Sunday, 18 September 2016

Blind Spot Spotting

I have just returned from a week's stint with my aging mother. Yes, I know - I desire to be nominated as a Saint to rival the likes of Helen Keller and Mother Teresa.    I made a special effort as she was having her 82nd  birthday and she isn't getting any younger.  In fact, she is going blind from an eye condition called glaucoma. My mother has always been an active outdoor type and has continued to play tennis several days per week to this very day.  Accepting the gradual  deterioration of her sight has meant she has had to come to terms with the gradual deterioration of her performance and the longevity of her tennis playing days. I must say I am proud of the way she is adjusting to this change, and making plans with friends to join a crochet team - a game she has never played.  I think this is a brave move as my mother loves to be in control and the expert - being the newby in the group and a beginner will definitely be a big adjustment for her.

While my mother has reflected on the implications of her eye condition, acknowledged the need to make adjustments and has started to plan ahead to implement the changes she needs to make she has, like the rest of us, she also suffers from "blind spots".  This condition does not relate to the optical nerve on the retina or a visual obstruction in the cars rear view mirror. I'm referring to psychological blind spots - aspects of her personalities that are hidden from her view or she does not want to own. These include but are not limited to - annoying habits like interrupting or talking over the top of me, having to always have the final word and worse of all always having to be 'right'.  They also include a deeper fear of getting old and dependent and dying which I think are too threatening for her to acknowledge. I'm pretty sure she is unaware of these behaviours, but they drive me and my siblings crazy, and annoy the crap out of her fellow tennis players and friends.  

So do you know what your blind spots are? Who are you driving up the wall? Who is tearing their hair out as you leave the room?

Do any of these ring a bell with you? If you can tick any of these off then perhaps that's what ticking off your friends and loved ones too.   

  1. Harsh judgments of others' behavior may reveal a personal insecurity - for example, that highly ambitious co-worker may especially irritate you because of your own unexpressed ambitions. Blind spots in these cases need not be objectively negative traits, just traits that are experienced as personally shameful or unacceptable.
  2. Just as extreme negative reactions to a trait in others might suggest the presence of that trait in onesself, extremely positive attitudes or behaviors may suggest a lack, or a feared lack, of a desired trait. For example, being overly generous to counter the view that you are a scrooge.
  3. You keep choosing friends and lovers that have the same personality traits - look and sound the same but just have different names - eg. always choose lovers who are argumentive or fiends who are compliant.
  4.  You blame bad luck to justify repeated failure or lack of progress - loose your job and blame economic down turn
  5. People's description of your personality does not fit with your own self image. You see yourself as an opinionated while your fiends see you as dominating the conversation. 

I think this diagram is pretty well self explanatory - quadrant 1 is what we know about ourselves; quadrant 2 is our blind spot (we don't know but others do); quadrant 3 is Known to us but we don't share with others; and Quadrant 4 is Unknown to self and others.  If you like to read more then check out the psychology of self awareness and blind spots.

Are you ready for a challenge - Remove the rose tinted glasses and uncover your blind spots?  

A heads up - It's not going to easy and more than likely it's gonna hurt. So be prepared.

As I stated in the introduction, I am aware of my mother's blind spots but she's not. The Johari Window diagram suggests that we seek feedback to reduce our blind spots.   Asking others for feedback can be a risky and scary process.  Risky because we don't know what people are going to say and scary because we might not like what we hear. so before you rush out asking people to give you an honest critique of your personality or your short comings I suggest you:

  • Be Thankful - Remember you are asking them for the feedback so be thankful (even if you feel like ringing the other persons neck). 
  • Accept and Reflect - Don't argue or try and change the person's mind - tuck the information away to reflect on later. You can then decide if the feedback was useful or not.
  • Dismiss feedback that is Useless - Some people may have trouble being honest - worried they will offend.  Others may take the opportunity to be brutal and even nasty.  So be prepared to deal with both ends of the spectrum. 

Activity: Blind Spot Spotting

  1. Ask a close friend or loved one for feedback: "Is there anything about me -habits, traits, behaviours - that you can see but you think I am unaware of?"   For example last week in a Mastermind meeting a colleague told me that I tend to over intellectualise.  Remember to thank the person for their honesty.
  2. Make a note of the feedback in your journal.  
  3. Time to be brave and seek feedback a bit further afield.  For a week ask a different person each day for "blind spot spotting." Each day record the information in your journal.
  4. At the end of the week it is time to review all the data. Dismiss any feedback that is non specific, vague or nasty. 
  5. Time to review the useful feedback - that is data that is specific, focused and able to be acted upon.  Reflect upon each statement without judgement or 'dramatics'.  What is the veracity of the statements? What are the implications?  How can I become more aware and make necessary changes?  
  6. Dig for the gold in the feedback and you will uncover the blind spots that are blocking your internal/external view.
I'm on my way to uncovering some of my blind spots - and I can say I am surprised by a few of them.  Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing the feedback from your Blind spot Spotting research.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Top Study Tips

With the end of the student year only a couple of months away - that includes current year 12 and University students - I thought it might be a great idea to publish a couple of quick study tips to boost your ability to learn and retain information.

