Daily Quote: The Mindset and Four critical skills of Mentally Tough people

Daily Quote: ” In terms of instilling the values of mental toughness and self-confidence focus, will power, good habits and perseverance are the skills that will sustain you through tough times and temporary discouragement. Mark W. Hardwick 

1.  MT people accept the past and learn from their mistakes

Mentally strong people don’t waste time ruminating on the past and wishing things could be different. They accept their past and learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad incidents or experiences. They don’t fantasize about the good old days. They focus on living in the “here and now” and making realistic and specific  plans for the future.

2. MT people are  life long learners. They accept responsibility for their choices and control what they can control. (short memories) Being MT means not dwelling on mistakes or bad decisions they just try not to repeat same mistake by moving on and doing better the next time a similar situation presents itself. They are life long learners.

3. MT people are change agents. They embrace change and uncertainty.  When doing things they remain open and flexible to changing their position or action at any moment to succeed at what they are doing. They don’t shy away from taking calculated risks.

Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

4. MT people have a reality and optimistic Mind Set. They don’t waste time on energy on things they can’t control. They also have the ability to have a short memory when things go wrong. You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over line calls by opponents or fretting traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

Self-Doubt –Learn to Use the Challenge Response of Self-Efficacy

” Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the sources of action required to manage prospective situations…remember self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure…People who regard themselves as highly efficacious act, think, and feel differently from those who perceive themselves as in-efficacious. They produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it…People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.” Dr. Albert Bandura 
From Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory., 1986.

A concise summary by psychology.about.com describes why the theory of self-efficacy is so important in the psychology of self is because  self-efficacy can have an impact on everything from psychological states to behavior to motivation. Most people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change in their behavior, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached.

” People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered
  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments

People with a weak sense of self-efficacy:

  • Avoid challenging tasks
  • Believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their capabilities
  • Focus on personal failings and negative outcomes
  • Quickly lose confidence in personal abilities”
Self-Doubt is a difficult burden to carry around everyday. The next time you have self-doubt challenge this negative thought or opinion about you. To survive and thrive in this life means that you need to find your own inner compass of strength and build unshakable confidence and BELIEF about who you are and what your strengths are for building a fulfilling and meaningful life. Don’t let other people define who you are and how you need to live your life.

MISTAKE #1: Accepting Other People’s  “Wrong Opinion” of You

In our desire to please people and get along, most people early in life decide it is more to their benefit to accept a bad opinion of themselves from a  parent, peer or teacher. – even if it’s not true, so as to be accepted and stay out of trouble.

“You’re terrible at sports because your feet are too big.”
“You don’t have the creativity to be an artist.”
“Your too weak to get stay the course and make a living as an actor.”
“Just give up the this dream of being a musician you don’t have a good ear and are tone-deaf. Find something more practical to do.”

I’ve noticed that many people accept these statements even when they don’t agree with them.

Then they go out and do something they don’t believe in and try to live the life set-out for them or encouraged by others. They do this even if they are not interested or passionate about the suggestions. Living a life chosen by others is a terrible choice because it makes you feel dependent and reduces your ability to live an autonomous and responsible life. You always have the excuse “I am just doing what you recommended for me to do.” I am sure these advice givers had good intentions but they robbed you of learning first hand what was best for you to do given your strengths and self-desires. This backdoor excuse reduces your ability to make decisions and reduces your ability to take ownership for your life.

This approach can will crush your confidence instantly.Why? Because to be confident, you need to trust yourself to make decisions and be able to tell yourself the truth. This dependency approach thus limits self-awareness and self efficacy. This approach of dismissing responsibility for choices is the root cause of self-doubt. This decision to believe others can do major damage to your confidence and emotion health and the ability to life an independent and reality based life.

Case in point: An employee I worked with was disappointed and upset about her lack of promotion to Supervisor on an important audit for the firm. She just wasn’t getting the best assignments because the Manager’s had decided she didn’t have the experience and ability to hand supervision of others. (yet).

What’s the message you think the Manager on the Furr’s audit is sending?” I asked her.

That I’m not good enough or smart enough to supervise others,” she said.

And how ARE you perceiving your skills and abilities to handle this assignment?” I asked her.

I’m not myself at all. I’m always nervous when interacting with others I am not trusting my training or instincts and I’m messing up even the simplest work papers and discussions with other colleagues or the client.” she said.

So what is the issue self-doubt, lack of communication or lack of training to learn the way to do these things – guess what?

This employee came from one of the best accounting schools in the country where she obtained B grades. She didn’t lose confidence because her manager didn’t allow her to supervise others or get good assignments. She lost it because she KNOWS she is a smart and competent auditor, but decided to believe and buy-in to a different view of herself by managers in her firm. When you lose self-belief or buy-in do other viewpoints about your abilities its ‘game over’ for your motivation and confidence.

