This is not an existential question about the meaning of life.
Not today anyway.
It’s much more about that thing you say to yourself every time you sit in a mind-numbing, tedious, pointless talking shop a.k.a. a meeting.
I recorded this short video in 2019 when a lot of us were meeting face to face as well as virtually.
But every single tip I share with you works whatever format your meeting takes.
Feel free to share it with anyone else who might find it useful.
Are you a people pleaser?
Always putting everyone else before yourself?
How’s that working for you?
Resentment, anger, annoyance, teeth-gritting and much more all simmering under the surface?
I have had to work really hard to overcome my people-pleasing tendencies over the years.
Because it was one of the biggest contributors to overwhelm and overwork for way too long.
Once I learned to say ‘no’ to things - and to people - I felt much more powerful and empowered.
Lighter and more energised.
If you’re a people pleaser too, this five minute video will help you.
Feel free to share it with anyone else who might find it useful.
Watch here: Saying ‘no’ is a superpower
Many of us struggle to agree goals with our team members around ‘behaviour change’ or ‘interpersonal/people skills’.
We might say something like ‘I’d like you to be more proactive’ or ‘more of a team player’ or ‘more assertive’.
But these statements are way too vague and open to interpretation.
So, let’s get rid of the ambiguity with my two-step process.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want Sue to improve her communication skills.
Ask yourself: What’s the impact of Sue’s communication skills on you or others?
Say it out loud or write it down as if you were telling a story or talking to a friend.
You might say:
‘Sue’s great but she’ll never use two words when twenty will do. She’s unprepared a lot of the time and she waffles so we get confused and lose interest. She seems completely unaware that people are looking at their watches and switching off...
I always say the simple things can be the most powerful.
Why make life complicated? Especially now.
You can do these three things anyplace, anywhere, anytime.
No rocket science required.
One - Understand human behaviour
We dedicate a fair amount of time to understanding our customers, clients or service-users and their needs.
But what about our colleagues?
You don’t need to be a behavioural psychologist but you do need to understand how people behave if they’re in ‘survival mode’
If they’re feeling threatened, fearful or overwhelmed they’ll be operating in ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode with elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline.
This may show up as procrastination or avoidance; extreme perfectionism, over-working or disengagement - or aggression; tearfulness or invisibility.
These are often ‘coping’ mechanisms that our reptilian brain is telling us will ‘keep us safe’.
What you can do
Before Christmas, I put together some tips and ideas from my Effortless Leader Facebook Community on leading our teams through lockdown. You can read the published article here:
Be Safe and Care
We're continuing the conversation over in the Effortless Leader Community and sharing new ideas all the time, so do join us if you're not there already.
Recognise that heading?
Intellectually, we often know what we ‘should’ do, but we procrastinate.
Three things I’ve heard this week:
‘I know I should reach out to more people in other parts of the business, but I don’t’
‘I know I should get this re-structure sorted but I keep putting it on the back burner’
‘I know I should have asked that question in the meeting, but I didn’t’.
That word ‘should’ is very judgemental, isn’t it?
If we know we ‘should’, why don’t we?
Normally it’s fear – of rejection, of humiliation, of not being good enough, of getting it wrong.
The worst thing we can say to ourselves is ‘I’ll do it when I’m feeling more confident’.
Because action leads to confidence, not the other way round.
(And stop kidding yourself that you ‘don’t have time’).
When I work with you, I help you take action.
Yes, it might be...
In my very first coach training programme 20 or so years ago I was introduced to Timothy Gallwey’s Inner Game books.
One of the concepts that really struck a chord, from his Inner Game of Tennis is this:
‘The opponent inside your head is more formidable than the one on the other side of the net.’
Ain’t that the truth!
In those days, the opponent inside MY head was the size of a planet!
When you work with me, I’m completely on your case with this because I know how much it can hold you back.
In fact, I’m like a dog with a bone because I hate seeing talented, experienced and compassionate people holding themselves back from their potential, their greatness, their opportunities.
It can be hard to change that voice at first – but you CAN.
We ALWAYS find a way to turn those negative words and phrases around and enable you to act from some new, more empowering beliefs.
Is there a magic wand?
Of course there isn’t.
(Don’t believe anyone...
‘You’re too soft’ (I know but..)
‘You need to make a decision and stop procrastinating’ (I know but…)
‘You need to sort it out’ (I know but…)
‘You need to have more self-belief’ (I know but…)
‘You need to just do it’ (I know but…)
‘You need to cut him/her out of your life’ (I know but…)
‘You need to stop making excuses’ (I know but…)
‘You need to leave – it’s making you ill’ (I know but….)
Does this sound familiar?
This is your voice inside your head speaking.
But that conflict between genuinely wanting to do something (not because someone else thinks you ‘SHOULD’ do it) and actually making a start can keep us going round in circles for weeks, months – and dare I say it - even years.
And the excuse you’ll be making to yourself is often ‘it’s not the right time.’
But be honest...
Carl Jung famously said that that ‘everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding of ourselves’.
So next time we talk about a ‘difficult’ team member, colleague or ‘friend’ – what might it teach us about ourselves?
Loud people who talk non-stop annoy me intensely. The ones that never shut up.
So somewhere inside me is probably a louder person trying to get out. To be heard.
Which is a helpful piece of self-awareness for today!
P.S. It can feel tough when you're leading in lockdown and trying to figure out what to do for the best, manage your own resilience and care for your team. My Effortless Leader Facebook community is a great place for sharing, support and resources. Come and join us if you're not already there.
Would you be offended if anyone asked you that question – or even thought it?
It’s rare that people ask you outright but they’re thinking it.
Have you got my back? Will you do what you say you will? If I tell you something will I suffer as a result? Can I make a mistake and not have to cover it up through fear of the consequences? Can I admit I don’t know how to do something? Can I be vulnerable and still be okay?
I guess we’d all like to think we are 100% trustworthy.
We all believe we do the right thing.
And we have integrity.
But despite our good intentions (which nobody can see) we often don’t create the environment of trust that we’d like to think we do.
We’re not bad people, we just have a blind spot somewhere!
We can all build greater trust (and psychological safety, while I’m at it) from the ground up - or whatever our starting point is.
It’s not rocket science.
But it’s crucial to our success as...