A change in cultural ethos, how can we do it?


I was having dinner last night with a couple of friends last night who are former colleagues from the Royal Marines and we were discussing the unfortunate news that a man had fallen from a platform in the North Sea off the coast of Shetland and sadly died.

Very little was mentioned about this other than briefly in the news and the paper and that was it. Nothing is really done to show a mark of respect ion the Oil and Gas industry for a fallen comrade and this often appears to be the case.

The conversation flowed into how markedly different the ethos is on the Royal Marines and in fact throughout the UK military. When one of our own dies, flags are flown at half mast, there is a minutes silence and if they die in combat overseas then a reception party is gathered that incorporates all services to receive the coffin back to the UK. All inter-service rivalry is put to one side as we collectively mourn the loss of, One of Our Own.

It is a shame that this ethos does not often carry across and we felt that this is something that is worthy of incorporating into any industry as it is something that develops and nurtures team work, esprit de corps and shows compassion and care for another human being, regardless of whether you know them or not. Companies would do well to integrate this into their way of being as this sends a very strong message to it’s employees and contractors that they actually care about the people who work for them.

Oil and gas and working on sites onshore and offshore can be extremely dangerous, regardless of what anyone says, it is an inherently dangerous environment that is managed and mitigated extremely well, just as the military does in operational theatres and sometimes bad shit happens despite all that is put in place.

So, how can we entice companies to adopt this caring element to their existing ethos and show an even deeper level of care and respect for those people who work for them.

A task for you is to spread the word, discuss it at work and find a way to bring about a change in culture, mindset and perception so that it is a natural course of action when the worst case does happen.

I leave it in your hands.

Have a fantastic weekend

Simon

New courses and standards


I have been working hard recently on developing new courses and also on accreditation with several different accrediting and governing bodies.

For instance, I am working throughout he process to have my courses accredited by the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council, Association for NLP, endorsed by the Institute for Leadership and Management and to accrue CPD points by qualifying withe the CPD Standards Council. This means that my courses will provide you with even more value over and above the educational aspect, they will soon help you to advance your career and keep you up to date with CPD points relevant to your field pot expertise.

I have just registered with the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) for Hypnotherapy and CNHC works alongside the General Hypnotherapy Register and General Hypnotherapy Standards Council to promote and improve hypnotherapy and raise the awareness of the efficacy of hypnotherapy with a wide variety of conditions.

I am doing all this to ensure that the courses I deliver are of the highest standard wight he highest level of research based and practically tested material, so that you know that what are investing in is truly worth your money, time and effort.

You can find my details on the CNHC register at the following link:  http://www.cnhcregister.org.uk/newsearch/index.cfm

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Effective Motivation


I spend a large amount of my time with clients motivating them towards a state of mind where they feel confident in achieving their goals, and this takes self motivation on my part, because, just like anyone else, at the end of a long day I can feel low on motivation. I have my own strategies to help me keep my motivation high no matter how knackered I might feel and I wanted to share these with you today. 

So if you are a coach, trainer, manager, leader, parent, in fact anyone who is in a position that includes the responsibility to motivate others, then this is for you.

 

A few questions for you. How do you motivate yourself and how do you motivate your clients? Is it working for you and your clients and what can you change to become even more effective?

The secret to motivation is the way you communicate – with yourself, and others. Communicate in a particular way and all you’ll get is resistance and apathy; change your communication style and you will get enthusiasm and positive action – from yourself and in those you coach!

WHAT IS MOTIVATION?
What is motivation, and where does it come from? How do we ‘get motivated’, and how can we motivate others in an effective manner? How come some people always seem to have so much motivation and energy, while others struggle with apathy and a lack of direction?

In a nutshell, motivation is an energy, a desire to do, to accomplish. In order to understand this energy better, take a few moments now to think of a specific time when you were really motivated – a time when you felt that energy to do, strongly. Take the time to remember where you were, what you were thinking, and how you motivated yourself. How did you communicate with yourself in order to get motivated?