Your self-belief or self-efficacy is your basic tool for success and overcoming barriers in your life.Question what you KNOW to be true, and you’ll do terrible damage to your career and your self belief. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“Mark, if I have a boss who thinks I’m not smart or experienced enough to be included as the supervisor on a project, then how dare I second-guess him or convince him I am ready. “

Easy. Ask him what he needs to see from her to show him she is ready to supervise this audit assignment. After he responds, set-up a mutual agreed to performance and training plan to get the experiences and training needed for your success. Be more assertive about your skills and abilities. That’s what your manager is hoping for, and anything less is a disservice to both of you. Your boss may be the smartest person alive, but even he doesn’t have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. Heck, even Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team.

Remember, human beings are not built to persist and their belief in themselves and be crushed very easily by people they respect and look-up to. Unfortunately, many of us give up at the first sign of struggle, and the biggest struggle of all is believing in yourself even when no one else does.

You can change and in changing prove to others your competence and confidence to succeed where they thought you couldn’t. You can persevere and believe and with belief comes confidence and a positive self-fulfilling prophecy can be set in motion to change other people’s view and opinion of your abilities.

Part1: New Year Resolutions–What does Evidence -Based Research Reveal About Secrets of Willpower

The start of a New Year is always special. For me there is always a feeling of renewal as we look to a new year, a reflection back to the year that has passed and a new beginning. I have a sense of excitement for keeping things that are working, making changes or adopting new habits to make the year even better than the last year. However, do you ever find yourself making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals only to abandon them as the New Year tick docks away.

So I decided to check the research and selected the nationwide survey done in 2013 by Opinion Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey which I found to be very interesting and insightful on this topic of setting and completing resolutions. The bottom line is that 3 out of 4 people are not successful in completing their resolutions In addition, according to this research study, if you are happy you probably don’t set any resolutions. Unhappy people set resolutions more than happy especially in regard to money goals, 59% to 41%. So if you do not complete your goals for the New Year you are not alone.

So the question becomes what are some of the secrets and ways to set and fulfill your New Year Resolutions?

Studies now show that self-control is a limited resource that may be strengthened by the foods we eat. Laughter and conjuring up powerful memories may also help boost a person’s self-control. And, some research suggests, we can improve self-control through practice, testing ourselves on small tasks in order to strengthen our willpower for bigger challenges.

Learning to bring your behavior under control even with arbitrary rules does build character in that it makes you better able to achieve the things you want to achieve later on,” said Dr. Baumeister. “Self-control is a limited resource and is depleted more you use it.. People make all these different New Year’s resolutions, but they are all pulling off from the same pool of your willpower. It’s better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.”

In Part 2 on New Year Resolutions we will discuss techniques and tools to support your goal of personal change for 2014. Stay tune. Coach Mark

Is Stress A Silent Killer? The choice is yours.

Weekly Quote: ” The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James

Stress has been labeled the “silent killer.” This is somewhat a misnomer. Stress can be a contributor to some deadly conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, thus if left unabated it could lead to death. On the other handle it can be a source of stimulation to support  improved performance and provides an opportunity to live a more exciting and lifestyle. Your attitude is the key to making stress a positive or negative factor in your life. Stress effects us all differently so how we handle requires a customized plan. A plan that its foundation aims to create balance in your life. This assertion about stress is true depending on your mindset about what stress is and how it affects you. If you see, stress as a signal for living and a necessary part of the “yin and yang” of life you are on the right path.

On the other hand, if you see stress as bad or evil and a thing that needs to be controlled or eliminated maybe it is necessary to up-date your mental map, beliefs and outlook about the the benefits and risks of stress.  Recent research points out that those people who see stress as bad actually bring on more negative effects of stress. Stress does affect the body and mind on all levels – physical, mental and emotional and there is a difference between acute stress and ongoing chronic stress. Recent research has demonstrated that chronic stress elevates levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones, which suppresses the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, impairing memory. This is in addition to the effect that chronically elevated levels of stress hormones have on the entire body, such as increasing the risk of chronic obesity, heart disease and depression.

The bottom line on this latest research is summarized by Dr. Daniela Kaufer,  I think the ultimate message of our research is an optimistic one. Stress can be something that makes you better, but it is a question of how much, how long and how you interpret or perceive it. Stress can be a very positive motivator for personal growth and memory development.” Remember Aristotle’s “golden mean” approach to living a balanced life. To paraphrase this great philosopher “too much of anything can cause imbalance and overwhelm the human system and upset the natural order of things.”

While we all have different triggers that cause stress, there are ways that everyone can find to re-store balance and live a happy and satisfying life.

Whole Life Practices for balancing Stress and Recovery

Stress has the potential for many illnesses and ailments, if left unabated. When you’re stressed you’re in survival mode, which shuts down the non-essential functions until the issue passes.  The problem with chronic stress is those “non-essentials,” like the immune system, continue to be suppressed , therefore increasing your chances of getting sick. Here are some tips to help you deal with chronic stress.

