Useful Metaphors

Useful Metaphors

In the Results Accelerator experience, we use several metaphors to help to explain how the client’s internal Results System works. These include the Driving metaphor, the Applesauce metaphor, Two Sides of the Hand and more.

For our new virtual Results Accelerator Certification Program (RACP) class we’ve created a video that introduces the concepts of the Results System metaphors.

Here’s a link to the video – watch it and top up your skills!

BTW, current Results Accelerator coaches can re-take the class as a refresher for only $399. You can do any or all of the lessons and assignments and attend the live practice labs if you wish. It’s a great time to sharpen your skills!

Life in Four Quarters

Life in Four Quarters

Are you giving your client perspective in looking at their life and work with the Life Quarters model?

Remember, that this model is especially useful for clients who are in the transition from Q2 to Q3 and those who are planning the transition to their post-work-life. Oh, and everyone else too!

Refresh your understanding and ability to articulate the Life Quarters model to your clients in our video Explaining the Life Quarters to your Client.

What Your People Need from You as a Leader Right Now

What Your People Need from You as a Leader Right Now

Your employees are dealing with a lot right now.

If it’s not the effects of the unpredictable pandemic, the tectonic economic changes are rattling everyone from top to bottom in your organization. Add to that the societal and political issues that have everyone on edge and concerned about the future. Then there’s the “new normal” of “no normal.” No wonder it feels like uncharted territory. Whew!

So, what do your people need from you as a leader right now?

With “people being people” and all, this immense pressure and disruption means that members of your team need a level of understanding and support from you that has been amped up by the current conditions.

Where to begin? Focus on five issues (some would say opportunities) in your team’s work life right now that can help them navigate the choppy waters now and ahead.

#1 Discomfort with Ambiguity

There’s a lack of clarity, unanswerable questions and unpredictability that has your people struggling. After all, for most people clarity equals comfort. And, even where there is clarity these days, it changes quickly. Thus, no clarity, no comfort.

To help your staff with this, articulate (and constantly reinforce) what they can count on… from you, from the team and from the organization. Just make sure that what you promise, you deliver. This consistency gives a degree of comfort in the face of opacity. Grounding slays ambiguity.

# 2 Resolving Anxiety

You (and your team) are experiencing massive, rapid change right now. People (and maybe you, too) are frustrated that they can’t get things done or at the speed they would like to. And, the neuroscience of our brains finds change hard to deal with (even if we like a bit of change). All of this adds up to a constant state of low-level (or high-level) anxiety. Change ratchets up anxiety.

So, to help your team… focus on what is still the same. In the face of drastic or uncomfortable changes, it can feel like everything is different. And, if everything is different then everything can feel scary or unsafe or unsteady. Yet, the likelihood is that when there are disruptive changes, the lion’s share of things are mostly the same.

After all, you still are selling to and servicing your customers. Your team is still meeting regularly. Your colleagues are still your colleagues. You have solved difficult problems before. Why not emphasize what is still the same in the face of change and relieve some of the pressure? It’s not denial… it’s reality.

#3 The Realm of Distraction

There are squirrels everywhere as we learned from the distractible canines in the movie Up. And right now the distractions are real doozies. For you and your team, it feels like a swirling, erratic dust storm surrounding you. It may be hard to see through the storm to the other side.

What will it take to handle this? It’s focus. Focusing intentionally on the right things helps you make your way through to the light. Having a touchstone in the wilderness of worry and distraction anchors you to deal with the things flying around in the air.

What that looks like at work is knowing and using routines (and rituals). Re-establish clear routines or create them anew. Write them down as a checklist for you and have your direct reports do the same. Then fashion checklists for the routines of your collective team as well. You don’t have to wing everything – fall back on the routines.

#4 Believing the Story

You and your team have beautiful minds. In situations such as now however, your beautiful mind can be a beautiful minefield. Because of how our brains work, we have perceptions, beliefs, expectations, assumptions and habits of thinking that course through our minds. They are largely invisible, unconscious and in the background. That’s not a bad thing – it can help us function. Without help it’s hard to see them. They are essentially “blind spots.”

These invisible thoughts can come back to bite us. Our brains blend thoughts together based on some past experiences and we start to believe they are true in all situations. For example, think about this statement from a member of your team, “If we lose more staff, we’ll never be able to get the work done.” With that thinking, how likely is it that the team can creatively work smarter not harder given cutbacks or constraints. Yet, in this person’s mind, these two thoughts of “losing staff” and “never getting the work done” are forever fused and completely disenabling. And, the person doesn’t even realize it. And it’s not just them, it’s us too.

How do you help your team members be in their right minds? Be their coach. Have conversations with them about their thinking concerning their various projects and tasks. Listen for where they may be limiting their own thinking or ruling out options outright they should explore. Have them think about whether what they are thinking must always be so. Challenge them to think differently. It’s time to step beyond the old thinking patterns to solve new problems.

#5 Resilience and Resourcefulness Required

It’s a roller coaster out there. One minute things are up. The next they are down. It wears-and-tears on the minds and bodies of you and your team.