You will no doubt have found that you used one of two simple motivation strategies – either a towards motivation strategy (positive), or an away from motivation strategy (negative). Now in this context ‘away from’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bad’, and towards doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good’.

I define away from motivation as a form of motivation that moves you away from a negative happening or experience – moving you away from something you don’t want to happen. The essential motivating part of away from motivation is the thought of something ‘bad’ happening. Negative motivation often comes from an external source with the threat of some kind of punishment if you don’t do something. For example, your parents telling you you have to clean up your room, or do the dishes, or you won’t be allowed to go out on Saturday night. Or your teacher saying you must have the assignment handed in by Monday morning, otherwise you’ll get detention. Or your coach shouting that you should concentrate harder or you’ll never make the team. And so you motivate yourself to do whatever it is, because you don’t want those negative consequences to happen

Of course, you can also motivate yourself in this negative way – for example, leaving early for work because you don’t want to be late; doing your homework assignments because you don’t want to fail; watching the foods you eat because you don’t want to get fat.

POSITIVE MOTIVATION
In contrast, positive motivation is a form of motivation which moves you toward a positive happening or experience, moving you toward something you do want to happen, and the essential motivating part of positive motivation is the thought of this ‘good’ experience or result happening. Some examples of positive motivation are someone working out at the gym four times a week because they like the way they look and feel when they work out regularly; or working to a study timetable because you want a good grade; or putting in 100% effort in training because you want to be in the starting lineup for the game on the weekend.

It’s useful to recognise that while both negative and positive motivation can have important roles in motivating us to avoid personal danger, get out of bed in the morning, earn a living, keep healthy and fit, achieve recognition in our sport, and so on, there is a significant difference in the consequences of using each type of motivation in your life.

Negative motivation can result in excessive anxiety and tension, while positive motivation tends to positively energise and arouse you. Negative motivation causes you to think about what you don’t want, while positive motivation gets you focused on what you do want. Having a positive focus, particularly in relation to health and fitness is just so important – because we move toward what we think about. I like to say that human beings are like guided missiles, and the guidance system of us is the thoughts we think. Think about not wanting to go into the water trap or the bunker when you’re about to take your tee shot, and that’s often where your more than likely going to end up! Think about not wanting to get nervous and mess up an important speech, and that’s often just what you do! Think about not being late for that important meeting, and often everything seems to conspire to make you late!

We move toward what we think about, so it’s important to imagine and picture what we want rather than what we don’t want. It’s been identified that the top performers in any sport or business for that matter are invariably more positively motivated than negatively motivated – what motivates them are strong desires for their dreams and goals, and this is one reason why having goals is so important.

HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE?
One way to identify your current motivation strategy is to simply pay attention to the words and images you use when you’re motivating yourself, or others. What words do you use when you want to motivate yourself, or someone else, to do something? How do you communicate with yourself and others to achieve motivation?

If you’re saying to yourself things like, “I have to go to training today”; or “I’ve got to improve my fitness”; or “I must concentrate harder”; or “I ought to practice more”; then you’re using a negative motivation strategy, and you’re not managing yourself as effectively as you could.

Remember, positive motivation grows out of desire and wanting – not from should’s, have to’s, ought’s, and must’s. I believe the more you can choose to live your life and do every task from a “I’m doing it because I choose to and want to” way of thinking and talking to yourself, the better your life works, and the more successful you are in the long run. Working in this way with yourself, and your clients, you manage yourself better and you don’t get ‘resistance’ from yourself or others because you feel forced to do something again your will. Remember how you felt when your parents said you had to help with the dishes, or had to tidy your room, or had to do some other chore, when you wanted to watch television or play with your friends? You felt pushed and of course you resisted, and as a result your heart wasn’t in it when you did the chore, was it? The same thing happens if you communicate to yourself in that way – if you use “have to’s”, “ought to’s”, “should’s” and “must’s”, then you’ll find yourself unconsciously resisting yourself, even if it’s a task that’s worthwhile, for a cherished goal you want to achieve.