Tip #1 – Learn the Recovery Model–REFRAMING YOUR PERCEPTION AND VIEW OF STRESS

Schedule Time Off

Work is a cause of routine stress according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Are you feeling on edge all the time when you think about your  job and work environment? Are you working long hours to try to increase productivity, but instead just end up feeling overworked? It’s important to schedule your time off first, even before factoring in time to get your things to do list completed. Without downtime to recoup, you won’t have time for exercise, you will be distracted by tension, anxiety and stress which will reduce your productivity.

Tip #2 – Keep a Reflection and Growth Diary

This diary is not for recording dreams. It’s for keeping track of how you’re sleeping – the amount, the quality and the time it takes to fall asleep. Sleep is one part of your day that is greatly affected by stress, which in turn can affect everything else. Monitoring sleep is a health awareness habit that can catch some of the first signs of stress.

Tip #3– Create Healthy Physical routines and workouts by running and walking.

You’ve heard of fight or flight syndrome, but did you know stress is what gives you the ability to do either in an undesirable situation? A rush of nerve chemicals and hormones help in survival, but when this state is prolonged it has the opposite effect. Keep stress in check and improve your overall health by taking flight. Bonus: exercise is a mood booster.

Tip #4 – Find your Relaxation and Recovery through understanding and practicing the PlusOne technique using mindfulness and relaxation processes daily.

The PlusOne technique teaches us that in order to live the largest life possible, we need to be able to block and protect our time and energy to work towards our priorities and goals. For example, you must create alone times and reflection points in your daily life to avoid being overwhelmed with just doing stuff. Creating extended periods of focus, provides time for relaxation and reflection providing more room for creativity, innovative and thoughtful actions.   It may take a little time to establish this new routine, but eventually you will see and feel the payoffs.

Simply thinking differently won’t get us to where we want to be, we also need to dedicate time, energy, engagement and focus to our goals for change that will end with big results! And using mindfulness and meditation can make you more aware of your body and mind connection. With focus on relaxation, meditation and strengthening, these activities will help you tap into the positive side of stress, called eustress.

Read more at http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/14-timeless-ways-to-live-a-happy-life/#w5kBX6PugfYOyHxP.99

We all react to stress differently, and many people have discovered their own effective stress relievers on top of the general tips mentioned here. If I have missed an important tip that you use to reduce stress, please let us know a stress relief tip that has worked for you. By sharing we maybe able to stop this “silent killer”.

References and Resources:

http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=15644

http://www.livelifehappy.com/live-life-quotes/

http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/04/16/researchers-find-out-why-some-stress-is-good-for-you/

Formula for Peak Performing: Self 3 (Hardiness and Resilient thinking)

Formula for Peak Performing : Physical + Mental (thinking /feelings) + constructive action = Self 3 (hardy-resilient-constructive action self)

Life cycle:  Stuck——————-Surviving—————————Growing/learning (Mental Toughness )——————Peaking ( Self 3- Active Performer)

None of this is very useful information unless you know what to do about it and how to use it to your benefit and create a better selves. Mental Toughness (MT) is a very broad and complex topic involving the brain, neurology and psychological research, but where I would recommend starting by learning what the “hardy-resilient ” personality is.

Self 3  is broken down into four separate characteristics: Self-awareness, focused attention, integrated discovery learning, commitment to a constructive plan of action. These characteristics of Self 3 are based in an existential theory of personality and is defined as a person’s basic stance towards his or her place in the world.  ( Frankl 1954, Kobasa 1979; Dr. Rock 2010).

1. Self-Awareness (SA) is the ability to know ones strengths and weakness through experiences in life. SA means being observant and growing from involvement in life activities by involving  oneself in, rather than standing by and watching life pass you by.  It means being in touch with our true make-up (strengths/weaknesses). People with high emotional intelligence know that life will end and have a generalized sense of purpose that allows them to identify with and engage in meaningful activities, persons, and events to bring pleasure and happiness to their lives.

2. Reality and Control are the elements that allow you to think, feel and act as if one is competent and influential in making a difference (self-efficacy), rather than helpless, in the face of many difficult and high pressured situations and experiences in life. They lean-in to life because there was a time when they did not exist .  Persons with perspective and balance in their lives do not naively expect to determine all events and outcomes but rather perceive themselves as being able to make a difference in the world through their exercise of imagination, knowledge, skill and choice.

3. Challenge is the tendency to believe that change rather than stability is normal in life and that changes are interesting occurrences to grow from  rather than threats to security. So far from being reckless adventurers, persons with challenge are rather individuals with an openness to new experiences and a tolerance of ambiguity that enables them to be flexible in the face of change.”

