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).