Category Archives: Motivation

Lead Yourself – Take A Break

I have recently returned from 6 weeks leave, including a month with my family traveling in the West Coast of the United States. Apart from the obvious joy in spending time with my wife and daughters, a few other important observations reminded me of the importance of stepping away from the day-to-day roles I have.

CoachStation: My Girls in Hollywood Taking a break and removing yourself from the routines and ‘busyness’ of the modern daily grind is more important than ever. This topic is quite relevant at the moment, particularly in Australia as the school holidays are on and many of us are just returning to work after a break over the Christmas and New Year period. Making change to your lifestyle does not have to be a New Years resolution, which may not be sustained over time, but should derive from a level of self-awareness about what is working well for each of us and recognition/action around areas that could be improved. Beyond holidays, the period when returning to work from a holiday is a good time to refocus efforts on how to operate during the day whilst at work, at home and other times. This focus minimises the risk of burn-out and the expectation that holidays and extended breaks are to be the restoration ‘catch-all’ that they often need to be.

British researcher Scott McCabe noted that vacations’ personal benefits have been found to include: rest and recuperation from work; provision of new experiences leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication; promotion of peace and understanding; personal and social development; visiting friends and relatives; religious pilgrimage and health; and, subjective wellbeing. The benefits of vacations extend to family relationships. An international group of researchers led by Purdue University Xinran Lehto concluded that family vacations contribute positively to family bonding, communication and solidarity. Vacations promote what is called the “crescive bond” (in sociological parlance, a “shared experience”) by fostering growing and enduring connections. Shared family memories and time spent together isolated from ordinary everyday activities (school, work, and so on) help to promote these positive ties. Though family vacations can have their own share of stress, the benefits outweigh the risks. (1) The disconnection afforded from a vacation can help us relieve stress, improve mood, and see the bigger picture. The anticipation of an upcoming vacation can boost well-being for up to eight weeks prior to the trip, according to a 2010 study in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life. (2)

It is not only the type of break that a vacation or extended holiday provides that has benefit. How we operate during the day has a marked effect also. One of the core goals this year is to better utilise my time and how I apply breaks each day so that there is less of a ‘need’ to look forward to or expect that my holiday time is going to perform the miracle of restoring my energy and offer a period of relaxation that re-energises me. Discovery has shown me that this is unlikely based on experience – how I manage my time and energy every day has a much more significant impact on my resilience, tolerance and patience. It does not work if I wait for this balance to occur during a holiday, so a focus on how I operate daily provides a more sustainable, effective mindset. The alternative is like a short-term sugar high…the effect is short-lived and non-sustainable.

Though breaks might seem counterproductive, they’re more important than ever in the 24/7 workplace of constant connectivity and non-stop streams of email. We’re constantly checking and updating our email, Twitter and Facebook in addition to the other work we’re doing, and frequently we forgo real breaks in favor of cyber-loafing or Facebook-updating. There’s no way to perform at your highest level without allowing time for rest. Over long periods of working, the brain uses up oxygen and glucose, its primary form of energy. (2)

My most recent holiday was outstanding for many reasons whilst it also provided an opportunity to reflect on other aspects of my life. During this period I recognised the areas that could be improved even further related to the lifestyle, holidays and choices that assist to make the difference for myself, my business and my family. Some of these may be of relevance to you:

  1. A family or group holiday provides the opportunity to reconnect with those who are most important to you. This may sound obvious but you have to spend time with others to ensure the rich relationships that have been developed over time remain strong.
  2. The inverse of point 1, it is as important to ensure you take some time for yourself. This should be part of your normal rhythm at any time and matters just as much when on holidays when you are often trying to fit in as much as possible as it does during the normal routines of everyday life.
  3. Related to point 2, the ability to ‘switch off’ and focus on the now, even when on holidays provides a level of balance. I am fascinated by the brain and its workings. We continue to learn more about how the brain works and recent research reinforces the importance of neuroplasticity and mindfulness – keeping the brain active through varied and challenging actions and focusing on the current, at its most simplistic level.
  4. Schedule social media commitments. There are many tools available that allow you to ‘pre-schedule’ your social media activities to ensure you are able to switch off but maintain a presence and consistency on social media. This is important for me as I have worked hard to develop a web presence, so the idea of taking a month off and not maintaining some contact is counter-intuitive, however by using Hootsuite as I do, I was able to maintain an overview presence during the month without taking much out of my holiday time at all.
  5. Ensure that the wonders that are provided through modern technology are used to your advantage, not disadvantage. For instance, it could be easily argued that email and mobile are as big a time-waster and hindrance as a benefit. Of course, how they are used has a major impact either way, like many things in life.
  6. The need for a full and restful sleep is an imperative. Being a light sleeper means that I have to be conscious of getting the right length and depth of sleep. This has an immediate impact on my energy levels, motivation for exercise and tolerance.
  7. The need for holidays with family; my wife and I only; and short breaks for us an individuals each provide benefits and fulfillment.

Taking holidays and breaks regularly are important. I have always been surprised by those people who accrue their leave over many years, rarely taking a break, although ironically they are often the people who most need a break in my experience. How we function day-to-day is as important as when and how often we take a holiday. These are choices that require focus and attention which has been brought to life for me in recent weeks…what do you need to work on?