In sum, the greater your levels of SA, Learning (commitment, control and challenge) when faced with a stressful situation, the greater your chances of performing well and doing so without a negative impact on your mental and physical health.

The catch here, is that a high level of self-awareness must be involved in order to assess these characteristics within yourself. This is called “metaknowledge” and is the ability to think about the way in which you are thinking.

The next time you are faced with a high pressure, stressful situation, read through that list of the three hardiness factors and ask yourself to what degree do feel commitment, control and challenge. If you’re coming up low in any of those categories, try to stop and focus on what behaviors you can control and then make the necessary changes.

Self-Directed Coaching Framework: Grounding Principles and Truths

CORE PRINCIPLES AND TRUTHS:

Quote : “You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” – Galileo

1. It is not the circumstances, but our thoughts about the circumstances that create our experience.

2. We cannot control everything in the world. So decide if you control a situation and if you do and do not like what is happening chose to do something different to change the feeling or situation; if you can not control the situation or events choose to let go of the need for control and move on.

3. Nothing outside of us has the power to make us feel good or bad. It is our choices that determine how we feel and behave.

4. We are driven and motivated by what we choose to think about.

5. Emotions are triggers that lead to action.

6. We can’t permanently change our habits or results without changing our thinking

7. We don’t have to get anything in a material sense to feel better; we have the power to feel better right now.

8. Being conscious and choosing our thoughts is the most important component to feeling better.

Exploring and expanding on the Self-Directed Coaching (SDC) principles–Flushing-out  Principle #1

Change the way you think and you can change how you feel and act. So every time you think of something, you choose the feelings that are associated with it. If you have a negative thought you are guaranteed to have a negative feeling associated with that thought. So the question is, “How do you feel when you think that thought?” This approach will help you sort out that things happening in your world (a difficult situation  or a pressing problem or decision to be made) that they are supposedly causing your feelings. The truth is that the negative or positive thoughts you choose not circumstances or problems cause your attitude and feelings.

Self-Coaching: Managing Your “Inner Critic” to Increase Positive Self-Talk and Focused Attention

Recently, I started to re-read the Inner Tennis book by Tim Gallwey then I came across  a great article on turning down your inner critic so as to improve performance in stressful situations. The a site I stumbled across is called SelfMatters.org. The site and its programs are run by two thoughtful and inspiring women, Jane Shure, PhD. and Beth Weinstock, PhD.

Dr. Shure and Weinstock believe that we can learn how to “turn down” the voice of what they call our “inner critic,” and learn to “turn up” our positive and natural voice of  “inner coach.” Gallwey’s point of view was that people are vulnerable to negative shifts in mindset which can have drastic impact on one’s performance in many different situations that require focused attention.

Both Gallwey and Shure/ Weinstock are talking about the powerful unconscious and how the brain builds in patterns that are repeated through the process of self-talk that impact our performance  Self-talk is the inner dialogue between parts of our mind, and is influenced by these neural pathways from past behavior in similar situations. When we grow-up with negativity and criticism from inadequate parents, critical teachers or bad experiences, we internalize negative messages. Our brains literally develop dysfunctional pathways and patterns that blame ourselves not others for failure and mistakes. We build many obstacles that prevent us from access our natural abilities.

Some of the obstacles are anxiety about our ability to handle difficult people and situations. Others include fears of failure or success, resistance to new endeavors or situations, test taking, , doubt about our ability to perform , etc. Gallwey teaches performers, managers and athletes how to tap into natural and positive potential for learning, performance, and enjoyment. Any activity can become an opportunity to improve skills, increase joy and heighten awareness.  Our Inner Critic as described by  ( Shure and Weinstock) or Self 1 ( Gallwey’s) are the center for negativity and criticism and yet they can help you focus at the task at hand.  These voices are not the only source of input available to us. Self 1 or the inner critic are powerful internal voices that can overwhelm our natural strengths and  are always in battle for our attention. The more we listen to it, the more we strengthen it and subject ourselves to its negative impact on our performance whether it be tennis, golf, singing, doing math, taking tests serving for “match point, or  making presentations “ad infinitum”.

Many of us live with the constant “self-talk” of a harsh Inner Critic. The critic’s voice thwarts our spontaneity, holds us hostage to anxiety, dampens freedom of expression, keeps us feeling inadequate and can sabotage and undermine your performance.  

Self 1 has the unique ability to focus our attention and ought to be used that way to improve your concentration. Self 1 is not all bad and we need to pay attention to it so as to use its positive elements when appropriate.

In the next blog I will provide some proven tips for overcoming the negative inner voice and help you begin to practice how to access your positive Self 2 and the integrated Self 3 to conquer performance fears and reach your potential. Stay tuned.

 

Part II –Team Meetings: Focus and Understanding Individual Needs of Members

In Part I of this series on Meeting Effectiveness , I shared some ideas about how important it is to maintain and build the group as a whole by understanding the Maintenance Needs of the team. In this post, I want to review a different type of team need that can make or break your team’s effectiveness–Individual Needs of team members.  

