Tag: Mindset

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Change starts with belief (and results)!

Mikel Arteta was announced as the new manager of Arsenal football club just yesterday. A big day for the club. And for me!

As a lifelong Arsenal supporter, the last few years have been tough going. So, when Mikel’s first press conference was shown live yesterday on Sky Sports (and repeated every 15 minutes since), my listening levels and interest were at an all-time high.

To say he was impressive might be an understatement. With my coaching hat on, I was so impressed how he delivered his message, was composed yet passionate, and really came across as a man that knows what he wants to do in this job. It begins with belief.

During the press conference, he used language like “changing the energy”, “engage everybody”, having the “same mindset” and, most importantly, “building a culture”. As I listened, it struck me that he never once talked about how talented the players were or their skills. For Mikel, the most important first step on his journey is bring a belief back to the team. And he seems to have the self-belief to do it!

Leadership in sport and in business is very much focused on getting the belief right first. Too frequently, the focus is on instant results at all costs. This can have a short-term bounce but not bring real change. Changing the belief isn’t easy but if you can, you’ve tapped into a powerful catalyst for real transformation.

Everything that Arteta said during the conference could be easily applied to a manager or leader within any business organization too. When a new boss takes over a position in a team that’s not functioning, getting everyone on the same page and sharing a common belief, vision and mission is an essential starting point.

Towards the end of the interview, Arteta was clear about the importance of some “quick wins” to help get things started. This triggered a memory. There is a very famous organizational change model (the Kotter model) that I’ve used and studied in that past. It’s an 8-step approach for organizational transformation. One of the key steps is to achieve ‘quick wins’. Another, that must be in place earlier, is to create a shared vision and belief.

I can’t be certain if Mikel is planning on following all 8 steps of Kotter model, but he definitely has a very clear view of how he plans to bring success back to Arsenal. And it’s all starting with an unwavering belief. And hopefully a few quick wins. Starting against Everton today!

When taking on a new role, team, or challenge, there is a very strong urge to dive right in! Resisting this temptation could be the difference between success and failure. Take some time to be clear on what your beliefs are beforehand.

Have you tried to use the Kotter model in your own change initiative? What other ones have you had success with?

Till tomorrow,

Rob


 

Pay now, get the rewards later (maybe)! – Day 9

Everywhere I look these days, especially with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the January Sales, the promise from retailers seems to follow a similar trend. You can ‘take home today and don’t pay a penny till 2021’. A very attractive, guilt free, worry about it later, proposal. Instant gratification without any of the buyer’s remorse! Until 2021, when you have to pay an extra 50% interest. That’s so far away, it’s not worth thinking about, right? Buyer Beware.

 

One of the most important and consistent messages that has emerged from almost 150 1% Better podcast interviews over the last 3 years is the exact opposite. When it comes to success in your career, however you measure or perceive it, you must be willing to pay the money down now, and (potentially) get the rewards later.

 

One of the first interviews shared back in March 2017 is with Andrew Mangan. A very successful podcaster and blogger. When asked what contributed most to his success, he replied ‘it came overnight after 9 years of hard work, putting out content daily and weekly, building it slowing and being patient.’

 

Meaghan Duhamel, an Olympic Gold medal winner, after a number of Olympic near misses, shared her story in an interview in season 2. Like Andrew, her focus over time became much more on ‘the task, not the result’ with a mantra of ‘what can I do today to be better tomorrow’. Success was clear but never instant.

 

More recently, in a deep dive on leadership with John Eades, again this topic came up. Self-discipline is at its core and John defines this as ‘the willingness and the ability to sacrifice what you want now for what you want more later on’. In John’s work, he’s talked with a few hundred leaders more than the podcast has given me access to (so far) and he’s seeing the same pattern emerge.

 

Anytime I see an article that has the word ‘hack’ and ‘success’ in the title I skip it. It can only be click bait. You have to be prepared to do the work, stay the course, and put the hours in! Society and the world of social media has contributed to this belief that you can it all, now. And there are faster paths to get it, if you’re willing to invest, your money! Don’t believe the hype and read the small print!