The thing to realise and understand is that often in sport the only thing that keeps a competitor going is their heart – and if your heart isn’t in something, you’ll eventually give up. Communicating with yourself using negative motivation language is a sure way to lose heart, and you’re too good for that and so are your clients.

So from now on, every time you hear yourself say “should”, or “ought to”, or “must” or “have to” about any task that you’re undertaking ….. stop, and deliberately change your language to ‘want to”. You want to “want to”! Rather than should, ought to, have to and must, use words like want to, like to, desire to, love to. You want to do this to enhance your motivation!

Of course, if you’re a coach, or manager, or personal trainer, or teacher wanting to build motivation in others, then this information is doubly important, isn’t it? Listen to how you’ve been talking to your staff, players, students or clients lately. Have you been building “want to’s” based on strongly desired goals and dreams, or have you been telling them they “should” train harder, or “have to” concentrate more, or “must” be more determined to win?

SIX TASKS
I encourage you to try it right now. Think of six tasks that are on your agenda to do this week. They might be work tasks, an assignment due for some course you’re doing, home chores, or training for your sport – it doesn’t matter. As you think of each task, rather than say to yourself, “I have to do such-and-such”, think instead: “I want to get that report to my boss by Friday morning”; or ” I want to go to the gym three times this week”; or “I want to practice my training routine for an hour three afternoons this week”; or I want to get the washing and ironing done tomorrow”. I now use this process for everything I choose to do – including wanting to put in my tax return on time!

Did you notice the difference in the way you felt about the tasks when you changed the language you used? You would have felt more relaxed and at ease about doing the tasks, and felt more ‘motivated’ to do them.

MOTIVATING YOUR CLIENTS

I recently read that because many people are so used to motivating themselves negatively, in order to be most effective in motivating others, first state what you DON’T want, and then state what you DO want – in the same sentence.

What is important is the sequence in which the negative and positive aspects of the directions are given. For instance, if I were giving instruction to a client about improving their speed and agility, notice how the order of what I say influences your response. Which of these two statements is more appealing to you? :

“This time, let’s start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the routine. No missed turns, or sloppy foot movements.” OR “This time, no missed turns, or sloppy foot movements. Let’s start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire exercise.”

Most people find the second statement more useful, because you are made aware of what to avoid, and then given a positive direction or goal at the end – which is what remains most clearly in your mind. Of course, in my opinion, an even better alternative would be a pure positive motivation statement such as : “This time, make every turn  and focus on good foot placement. Let’s start aggressively and maintain concentration throughout the entire exercise.”

Why be affected others’ negativity at all? Let’s teach them how to be positive!

Behavioural Flexibility and Adaptability


I’m in the midst of writing an article for the National Guild of Hypnotists publication, “The Journal of Hypnotism” on ‘Adaptability and Flexibility in Hypnosis’. This is something, as a practising hypnotherapist, I feel is an essential skill in order for me to give my very best to my patients/clients.

There is no one method, tool, technique works for everyone and as therapists, we must be aware of  what our clients present us with and how they respond to what we say and do as we figure out the most beneficial way to help them.

The same principal is true in every day life in how we interact with other people, not just in our verbal language but also in how we behave, our non-verbal communication which is much more telling most of the time than what we say.

Have you ever responded to someone else’s comments or behaviour in a way that either immediately or a bit later on you thought, “that didn’t quite go to plan”? Sometimes, because of the mood you were in i.e. grumpy, frustrated or angry etc you spoke, and/or behaved towards someone else from that mindset when they had absolutely nothing to do with it and they got the brunt of your mood.

