Daily Quote and Self-Coaching Challenge: Think Straight and Develop Your Grit

Daily Quote: What you are thinking, what shapes your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all.   Willie Mays

 Reflection:  

Your toughness and grit is made up of equal parts belief, persistence and deliberative practice and experience. The toughest opponent of all is the negativity and skeptic or sarcastic one inside your head.  Below see the  4 tips for overcoming negativity and build grit into your character and daily actions:

1. Believe it or not, passions grow out of your values. Make early, wise choices to value what (and who) is good, trustworthy, and praiseworthy.

2.Think straight, talk straight and do the straight or right thing to grow your character

3. Find a passion. Pick a hobby, own it: running, photography, juggling, tennis, writing, art and whatever. Get your 10,000 hours of perfect practice in early and change your life.

4.Don’t bother comparing yourself to others—this only leads to heartbreak, anger, and disappointment.

Self-Coaching Challenge: What’s the one thing you would do right now if you had more confidence? What are you going to do to gain more self-confidence?

 

Daily Quote and Reflection: Using Perseverance to Overcome Obstacles and Negative Thinking

Daily Quote: “Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it”.  Ella Wheeler Wilcox

                                                                                                       Another one by Michael Jordan

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give-up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it”.

Reflection: Perseverance is not an innate skill you are born with, it is learned and nurtured through life experiences. You can learn to challenge yourself by accepting the notion that sometimes you will make bad choices, take the wrong road or fail at a task or goal you are trying to achieve. The lesson to learn is that you never have to accept these things as enevitable. You have tomorrow to try a new way or learn a skill or task anew.  This called perseverance or resilience. I think it is in the willingness to keep trying that you learn to grow and develop all your potentials. If an activity is to easy there is no growth because you become bored or disinterested. On the other hand if you can find the “learning spot” where an activity pushes you to do more the challenge increases your motivation and energy to push ahead.

It is a habit of the brain. The Perseverance Factor is a practical way for overcoming unexpected failures, challenges, and unlucky setbacks in life. Remember your brain is driven by plasticity and you can increase perseverance and resilience by changing the way you think about problems and difficult obstacles in life. Perseverance or the resilience habit challenges your negative self-talk and basic beliefs that cause us to give-up and quit trying to accomplish our goals. Perseverance has been examined in many research studies in cognitive psychology, particularly the work of Aaron Beck, Father of  Cognitive Behavior Therapy  and Martin Seligman, the Founder of Positive Psychology movement.

Self-Coaching Challenge: How to create “flexible optimism”

Commit to challenge self-criticisms and negative thoughts by using positive self-talk. Try the 5 step cognitive tool of:

STOP-Deep Breathing–Challenge Thinking- Reframe- Act. This is not a feel good quick fix or psycho babble cliché. It works and you need to be patient and persevere when using this CBT tool.

Now think back to an actual situation where your  thoughts  upset you and you end choosing to self-limiting and self-sabotaging behavior and don’t do what you wanted to do. For example: ‘You are on your daily run and see the police ahead involved with some situation and you say yourself this is going to be awful, I’m going to be stopped by them and that worries me…’- (and then you turn and run another way to avoid them. Here is a better way to handle this troubling situation by using what cognitive psychologist call “Thought Stopping”

1. As you notice yourself saying these negative automatic thoughts, you can stop them mid-stream by saying to yourself “STOP”.

2. You might also wear a rubber band around your wrist, giving it a little pull each time you notice you are allowing negative thinking to take over or flood your mind. It will make you more aware of how often, and in what situation, you are having the negative thoughts.

3. Challenge the negative thought: Challenge the thoughts, examine them to see if they’re valid. Ask –‘Where’s the evidence for negative thought? Is there another way to look at it?’. Example: ‘Actually, it’s just the police doing their job, I don’t actually know what’s going to happen, all I can do is be who I am and this is going to be okay because they are protecting our neighborhood

4. Reframe situation and thoughts. For example, say I can cope with this situation if  they stop me and want to talk that is okay. I will be safe.  Don’t torture yourself with negative thoughts just be yourself and say this is okay I seen police do their job before and it doesn’t involve me.

5. Act-Calmly go about your business, Say I can do this I have done it before… 

Summary: STOP–Take a Deep Breath  –Challenge Thinking– Reframe Thinking Using Positive thoughts and then Act. 

Good Luck and let us know how this new approach worked for you.