  1. Turn down the  Sound - my son and daughter love to listen to music as they study.  I have to have silence to study.  well it tuns out good old Mum is right again.  Apparently the brain is easily distracted by background noise while it is trying to learn something.  So much so that you will recall 10% less of the information later if you add a playlist.
  2. Early to Bed Early to Rise makes a student ...Wise - Ditch the all nighters.  Your brain, like needs time to transfer the new information from the short term memory to the long term memory. Apparently sleep helps in this process. 
  3. Switch to Pen and Paper - While there is no difference between the amount you recall by using either pen and paper or technology to take notes, writing things downs improves your understanding of it. Check out 

Study Centrals tops tips forgetting the most out of your study are:

What Areyour top Tips for Study? -The ones you have found most useful to get the study 'done and dusted' efficiently (least amount of time) and most effectively (best results)?

Enjoy the vacation period (for all those students in Australia) and best wishes for the upcoming exams.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Boost Your Self-Esteem

If the Man  in the Mirror
When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you king for a day;
then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't a man's father, mother or wife'
Whose judgement upon him must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in life,
Is the man staring back from the glass.

He's a the fellow to please: never mind the rest'
for he's with you clear up to the end;
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test,
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
and get pats on the back as you pass;
but your final reward will be heartache and tears,
If you've cheated the man in the glass.

(This poem was written on the wall of a cell in death row. It was composed by an anonymous prisoner).

Liking yourself may be one of the most important things you'll have to do before you can achieve success (at anything).  When you like yourself, you have self-confidence. And when you have self-confidence you believe in yourself and you are prepared to back yourself. These are important ingredients to success in any venture. Let'd be clear here, by liking yourself I don't mean that you should feel superior to others. What I am referring to is having a POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE.

In a nutshell, Self-esteem is the way we view or think about ourselves, and  the value we place on ourselves as a person.  Positive self esteem is ...
  1. having a feeling of confidence and competence to function successfully in life and trusting oneself
  2. approving and unconditionally loving oneself (warts and all). 
  3. the willingness to appear foolish
  4. being able to express one's creativity and trusting in one's intuition.
  5. being authentic and genuine so that one's real self can be experienced.
  6. the ability to see oneself as the cause and source of one's circumstances in life so that one may take responsibility for it.
If after reading the above you feel your self-esteem needs a boos then here are a few idea to 'pump it up".
  • Think positively about Yourself - stop comparing yourself with others, accept who you are.               To Do-  make a list of all the things you  like about yourself. Tack it to the mirror and read daily.
  • Take responsibility for your Life - stop blaming others for your problems, give up the 'victim' mindset.  You have choices about what happens in your life.                                                                          To Do: Be more assertive and speak up for yourself. This can be done by asking for what you want as well as by expressing your thoughts and feelings. 
  • Set yourself a Goal - to improve your self-esteem, to give others positive feedback,and to accept compliments graciously.                                                                                                                  To Do: tell at least one of the following -friends, family and work mates what you like and appreciate about them this week. 
  • Participate in Life - stop being a spectator. Do the things you enjoy. Have some fun.                        To Do: List twelve things you enjoy doing and make a plan to do one a week for the next 3 months.
  • Stop saying Sorry - mistakes provide an opportunity to learn so don't let failure prevent you from trying again.  success requires many attempts.                                                                                 To Do: Enroll in a workshop, seminar or course where you can be a student.
  • Let go of the Past- keep your thoughts in the present.  Rehashing the past won't change it. the only place that change can take place is in the present. Refer back to the list you made of your positive traits.
  • Speak no Evil - Avoid put downs of yourself and others.  Focus on the positive.                               To Do: Write a positive Affirmation or Quote and tape it to your computer.  Read it when your thoughts are heading North. 
  • Think no Evil- Replace negative thoughts and images with positive. Turn "I can't"  to "I will". If you have thoughts that start with "I ought to, I need to, I should..." change it to "I want to.."                    To Do: Take a walk daily or some other regular exercise to boost your mood. Experience the pleasure of deep breathing.  
  • Appreciate Yourself - If you are not prepared to care for yourself then others will not either. To Do:  Stand in Front of a full length mirror naked (or clothed) and tell yourself "I love You" for 5 minutes.  Alternative if you find this too challenging - only wear clothes you feel good in (The charity organisations will benefit from your generosity and you'll feel great).
  •  Respect Your Weaknesses - recognize that everyone has both strengths and stretches. If you accept your weaknesses then you are free to confront them and make positive efforts to change. To Do: Set a self development goal and a plan to achieve it ( It could be to boost your self -esteem).
  • Identify the problem Areas in Your Life - Look for Factors that might be reinforcing your low- self esteem.  If you can't change the situation then look at how you may be able to change the way you respond to  it.  For example become more assertive, improve communication. To Do: Identify one factor that is impacting on your self-worth.  Look at it from multiple perspectives and then determine how you can respond to it in a different way.  
  • Act Confident - I am sure you've heard the saying "Fake it until you Make it".  To Do: Do something you have always wanted to do but was afraid to try.  Start small. Remember that it is OK to be afraid to take risks - then do it anyway.   