The solution… build resilience and resourcefulness in the face of the ever-changing ground beneath your feet. How to do this? Recognize that you and your team members each have what are called “core needs.” These are the needs you have from time-to-time for the types of experiences that really energize, satisfy and fulfill you. They “refill your tanks,” if you will.

The change of circumstances and the constraints you are tackling drain your tanks. And, because of the change, your usual ways of refilling them may be harder to attain. Think access to exercise or social engagements and the like. Knowing your personal core needs (and those of your team members) can help you be creative about how to keep the tanks “topped off.” They are the foundation of being resilient and resourceful in the face of extreme challenge. Resiliency is a participation sport. Use core needs to win the game.

More: You’re a Leader Without All the Answers? No Problem.

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My Mind Was There a Minute Ago

My Mind Was There a Minute Ago

It is sure easy to become distracted these days.

One minute an idea is there. The next, it’s lost in the ether with another thought, email, text, pop-up, phone alert “ding” or incomplete task diverting me.  How about for you?

At work and at home (which for me these days is 100% the same), I’m finding it increasingly challenging to focus on the “heads-down” work that is a portion of my daily work as a professional coach and consultant (like writing this blog).

I don’t know about you, but I find the increased use of technology for every single meeting is exhausting and mentally draining.  And, I’ve used Zoom daily for my business for over five years – I’m not a “newbie.”

It also seems twice as hard to get things done in the current climate. It is taking more of my “mental cycles” to do work that was second-nature in the past.

Is it any wonder that it’s difficult to keep your already permeable attention span focused on anything for a period of time?

Plus, if you’re a leader trying to successfully get your team to deliver for your clients, your constituents, your partners or your stakeholders in the midst of endless distractions, what do you do to help?

Here are five ideas for leading yourself (and others) in a time of great distraction:

Gain Focus

There isn’t one right answer on how to focus. You have a pattern that works for you; I have one that works for me. So, it’s knowing the one that works for you and using it that’s the key.

How do you know? Ask yourself, “When I’ve had the ability to strongly or easily maintain focus in the past, what did I do?” Was it while studying in school, spending time in an engaging conversation, or working on a hobby you love? What was it? How did you go about it?

For me, I am a walking case of undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder. To overcome this, I have come to understand that I need to “get centered” and then “get busy.” I’m not very “New Age” but a few minutes of breathing and meditation gets me into that zone. It seems to line up the runway lights so I can take off with my work. To help me remember to do this, I have a sticky-note prominently on my computer monitor that says, “Center First.” And, it works.

What’s the method of getting focused that works for you?

Stay in the Present

I’ve noticed that many of my distracted thoughts are not about this very moment. They are either re-living or re-hashing something that has already happened or anticipating something that hasn’t happened yet. Is that true for you as well?

I’d wager that very few distracted thoughts are about the present moment. Even the “Oh, I forgot to send that email” really isn’t about right now. It’s about your worries about something not happening or how someone will perceive you. Jot it down and go back to the important task you were doing.

Stop and ask yourself, “Does this thought pertain to what I’m doing right now?” If not, note it, file it or forget it. Remember too, it takes a little while to get used to this skill as well.

The Power of Routine

To paraphrase an old expression, “Sanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same result.”

Getting consistent results (whether its professional productivity or personal satisfaction) depends on knowing and repeating what works. What can you do to make routines of the things you want to do and achieve consistently? Maybe creating a checklist or “cheat sheet” for yourself would help.

As important as using a routine is for creating repeatable success, it’s also important to recognize when something is no longer working. Sometimes we do things by rote. We just repeat them because they have worked in the past. Yet, we forget to re-evaluate them to see if changes, tweaks, or a wholesale re-do is in order.

What haven’t you turned into an intentional routine that will give you ease, comfort and satisfying results? And, what do you need to change amongst your current routines that will make a difference for you?

Get into the Rhythm

In a situation like we have today where the “old normal” isn’t so normal any more, are you scrambling to keep up? I am. As much as I like variety, lots of change all at once is hard to accommodate. Sometimes I criticize myself for feeling frustration and resistance to thinking and behaving differently. This, in fact, is actually “normal.”

Our brains perceive change as a type of threat. It’s uncomfortable and awkward at times. Because of this, sometimes we expect that unless we are instantly comfortable with something new, we think we are failing. I’ll admit I do that sometimes. Well, maybe most of the time.

The key is to get into a new rhythm with the changed habit of thought or action by sticking with it. When we have enough experience with it, we become more comfortable.

Yes, on occasion “being in the flow” just happens. However, more often it takes a lot of intentional practice to get the new rhythm and flourish with the change.

Are you sticking with it long enough to get to the other side of change?

Create Small Wins

Perhaps you suffer, as I do, from a bit of perfectionism. I admit it. I want the big, perfect accomplishment or achievement and I want it every time.

However, I’ve come to realize that this attitude and viewpoint actually leads me directly into distraction. When I think, fantasize or fret about the completed result, I begin to think about everything that it will take to get there. By that, I mean get there perfectly.