Self-Coaching Mastery: Be who you are…5 Ways to Overcome Negative Mindset

“Your identity is what you’ve committed yourself to. It may just mean doing a better job at whatever you’re doing. There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are –and that too is a kind of commitment. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It matters very little whether they’re behind the wheel of a truck or running a country store or bringing up a family.”  John Gardner on Self-Renewal

One of the key obstacles to self- renewal is fear. The reason fear is at the center as a barrier to self-renewal  is that fear what fuels negative outlooks and excuses. We start making excuses when we are afraid how someone will react to something we say or do. Maybe you say you’re “busy” when a friend asks you out for drinks, or maybe you say “I don’t know how to…” when you haven’t even tried. We all have anxieties, fears and make make excuses once in a while, here’s how to overcome this negative mindset and live a more engaging and fulfilling life.

  1. Focus on the type of self-talk you use. Listen to the kind of words we use is beneficial in understanding our excuse, fears and anxieties in life. Do you use negative and inaccurate words to describe your actions? Such as …stupid, dummy or other vague terms to put yourself down. Internal Your internal dialogue has a powerful way of directing your thinking, physical appearance and actions.  To stop this negative drumbeat we must stop and challenge the messages we are sending to ourselves. To over ride this “alien”  and unhelpful negative talk we must observe our internal talk and determine if it is communicating in a way that is helpful helping us get what we need and want in life.
  2.  Practice honesty. The first thing to know is that an excuse is nothing more than a lie to ourselves and others. The more you make excuses, the easier it gets. Lying, like most everything else, becomes easier the more you do it. But so does telling the truth. Practice telling yourself and other people the truth all of the time. If you don’t want to go out with a friend, don’t lie. Tell the truth. I am sure  YOU appreciate your friends telling you the truth?
  3. Prioritize. Use your talent, time, and resources doing things that are important and meaningful for you. Stop saying yes to doing things that you don’t like doing. If the person or project does not fit your strengths or interests or excite you or make you happy, then don’t waste your time. If there are people in your life who are draining your energy, then don’t give them yours. Make a list of what is important to you and do things toward that end. If spending time with family is a priority, then take steps to prove it.
  4. Start believing in yourself. Why not you…Why not us… Russell Wilson’s ( winning super bowl QB ) Dad constantly asked his son “why not you”…this reflective and encouraging question stayed “top of the mind ” for Russel through many ups and downs of his sports journey.  This question has kept him focused and motivated to be the best he can be in life. It is a very positive motivator for him. It is easy to say “Be positive!” to people, but it is a lot harder in practice. You might wake up in a great mood, but by the time you get to work that mood is nothing but a distant memory. Don’t let the weather or traffic ruin your day, or your argument with your wife dim the days outlook. If you find yourself hating the world, take a deep breath and think about a pleasant memory of your life. This positive recall will usually make you smile. And, smiling is one of  many ways to turn your thinking from negative mood into a bright, shiny one.
  5. Be Self-compassionate. One of the nasty ways excuses creep in to your mental mindset is “self talk”. Let me re-state a few key ideas from the above #1 point. Self talk is the way you think about yourself, or even talk about yourself to others. If you are aware of the power of self-efficacy you know the way you view a task or a challenge, and the way you view your own ability to conquer that task has a direct impact on your ability to actually complete it. If you approach a project thinking it is too difficult, or that you are not good enough, then chances are you won’t do it. The good news is that once you become aware of how you are talking to yourself, you can stop. Each time you hear yourself using doubt as an excuse, stop. Change your mental dialog into something positive, and you will become something positive.

Part II: Change Your thoughts change your Life — Positive Self Talk

When negative events and thoughts happen, use positivity habits and words to find ways out of the negative in order to help you to control thoughts, do better, and move forward. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover hidden strengths and build a “tougher mental attitude” by choosing “positivity” or negativity in any given situation.

Here are a few positivity quotes and ideas for you to use the next time you face strong negative self-talk

  1. Stop.. Breathe. Observe. Say—No! No! I can handle this and I will do the best I can.
  2. These negative thoughts won’t kill me; so confronting them makes me stronger.
  3. Reach for the moon if you miss you will still hit the stars.
  4. Don’t believe negative thoughts from the past just be the best you can be now in this moment.
  5. Your past does not have to be your future.
  6. It’s not what negative talk says to you that counts the most, it’s how you think and react to them that is really most important.
  7. Better to do something imperfectly than to sit there and do nothing.
  8. Within you is the capacity to actualize all that you need or desire.
  9. There would be nothing to frighten you if you refused to be afraid.
  10. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
  11. Don’t be pushed by your negative thoughts. Be led by your purpose and dreams.
  12. Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.
  13. Life is beautiful because of you.
  14. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, be courageous and keep moving forward
  15. We shall draw from positivity itself the means of control and inspiration.

