Why your brain needs adversity

adversity

Do you ever find your mind wandering just as everything in your life seems perfect?

It’s almost as though your actual problems silence the ones fabricated by your mind.

Maybe you start to wonder which is worse – fear of future problems with their lack of boundaries or actual problems which you have some form of control over?

If you do feel like you’re always scanning your life ready to identify the next thing to worry about than you’re right.

And you’ll be pleased to know that you’re not alone, in fact, it happens to most of us and it’s down to a disposition in your brain meaning that it thrives from adversity.

Why your brain thrives from adversity.

The human mind is “antifragile“,  this means that it actually gets better with adversity.

Like an immune system that strengthens after repeated exposure to germs,  your brain needs stimulation in the form of a challenge in order to grow.

This is precisely why it’s instinctual to keep creating problems — even if there aren’t any real ones in front of us.

The more mental space you have – to imagine problems – for example, if you have a disposition towards rejecting any kind of real challenge or adversity in your life, the more your brain will compensate by creating a problem to overcome.

In effect, unless you are actually dealing with a problem in real life, you will be imprisoned by fears in your mind.

Shielding the mind from any adversity makes us more vulnerable to anxiety, panic, and chaos. We become mentally weaker and unable to reach our full potential.

How to add adversity into your life

Antifragile things need tension, resistance, adversity, and pain to break and transform. Learn to embrace all of life’s hurdles. We can only feed our antifragile brain by experiencing all life has to give us, taking the good and the bad. The worst thing, as explained above, is to fear future problems – it simply perpetuates your state of fear before you are unable to take any challenge through not only fear but a weakened mental state.

The key to adding adversity in your life is to be self-aware about the boundaries of your comfort zone. Do everything you can to step outside of them. The more you push your comfort zone the more your brain and mental agility will grow too.

Further, when you do start to worry about future problems, try to first ascertain whether it is a likely or real threat. If you do not believe it to be real or likely than change your mindset. Instead of thinking about problems that may not exist, be grateful. Think about how grateful you are for the things you do have. Try to break the habit of unnecessary worry.

How to keep your attitude in check during a bad work day

attitude

A toxic attitude can spread faster than distasteful gossip.

A bad mood is infectious and if you don’t nip it in the bud it can be impossible to work. Before you know it, the rest of your colleagues will be feeling your negative energy. Even worse, you risk giving a bad impression to your superiors who will be less than impressed by your bad attitude. Something that, (especially if it happens more than once) can really tarnish your reputation.

So, you need to get your attitude in check—and fast.

Here’s how:

1. Avoid Venting

It’s human nature—when you’re having a terrible day to want to vent to those around you. Unfortunately, this creates a domino effect in the workplace and only achieves to spread negativity. Even worse, imagine if it gets back to those in charge that you’ve been bad-mouthing their business? There are little benefits to venting at work, about work. The key to keeping your unpleasant mood in check during the workday is to say as little as possible. By staying quiet, you avoid the risk of opening your mouth and saying the first snarky thing that comes to mind.

If you absolutely need to get something off your chest speak to someone that doesn’t work with you.

2. Take a Break

The downward spiral of negativity moves quickly. A bad exchange with your co-worker turns into a bad morning, which turns into a bad day. Nip the bad experience in the bud and don’t let it take over your day.

One of the best ways to do just that is to get up and take a break. Go outside and take a walk, run an errand, or head out for a quick cup of coffee. Do anything that will get you away from your workplace and change your environment.

Research shows that attempting to continue to stay focused on the task at hand will only lead to an even worse mood. So, the absolute best thing to do is to stand up and take a break. In the end, that’s much better than trying to power through.

3. Perform a Random Act of Kindness

One of the very best ways to get yourself out of your funk is to perform a random act of kindness. In fact, research shows that these small kind acts actually raise your dopamine levels—making you feel a lot happier.

Your random act of kindness can be to anyone – at work – on the streets – it’s your choice.

Doing something nice and unexpected can rip you out of your bad mood and help you to feel empathy over anger and settle down into your better self, again.

4. Fake it ’Til You Make it

Don’t let your bad mood rule your entire day. Instead, put on your most convincing happy face and push through.

This might not be easy but it’s far better than potentially ruining your reputation with a sour attitude.

Even better? Science says that smiling (even when you don’t feel like it) can actually help to improve your mood. So, it might be just what you need to turn that awful day of yours around.

Bad days happen to everyone. For a long and successful career, you really have to manage your mood to make sure your reputation does not suffer.

The four work personality types

four work personality types

A workplace is a dynamic environment with a diverse range of people. Not everyone, in the world, works, reacts, or communicates in the same way. Typically, you can find four work personality types. Each of these personality types exhibits common characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses that benefit from being managed and communicated with in different ways. Understanding these four work personality types will help you to successfully lead a diverse team to increase your team’s job satisfaction, performance, and reach organisational goals.

