a learning from it, everything could change? Go ahead and share using your favourite button!

 

What are you doing consistently?

SuccessI wrote a post recently for That Online Stuff about consistency (and then ironically didn’t blog for a few weeks… Hmmm…). You can read it here. My focus was on business and social media but it got me thinking… I’m sure Aristotle was not JUST referring to building your business and social media when he said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit”. I’m sure if social media had been invented back then, he would have regularly tweeted his wisdom to the world. It would have been awesome!

It got me thinking about what I do on a consistent basis – apart from the obvious necessities. And I have to agree with Aristotle. Thinking about the things I do well, it is not necessarily because I have awesome talent, it is because I do them consistently, regularly. The times when I was at my most fit and healthy a few years ago, I did something every day. It wasn’t a 20km run, it may only have been a short walk, but it was something. I was kind to myself and accepted that on a day I was feeling tired, perhaps a short jog or walk was sufficient. Other days, I would power through an hour gym work out or a long run. And there was another thing – I was enjoying it. I really looked forward to my workout, and approached it with a sense of anticipation and play. It wasn’t serious.

When I speak in public, I do it well because I have been doing it regularly since I won the Grade 7 public speaking competition a number of years ago. I also happen to love it.

I totally believe that once you set a goal and put a big enough Why around it, you will definitely achieve it. I also believe that in order to guarantee success, it is important to put in place some habits or rituals that, if done consistently, will further seal in your chances of success. And they need to be habits that you are going to love.

So, what’s the formula…

Success =

A Big Why + Daily Habits + Enjoyment

What do you think? What if one element is missing? I still maintain that success would be possible – it would just be harder. So, go put all those elements into play right now. And let me know how you go. I’ll let you know how I go – especially on the daily habits!

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Fear Change? Change Fear!

 

Choice, White Cat

Everyone is afraid of change. Or so they think. Mostly, they are afraid of loss. They are afraid of BEING changed. Believe me, when I’m in charge of change, I’m fine about change! When someone is forcing it upon me, I’m not so excited about it. I could be downright rebellious. Even if deep down I might think it’s a good idea. Too bad. It wasn’t my idea, noone involved me, so I don’t feel valued or inclined to help. I’ll just be in my blanket fort in the living room colouring in if anyone needs  me, okay?

Have you had this experience? Not the bit about being rebellious or scared. That’s not you, is it? But it might be someone you know…

But we all know that change is essential to progress. How does it feel to come up against this resistance? Annoying? Frustrating? Do you just want to metaphorically (or physically) grab this resistor and give them a shake?

You are not alone.

So, we can’t stop people fearing and resisting change. What can we do?

We can talk to them. What DO they stand to lose? They might be attached to their blanket fort, and even though the new living room is bigger with a massive TV, the old living room was perfect for them. What do they THINK they are going to miss out on or have to change? The simple act of listening and acknowledging might be all you need to do. What mitigating actions can you put in place to make the situation less worse? Now, I use the term “less worse” on purpose – as that’s all you’re going to do. As an executive I worked with once said “don’t piss in my pocket and tell me it’s raining”.

Say it how it is. If it’s going to be challenging, say that. If it’s going to be scary, say that too. Let them know what to expect, that you hear them AND you will do what you can to mitigate. Work with them to realise there is ALWAYS a choice.

Even if their fears are not real.

When you work to mitigate losses, you decrease their fear. When you decrease fear, you increase choice. When you increase choice, you get results.

What’s one thing you could do to reduce the fear of others’ around you during your change effort? The one thing that could make all the difference? Do that.

Time to Change…

Or, what my cat has taught me about communication… time for change

It is so important to make goals and see them through. And it’s also so important to adjust as you go along. It’s also okay to change your mind. And since we thrive on change here at The High Flying Mind, having assisted our clients to create amazing change in their lives, I thought it might be time for a re-vamp.

As you know, we have two ragdoll kittens called Merlin and Kizmet. They are very much part of the family and lately, good at giving the right advice at the right time. The more I spend time with them, the more I realise that most problems can be solved just by cuddling a kitten. They have so much love to give and are able to shine a light on challenges in a way I’ve not seen before. Before a “meow” is uttered, most of what needs to be communicated is in “the look”. With just a single look or perhaps a tap on my arm with a paw, I know exactly what needs to be done. Or sometimes I don’t and the paw tap becomes more insistent. Then the exasperated look. Followed by the “meow”.

Cats are master communicators. They get exactly what they want when they want it. From a top up of biscuits in their bowl to more room on the couch (more of a paw “push” than tap with this one). There is the “meow” for general attention and the “meow” for “you had better get here now!”

Cats are also great for creativity. The more time we spend together in the study as I write and come up with solutions for clients, the more easily they come. And it’s been proven here.