That thinking sabotages me because I become distracted and divert my attention from doing the “next right thing” to get the job done. The wider I mentally cast my net, the more likely it is that the internet, the refrigerator, my email or researching that long-neglected vacation option becomes vital to do in this moment. The outcome: procrastination.

My Jedi-mind-trick for this is to make the “next right thing” a goal and getting there a “win.” Setting my sights to the practical short-run and allowing myself to feel good about “checking that box” helps me stay on track. When I bring my head out of the clouds and down to my feet, stuff gets done. And, maybe it’s good enough rather than perfect. But, it’s done!

How could you break your work into small wins to keep yourself excited, motivated and focused?

Distraction is easy but with an intentional strategy, it doesn’t have to derail you.

More: Your Head is a Nice Place to Visit But Please Don’t Live There

Dealing with Your Team’s Anxiety Even Though You Aren’t a Shrink

Dealing with Your Team’s Anxiety Even Though You Aren’t a Shrink

The health of your business depends on the health of your employees. The mental health of your employees, that is.

With so much rapid change, it’s hard to accommodate it. Work in many fields has gone instantly virtual (by necessity or by choice).  With the uncertain economy, many are experiencing layoffs and furloughs (or the fear of them). And, around the world society is shifting in massive ways very quickly.

No wonder your people have a bit of anxiety. It’s a normal reaction to change. Our brains are instinctively wired that way.

It’s what your people do with the fear and anxiety that makes the difference. And it’s what you do as their leader to create an environment where they can cope with it that can cause your business to thrive or dive.

I don’t have credentials in clinical psychology and likely neither do you. That’s okay. Know your limitations. Some of your employees may need access to counseling or employee assistance programs to deal with their many pressures. It’s a good thing. Encourage them to take advantage of what will help them.

In your day-to-day leadership however, there’s much you can do to prevent your team’s anxiety from taking your business down.  Here are six strategies you can use as a leader to keep the fear anxiety in its place:

Mindset Makes the Difference

From the neuroscience research, we know that what our brains focus on creates the reality we function in. So, our mindset has a major influence and impact. The tone you set lays the path for your people to follow. Some key mindsets to reinforce in team meetings and in individual conversations…

“It’s normal to have some fear and anxiety in the face of change or uncertainty”
“We will get through the challenges by keeping our focus on where we need to go”
“We have dealt with difficult situations before and we can do it again”
“We can plan ‘tight’ and ‘hang loose’ because flexibility is essential”

Emphasize What is Still the Same

As significant as many changes in your industry, business, or workplace might be, there’s still more that is the same as before rather than different.  Changes are easier to take when they seem evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Frame any changes to the organization, mission, policies, processes, systems, etc. as “doing the same thing we have been doing but in a somewhat different way.” Saying, “the business environment is completely disrupted, we need to change the way we do absolutely everything,” will send people into orbit even if it’s true.

Make Space for Them

Many people, especially the more extroverted among us, need the opportunity to talk about what’s on their mind. Making some space in a staff meeting to discuss what they are thinking airs out the cobwebs. And, team members realize that others may have similar feelings or alternative viewpoints.

But, how do you keep from it turning into a complaint session? An easy way to do this is by implementing a “check-in” at the beginning of the meeting where each member of the team says something about what is on their mind that day or even just a word or phrase that sums up their day so far. Everyone’s voice gets into the room, you get the pulse of your team and those that are bursting to say something can speak. Win, win, win!

Focus on the Must-Dos

When people are suffering from high (or even low) anxiety, their performance drops. Yet, you need to keep the engine moving.

Keep an eye on the mindset of those team members with mission-critical responsibilities or functions that would be points-of-failure if neglected. Buoy those individuals where needed to keep your operations operating.

Don’t Be the Source of Greater Anxiety

If you enjoy pouring more lighter fluid on your backyard barbecue after the fire has started, this part is for you. When teams are feeling uneasy, this is not the time for you to be a “bomb thrower.” It is the time for a stabilizer and an anchor. That doesn’t mean you don’t support and encourage big changes. Just keep your cool so you can be the example that others need to make it through.

And, you’re human, right? You probably have concerns, discomfort and doubts. Find your own support system elsewhere. Being vulnerable and honest with your team is important. Just don’t rely on them to shore you up.

Resist the Urge

Your demeanor may be composed and unshaken. Anxiety for you may be merely “positive tension.” Remember that’s not true for many people. Anxiety leads to overwhelm. Which leads to debilitation for some employees.

Above all, please don’t tell them to, “Stop whining.” Instead, encourage them to express what they are feeling and thinking but not to dwell there. After some (brief) “air time” encourage them to focus forward rather than on past fears and present tensions or concerns. Staying stuck in the story doesn’t help. Empathizing without excessive sympathizing is the key.

You have a great opportunity to channel the frenetic energy of your people into positive action if you focus on leading in a way that helps your people resolve their anxiety.