 

My advice is to be sure, whatever you decide to focus on, it’s something you love doing, aligns with your values and beliefs, and to create a clear measure of what success looks like. Most likely, it will come. With time, practice, and patience.

 

Thanks for reading.

Till tomorrow,

Rob


Join up to the RotG Slack community and join the fun and challenges HERE!


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

Meditation and mindfulness are definitely En Vogue these days. The practice is being promoted in organizations as part of wellness programmes and people are becoming more interested in what it’s all about. More willing than ever to give it a try. It’s really positive to see.

Developing and maintaining a daily practice, without doubt, has had a significant impact on my life and outlook. It was something I had ‘tried’ in the past only to forget to do it the next day, or to give up after a few days as I wasn’t seeing any impact from it. Impatient perhaps? The truth is I wasn’t meditating at all. I was just thinking. Lost in my thoughts.

There came a point about 5 years ago, when life wasn’t working out so well, that I needed to get more serious with it. Some real changes were needed that only I could control. After learning more about the benefits of cultivating (that word tends to be used a lot when we talk about meditation) a daily meditation practice, I committed to a 15 minute daily guided sitting a month. No excuses. No skipping days. That rolled onto 60 days, and then it started to become more automatic. Shortly after that, changes started to happen. Positive ones. Like all activities, the more you practice, the better you get. Meditation is no different. It was and still is a game changer.

One of the most common questions asked is how do find the time to do this. I don’t have 15 minutes every day. Making the time should be your priority of course. However, there are some very simple quick practices that you can do to get yourself into the ‘now’ in just 60 seconds. You just need to find a trigger to act as a reminder.

A couple of years back, I posted a piece on Hand Dryer Meditations using a hand dryer as the trigger. For the duration of that air blast you can connect in, notice how you’re feeling, and come off autopilot. Try it. It works.

Another method that can be done almost anytime anywhere and also only takes a minute. It involves using your 5 senses and instantly brings you back to the present moment. Making you aware of what’s going on for you at that moment & breaks the thinking cycle. You can try it right now and see how you feel after it. It simply involves noticing:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can feel
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

How did that go? Feel free to switch up the order based on your surroundings or situation. Think about a trigger point that you could use to remind you to try this a few times a day. Maybe when you get a notification on your phone? Or when you’re stuck in a queue or in traffic.  

It’s these little micro-meditations that help start off a practice. And it only takes a minute.

Till tomorrow,

Rob


Join up to the RotG Slack community and join the fun and challenges HERE!


Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

Connect in with Rob on the socials or via email on the links below:

Email   Twitter  Facebook  Website

Subscribe to the Rob of the Green Newsletter Here

Self-Improvement Year Zero – Post by Michael Hanafin

Self-Improvement Year Zero

One person’s journey into the world of self-development through podcasts, reading and most of all doing.

My journey began 12 months ago so this seems an auspicious time to reflect.   I hope something here will resonate if you are starting on this path or already well on the way.

A change of job prompted me to begin. Before then, I allowed my employer’s training catalogue plus opportunities to learn from global colleagues cater to my self-improvement needs. Moving to a much smaller company (where opportunities to both add value and learn from others were more limited than I expected),  I took ownership of my own personal and professional development.  

You don’t need to wait for a life change like a new job or a calendar milestone – you are free to decide that today will be the day I make one small step.

The Process

To start I adopted one habit then built on that a step at a time. That habit and the follow-ons are described later but first I outline the framework I used.

I decided I needed 3 things:

  1. Structure
  2. Schedule
  3. Direction

Structure

I narrowed it down to 4 themes or ‘Pillars’ to focus on and planned possible activities and tasks for each:

  • Self
  • Health
  • Other (i.e. Family/Relationships)
  • Work

This allowed me to aim for balance in allocating time to each. By putting them in list format, I had a simple visual indicator of whether I was tending more towards some areas rather than others (which is not a bad thing – not all may need equal attention).  In the cases where something mapped to more than one pillar, I picked the pillar it felt more at home in.

Activities and tasks could be either tangible (exercise, cook something, do something at work or outside, journal keeping), online (research, blogs, podcasts) or reading books.