Obviously, any group is made-up of two or more individual persons. These persons have their own individual needs. Your individual personality preferences, life experiences, genetic and neurological make-up and in particular positive and negative experience of  working in teams drive members behavior. These individual needs drive the type of communication,  interaction, and roles members play when the team comes together to work on tasks. These needs must be identified and satisfied before a productive and satisfying meeting can take place.  Most team members consciously or unconsciously require different needs to be met. These needs are recognition, status, control,  autonomy, security, belonging, affection, acceptance, etc. The list can go on and on. The nature of human circumstances  and life in general determine a person’s particular needs at any given moment in the life of the team. All of us at any given time might need more recognition, a sense of belonging or control.

Let’s say in a given team Bill will need many of these things. For many reasons, he may also need to a leader on a particular topic under discussion; he may need to liked and feel like he belongs; he may feel a need to impress one particular person in the group. The kind of needs he expresses are a direct result of his particular circumstance, brain functioning and  perception of gain or loss by being a member of this group. At this point you might being saying: ” I get it that everyone has needs but how do you use this information to improve team meetings and produce recommendations for the task we were assigned to work on? For part of my answer, I want to introduce you to an emerging field in behavioral and team management–cognitive brain research. This new research about how to apply brain research to improve human performance, develop effective teams and drive change is being conducted by Dr. David Rock and his associates at the NeroLeadership Institute.   In a recent interview, with the NY Times, Dr. Rock describes the importance of new brain research model called the SCARF theory by saying ” it is crucial for managers to make their employees feel they are on the same team.”  The SCARF model provides a structure for analyzing what motivates our social interaction and behavior at work. The SCARF  acronym stands for Status, Control, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.  To see more read about Dr. Rocks research click on this link to the NeuroLeadership Institute webpage.

Since, we have covered maintenance needs and individual needs in teams my next post will focus on task needs and roles people might play  and how to use this information to improve team meetings. Thanks Coach Mark

Want to Improve Mental Toughness and Reduce Stress–Learn the Habit of the Relaxation Response


“The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress… and the opposite of the fight or flight response.” Dr. Herbert Benson 

 

Other researchers define the relaxation response more generally. “The  body is no longer in perceived danger, and the autonomic nervous system functioning returns to normal. During this response, the body moves from a state of physiological arousal, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, slowed digestive functioning, decreased blood flow to the extremities, increased release of hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, and other responses preparing the body to fight or run, to a state of physiological relaxation, where blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning and hormonal levels return to their normal state. I f you suffer from chronic stress of arousal your body and mind are in a constant state of physiological arousal over perceived threats that are numerous and not life-threatening. The relaxation response can be induced through techniques such as relaxation, meditation and other stress-management techniques, found in a most helpful series of books by Dr. Jeffrey Brantley.

 

Self-Coaching Challenge:

Over the next 30 days make relaxation and mindfulness a part of your daily routine: Dr. Herbert Benson in his book The Stress Response provides the following tips for starting and combating destructive stress.

1.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

2.
Close your eyes.

3.
Deeply relax all your muscles,
beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.
Keep them relaxed.

4.
Breathe through your nose.
Become aware of your breathing.
As you breathe out, say the word, “one”*,
silently to yourself. For example,
breathe in … out, “one”,- in .. out, “one”, etc.
Breathe easily and naturally.

5.
Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes,
at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Do not stand up for a few minutes.

6.
Do not worry about whether you are successful
in achieving a deep level of relaxation.
Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
When distracting thoughts occur,
try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them
and return to repeating “one.”

With practice, the response should come with little effort.
Practice the technique once or twice daily,
but not within two hours after any meal,
since the digestive processes seem to interfere with
the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.

 

Why New Psychology Focuses on Happiness and Positive Emotions and Skills

Most of us are generally looking in the wrong places for achieving happiness in our life daily life. We don’t reach happiness by the accumulation of more material things or riches. Dr. Martin Seligman and his associates recent research says ” We can create happiness in our lives more easily by practicing certain behaviors”. These behaviors are summarized using the acronym PERMA:

Positive emotions – feeling good by doing good

Engagement – being completely absorbed in activities

Relationships – being authentically and respectful of others

Meaning – create a purposeful existence and a why for living

Achievement – a sense of accomplishment and success.

See TED talk: 

Self-Coaching: Power of thinking, discovery, and choice for improving the Quality of your Life

“The quality of life that you have is determined to large extent by the effort you put into giving your life value, purpose and a reason.” Eric Hoffer

Self-coaching is a “structure and a process” for high performance levels.