Let me know if any of the To Do Activities paid off for you.  If you have any additional tips on boosting self-esteem then I'd love to hear about them. Please join the conversation below or post them on my self-coach Facebook page. 
Note: People with low self-esteem often get wrapped up in what others think of them so they don't ask for help.  they either feel they don't deserve help or they will look stupid.  I would encourage anyone who feels they have low self-esteem to seek additional support from a life coach or a counselor.  

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

9 Tips for Being a Light-Hearted Parent this Mother's Day

     Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother's Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

             Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs anyone can undertake (weather male or female).  Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May in Australia is happening this week-end. It is a time to celebrate parenthood and an opportunity to honour our mothers by showing our love and appreciation.  The gift giving component is more a 20th Century marketing mechanism as far as I'm concerned but if you have the inclination and the cash then why not. 

 In the tradition of giving I have composed 9 tips to help Mothers across the country to take a more light-hearted approach to parenting this Mother's Day. 

1. Think Positive
If it’s not life threatening you can get through it. This can be a challenge when you are running late for work and the kids refuse to be rushed or ready on time.
2.      Sing Along
           On the drive to school and work turn up the radio and do the car karaoke. It will lift every body’s          mood.
 3.      Laugh
At least once per day is the recommended dose to remove the frown lines from your face.  Have a “go to” thing/memory if inspiration is in short supply.
4.      Reframe
The messages we send our kids can often start with a negative: “stop”; don’t do that”, “not now” “no”.
Try a reverse eg “Yes, you can go outside when you have finished your homework”
 5.      Breathe
…and count to 10 – many an angry word has been said in haste and regretted at leisure.
6.      Say “no” only if it Really Matters
Surprise the kids and say ‘Yes” to some of the things you usually say not to.  It’s O.K to put water in the tea set; maybe stay up later than usual one night.
Take Care of You
7.      Just like your kids “You are Special” too.
Take some time out to care for yourself – you’ll feel better for it and the kids will learn that self-care is an important skill to good health and happy parenting.
8.      Routines and Rituals Work
…to keep children and parents sane in a hectic world.  For example meal times and bed time rituals help take the tantrum out of the task.  (At least most of the time).
9.      Remember

The age of Santa Clause and Cheerio’s is fleeting: The days are long but the years are short.  Cherish the moments.

Happy Mother's Day - especially to my own mother (sorry I can't be therewith you but I hope you like the card I made). 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Success Mindset

I was upset this week when my almost 30 year old son told me that he was not prepared to give something a go because he might FAIL.  Here I am writing a blog about coaching yourself to success and my own child is focusing on the opposite side of the coin - Failure.  Admittedly, at the time of the conversation he had just had a gigantic argument with his boss and was concerned he might be joining the long queue of unemployed, but it got me thinking about the definition of success itself and the reasons why some people fail where others succeed. 

Before we go any further I’d like to define success. 

Success in simple terms means ‘achieving’. 

It is the accomplishment of your own goals, plans and maximising the potential that life has offered you.  Success is not a million dollars in the bank, a beautiful home on the marina or a position of power and prestige. Mind you I wouldn’t say no to a couple of the items on this list.  But you get my drift.  Success is not “a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” – an item in the “mysterious beyond” out of reach that only a few manage to achieve.  The reality is that you are and can be a success simply by continuing to pursue the things that really matter to you. Success is living out your dreams. It is the little steps you take each day on your life's journey.  

Life is no accident, it is a response to thoughts, habits and actions” says Martin Gray in his book Building for Success, “…a learned art that can be developed by any that care to pay attention”. 

I have compiled a list of habits of the mind that can determine your success or defeat.  

Success Mindset
Defeatist Mindset
1.   Persist – focus on your goal and stick at it until you reach it. Remember to celebrate the small steps on the journey.
A. Define success as won, luck or innate – you believe you have no control over it.  It is for the fortunate few whose circumstances enabled them to achieve their dreams.
2.   Listen to alternative points of view – this enables you to critically evaluate your own ideas and broadens your horizons.   
B. Working hard doesn’t get you anywhere but only acknowledge one aspect of work, physical labour.