It happens to all of us from time to time as it is part of being human and it most likely happens before you even realise it. When you’re in this frame of mind it can be difficult to remember that you have a choice in how you communicate with someone else as you are on a roll at that point, however it can be learnt like anything else.

Of course, equally you could be the one on the receiving end of it and it can be much easier at this point to behave differently and perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt, especially when you know you are not the cause of the other persons mood. By remaining calm and show a little care for the other person, it is quite possible that they will calm down quicker than they would have on their own, and certainly quicker than if you had retaliated in the same manner.

This is what I mean by having adaptability and flexibility in our behaviour. It allows us to make informed choices and make good decisions about how we can respond in any given situation and also to different people and their differing personalities. This doesn’t mean you roll over and become a soft touch that can be pushed around, what it does mean is that you can create positive solutions to many different situations that could, if handled in a less adaptable away lead to escalation, aggression and personal conflict.

This has become most evident for me with my kids who are 6 & 8. At their age they don’t necessarily understand why they feel the way they do and can get frustrated, angry and upset for no real apparent reason. This happens in particular when they are asked to do something and I’m pretty sure any of you that are parents will recognise this all too well. Now I realise that what I’m about to explain can’t realistically be used in the exact same way with adults, however you can adapt it to fit the circumstances you find yourself in.

What I do when my kids get angry and upset is continue to talk to them calmly and ask them what’s going on for them to feel the way they do right now. As I do this I ask them to take my hand and come and sit down with me, this gets compliance from the outset. If they won’t take my hand I ask them to come and sit down with me and if they won’t do that, I sit on the floor in front of them and hold their hands, at this point they just sit on my lap. If they are really upset and crying I look them in the eyes and get them to take a few deep breaths with me as I softly tell them to relax and calm down.

When I talk to them I explain, if they have not done what I originally asked them to do, why I got annoyed with them and ask them if they understand. I do not continue until they tell me that they do understand my reasons. If they are upset for no particular reason I ask them to tell how they feel, where they feel it and jut to let it go and give them a big hug. I tend to find that they sob their hearts out at this point and may not actually know at the end how or why they felt the way they did and they just feel better.

Now you understand why this won’t work with adults, I can’t imagine sitting with a client or a colleague on my lap with them sobbing into my shoulder, however, you can quite easily adapt this to fit your own style and the other persons to resolve a bad mood, confrontation or whatever is going on.

A simple way to help someone shift their mood and mindset is to change their posture. When we are in a bad mood, angry, annoyed, frustrated etc we adopt a certain posture which generally includes tensing muscles, clenching jaws among many other characteristics.

By talking to that person and mentioning how tense they look and making them aware of it can be a good start and then  lead them to take a deep breath and tell you what’s going on. Maybe even going for a coffee somewhere to do that so they can feel easier about talking in private, if they want to at all. Sometimes just showing a little compassion can make all the difference as they feel they are being heard and that someone else actually recognises them and the way they feel.

If they are up for it, go through a brief progressive muscle relaxation with them to help reduce tension and enable them to let that negative mood begin to slip away.

At the end of the day, if they turn round and tell you to Foxtrot Oscar, at least you have been kind enough to reach out and you can’t force it, they have to want to accept it. They may come back to you late anyway so give them the benefit of the doubt and leave it open.

Have a brilliant day.

Simon 🙂

P.S.

Chesterfield School in the UK have this really cool Behaviour for Learning Code poster which you can see below. We can all take something from this because every day’s a school day 😉

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Why do our memories of events change over time?


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I have been fascinated by the human brain for as long as I can remember, and how it stores information and recalls it for use when it is relevant and matches what is going on at the time.

I have studied how we all have our own perception of an event and how we all remember it slightly differently, which can be an advantage because we all notice different aspects. This means that as a group we can potentially piece together a more accurate picture of what happened.