When ever we begin to think about things we trigger a specific (structure) or mindset for our thinking. The mindset maybe based on a certain concept, feeling or experience stored in different areas of the brain. Once one of these areas is activated then we take action (process). Our appropriateness and effectiveness depends on how congruent our thinking is with the action. Thinking with one part of the brain which is not congruent with the right action leads to inconsistency and low performance. Self-coaching and monitoring through reflection provides you with a frame of reference or structure and necessary processes for taking right action at the right time. Together the “structure with process” work together to encourage consistent, patterned decisions and aligned behavior leading high level performance.  Self-Coaching is a proven and satisfying way to change bad habits and make more effective person to person connections based on self-awareness and cognitive decisions that allow you to discover and choose more productive ways to live your life.

Benefits of Self-Coaching:

– Recognize your strengths and areas needing improvement or change.

– Be more aware of interferences and barriers leading to unhappiness, lack of success, and interpersonal conflict.

– Identify ways to be more aware of bad decisions and habits that can be changed one step at a time.

– Coach, motivate, and true happiness and meaning comes through choices and ownership of our actions.

– Understand that discovering life as it comes at you is more beneficial than trying to control people and demanding certainty which causes disappointment, frustration and many other problems in life.

– Realize it’s never life circumstances and other people’s view of life that causes issues and problems –it’s your attitude, perception and interpretation of life events that leads to stress and other psychological and physical issues.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Zimmerman Case and Anger–What did Aristotle Say?

Daily Quote:

 “Anybody can be anger that is easy,

  but to be anger with the right person and to the right degree

  and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way

 is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”   

Your Reflection: 

 

Part 1: What does Research tell us about Mental Toughness (Hardiness) and Performance?

Some people make the mistake of thinking that MT is all about extorting or putting pressure on themselves (efforting) to perform up to their potential no matter what the circumstances. So let’s start with clarifying the key concepts and definition of MT.

Definition: Mental toughness is having the natural or developed ability that enables you to:
ƒ to access your strengths and skills on demand. It is a learned ability that provides a person with coping and thinking skills to handle stressful and demanding situations. As a performer it is seen when a performer can be more consistent and better than an opponent in remaining calm, focused, determined, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure.

Key psychological characteristics associated with mentally tough elite athletes Jones et al (2002) are:
” Self-Belief and self-efficacy:  
• Having an unshakable belief in your ability to achieve competition goals
• Unique qualities that make you better than your opponents.
Motivation:
• Having an insatiable desire and internalized motivation to succeed (you really got to want it)
• Ability to bounce back from performance setbacks with increased determination to succeed.
 Focus:
• Remain fully focused on the task at hand in the face of competition-specific distractions
• Able to switch focus on and off as required
• Not being adversely affected by others performance or your own internal distractions (worry,
negative mind chatter)
• Composure/Handling Pressure:
• Able to regain psychological control following unexpected events or distractions
• Thriving on the pressure of competition (embracing pressure, stepping into the moment)
• Accept that anxiety is inevitable in competition and know you can cope with it
Key component of mental toughness is learning how to condition your mind to think confidently and be
able to overcome frustration/self-critical negativity (reframe self-talk into what it is you want to occur)”.

Lesson Learned created a new Wickism: Don’t allow frustration or being to self-critical undermine your confidence or mental toughness.”

Yet a recent study confirms that MT which is defined as being “hardy” is something different. The study results indicate that mental toughness is a key to success – and to getting through the ups and downs of  stressful events in life. The study results clearly confirm the old dictum that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Much like optimists vs. pessimists, hardy individuals, when compared to less hardy ones, perceive the world very differently. Where the less hardy see obstacles, the hardy see a challenge to be overcome. While the less hardy find themselves totally overwhelmed and unable to function when under stress, the hardy ones use stress as an adrenaline boost. Hardy people go where angels fear to tread; less hardy people are the types that play to lose by undermining their performance and wishing  they could just crawl into the nearest corner, roll up into a fetal position, and wait until it’s safe to come out again.

“Learning from experience helps build character and resilience, so it’s not surprising that mental toughness tends to increase with age,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of Psychtests AIM, company. “It’s not only a matter of developing better coping and problem solving skills. As we get older and have been knocked around in the school of life, we develop a stronger sense of perspective and self-efficacy; a greater belief that ‘I’ll get through this’. Think of  the pain of losing someone we love, for example. Regardless of age, everyone feels hurt after it happens. But with experience, we get to a point of acceptance more quickly, and move on more readily.”

Part I: Meaningful Life principle #2 –Learn to be a Great Communicator and Presenter

Author’s note: On this post I will flush out in more detail the number #2 principle from the Handbook for Creating and Living a Meaningful Life: 30+ Rules of the Road .

Meaningful Life Principle #2: Learn to become a “dynamic” communicator.   