Part I: Learn to Overcome your Demons and Negative Self-talk

Daily Quote: “First your negative talk controls and ignores your positivity, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win… Remember your past does not determine your future.” MWH 

Each of us has a set of internal messages that play like a tape recorder over and over in our minds. These internal messages can be either negative or positive. This dialogue frames our reaction to different people and circumstances in our life.

One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, is to observe and intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.

Too often the pattern of self-talk developed through life experiences is negative. We remember the negative things we were told as children by parents, siblings, or teachers. For some reason this negative commentary has more power than positive messages. Most of the research shows that it takes 3-5 positive messages to override negative ones.(Fredrickson and Gottman). Over the years these negative self-talk messages have replayed again and again in our minds, fueling our thoughts of frustration, shame, fear, guilt, and hopelessness.

Overriding these negative patterns takes willpower and sustain practice to change our brain. If people learned as children that they were worthless, we show them how truly special they are. If while growing up you learned to expect bad reactions, or unlucky events, you need to rewire these patterns and find better ways to react and create a more positive future.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Try the following reflection and re-wiring exercise.

1) Write down some of the negative messages that replay in your mind, ones that undermine your ability to feel comfortable and in control of events and circumstances in your life. Be specific whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message.

2) Now take a moment to focus on how to override these negative messages with positive experiences by remembering events where you triumphed in spite of negativity or changed negative self-talk to positive messages. Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly. For every negative message there is a positive truth that will override and counter balance the power of the negativity.

You may have a negative message that replays in your head every time you make a mistake. As a child you may have been told “you’ll never amount to anything,” or “you can’t do anything right.” When you make a mistake — and you will, because we all do — you can choose to overwrite that message with a positive one, such as “I choose to accept my responsibility and grow from my mistake,” or “ When I find the lesson in making mistakes I now have the opportunity to thinking and behave in a more effective way. As I learn from my mistakes, I’m becoming a more functioning person.”

During this exercise, mistakes become opportunities to replace negative views of yourself with positive options for personal worth and growth. In addition, every time your over-ride a negative thought you form new paths for succeeding in the future.

 Positive Self-talk is Mental Toughness. Positive self-talk is  mental toughness in action. It is looking at circumstances with eyes that see the reality and truth of what is happening. Positive self-talk is about reaffirming your strength and worth. One of the fundamental truths is that life is difficult. To expect perfection in yourself is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstance, is also unrealistic.

Self-Coaching Session–#1 Rule for Getting Started

The odds of having a successful self-coaching session increase when you set a positive tone for a session right up front.

You might ask how do I do this? You do it by being aware of what would make this next 45-60 min time well spent because you learned or accomplished something of value.

Specifically, you need to do the following to increase the odds for a productive session:

1. Ask what would make this hour the best hour of my week? Set a goal for the session.

2. Specifically define a Point A (where you are now) and a Point B (where you want to be by the end of this self-coaching session). Note that this is also important to do before each and every coaching session.

3. Confirm why getting to Point B matters to you. Doing this check makes it clear on why this session is worth your time and energy and provides a time for evaluation.

The self-coaches who don’t do this tend to get lost in a hairball of events, circumstances, and problems, without focusing in on a goal or result that matter. The session meanders without measurable traction or progress, and often the client gets frustrated or feels like they are in therapy. The coach sometimes has fun, but the client suffers.

In contrast, with a clear Point A and Point B, you the coach can dig into why the gap is between the two points of where you are now, where you want to be in the future and how to move forward toward insights, results, and value.

It’s simple a simple process but to execute and focus as your own coach you need to find a program that provides structure for your self-coaching sessions.

Similarly, never end a self-coaching session without a things to do action lists–reconfirming the value of the session by asking:

What was the most valuable thing you got out of today’s exercise or session? How is what you discovered going to change your daily activities or interactions with others? This type of self-reflective coaching re-grounds the value of self-coaching, and keeps momentum going into the next session. It also provides important information for your next personal journal activity. Remember the executive part of your brain and thinking is more focused when you capture and write insights and things down in black and white.

Next post I will share some excellent sites and other resources  you can review to help you get started in taking control of your personal development through self-coaching. For example, take a look at some of my posts on smart-steps and the plus-one coaching framework for personal change. technique.

