Take a Breath

When you get stressed you need to be able to take a moment out to gather your thoughts and regroup. A good sign that you need to do this is when you find that your mind is busy “chattering”. You are often physically, mentally and emotionally overloaded.  You need to have a break but you may lack the time before your next meeting or appointment. A good way to do this is through controlled breathing. The old advice of “take a few breaths” is well founded. Just take the following steps”

  • Sit down somewhere comfortable and preferably quiet.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Let go of whatever is going on in your mind.
  • Take a deep breath through your nose all the way into your belly, try not to breathe into your chest as you don’t breathe so deeply.
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth. Exhale continuously until you can’t exhale any more.
  • Then breathe in again, and repeat the process four or five times.
  • Open your eyes and breathe normally.

Take the time to do this every day. You will find that by doing this you are not only more relaxed, but your mind is clearer and has less “chatter” going on allowing you to focus and concentrate on your work.

Encourage your team to take brief breaks to do this, especially when they are very busy and not as productive as they would like to be. You can also help them to do this by building it into the start of your meetings – a good way to help people come to the meeting fresher, more alert and with the right intention.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Your Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence

You have limited time, resources and energy to expend on getting work done, projects completed and achieving the results you are looking for.  As such you need to be able to use these limited and finite resources effectively.  To do this you need to be able to distinguish between what lies within your Circle of Concern and your Circle of Influence as shown in the picture below:

Circle of Concern and Influence

  • The Circle of Concern – this larger circle encompasses  everything that you are concerned about, including those things over which you exert no control or influence e.g. the level of tax, terrorist threats, the current interest rate on loans and mortgages etcetera.  We tend to waste a lot of our time, effort and mental energy in the Circle of Concern.  This produces nothing as we are unable to overcome the inertia or have any effect.
  • The Circle of Influence is smaller, and it encompasses those things that we can do something about.  These are those things where we can be proactive and, by taking action for ourselves, address them. Here we invest our time, energy and effort on the things that we can change.  This produces results and momentum forward.

The two circles – Concern and Influence – are about the choices you make and the results you want.

The Circle of Concern is where you find people who focus on that which they cannot influence. They are reactive, stressed and ineffectual.  The Circle of Influence is where we find people who choose to focus on things that they can influence.

By focusing attention and energy on our circle of influence, people are increasingly proactive. The energy we expend is enlarging; each small victory motivates us further exert influence. We don’t waste energy on things we can do nothing about, but direct it towards what we can change. With each step we feel stronger and more creative. And so our circle of influence expands.

By focusing on what we can influence we also start to understand better what we cannot influence. We develop a better understanding of our circle of concern, and what it includes and does not include – it may even expand our circle of concern. This provides us with a fuller and better appreciation of the context in which we work, and helps us to better focus on our efforts on what we can influence. It can be incredibly liberating to realize that, in choosing how to respond to circumstances, we affect those circumstances. If we want to cope with the challenges we face, then we need to learn how we can influence them.

Share this diagram with your team, colleagues, and clients to help them distinguish between the two, what lies within their Circle of Influence whilst being aware of what lies within their Circle of Concern – and to focus their efforts on what they can influence, not that over which they have no control. This will provide greater traction, reduced stress and a more effective and productive team who can achieve results more easily.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.


 

How to Challenge Your Team & Take It to the Next Level

Challenge Your TeamI am passionate about helping executives and leaders become more successful and, in doing so, help others become more successful in turn.  As an accredited Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (MGSCC) I would like to share with you a simple process which can deliver real tangible improvement in leadership effectiveness and organizational performance. I have also included a short video by Marshall Goldsmith that shares this process with you.

Let me share a story with you on how to Team Build Without Time Wasting.

A team was being coached as a group,. When asked to rate themselves they scored themselves, on average, as a 6.1. Each team member was asked to reflect on a challenge that he/she was currently having and  to share with the group. There were about 10 people and 6 focused on changing what they could not change. It was an epidemic! The team prioritized this behavior – to focus on what they could change and not what they could not -as the one to focus on in their team change efforts. Over the next six months, the group took part in the Team Building without Time Wasting process and I it is now a highly functional team, with members rating the team an 8.6!

Video:Team Build Without Time Wasting.

In the video above Marshall Goldsmith provides a brief overview of how this process works, and how you can use it for your own benefit.

Following are the steps the team took to change this endemic challenge of focusing on what they could not change. Note step 7. All of the steps are critical in the process, and step 7 is the one that will take your team to the next level – it is Follow-Up – and it will ensure that the change sticks!

  1. Ask all members of the team to confidentially record their individual answers to two questions:
    1. “On a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being ideal), how well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?” and
    2. On a 1 to 10 scale, how well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?”
  2. Have a team member calculate the results. Discuss the results with the team. If the team members believe that the gap between current effectiveness and needed effectiveness indicates the need for team building, proceed to the next step in the process.
  3. Ask the team members, “If every team member could change two key behaviors that would help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which two behaviors we all should try to change?” Have each team member record his or her selected behaviors on flip charts.
  1. Help team members prioritize all the behaviors on the charts (many will be the same or similar) and (using consensus) determine the most important behavior to change (for all team members).
  2. Have each team member hold a one-on-one dialogue with all other team members. During the dialogues each member will request that his or her colleague suggest two areas for personal behavioural change (other than the one already agreed on above) that will help the team close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
  3. Let each team member review his or her list of suggested behavioural changes and choose the one that seems to be the most important. Have all team members then announce their one key behavior for personal change to the team.
  4. Encourage all team members to ask for brief (five-minute), monthly three question “suggestions for the future” from all other team members to help increase their effectiveness in demonstrating 1) the one key behavior common to all team members, 2) the one key personal behavior generated from team member input, and 3) overall effective behavior as a team member.
  5. Conduct a mini-survey, follow-up process in approximately six months. From the mini-survey each team member will receive confidential feedback from all other team members on his or her perceived change in effectiveness. This survey will include the one common behavioural item, the one personal behavioural item, and the overall team member item. A final question can gauge the level of follow-up – so that team members can see the connection between their level of follow-up and their increased effectiveness.

This process works because it is highly focused, includes disciplined feedback and follow-up, doesn’t waste time, and causes participants to focus on self-improvement.

Let me close with a challenge to you (the reader) as a team leader. Try it! The “downside” is very low. The process takes little time and the first mini-survey will quickly show whether progress is being made. The “upside” can be very high. As effective teamwork becomes more and more important, the brief amount of time that you invest in this process may produce a great return for your team and an even greater return for your organization.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found at Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)