The four work personality types

1. Analytical

The analytical personality type is very introspective. They’re serious individuals that act with utmost deliberation. They have high standards which are reflected in their working styles. They are process driven and highly organised. They also often tend to have a dry and witty sense of humor.

Analytical strengths are that they are perfectionists. They produce a high standard of work. They’re organised, economical, and self-disciplined. They are risk-averse (which can arguably also be a weakness).

Analytics weaknesses are that they can be moody, negative and critical of those with different working styles. Their disposition towards analysing everything can make them indecisive. Their desire to be perfect can produce negative results as it can overshadow the point of their task.

The best ways to interact with an analytical:

  • Ask rather than tell
  • Don’t make demands or rush
  • Give them time and space to think about things
  • They like encouragement and feedback for good work

2. Driver

Drivers have strong and energetic personalities. They exude confidence and naturally gravitate toward leadership positions. They shoot into action, but they can overlook details. Drivers are blue sky visionaries. They see where they want to take a team but they can lack the preparation of the interim steps.

Driver strengths can be found in their tenacious determination. They are independent and highly productive. They are visionaries and they’re decisive. A driver would rather make a bad decision than no decision. They just want actions toward their goals.

On the weak side, the driver can be insensitive, unempathetic and sarcastic. Drivers are stubborn and typically do not like to admit when they are wrong. They can also rush into decision making without thoroughly thinking through the consequences of their decision.

The best ways to interact with a driver;

  • Get straight to the point
  • Give them responsibility
  • Give them independence when they execute their tasks
  • Show appreciation

3. Amiable

The amiable personality type is a well-balanced individual, calm and patient. They’re typically quiet. They’re empathetic, kind, and inoffensive—amiables are people pleasers.

Amiable strengths are that they are very easy going. They fit well into teams, do not cause disruption and get on with their work. They’re diplomatic and calm and can be very supportive of those around them.

On the weak side, an amiable’s need to people please can be self-defeating and consequent in them feeling resentment. It can also cause complications if they do not really say what they feel for fear of upsetting those around them. They can be stubborn, selfish and easily overwhelmed.

The best way to interact with an amiable;

  • Be gentle
  • Do not overwhelm
  • Show support and empathy
  • Encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone

4. Expressive

The expressive is also known as a social specialist. They are exciting, popular and naturally draw people to them. They want to be included and are excellent team players. Expressives want to be involved in everything from projects to social teams.

On the strong side, the expressive is very good at communicating and managing those around them. They are charismatic and persuasive. On the weak side, they can be disorganized, undisciplined, loud, and incredibly talkative.

The best way to interact with an expressive;

  • Have a sense of humor
  • Make sure they check their facts
  • Show excitement and participate in their conversations

Of course, these are generalisations and many people will exhibit some amount of any number of these four work personality types. However, everyone will possess more characteristics of one type over the others.

How to nail consistency

consistency

Consistency is the foundation of success. Consistency in your professional life allows you to enjoy high client retention rates, booming business bottom lines, and a well-respected brand. In your personal life, consistency strengthens your self-perception and your self-confidence. You no longer feel threatened by new or daunting tasks. You simply look at your past consistent track record and feel assured that you can handle any task ahead of you. Consistency kills self-doubt and here are 5 proven ways to nail consistency.

1. Focus

Decide on exactly what it is you want and build a system and processes around it. Surround yourself with knowledge, people, tasks, routines, boundaries, and consequences that reflect your main point of focus. Point your life towards your goals and constantly think, what can I do, right now, to become closer to my goals?

2. Consistency in your thoughts

One of the most liberating things in life is having control over your thoughts. Being unshakable when things don’t go to plan naturally makes you consistent. Calm, balanced thoughts accelerate your journey towards your goals. The first step to controlling your thoughts (or not letting your thoughts control you!) is to be self-aware. What am I feeling right now? Is this a genuine concern or just stress? The world acclaimed practice of mindfulness is the best way to practice self-awareness.

3. Don’t doubt yourself until after you’ve accomplished your process goals

Self-doubt is the ultimate consistency destroyer. You must continue with your goal and only until after you have completed the required number of process goals (i.e. numbers of trials) can you start to think about self-doubt. Anything before this point is simply, giving up.

4. If you don’t feel like it do it anyway

If you are avoiding a task, so long as you’re sure on your goal, you should do the task anyway. You will not regret taking action towards your goal but you will regret inaction. A good test was adduced by Steve Jobs

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Just remember, so long as you are making moves towards your goal(s), you’re doing the right thing,

5. Consistency doesn’t mean the same

Consistency is about growth and not about repetition. You shouldn’t be aiming for the same result (certainly not worse) but something better every time. If you feel something isn’t working than you have to be flexible and change. Being consistent about your success means constantly analysing what works and what doesn’t. You should be prepared to rip up ideas and go back to the drawing board at any point. In the words of Albert Einstein “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a di erent result.”