 

Self-Coaching: Discover how to Stop Criticizing and Feeling Insecure through being more Self-Compassionate

Daily Quote: “If life is what we choose to make of it, then I will choose to forget losses and negativity and live a life full of possibility and abundance; high energy and exhilaration; happiness, and fulfillment.  I will choose to live a passionate, meaningful and inspired life based on doing the “best I can with what I have”. Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D 

The relentless search for high self-esteem has become dogmatic with most psychologists and coaches. Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special, above average and be a winner in order to feel good about ourselves, but we can’t all be above average. There is always someone richer, more attractive, or successful than we are. And even when we do manage to feel self-esteem for one golden moment, we can’t hold on to it. Our sense of self-worth bounces around like a golf ball, rising and falling in lock-step with our latest success or failure.

If you feel that you lack sufficient self-compassion or self-understanding, check in with yourself – are you criticizing yourself too much?  If so, stop and learn to be more gentle and forgiving of yourself.  Try to feel compassion for how difficult it is to be a fallible human being and imperfect in this extremely competitive society of ours.  Most of us live in cultures that do not emphasize self-compassion, quite the opposite.  We’re told that we’re being lazy and self-indulgent if we don’t harshly push and criticize ourselves.  We’re told that no matter how hard we try, our best just is not good enough. We become driven and stressed out individuals who are never satisfied with their life.  It’s time for something different.  We can all benefit by learning to be more forgiving and self-compassionate.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to self-esteem that many psychologists believe is a better and more effective path to happiness: self-compassion building into a sense of self-efficacy. The research of Dr. Kristin Neff and others strongly suggests that people who are more self-compassionate lead happier, healthier, more productive lives than those who are self-critical. Feelings of security and self-worth provided by self-compassion are highly stable. while self-esteem fluctuates depending on you latest success or failure. Self-compassion steps in precisely when we fall down, allowing us to get up and try again.

Dr. Neff helps readers understand that compassion isn’t only something that we should apply to others. Just as we are able to provide compassion for a good friend who was going through a difficult illness or loss or felt inadequate in some way, why not for ourselves? Many people believe that they need to be self-critical to motivate themselves, but in fact they just end up feeling anxious, incompetent and stressed. Dr. Neff’s research shows that far from encouraging self-indulgence, self-compassion helps us to see ourselves clearly and make needed changes because we care about ourselves and want to reach our full potential.

Her groundbreaking book Self-Compassion based on years of solid empirical research into human happiness and success  identifies how to let go of insecurity and constant, debilitating self-judgment and finally learn to be kind to themselves. This book provides practical exercises to support people who want to tackle the skill of self-compassion. Below I am posting some info from Dr. Neff to help you get started and if this info triggers your curosity and interest I would definitely invest a few bucks and buy it. This idea hof self-compassion has the power to change your life. First let’s get to an overview of what self-compassion is and how it differs from self-esteem. 

Definition of self-compassion

Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. “Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience…” 

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment? Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect? You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness and fallibility. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.

The three elements of self-compassion

Self-kindness. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.  Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism.  When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.

Common humanity.
 Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation – as if “I” were the only person suffering or making mistakes.  All humans suffer, however. The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect.  Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.  It also means recognizing that personal thoughts, feelings and actions are impacted by “external” factors such as parenting history, culture, genetic and environmental conditions, as well as the behavior and expectations of others.  Thich Nhat Hahn calls the intricate web of reciprocal cause and effect in which we are all imbedded “interbeing.”  Recognizing our essential interbeing allows us to be less judgmental about our personal failings. After all, if we had full control over our behavior, how many people would consciously choose to have anger issues, addiction issues, debilitating social anxiety, eating disorders, and so on?  Many aspects of ourselves and the circumstances of our lives are not of our choosing, but instead stem from innumerable factors (genetic and/or environmental) that we have little control over.  By recognizing our essential interdependence, therefore, failings and life difficulties do not have to be taken so personally, but can be acknowledged with non-judgmental compassion and understanding.

Mindfulness. Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.  This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, thus putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.  At the same time, mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

Self-compassion versus self-esteem

Although self-compassion may seem similar to self-esteem, they are different in many ways.  Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourselves. While there is little doubt that low self-esteem is problematic and often leads to depression and lack of motivation, trying to have higher self-esteem can also be problematic.  In modern Western culture, self-esteem is often based on how much we are different from others, how much we stand out or are special.  It is not okay to be average, we have to feel above average to feel good about ourselves.  This means that attempts to raise self-esteem may result in narcissistic, self-absorbed behavior, or lead us to put others down in order to feel better about ourselves.  We also tend to get angry and aggressive towards those who have said or done anything that potentially makes us feel bad about ourselves.  The need for high self-esteem may encourage us to ignore, distort or hide personal shortcomings so that we can’t see ourselves clearly and accurately.