3.   Co-operate – collaborate and work with others
C. Opportunity – believe they have never been given the opportunity to succeed because of luck and circumstance. Don’t recognise opportunity when it knocks or make the most when they do.
4.   Be a detective – Curiosity did not kill the cat it brought him back.  Ask questions, seek evidence and analyse ideas.
D. Defeatist attitude - make poor choices or have a poor outlook.
“To expect defeat is nine-tenths of defeat itself.” – Henry Mencken
5.   Broaden your perspective – view a situation from multiple view points and be open to changing yours.
E. Quit – tried and did not succeed so gave up. Lack perseverance and self-motivation.
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

6.   Be a Puzzler – use problem solving and decision making to plan, monitor, evaluate and review your progress. Be prepared to change direction or proceed in a new way.
F. Victim Mentality - blame their past, current situation, issues, and circumstances as road blocks for not trying or persevering. Look for obstacles and barriers not conduits and passageways.
7.   Inventive – look for different and creative ways of thinking about something or doing things. Be a live long learner.
G. Take NO for an answer – are pessimism, surround themselves with negativity and Nay Sayers. Let challenges and adversity defeat them.
Successful people know that true success begins in the mind, it is an attitude. Successful people protect this valuable asset (their mind) and realise it is the field where dreams are sown and grown. So be careful of what you plant.

Thank you for reading the list.  If you have any views i'd love to hear from you.  If you think someone else might find this useful please share it with them.  

An aside for my boy-  Nick - Failure is a Mindset not a reality. If you change your mindset your change your reality too. Love you boyo. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Morning Makeover - 6 Tips to Re-vamp Your Morning Routine

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself "if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer had been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something".
Steve Jobs. 

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I am sick of dragging myself out of bed every morning, only to hit the fast forward button and rush around like a mad woman, shouting at the kids and husband to "Hurry Up".  for the Aussies who read this think about the blackboard in  Mr Squiggle's (showing my age here too). Does this morning routine sound familiar to you and your household. From experience I know that if my day starts like this it ends worse, so I decided to give my mornings a makeover and thought you might find a couple of these ideas useful too.  If you choose to start the day in a positive way it sets the tone for the day.

Most of these tips are simple and easy to implement no matter how busy you are in the morning and they pack a punch  that will have you humming all day. 

I'm not going to be long winded about it because I know you are all with it people and won't require a wordy explanation.

Morning Make-Over Tips

  1. Get a good Nights sleep - old saying early to be early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. A good nights sleep enables us to wake up feeling energised and refreshed.  If you're a night owl then you might need to gradually change your nightly routine so you can get to be a bit earlier.  As adults we need 7-8 hours sleep each night to allow our bodies to rest and regenerate cells. Remember that your sleep routine, bedtime habits and lifestyle choices can make a big difference to your quality of sleep.
  2. Brain Gym - Jessie Hays a kinesiologist coach recommends you use the following kinesiology technique to switch yourself on first thing in the morning to help you become clear, connected and centred: Side to side switching - hold one hand on your navel and with the other rub under the inner end of the collar bones; top to bottom switching- hold one hand on your navel and with the other rub the top and bottom lips; Front and Back Switching: hold one hand on your navel and with the other rub the base of the spine. 
  3. Drink a glass of water - this will help hydrate you after fasting and help eliminate toxins from the body.
  4. Exercise for at least 15 minutes- Go for a quick walk around the block or do some yoga (the Sun Salutation can be done relatively quickly). this will help to get the blood flowing and is a natural way to destress.  
  5. Eat A Healthy Breakfast - Try to add some protein to your breakfast as it will help you to feel fuller longer and is great fro the brain. 
  6. Dress to Impress Yourself - Choose a favourite outfit or select a beloved piece of jewelry.  
If you don't think you have the time to incorporate all these elements into you morning routine then cut it down to a size that suits you are do some preparation the night before.  I have found that putting in the effort to develop an intentional morning routine has improved my whole day (and improved the morning of my family too).

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Remiedy for The Daily Grind

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the daily grind we forget why we are doing what we are doing in the first place. Everything becomes a drudgery and it feels like we are wading through mud and getting nowhere. More of the same day in day out. Getting nowhere. If that's how you're feeling then perhaps you've lost sight of the BIG picture - your goal/dream. There is an old saying "can't see the wood for the trees".
  1. Meaning: If you can't see the wood for the trees, you can't see the whole situation clearly because you're looking too closely at small details, or because you're too closely involved. For example: If everyday you focus on the small things you do without associating it with the larger goal then you can get lost in the micro ecology of your life. (Ooh that sounded profound even for me). 

    So I recommend you look up occasionally, not only to check your bearings and ensure you're still on track , but to enjoy the view and contemplate the endless possibilities that are open to you.

    Stop, look up and take a breather - even for one moment - it will revive you.