Relevant thought trigger and quotes : Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in communicating and teaching it. Cicero 

“The problem with communication… is the ILLUSION that it has been accomplished.”—George Bernard Shaw

A Presentation is a Performance Act. You are an Actor. Tom Peters

To be a great a communicator requires high performance (self3) behaviors  and takes “Truth Telling” which begins with clear thinking, courage and belief in yourself and the ideas you are trying to get across. Learn to be an active listener when preparing for the presentation, so you can identify your audience needs ( something you didn’t learn in school)–So if you want to come across to others as authentic and be perceived as “star presenter” practice the mental set, attitude, and actions listed in my “ten rules for excellence in communicating” they will speak volumes of who you really are and transform how you think about interpersonal communications and how you connect with others when presenting.

Dr. Mark’s 10 Tips Becoming a passionate communicator and public speaker:                                               1. Be clear and concise, confident and compelling about your purpose and goals for the interaction or presentation. Don’t present anything you would not want to hear if you were on the other side of the desk or in the meeting room.

2. Learn that “Connecting with Others” is the most important factor to consider when communicating and delivering you message. Do you believe in what you are talking or spouting off about? How comfortable are you in presenting ideas and information to others? Are you open to other points of view? Can you communicate in conversational tones and gestures? Can you manage your nervous energy?

3. Believe in your self—Know your strengths and become a high performer by using them when communicating 1 to 1 or to an audience of 1000 people. This will allow you the freedom to overcome nervousness and self-doubts.

4. You must become a serious and formal student of communication and listening. Yes, the likes of presenting, conversing,  talking and listening can be studied and practiced with the same thoroughness with which you studied mathematics or science that is the bedrock for becoming a physicist or medical doctor.  There’s no more need to be casual about developing these soft skills of interpersonal communication than there is concerning mastering the job of doctor or lawyer. Granted formal schooling for the hard stuff is more available to aspiring professional presenters and students. Yet it can be done—and as I said before, the benefits of undertaking professional study in the art of communicating and presenting and listening is critical to your success in business and life.

5. Give as many speeches as you can—of all shapes and sizes. “Hey, Coach Mark, how did you get to where you are with your presentation skills?” “I’m a lot better after 2500 speeches than I was after 2 or 3.” Meetings are a great training ground for both watching and learning about performing; for example, observe how people react to this or that approach taken by a speaker.

6. The One Big Secret I have learned over and over again in my 40+ years in public speaking and giving presentations is that they are personal and open conversation whether it is a 1 to 1, face 2 face conversation, small staff meeting, conference key-note to 500 people. Make it personal and create closeness by being self-disclosing and truthful–tell stories… Remember an effective speech to 1,000 people is an intimate, 1-on-1 conversation so engage them and surprise them so they are interested and curious about what you have to say.

7. Speak with passion–be energized and excited that you get the privilege of presenting  what you know that can help the audience members live a more fulfilling life.

8. Stay focused but flexible on interests and needs of the other person. Be ready to change topis or re-focus speech if you get feedback or body language that the audience is not with you. Don’t be bound or married to your agenda, always remain audience-centered.

9. Don’t worry about what is going to happen next or be preparing to respond stay in the moment observe, respond and focus on the process of conveying your message and connecting.

10. Close with a bang. Let the audience tell you what they learned. Check for audience AHA’s,  discoveries and learning. Check on commitment for action and personal change.

Bonus Idea for getting ready to speak– Use “relaxation and release” tools to start in a great state of mind and energy…   be open to whatever arises, and be confident you can handle whatever comes-up.

Remember as JFK said,“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”

Self-Coaching: “Structure with Process” model and 3 A’s for Personal Development

Self-Coaching is all about reaching and fulfilling your potential, by uncovering strengths and blind spots that block fulfillment of meaning and purpose in life. It requires the hard work of self-awareness, setting goals in critical life spaces and living a more deeply committed and connected life based on values, beliefs and constructive action.” MWH  

Self-Coaching requires a more open and flexible way of thinking and acting which means more living on purpose and trust of self and others. Sure, life can have difficulties and is sometimes be unfair but not jumping-in with both feet can leave us “sleep walking” and on automatic pilot which leads to boredom, loneliness, and an unproductive life rather than a spontaneous and open life.

Some will feel this is a reckless way to live, but that’s only because they have so little trust in their ability to respond to life from a source other than control and narrow mental maps. But once you step out of control’s grip and realize a whole new world of excitement and adventure is awaiting you; you have crossed the Rubicon for living a meaningful and self-directed life. Yet in order to live this self-direct life will require new learning and hard work. The core of this new approach is based on what I call the 3A’s of personal change and development.