I found a “trialling” mindset to be valuable at this stage.  If I adopted a new habit I tested it for 4 to 6 weeks after which I would either jettison it, modify it or keep it.

I did try a further categorisation of each item into “Read” “Test” “Review” “Do” (inspired by Deming’s Plan Do Check Act cycle) but quickly felt this was too much, I was overthinking and over-complicating (nothing new there!).

Schedule

I time-boxed 3 hours every 2nd Sunday and for the first 3 months while planning, researching and shaping what I was going to do and how to do it, I did these sessions in my local coffee shop. As I got into the thick of it and out of the initial planning mode, I retired instead to my spare room but the name I first gave this quality time has stuck for me – even now I often refer to this time as a “Starbucks Session”.

Direction

To determine my direction, I first needed to define my values.  As a complement to my values list, I also developed a personal mission statement.  Finally, to guide how I implement my decisions and choices, I figured a set of principles would be useful.

I derived my values by narrowing down from two sets of lists found online.  The 1% Better blog post on this topic was helpful.  I ended up with 5 and in their current incarnation, they are:

  • Making a Difference
  • Mindset
  • Credibility
  • Inner Harmony
  • Vision

My mission statement is currently:

  • Maintain a conscious balance of Family, Health, Work
  • Keep Faith and broader spirituality an intrinsic part of life
  • Add real value and make a difference in my day job
  • As much as possible, operate in a mindful flow state with clarity
  • Be in control of finances, providing for present and future needs

My principles remain in draft format at the time of writing. I will write these to enable me to fulfil my mission statement and adhere to my values.

My notes on what that list might look like are as follows:

  • Practice Meditation
  • Balance self, family, work and health
  • Always ask What matters most?
  • What would <name of inspirational role model> do?
  • Engage with what I do with attention, compassion and non-judgment
  • Practice gratitude
  • Continue spiritual path
  • Don’t force it – take purposeful pauses as required, embrace ambiguity and unknowing, non-attachment to results
  • See the opportunity that is my life in 10 years (think of this from Seth Godin)
  • Respond, not react
  • Act like the person I would like to have reporting to me, be married to, have as a father

You will notice that values, mission statement and principles become more verbose and descriptive.  There should be some natural overlap between them also.

 A word here on goals. We are often encouraged to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound).  I also discovered value in having longer-term goals that are not entirely SMART.  This type of goal may be impossible to completely define at this stage and may demand some blue-sky thinking.  At a minimum, your goals should be ART (trusting the SM to come in time) and remember that for visionary goals you need to be open-minded on what is Achievable.  Don’t be afraid to have a stretch target that you cannot quite see how to reach yet. 

 The Starting Point

I had failed to establish a meditation practice on two previous occasions.  The first was before the advent of apps, the latter following a recommendation on a course I did at work.

Now, I looked again at meditation and saw that it could be the launching pad for everything I was trying to achieve (even though I did not know precisely what this was yet!).  The promise of having the mental space to better consider the impact of what I choose to do, how I think and how I make decisions was very appealing. 

I reasoned that the worst that could happen was that I would gain some valuable “me time” every day.  What I discovered was that, contrary to my expectations, my daily practice began to bear fruit after only a couple of weeks. It was the tip of the tip of the iceberg but rewarding enough to persevere with a guided meditation practice.

The Next Steps

Adopting one positive habit has a domino effect – you will find yourself wanting to add another once you establish that first one.

I saw the seeds of my next habit in the improvement opportunity of my first.  A lot of the self-improvement texts talk about the merits of a morning routine.  I saw that this would ensure I do my meditation at an optimal time plus give me a window to add something else.

Over time I started to rise earlier and earlier, setting the alarm for 6 a.m. and eventually getting it back to 5 a.m. (well, 5.05 to be accurate).  The next addition was diet-related, dusting off the blender to make a healthy early morning smoothie. I stuck with the same recipe daily, finding that doing the same over and over again helped break down any mental resistance – I did not need to think about what to buy or how to make it, just do it.