Finally, our self-esteem is often contingent on our latest success or failure, meaning that our self-esteem fluctuates depending on ever-changing circumstances.

In contrast to self-esteem, self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations. People feel compassion for themselves because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits (pretty, smart, talented, and so on). This means that with self-compassion, you don’t have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself.  Self-compassion also allows for greater self-clarity, because personal failings can be acknowledged with kindness and do not need to be hidden. Moreover, self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances, it’s always available – especially when you fall flat on your face!  Research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger”

Self-Coaching Challenge: Determine what you need to get started on understanding the power of self-compassion. Ask how could self-compassion increase your outlook on life and what implications does it have for you becoming a better leader? 

 

 

Using Stage Fright and Anxiety to Improve Presentations.

 

Alignment of substance and style

But I… never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it”. ~Mark Twain

It is natural to feel apprehension before speaking in front of a group, this is called “stage fright” . At the root anxiety and fright is all about some kind of irrational thinking, such as “perfectionism” or fear of failure”   which triggers your anxiety. Perfectionism can drive insecurity. And on the other hand if you adjust your thinking about the need to be “perfect” you can be energize and inspire your self up to a point, but too much concern can lead to a drop in performance.

A certain level of anxiety is actually necessary for you to perform your best. The key is to use this anxiety to your advantage, harnessing it to make your style more dynamic and animated. The physical symptoms of anxiety are very similar to that of excitement. If you can train yourself to interpret your symptoms as excitement, instead of being nervous, you are well on your way to using the anxiety to your advantage. So, how do you do this?

Controlling Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety
1. Avoid negative self-talk. For example, do not use phrases like, “They won’t listen. They’ll be hostile.” Talk like this is not only self-defeating, but it is self-fulfilling. Tell yourself instead that you will succeed. Tell yourself, “I’ve done my research. I’m prepared. I am well practiced.” These kind of statements are also self-fulfilling–in a positive way.

2. Don’t exceed your time limits for a topic. Know how much time you have been allotted and then keep to the schedule. Carefully preparing your material will allow you to cover the topic well, but also selectively customize it for your audience needs. It takes longer to say something than it does to read something. The best way to make sure you do not run over time is to follow the suggestions in step 3.

3. Practice and prepare. Practice and prepare. Once your presentation material is prepared, it is time for you to prepare. Practice is the key to feeling confident. There are several ways to do this.

–Practice with an audio or video tape. Play it back to catch mistakes you might have made. This will help you catch distracting idiosyncrasies such as touching your hair, playing with your rings, standing with your hands in your pockets, or using fill-speech like saying “you know” or  “um” over and over again.

–Practice in front of a mirror. Remember to practice what you do with your hands and arms. If you use gestures when you speak, make sure they are natural and not overdone.

–After you have practiced on your own, it is good to get an “audience” to watch your presentation and provide concrete feedback on what is good, what needs to be drop or where you need improvement. An audience can be just one other person, but the more feedback you get from different perspectives the higher the likelihood of connecting and engaging your future audience. Getting constructive feedback usually results in changes that will improve your delivery and content.

–If you are trying to persuade your audience to your viewpoint, ask a friend to give you some opposing viewpoints to get a sense of what your audience may be thinking as they hear your presentation. Understanding opposing viewpoints is especially important if you allow questions after the presentation.

4. Know and read your audience. Your presentation must correlate to your audience’s interests or you will lose them. Knowing your audience will also give you a positive, confident attitude about speaking with them and provide opportunities to improvise the content to make it more relevant to audience members.   Be quick on your feet and don’t get locked in to just what you want to say by being an active listener.

5. Visualize yourself succeeding. Do not just tell yourself that you will do well; picture yourself doing well! Take a deep breath, close your eyes and imagine yourself walking to the front of the audience with your shoulders back and a smile on your face. See yourself speaking while the audience nods with approval, laughs at your spontaneous humor and applauds when you finish. Carry that successful mental image with you when it is time for you to present.

6. Fake it until you make it. Your audience will not know how nervous you are. They will only know what you show or tell them. Regardless of how you feel inside, act confident. Acting confident can actually make you feel confident.