It begins with the three A’s of change–awareness, acceptance and action—

  • Awareness. In order to dismantle insecurity, you must first be aware of how it manifests itself in your life. Insecurity speaks in the form of doubts, fears, and negatives. These are tip-offs to insecurity and it pays to be on the lookout for this type of thinking. The power question to answer for this first A is –Know yourself–Clearly seeing who you are and what you feel and do. Know Yourself gives you the “what” – when you Know Yourself, you know who you are, your strengths and challenges, you know what you are doing, what you want, and what to change.Emotions are relevant data, and knowing yourself allows you the freedom to accurately collect information that will help you answer these two essential power questions:
  • Acceptance. Changing your attitude and challenging fears and insecurity will often cause some discomfort. You may feel unsure, intimidated, or anxious. It’s important that you’re willing to accept some degree of discomfort if you’re going to break the habit of insecurity. Just keep in mind that it’s not at all unusual for change to feel initially uncomfortable. This isn’t because change is bad, it’s only because insecurity likes to cling to the tried and true “status quo.”
  • Action. Choose to change! You can think about changing your attitude. You can think about being more open, resilient and more adaptable, but unless you actually change your thoughts and attitudes, you’re just spinning wheels.

There’s no doubt that some people are more adaptable and resilient, when it comes to life’s challenges, while others are challenged by the simplest break in their routine. The underlying variable that determines whether you are adaptable or not is your level of insecurity. What is insecurity? Insecurity is a learned habit of vulnerability. Let me explain. Insecurity is an inevitable by-product of living in an imperfect world. Since no one grows up in a perfect world, no one gets to escape illness, suffering, frustration, and so on. To some extent, we all have insecurity–it’s part of the human condition. Simply stated, insecurity is the anticipation of vulnerability.

Depending on your baseline level of insecurity, too much change can bring on feelings of vulnerability, loss of control, stress, tension, anxiety, or even a depressed mood. Since, we all have some degree of insecurity and fear, we most likely have had the experience of being overwhelmed with painful and challenging situations: your spouse is abuse and does not respect you, you did not win the sale, your boss is all about self-promotion and not rewarding you for good work , you need knee a breast biopsy, your mother called and she needs money, your just loss your license for a DWI–when bad things take over your daily living , even the most resilient can be brought to their knees. The longer that such a struggle persists, the more depleted you feel—physically as well as emotionally. The depleting effects of stress are felt not only emotionally, but also physically. Your perception of reality can be altered by brain chemistry and thinking not by the overwhelming circumstances of your life, but by your interpretation of these circumstances.

This is a critical point—it’s not life that depletes us, it’s how we interpret and react to our lives! Sure it’s hard to manage bad times, but I have a friend who maintains a posture of resilience and optimism in spite of the agonizing ordeal of chemotherapy. And yet I have patients who become distraught if their five-year-old isn’t invited to a birthday party. Bottom line: the ability to tolerate change is directly proportional to your degree of insecurity and to your attitude. Here’s why.
If you are easily challenged by life and find yourself stuck, you need to recognize the importance of actively choosing to break the habit of insecure thinking and perception. Just because you have a emotional reactions to life’s difficult problems does not mean you have to remain in this downward spiral and depression about life. You can choose to do something about how you handle your life and your challenges. 

Daily Quote and Reflection: Aristotle’s insight on Self-Awareness and Reflection

Daily Quote: “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation.”  Aristotle

Reflection:

In this quote Aristotle is challenging us to become more self-aware and reflective about our lives.

Often when I reflect upon the necessity for reflection in my workshops, I get the response, “Who has the time? I’m too busy!” or “This is silly exercise”.  These type of responses are precisely the problem. Busyness, Urgency and Stress —always going somewhere, never being anywhere and feeling stressed while doing these things—limit our awareness of what is happening in life as we move almost like “zombies” from one activity to the next, as I like to call it sleep walking through life”.

Living life as a “zombie” disconnects us from important events and people. I would say that it creates isolation rather than connecting. Our inability or choice to not reflect and learn from our pass mistakes or remember when we did the right things right leads to a life of stress and time pressure.  If we just move from one activity to the next, we lose the opportunity to discovery important things about our self. And reduce more positive  “recovery-time” activities, such as reflection, play, reading, poetry or and “deep conversations.” The unintended result is that many people feel trapped, tired and stressed as they go through day-to-day living unaware of who or what they want to achieve or accomplish during this limited time on earth.

Sometimes people assess new situations and respond carefully and thoughtfully, but frequently they run on autopilot, reacting unconsciously based on habit. In part it’s because the human brain is wired to follow neural pathways that have been formed by past experiences. Left unconscious, these patterns can inhibit optimal performance because they are a generalized response rather than one carefully tailored to the current situation. Without reflection there is little if any self-awareness because we do not recognize the activity patterns we have created. Be more reflective and self-aware helps you track and monitor your behavior and reactions – which is an essential step to developing new habits and managing poor habits that may need changing.

Challenge Assignment: Over this weekend see if you can identify one habit that you have been doing for a long time and take one small step to see if you change it. Then next week monitor to see if you are still moving ahead to change this habit by identifying how many times you STOP, REFLECT and ACT to change your behavior.