It’s at this stage that a significant step change occurred. I had a meditation practice and a morning routine.  I had also started journaling – using the Bullet Journal method – allowing me to reflect, to plan future activities and to record any inspirational quotes or writings I noticed.    Exercise was missing.   I found the “Couch to 5k” protocol and started following that 3 times/week.  I found it well-paced and being time-based rather than distance-based meant I could slow down if necessary. Like meditation, running had failed to stick on previous attempts but now became ingrained.

Conclusion

I struggle to say which activity has had the most impact – meditation or exercise.  There are mental health benefits to exercise along with the feeling of reward when running towards a glowing sunset on a Friday evening at the start of a weekend.  I endorse the use of positive language here – exercise is something you get to do (i.e. a reward or benefit), not something you have to do.

Meditation has given me a toolkit to manage life’s opportunities and issues, a toolkit that will grow over time. I see it as a foundational practice for me now.

Throughout all this (meditation, morning routine, exercise, Sunday morning reading/reflection sessions) I found the encouragement and learnings from podcasts invaluable. I built up a stable of regulars to which I return, including of course 1% Better.  Joining a community like the ROTG Slack community with its monthly challenges and supportive membership has also been a great help to maintain a “What else can I do?” mindset.

Progress has not been perfect – meditation has not been daily, I replaced the smoothie with overnight oats (which did not stick, no pun intended) and family life means my bi-weekly time blocking does not always happen.  On the plus side, I now know I have a mindset that is fixed on this course, flexible to adapt to circumstances and recognising of the rewards it can bring. 

When progress is slow, I remind myself of what I have done and  that it is an ongoing way of life with natural ebbs and flows (and not a short-term project). 

Here’s to the next 12 months.


About The Author

Mike Hanafin works as a technology project manager, with grey hair gathered in both the software and life sciences industries.  When not asking checking questions like “What value am I bringing to my role?”, Mike is finding joy in his ongoing self-improvement  mission (whose ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy work-life balance by dissolving the work-life distinction) and inching out of his introvert comfort zone (which has mood lighting and a copious supply of fiction and jazz).   Always wanting to write but never getting to it, Mike is making an early/late New Year’s Resolution to share more of what he has learned (and has yet to learn).

Photos by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash and Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash


If you’re interested in having being a guest post on the blog page or submitting some learnings for a community focused podcast episode, get in touch directly with me – [email protected] or sign up to the growing 1% Better community on Slack – Link to this here


 

Right now, this very moment, as I write this, I’m fighting off a very strong temptation to begin this final piece of the Dry 2018 Post Series with an inspirational quote (from someone way more inspirational than me) with the key word ‘impossible.’ How else do articles start these days anyway? Especially ones that cover such a mammoth challenge as an Irish person giving up alcohol for a year.

A part of me really wants to go with the famous Mandela quote “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Another part prefers the one from Audrey Hepburn “nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible”, and yet another tiny voice in me is championing one from a book I recently read by Yogananda Paramhansa with “nothing is impossible unless you think it is”. But no, I’m not going to go there. That would be way too predictable.

Why ‘impossible’? Well, 12 months ago, giving up drink for a full year did seem a little like that. Not just to me. Many that know me thought it too. And maybe a little bit outrageous. The Questions coming at me were “Why deprive yourself of it?” or “You work hard so why not have a few now and then?” followed by reassuring encouragement of “It’s not as if there was a problem with it. Enjoy it.”

To be fair, while I sensed deep down it wasn’t impossible, to go through a full calendar year without having any Alcohol was a bit daunting. Even if I had become a much more occasional drinker in the last number of years, giving up that glass of Red on a Friday night after a busy work week, or asking for diet Coke instead of a Beer when out for a Meal or at a work gathering was not going to be easy.

Thankfully, as the first few months flew by, I realized this task was far from unsurmountable. Like any Big Goal, if you chunk it up into smaller pieces, it becomes very manageable. So, an elaborate quote stating the ‘impossible’ doesn’t seem apt. As the year progressed, I noticed other words coming up that were more fitting. Words like ‘choice’, ‘options’, ‘simplicity’, ‘commitment’, and ‘freedom’.  By removing the choice, and making the commitment, the freedom came, and life became simpler. I’m still working on how to make that into a profound quote to inspire but maybe this could work:

“Simplicity and Freedom comes when you commit to the choice” – Rob O’Donohue (various times during 2018)

Ok, not in the Mandela or Hepburn league but it’s one I’ve gone back to a number of times this year. I’ve noticed too that this approach can be applied to other Big Goals too.

