Affect, Productivity, Recent Article, Self-awareness

Focus series: focus is a Process

The ability to focus is about to become more important than ever. The world is changing. Within ten years, thanks to new technologies, jobs, livelihoods, and the way we engage with the world will be unlike anything we know now. As will the skills needed to negotiate it. In a 2015 report on Australia’s future workforce prepared by CEDA (Committee for Economic Development in Australia) found that 5 million jobs that exist now will be gone in 10 years—most losses due to automation.  And to think, we’re already two years down the track.   To remain valuable in our economy … you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things.    ~ Cal Newport, Author of Deep Work   You’ve heard the words before … ‘Get on with it! Concentrate.’ The core problem is many of us don’t know how. We weren’t taught the how. It was just assumed…

Recent Article, Self-awareness

Book summary: HBR’s 10 Must Reads – On Managing Yourself

HBR’s 10 Must Reads – ‘On Managing Yourself’ is a collection of articles produced over the last thirty years.  Unlike ‘The Affect Theory Reader‘,  recently reviewed, ‘On Managing Yourself’ is one for the favourites list. Structure and inclusions I enjoy a good self-help book. This is hands down one of the best I’ve read.  It includes articles by academics such as Clayton Christensen, Daniel Goleman, Michael Porter and Peter Drucker. While it perhaps doesn’t have the immediately engaging quality of a book by, say, researcher and story-teller, Brené Brown, On Managing Yourself is still fascinating. Read about managing your energy (not your time); about distractibility and impatience; how to realise moment of greatness, and drive great performance.     At first glance, a few of the articles might appear dated. However, they stand the test of time. Peter Drucker’s article Managing Oneself, originally published in 1999, is a case in point. So many…

Recent Article, Self-awareness

Focus series: Still making apologies for mindfulness at work

We’re still making apologies for mindfulness. Have you attended a team meeting and watched as a leader apologises for attempting a mindfulness exercise? Mindfulness is fast gaining acceptance by individuals, but practice within Australian workplaces is lagging. A mindful practice is still considered something you can do ‘in your own time’—unless you count token flag-waving during mental health week.   We still hesitate to talk about emotions at work, despite the fact that we are emotional beings who can learn much through reflective and mindful practice. Mindfulness surely sits neatly with discussions on compassion, ethical decision-making, and self-management. However, too few organisations promote mindfulness as a real tool to support employee well-being. Or if they do, it’s flavoured with an apology rather than modelled and thoughtfully implemented.   We shouldn’t feel like we need forbearance for promoting a mindful practice. Our workplaces benefit from having team members who are present, aware…

Affect, Recent Article, Self-awareness

Focus series: Once upon an Affect

Once upon a time… April thinks back to the first time she consciously linked emotions to performance—to her ability to focus on the task in front of her. It was senior year; she was sitting down to block exams. First up? The Ancient History final; which is worth a considerable percentage of the final grade. Hold up! Have you ever sat down to slog through a tough problem at work or sit an exam and wondered what the hell you were doing?  Have you ever sat down and thought, god, I’m just not smart enough to do this? A clever person would have figured this out already because smart people know how to concentrate. Smart people focus. Me too. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember being taught how to focus at school, at University, or at work. The expectation was simply that you could.  And would. Hats off…

Recent Article, Resilience, Self-awareness

Easy breeds…What? Simplistic vs. Accessible.

We are consistently encouraged to make things easy. Every day the media and the web insist—in myriad ways—that easier is somehow better. Take language for example… When writing this post I am encouraged to use sentences with fewer than twenty words. Heaven forbid I allow greater than 300 words appear on the page before inserting a subheading. If I want to avoid the awful red mark against my post I’d better ‘chunk it up’! Fewer words. More sub-headings. Less complex sentences. Shorter snippets. The idea being: by ‘making things easy’ we breed understanding.   There are times when making things easy is a good option: customer service, navigating technology, statistical analysis, law, to name a few. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t make ideas comprehensible, reachable, available, attainable. Please do!  There’s no denying, simplicity and familiarity help us get through a day filled with distractions. Our ability to process so much so…

Recent Article, Self-awareness

When you’re on the defensive…

Have you ever gone into a conversation already on the defensive? You enter the room, already tense. Your neck muscles are so tight, your shoulders ache. Your chest feels like someone’s holding a battering-ram close to it, ready to swing, and all you can think about is getting through the next few minutes. It’s bad. You’d rather be anywhere else. When you feel yourself clenching up this way, it’s best to take a few minutes to review.   Here are my tips for getting through a conversation when you know going in you are ‘on the defensive’.   Grab a friend, a colleague, or as Mary did, seek out a coach who can help you understand your triggers. Sometimes it takes a friend or colleague ge to give us a heads-up when we’re about to lose it. A trusted peer, mentor or coach might just see what’s happening before we…

Productivity, Self-awareness

Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – Book Summary

Finding Flow, The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life is one of those books that you mark up with stickies and tags. A few weeks ago I found myself coming back to read it again. I’m glad I did. This is one good book! Named by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ‘flow’ is that state when you’re ‘in the zone’. When a person is in flow, they are completely engaged in an activity; absorbed, energised, without feeling self-conscious. In flow, a person is likely to lose time—or rather, time because distorted and an hour can feel like a moment. Have you experienced flow? When? How? The book expands on previous work in as much as it provides an insight into daily activities and explains how you and I can find flow in everyday tasks; how happiness isn’t enough for a ‘good life’. Flow is the key. Csikszentmihalyi makes the point that while we (generally)…

Creativity, Productivity, Self-awareness

Mind Mapping. Time to get creative.

Not too long ago I wanted to revisit my goals and the guiding principles that help me orientate my way through life as was reminded of the benefits of mind mapping.   Mind mapping gets things out of your head and in front of you, where you can see them. Mind mapping is a great way to get ideas out of your head an onto a page. Not only that, it’s quick and easy to learn and to do. Start with whatever idea is holding your attention and throw it down on a page, onto a whiteboard or into a mind mapping software tool. As you focus on that first idea, your mind will automatically generate other ideas linked to it. Write down whatever springs to mind. Don’t judge (you can do that later) just write. And write more. Get creative. Keep going until everything is out of your head…