7. Don’t stress over what “could have been” or “should have been. Leave the presentation behind once you have finished. Allow yourself five minutes to review the “smiley” sheets and reflect on what you could have done differently, then move on. Plan constructively for your next project. Set some goals and take what you learned to make the next one even better. A good evaluation tool for yourself is to talk with members of the audience after the presentation and ask for feedback on worked and what you could do better the next time.  After all, it was for them you did the presentation.

 

Want to be less Pessimistic or Negative? Try the Self-Coaching Method of Thought Disputation

Pessimism could be at the heart of you feeling “stuck” or unhappy with your life.

Negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from enjoying life. The more you give in to your negative thoughts, the stronger they become and the more they become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Like the  story of a someone making a snow ball and climbing to tall hill and letting the ball and gravity take its natural course. The small snow ball rolling down hill, starts to roll and becomes bigger and faster the farther it goes down, until it crashes into something at the bottom.

That’s what one small negative thought can turn into: a huge, speeding ball of  pessimism. On the contrary, a small positive thought can have the same effect of producing a positive climate for discussions and problem solving. If you any proof of this ,just reflect on some of the recent staff meetings you have had.  I’d like to share with you a cognitive  development technique  that can you turn around this pattern of pessimistic thinking.

Using Thought Disputation (ABCDE Method)to overcome negative thinking.

Coping via thought disputation is a specific technique derived from cognitive therapy for negativity and pessimistic thinking that can lead to frustration and feeling in a rut. The method urges us to challenge our own pessimistic thoughts. The technique can be done in a variety of ways. It can be done informally in a discussion with someone else, written down, or simply done in your head. The guidelines developed by Dr.Albert Ellis are condense below and offer a framework for approaching your problem with negative and irrational thinking.

1)  A–Write down nature of the adversity or problem that you are facing.

2) B--Identify any negative beliefs triggered by this problem.

3) C--Record the consequences of the problem, how is it impacting your relationships and your ability to find positive energy to function in a more effective and effect ways in  living.

4) D-Dispute the negative belief, challenging it, thinking of other possible reasons for the problem and ways to overcome its impact on your quality of life..

5) E--Consider the more optimistic explanations of your problem to Energize you and lift your spirits, so that you become less anxious and more hopeful.

To be sure, the hardest part is disputation and to challenge your own negative thoughts. The act of disputing is taking the role of “devils advocate” and looking for evidence to disprove your own negative thinking. Disputing negative thoughts and being gentle on yourself leads to new patterns of thinking and increases your self-compassion.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Here are some additional tips for getting started:

-What specific evidence do I have for this negative belief?

-Even if my belief is true, what are the implications? Put another way, what is the worst possible thing that could happen?

-What alternative explanations are there for your recent behavior?

-What is the best possible thing that could happen and how can I make that happen ?

-On a 1-10 scale how committed are you to change your situation?

-What do I honestly think is the most likely outcome?

-In what ways is this negative belief pattern or playing victim useful to you?

-What payoffs do I get from continuing to support these negative thoughts ?

-What do I plan to do to address the Problem?

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.”

Daily Quote and Reflection: Want to Be Happier? Try this one Secret

Quote: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer”. Henry David Thoreau

Reflection: I think one of key secrets to living a happier and more fulfilled life is to not let others decide your future or to give-up challenging yourself to grow and develop.   Take small steps to the music which you hear, however small or difficult the steps may be. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, lovers, soul mates, critics, teachers, their religious leaders and what popular culture  think is cool or best for them. They ignore their inner drummer and voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about who they are and stop dreaming. Remember my Poem ” Happiness Happens… Be Ready…Life is Short”.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s expectations advice distract you from leaving your own footprints in the sand.

Self-Coaching Challenge:

Start today by identifying three things you want to do that will make your  life more meaningful and fulfilling. You must believe that you can have a bigger future, no matter what your circumstances. Take one of these three things you want to do and develop a plan for implementation. Remember this thing doesn’t not have to be a big flashy or difficult goal. Make you activity enjoyable and doable within the next 3 weeks.   Keep us posted. 

Daily Quote and Challenge–STOP Irrational Thoughts that Block Your Personal Happiness.