(1)  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201006/the-importance-vacations-our-physical-and-mental-health

(2)  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/youve-been-taking-breaks-_n_4453448.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Drive, Leadership, Motivation

Leadership and Courage

I recently wrote, “One of the key elements of accountability is the comfort to have the ‘right’ conversations. Being accountable is addressing all issues and providing feedback for positive behaviours also. This is not something that we pick and choose depending on our own levels of comfort or fear. You are either all in or you are out! Strong relationships with high trust allow us to have the right conversations. In all of our relationships, both inside and outside of the workplace, we earn the right to hold others accountable. A surface level conversation once every few months will never cut it. I believe there is no conversation that cannot be had – with the caveat that it is what happens in between the formal discussions that enables us to ‘go there’.”

Gwyn Teatro often writes blogs of substance and relevance, with her most recent revisited offering spot on in terms of the reality of organisational culture and the various challenges that exist in most businesses.

The real decision is whether you are the sort of leader who is willing to develop deep relationships, be accountable and be brave enough to challenge the norms, not because it is easy, but because to not do so does not sit comfortably with your own values and beliefs. I share this blog as another great example of Gwyn’s thoughts and the extension of my own.

You're Not the Boss of Me

courageCourage has many faces. It doesn’t always show up complete with epaulets and a shiny sword yelling “Charge!!” In fact, I would suggest it more often demands a much subtler approach. Either way, courage is not something we can buy or fake. It lives in the heart of our character. And, it is something we hope to have enough of when we need it most.

Brave leaders go first and inspire others to find their own courage. They defy convention. They admit their mistakes, apologize and make amends when they are wrong. Brave leaders explore unknown territory in service of something greater than themselves. They deliver bad news with clarity, determination and compassion. And, they stay the course when the going gets tough

Brave leaders, too, frequently look in their personal, and organizational mirrors to find something in themselves or in the systems they create that works against their potential…

View original post 463 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership, Motivation

Ownership of Your Employment Status

What is is about perception and reality that influences what we see, what we think and our subsequent choices?

This question can be applied to many aspects of life, including job security, employability and self-awareness. We do not always see things clearly. Assumptions, partial facts, bias and other traits can add value to decision-making however can also skew and negatively impact our choices. The things that motivate an individual do change over time. Circumstance, educational opportunities and advancement of knowledge, personal situation, economic environment and other factors are taken into account when weighing up the options between seeking or taking on a new role and remaining with their current employer.

Many of these aspects are intrinsic, driven by the person from within and others are extrinsic, influenced by external factors. It is the intrinsically driven motivations, beliefs, attitudes and choices that we all have control over. But, they are different for each of us. Keeping a ‘real’ attitude and preparing for the future based on fact, not assumptions helps if the situation arises that a job change is required, no matter the incentive or reason.

There’s a disconnect between managers and employees about why people want jobs

CoachStation: Creating A Vision For The Future

Leaders remain one of the greatest impacts on the level of comfort employees have within an organisation. The leader is often the face of the business, providing opportunities and relationships that either grow or hinder the perspective of employees. Clarity regarding what each employee values the most is one way to build this relationship and related elements such as trust, accountability, role structure and advancement.

Bosses think people are attracted to new jobs primarily for career advancement but over the past two years money in the bank has become the biggest motivator for people to change employers. Five years of financial shock, redundancies, business collapses and frightening headlines have taken their toll and Australian workers now just want to pay down debt and find a haven to ride out the storm. Opportunities for paid time off, bonuses and flexibility have been pushed aside for a preference for large base pay.

According to the Towers Watson Global Workforce study 2012, the top global “attraction drivers” (or what encourages people to work for an organisation) are, in order of importance:

  1. Base pay
  2. Job security
  3. Career advancement
  4. The convenience of location
  5. Career development

What employers think they are is:

  1. Career advancement
  2. Base pay
  3. Challenging work
  4. Job security
  5. An organisation’s reputation as a great place to work. (1)

The above data reproduced from a recent BRW magazine has some merit, however is not the whole story and neither does it apply the same way to everyone. Additionally, the picture presented in the article has not always been the case. It was only a short while ago that many of our Gen Y employees were unaware of what it was like to work during a time where job cuts and redundancies were frequent; roles of choice were difficult to find; and it was predominantly an employer’s job market.

I have several family members and friends who are working through their employment options right now. Each person and situation is different. Each person has their own beliefs and needs and are at various stages of acceptance of their situation, financial requirements and employability. Being clear about what you want from life, including as an employee, helps an individual make appropriate decisions based on want, values and need and not simply situation and opportunity. Even when current roles appear stable, understanding of yourself and focusing energies on the next step or options is a worthwhile exercise. Seeking a coach and working through this detail can be valuable.

Knowing what you want and how it fits into the real labour market is important

This may not be a clearly defined promotion or future role defined by a position or title, but may include features, traits and expectations that a role should include to be of interest.

None of us know what the future holds, but being prepared for what could be, whilst balancing the needs of ‘now’ is a sensible approach. Where does this sit with you?

(1)   Business Review Weekly: Issue August 23-29, 2012

3 Comments

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Motivation