So, as I finalize this post now, early in 2019 and reflect back, what are some big learnings that stand out?

Reconditioning

Are you familiar with Pavlov’s Dog– the experiment that became famous over 100 years ago by Ivan Pavlov. He studied the behaviour of Dogs and developed a theory of classical conditioning. It explains how people associate two stimuli in their minds and react to one of them as though it was the other. Every time, after the right conditioning, Pavlov’s Dog heard a bell, it would salivate more expecting food.

For the longest time, when something momentous happened, something exciting, important, and worth celebrating, associating a few beers or a night out with it was the norm. Getting a promotion, completing a marathon, a holiday away, watching an Arsenal match, and so on. All would bring on a Pavlovian response within. Instead of salivating expecting food, it would be a signal to get the Beers in! I’d been conditioned that way.

During the year, one of the biggest ‘A-ha’s’ has been how this conditioning has begun to alter. I’ve been reprogramming myself to associate the excitement with a different response. Maybe that was to go for a nice meal, or to the cinema. Or do nothing at all and just enjoy the moment. It’s been an eye opener as I look back. Breaking habits can be tough, yet reconditioning is possible. Leading to a better outcome. And thankfully, no Dogs were harmed in this year-long experiment.

“You must feel great?” – asked by many all year!

My short answer is yes, absolutely, but not in ways you might expect. Physically, I’d feel ok a couple of days after a big night out. So that’s not been hugely noticeable. In fact, I’ve probably had more head colds this year than I’ve had in the last decade combined. The real improvements have been more Emotionally & Mentally.  Having zero hangovers during the year has been amazing. It allowed me to stick to my routine and get more done. It also allowed me to do nothing more often too. I haven’t created more time, I’ve just been able to put it to better use. The Inner Critic, my Gremlin in my head, that lovely voice that’s always been there to give me a hard time after a night out. Well, he’s had a bad year. A quieter one for sure. I now find myself having the ‘Fear’ (which was explained in a previous post here) only when I think about actually having the Fear!

I’ve often compared my life in my twenties, when my social life was full on, to a game of Snakes and Ladders (for those millennials, it was a physical board game popular a long time ago – forgive me if it still is). I’d manage to make great progress up the board, ladder by ladder, skilfully navigating the many snakes there to set me back. But always before too long, the snake’s charm would be too much to escape. The snake here would be the alcohol of course. Or maybe it’s that Gremlin again enticing me into places where it knew I’d regret later. Either way, it led to a fall. Back down the board. Setting me back. This year, while there have been temptations, I’ve managed to navigate my way up the board much more mindfully.

“I personally believe that the majority of people who have down moments in their lives, they can actually trace it back, quite often, to alcohol. Perhaps the only days of my life that I feel lethargic is instead of having two glasses at night time I had five or six”. – Richard Branson

 

Dealing with downers!

I vividly recall hearing the above from Richard Branson in a podcast with Tim Ferriss in late 2017. It was around that time I was thinking about cutting out the booze totally and his words stayed with me since. As I reflect back on the years when I did drink, while alcohol been a catalyst for many great nights, I can relate to Sir Branson’s experiences. I’d safely say that 99% of the nights/days where I’ve felt very low have come very soon after alcohol. Combine that with a pre-disposition to overthinking, giving myself a hard time, and a lean towards anxiety and you have a dangerous mix.

Over the course of 2018, and none more so than in the last 8 weeks of the year, I’ve had to face tough times and deal with very real-life situations. It was difficult to look for positives, be optimistic, and try to reign in that very disruptive and over active critic in my mind. Difficult but manageable. I have no doubt, if I ever added a hangover to that mix, I’d have been in a different darker place altogether. So, from that perspective, my Mood, Emotional Agility and levels of Grit have improved this year thanks to less time on the rollercoaster that accompanies booze.

Other Hidden Benefits