 Quote : ” You can’t talk yourself out of what you think is right and rational and yet you can challenge irrational thoughts and choose not to operate or behave like they are true”. Changing behavior can change your thinking”. Coach Mark 

Irrational Ideas that Block Your Growth and Development  

  1. Need to be loved or approved by everyone–Give credit away and recognition will come
  2. Differences make people bad, evil or stupid–Not stupid just different. Differences widen your perspective and help update your mental maps.
  3. Life is awful when things are not like we want them to be. Not awful just inconvenient.
  4. It’s easier to avoid difficulties and self-responsibilities. Face difficulties or they get worst
  5. Happiness is caused externally–Happiness is determined internally by living our values
  6. The past is the all important determiner of the present and future. No, it is just on factor.
  7. One can’t admit mistakes or ask for help–Asking shows your strength for growing. Keep your focus on goals and honestly accept responsibility for mistakes and move on.
  8. One needs someone stronger to rely upon–Better to be interdependent. I depend on you and much as you depend on me. We don’t accomplishes anything important by just relying on others.
  9. One needs to control and protect others. Focus on others needs and respect their abilities to accomplish things. Be supportive by listening not controlling.
  10. Need to be competent in all aspects of life —Can’t be perfect. Do the best you can.

Adapted from Albert Ellis—Rational Emotive Therapy

Self-Coaching Exercise: Identify which Irrational Idea is true for you. Keep track daily through this weekend how this irrational belief and thinking affects your life. Develop a plan for changing your approach by identifying what you can do differently. Be more reflective by instituting a feedback loop by enlisting a trusted friend to check your thinking.

Connecting Mindfulness and Mental Toughness–Live in the Moment

Buddhist Definition: “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”.

This ability to be in the present-moment awareness increases your ability to let yourself awaken to the moment and be free and uninhibited by self-consciousness. Your natural self comes to the surface. Being in this natural and present moment increases your mental toughness through focus on the “here and now”. “Be right here right now and see the ball, hit the ball !” you hear tennis and other coaches implore. This encouragement to just let go and let yourself be in the moment is the essence of fully experiencing an activity from the point of view of mindfulness you are now awakening to being more mentally and physically tough.

Overcoming what I call “efforting” is the first critical principle for improving performance.  Thinking too hard about what you’re doing actually makes you do worse. If you’re in a situation that makes you anxious—giving a presentation or speech, meeting for a job interview, playing in a tennis tournament or dancing with a troupe —focusing on your anxiety, worries or trying too hard to do the activity perfectly tends to heighten negative thoughts and anxiety. Focus less on what’s going on in your mind and more on what’s going on in the room or court, less on your mental self-talk and more on yourself as part of something.  To be at your best, you need to focus on positive things outside myself, like the music or the people around me. As the Buddhist monk might say  If you want to release positive energy ” try being one with everything” which to me translates as living and experiencing the joy of the “here and now” moment..

By reducing self-consciousness, mindfulness allows you to witness the passing drama of feelings, social pressures, even of being esteemed or disparaged by others without taking their evaluations personally, explain Richard Ryan and K. W. Brown of the University of Rochester. When you focus on your immediate experience without attaching it to your self-esteem, unpleasant events like audience rejection—or your so-called friends making fun of your performance —seem less threatening.

Focusing on the present moment also forces you to stop over thinking and getting out of our heads which releases positive brain endorphins and energy. “Being present-minded takes away some of that self-evaluation and getting lost in your mind—and in the mind is where we make the evaluations that are self-defeating. To paraphrase, Tim Gallwey from his fabulous book Inner Game of Life, instead of getting stuck in your head and worrying, you can let yourself go and hand over the performance to your positive and natural self 2 or self 3 and avoid the critical judgments of Self 1 which distract you from being in and enjoying the moment.

Self-Coaching Activity: Increasing Self-Awareness and Reducing Emotional Flare-ups

Activity for More Self-Awareness—Observing and reducing Emotional Flare-ups

Start with self-awareness. Observe and tune-in to feelings, and where you feel them in your body and name them.  Give yourself a couple of minutes for practice getting touch with level of emotional intensity and then practice the 10 second stress reduction response to lower you agitation , practice this deliberate observational process several times during the day when you feel uneasy and jot down in your journal your reflections and insights—who were you interacting with, what was the topic of conversations and why did this discussion bring forth such an emotional reaction.

Then, after a week of collecting this data ask yourself:  Do I have more control over these situations than I exercise? If so, “What I can do about it?” Take 30 minutes to do a self-brainstorm on solutions for these situations. Develop a plan to change your behavior and get feedback on how successful your change plan is working—what worked,Where did you fall short and get stuck? What can you do next time to be more successful?