So, with that in mind, White Cat Coaching has been born. While The High Flying Mind will still live on in spirit, we are changing our name to reflect the source of all things good from comfort to love, from chaos to creativity. With all four feet/paws on the ground. We will also be coming up with some cool products (and a new logo!) that I can’t wait to share, so watch this space.

Where have I been?

Or, what my cat has taught me about multi-tasking…Multi-tasking, flow

They say it’s great to be busy. But those same people also say there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Only doing many things poorly. So, one thing I have learned of late is the importance of doing one thing at a time. Then doing another thing. So, for example, as I write this, I am just writing this. I am not flicking over to email, Twitter or Facebook (both shut down) so I can focus on this.

It’s challenging at the moment, as my business partner and I have started a new company called That Online Stuff, that helps people attract, engage and convert their ideal client online. We have combined my coaching and NLP skills with Priya’s online skills to create products to assist clients get the most out of their online presence. It’s been so exciting, I’ve not been writing much here. As I have wanted to give this growing business singular focus. It has paid off as we have launched our website and even got some clients! So, while the foot is still on the pedal, I wanted to show some flexibility and ensure my coaching business and clients keep getting the love and attention they deserve from me. Because, when I coach someone, or even write about a coaching concept, the entire external world disappears. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book “Flow” describes this as “a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation”. Singular, focused attention to achieve something amazing. I love it! It’s something I work at incorporating in to every task I undertake, rather than letting my “monkey mind” take over and run from one thing to another.

Look no further than the animal world for inspiration. Do you ever see a cat trying to do two things at once? No way. When it’s nap time, it’s nap time. Then it’s time to eat. Then it’s time to patrol the house looking for things to pull down from shelves or knock over. Then it’s time to eat. Then it’s time for a cuddle. Rinse. Repeat. And they say we are the most evolved species? Hmmmm….

What we can learn from boiling water

We all know that when water reaches 100 degrees Celsius it boils and starts to produce steam, or evaporation. The process of heating increases the kinetic and potential energy of the water, allowing it to change state. Simple science, right?

photo by leeontheroad

photo by leeontheroad

Did you know that in order for water to completely turn to steam, a large amount of energy must be added to overcome the remaining forces between the molecules that hold them together? Which means that it’s not a linear process. Heating water produces steam, but in order to completely transform, extra energy is required. If energy is just gradually applied, a total state change is not possible.

It got me thinking about people and change. How many times do we hear the word “plateau” when people are talking about progress, whether it is with health and weight loss, finances or career? Or simply things not moving as expected, resulting in losing motivation? More often than not, extra effort is required at this plateau stage or whatever it is you are working to achieve will not happen. Change is not a linear process. And it’s proven by science. Nothing in nature is linear.

We see this play out in all aspects of life. Let’s take New Year’s resolutions. Efforts always start off well, with effort (energy) being put in resulting in success initially. Look at how full gyms are in January! Over time, the effort is abandoned as the results do not continue in a linear fashion without even MORE effort. It’s disheartening. This is normally when people give up as it does not seem worth it anymore. Gyms start emptying in February and March.

As we prepare for the New Year ahead, think about the changes you want to make, and the effort required to truly succeed. What does success look like? What effort will it take? Will there be times when extra effort will be required? What can you do now to prepare for these times? By accepting and embracing that linear effort will not get you the outstanding results you are after, you can use the laws of nature to create the future you deserve. Best wishes for 2013!

Behavioural Flexibility and an Avocado

What has being flexible in my behaviour to do with an avocado? Well, let me explain…

I have recently been drinking a green drink that is full of lovely, healthy ingredients, and fills me with energy when I drink it. You can find the recipe here. On Friday, I was feeling pretty tired after a big week and decided the best thing for me would be to enjoy this drink when I got home. I was missing a few ingredients, so I stopped at the shops on the way home. I bought a few items, including an avocado, and headed home. While unpacking, I noticed the avocado wasn’t there. I remember paying for it. I remember it being in the bag. Where was it? I looked everywhere. While I searched the house, including places I had not even been since arriving home, I knew I had to give up. Meanwhile, it was pouring with rain outside and the rest of the ingredients for the drink were waiting patiently in the blender. I found myself thinking irrationally. About how unfair this was.

And then, I turned on the blender and made the drink without the avocado. And you know what? It was still pretty good. You see, I had choices. I could go back to the shop in the rain, I could throw all the ingredients into the bin, or I could go ahead without the avocado. Once I had increased my choice from simply tromping around the house cursing, the world seemed like a better place.

Which made me think about the Law of Requisite Variety. It states that in any system, the element or person in the system with the widest range of behaviours or variability of choice will control the system. Much like a willow bends with the wind and remains strong, so must we be able to flex with the circumstances of life, increase our choices and live our best lives.

And the thing is, no one can increase our choices for us. External factors play a part, but really, we are the only ones who can come up with more choices. Behavioural flexibility is a muscle that must be worked regularly. What can you do right now to increase the choices in your life?

By the way, I now have an avocado but seem to have run out of parsley…