However, this very interesting little article highlights how our brains update our memories to make them more relevant to the present, which distorts the original and therefore changing it and making it inaccurate to the original event. This has pros and cons,, as with many things in life and it makes for very interesting reading.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/04/271527934/our-brains-rewrite-our-memories-putting-present-in-the-past

How To Lift the Seasonal Blues


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I deal with a fairly high number of clients with depression and the symptoms that lead up to it and maintain it such as; stress, anxiety, insomnia, negative thinking and ruminating.

All these symptoms are part and parcel of daily life in lesser forms as we all experience them to some degree or other, yet when they are combined they become like a powerful magnetic force pulling you into depression.

It seems that this time of year is historically a time where a proportion of people feel depressed and there are a number of theories about this and this is a screen shot of a Google search for information on January Blues (and yes I know it’s into February already :-))

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It’s incredible that this very quickly pulls up 245,000,000 results which leaves you wondering how this can actually come about and what makes people so depressed so early in a new year.

There are many reasons, some are personal to the individual and could be based around bereavement and a fairly common occurrence around christmas is the break up of a relationship, which can obviously lead to a period of grief, loss and a degree of depression.

Below are some of the most common reasons for feeling low in January/Feb and some suggestions as to how to kickstart your positivity and motivation to turn things round for yourself.

The festive season is over and it’s back to work – no wonder January can feel like the gloomiest month of the year.

Add to that crappy weather, Christmas debts and a few failed resolutions, and it’s no surprise that some of us can fell miserable and low.

The good news is it takes less effort than you think to look at things differently and lift your mood.

Here are the top six reasons you might be feeling the January blues – and what you can do about them.

1) Weight gain over Christmas

Studies have shown that we can gain as much as five to seven pounds over the Christmas week alone.

What can You Do About It?

Festive weight gain doesn’t have to be permanent, and we can put way too much pressure on ourselves, particularly over the festive period and we often indulge even though we feel guilty about it and think, “what the hell, it’s christmas, I’ll shift the weight in January.”

We tend to exercise less and eat more during this period so it’s not rocket science really. So by maintaining your normal exercise routine and not eating everything in front of you, and yes I’m as guilty as the next man, you can break even over the festive period.

If you do indulge over christmas, then in January follow a sensible healthy eating plan with exercise, most people can lose approximately 2lb per week – that’s nearly all your Christmas weight gain in three weeks.

Another top tip is, instead of a diet, focus on your portion control as overeating at Christmas and at all the parties either side of the big day, it’s easy to continue the habit of large meals and delicious deserts and, you can even throw this in the mix during the festivities to stop you feeling so stuffed at every meal.

Cut back to three smaller meals a day and two snacks equalling around 1500 calories per day (2000 calories if you’re a man). This obviously varies from person to person and how much exercise you do and the kind of exercise. You can get a benchmark for this by asking a trainer at your local gym to help you, or you can find loads of information on the internet for BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) This won’t necessarily be 100% accurate, it will give you a good start though and help you plan more wisely.

If you’re desperate to lose the weight at a faster rate, try the following:

  • cut out treats such as your morning coffee and muffin
  • reduce sweet snacks to once a week
  • limit alcohol because it restricts the number of calories that can be burned off.

2) General post-Christmas blues

We can all be like reluctant school kids at times and return to work with feelings of lethargy, misery and a lack of personal fulfilment.

What Can You Do About It?

If you’re already counting down the days until your summer holiday, plan more breaks into your work life. We generally spend enough bloody time there so space them out.

Try a weekend away or ‘staycationing’ – where you take leave, but enjoy time at home doing things you enjoy or just relaxing. Or why not use your annual leave for the odd spontaneous day off?

If your feelings of being fed up at work go deeper, I recommend taking a serious look at how you can improve your current role before you look for a new job. Sometimes having a chat with your manager/boss about how you can develop yourself, your role or a promotion can break the state you’re in, and your boss may be in a similar place and this could help them in the process too.

Ask yourself two questions:

  • what can you do to make your existing job more interesting?
  • what do you love most and what are your professional strengths?