Daily Quote and Reflection: The Game of Winning from Within

Daily Quote: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look FEAR in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Reflection: Game of Life—“Winning from Within”

 Rule # 1 : Allow Yourself to face fears and use that energy to fuel positive action 

Some people become afraid or anxious, and they find it overwhelming. When that happens, reach out to family, friends, or colleagues. for support. Do not run away from problems they only get bigger and more complicated. Fear can be a real or made-up so be clear on the reality and source of your fear. Take a deep breath and think of past times when you have overcome fear and realize it is okay to be afraid because it is the first step to overcoming it. Learn to push through the fear with positive self-talk.

 Self-Coaching Challenge: Identify a fear you have like public speaking and over the next week find ways to overcome this fear. You might want to investigate new research on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that has proven to be very effective with reducing anxiety and fears for many people.   

Self-Coaching Experiment: Renewal through Reflection vs Autopilot Living.

Are you stuck and living on autopilot?

The Solution: Renewal and Reflect– Being focused and present in the “here and now” requires regular attention to our internal lives–what are our dreams and hopes and how do internal systems  such as self-talk and physical alertness or energy impact our stuckness or inaction? . One important way to renew from 21 Century always on and hurry sickness is to take a weekend break or ” recovery”. For example,  you might experiment with turning off  TV’s, radios  and all other technology gadgets in your live. When we take a break, we gain recovery time, replenish or energy reserves and gain insights about what activities play a part our busyness and stress in life. This recovery time provides the opportunity to focus on what is important in our daily living and what are time wasters and distractions.

When we lose touch with our core of interacting face to face and eyeball to eyeball we lose a chance for real connections based on attention and intimacy. Our perspective and positive connections decrease because of our removal mentally and physically from others. We gain back our perspective by turning off outside distractions and by letting our intuitive voice guide us.

Sometimes we are open to renewal because our energy is at low levels or stress is reaching a breaking point. When crises drop into our lives, we are forced to stop, challenge our thinking and actions and reflect on our next course of action . At times when things seem to be going smoothly, we may not sense the need at all. The truth is it is better to be proactive in understanding how we live are lives rather than waiting for outside events to happen to get our attention.

Taking a complete “blackout from TV and all other media may seem a bit extreme and strange, yet it can help us regain our balance and focus in life. So, how do we go about this renewal or recovery approach?

How to Renew and Recover

When we’re disconnected and not available to others we begin to disengage in personal connections and opportunities to really let others know we care. In order to know people, we have to listen to their stories. We live in an age when we rarely have the time to fully listen to and hear each other’s stories. So, we live on impressions and assumptions. We’re busy people, after all, and we want our friendships easy and stress-free.

Commit to go without media or technology gadgets for 24 hours! No cell phone, computer, laptop, Kindle, TV or radio for 24 hours—call it a “recovery holiday”

A break from techno-busyness forces us to confront core questions about life. “Do I see friends more often?” “Do I really know their stories?” “Am I accessible to those I love?” Where am I going with my life? Am I making the difference in the world I hoped to do?

In the morning, get up a little earlier. Before you get involved in anything, just sit quietly for ten minutes and take three deep breaths. Breath one–just be present. Breath two–develop a grateful for…list. Breath three–focus on your mission and purpose in life purpose. Breath four-smile. Breath five clear you mind. Breath six. twinkle your eyes.   Then envision your next 24 hours. Picture the activities of the day without outside interference and have to dos…no cutting the lawn, listening to baseball game or emailing friends. Picture the potential “Aha moments”—times where you will have face time with people.

Maybe choose one friend (or a colleague) and get to know their story. Throughout the day, look for Aha or purposeful moments—opportunities to connect with people through a question, a kind word, an extended hand. In these moments, ask people what they are truly excited about, passionate about, a recent vacation or Holiday that was exciting or special for them—and listen.

What is the mood of these purpose moments? My hunch is that you’ll sense the mood that most of us yearn for—someone in our lives who “gets us.” We want someone to push the pause button on technology and listen to our stories. We’re hungry for deep connection.

The essence of renewal was captured clearly by Gardner in a book entitled Self-Renewal: “Exchanging stories is like making love. It is mutual. It is intimate. It takes patience, devotion, sensitivity, subtlety, skill, engagement—and it teaches those qualities too.”

Renewal of our operating personal operating systems is powerful. It slows us down. It teaches us that patience, devotion, sensitivity, subtlety, skill and sharing are fundamental qualities to finding meaning in a harried and stressed out world.

By all means have fun with this renewal experiment and as usual share your stories with us so we can learn the benefits of this “recover weekend”.