The conventional wisdom of making a career change is to work out “what next?” and then make it happen – but change often happens the other way round. Make something happen at work first and then more permanent change will follow.

Ways to do this are to look at your past successes and what you’ve enjoyed doing, because these will guide you to changing the right areas of your work life.

3) New Year over-analysis

Self-reflection at this time of year can make us all focus on what’s wrong with our life, leading us to set unrealistic goals to become our ‘ideal’ person.

Small wonder, then, that a third of us lose our resolve to keep our resolutions within a week.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

Although self-improvement is important, going overboard can backfire.

To lift your morale and gain perspective, make a list of everything that is already great with your life, taking stock of all that you feel grateful for right now.

It’s healthy to feel motivated to make changes at the beginning of a New Year, and avoid the mistake of only focusing on what’s missing in your life. Instead, focus on the changes you want to bring about from a balanced and optimistic perspective.

As for mistakes – who hasn’t made them? The smart thing to do is to grasp the lesson thoroughly and move on a little bit wiser for it.

Balance your drive for change with an appreciation of the here-and-now and your sense of disillusionment will fade away.

4) Family tension over Christmas

Feeling worn down by your family is normal after Christmas. Spending an extended amount of time cooped up with your relatives is a recipe for tension, no matter how well you usually get on.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

However, It’s important to realise that all families get on each other’s nerves at Christmas. It doesn’t mean you’re all dysfunctional or don’t love each other, it’s more that you’ve just spent too much time together.

It’s impotent though to recuperate by first resolving any holiday conflicts that have lingered on, because it’s these that will keep on making you feel miserable and stressed into January and beyond.

If you’ve had a big row over something, be the bigger person and back down. Why not consider an old-fashioned letter in the post to apologise or a thoughtful gift?

You will feel much happier if you try to build bridges rather than hang onto a grudge or sense of injustice.

Once you’ve found closure, forget what’s happened and schedule in some much-needed ‘me time’, remembering it’s a long time before you have to do it all again! A thought worth smiling about 🙂

5) Money worries after Christmas with a recession looming

You’ve spent too much at Christmas and you’re worried about your job because the UK economy is still a bit slow and more cuts promised by the government in 2014.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

The changing economic situation could actually be a good chance for everyone to get on top of their spending and debt.

Keep a note of your daily expenditure and focus on how you feel when you spend. This can help you adopt healthier habits that will then improve your financial situation. And, while you shouldn’t ignore your money problems, don’t dwell on your fears.

Ask yourself how you want your financial life to look this year and focus on how you’ll feel when you get the results you want.

By expecting positive results and working on changing your money habits for good, you can help change your financial future.

6) It’s cold and dark outside

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or the winter blues, is thought to affect up to two million people in the UK as the lack of natural sunlight leads us to feel depressed and lethargic.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

There is hope: the days are already getting longer, and January averages less rain and more hours of sunshine than December. although the last couple of months have been a bit of an exception, all right a lot of an exception for some parts of the UK.

Boost your mood by making a lunchtime walk a daily habit. Just 30 minutes of natural light, even weak winter sunlight, can be enough to make you feel happier and energised.

Don’t let the wintry weather put you off your exercise routine either. When it’s cold and dark outside, it is much more tempting to curl up on the sofa than to put on your tracksuit and brave the elements, and when you do get off your arse and do something, the exercise leaves you happier and more motivated filling you with positive feelings which will lift your mood and boost your motivation to do more.

Create a backup plan, so, if it is impossible to exercise outside due to crap weather conditions, you know what you can do as a good alternative. Swimming is a great option if it’s too rainy to run and you can always make use of your garage, like I do, and do a bodyweight circuit which needs absolutely no equipment.

I hope this post has been useful for you and helps bring a little clarity to why you may be feeling low and what you can do to shift it round.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.

Have a brilliant week.

Simon