For more information on how to master consistency read the helpful blog by Anthony Galli here

 

 

5 tips for performing well under pressure

pressure

It goes without saying that in today’s working world we are all under pressure. This is a non-varying characteristic of modern corporations. Forward-thinking companies do care for their employees’ well-being, but it’s also important for employees to know how to handle pressure in order to not sacrifice mental health or work performance. Here are 5 great tips for performing well under pressure.

1) Remember that human beings can perform well under pressure.

We are survivalists, we love a challenge and we like to accomplish difficult tasks that keep us going. If you find yourself working in a pressurised environment it’s highly likley that you are one of the people that succeed rather than fail under pressure.

So, don’t view pressure as a negative, but rather embrace it and see it as an opportunity. You should always pay attention to the nature of the pressure you are under. If you decide the pressure is unnecessary, you should see how you can circumvent the pressure and deal with any associated tasks, in different, more balanced manner.

2) Don’t be a yes person 

A common cause of feeling pressure at work is by taking on more work than you can handle. Only accept work if you genuinely feel you have the capacity. If you know that a task can be done, then take it on. If you think it can’t be done, then you need to resolve the situation (i.e ask for help or delegate) and figure out a way that it can be done without sacrificing your work standard or mental health.

3) Plan ahead and ask yourself, “What if?”

Having a recovery plan or two in mind for if the pressure gets too much, can really help to relax your mind when working up against strict deadlines. Think of alternatives; even if you don’t need them, they will help you to handle pressure well, and you will be ready for the unforeseen, instead of helplessly panicking along the way which only serves to slow down your productivity.

4) Maintain self-control over yourself.

Your reactions to different challenges are part of the learning process, and it is sometimes necessary to take a step back when up against a challenge and asses how you react. Make sure you are in control over your emotions and you are not being overly negative in the work place or at home. If you feel unable to control your emotions then it’s a sign that the pressure is getting to you. In this scenario, it would be a good idea to take a step back or seek appropriate wellbeing help. If you feel you can, speaking to a superior about how your work environment is affecting you, could be beneficial if both of you draw up solutions to combat how you feel.

5) The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

The way that you deal with pressure at work will enable you to deal with the pressure in personal situations. If you can master pressure in one area of your life, you will learn to rise above challenges and grow in every area of your life. Eventually, those times will be a great source of pride.

Life comes with many hurdles and the better you handle these situations the higher your quality of life will be.

This blog was written with the help of Randa Hakim’s useful blog on workplace pressure here

 

 

Words you should use and avoid in your presentations

presentation

There are several ways to succeed in a presentation and mostly it’s down to how you make your audience feel. Did you make an impact? and, Did you add value?  Sometimes you can prepare everything perfectly but really let yourself down with bad grammar and wording choice that detracts from the overall credibility of your work and even in some circumstances irritate your audience. Here are some tips from  The Elements of Style by Strunk and White which are still relevant to all presentations today.

1. Don’t use overly long words when you can use short and familiar ones

There is nothing worse than hearing a presentation from a person trying to sound overly clever by using long and complicated words. The point of your presentation is not about you, it’s about clearly conveying information to your audience in the most user-friendly way. Anything else detracts from the meaning of your content.

2. Avoid euphemisms

You’re not kidding anyone and your audience will not appreciate hearing about the “profit improvement plan” which was the cause of the job losses.

3. Use metaphors sparingly – they are better on paper

Metaphors can often get lost in translation and can take the audience away from the point of your content. It might sound clever in your head but it would not be fun to confuse the room and try to recover audience engagement, in the middle of your presentation.

4. Don’t invent new words

Whilst it may seem obvious to not make up words, many people don’t actually realize that the words they use are fake. For example, the overused “prioritize” is an invented word; made by converting a noun, “priority,” into a verb by adding “ize”—a practice that the legendary New York Times columnist William Safire called “verbification of nouns.” Be careful to not fall into this trap.

5. Avoid clichés

They are known to irritate audiences and they can make you seem too informal in your presentation. Try to avoid saying any of these to keep your audience on side.

For more information and tips on what words to avoid in your presentation, click here.

 

How to stay naturally energised during your work day

energised

Your working day is a marathon, not a sprint. After a hectic weekend, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. However, luckily there are a few techniques that allow you to stay alert, regardless of how little sleep you’ve had. Here are four of the best expert-recommended ways to stay naturally energised during your working day.

1. Non-caffeinated energisers

Luckily for those of you who don’t want to rely on caffeine for energy, there are some great alternatives to stay energised. Many experts recommend exercising first thing in the morning so you get an adrenaline boost for the rest of the day. Exercise helps to keep you alert and also keeps your endorphins up – so that no matter how tired you may be – you will feel positive and upbeat. However, if exercising first thing in the morning isn’t for you, than simply taking a walk in fresh air (rain or shine) can significantly increase your level of alertness. Try to do this throughout the day, especially if you feel your eyelids getting heavy at your desk.

2.  Try the R.I.S.E U.P. method

Dr. Harvey of the Golden Bear Sleep Research Center recommends what’s called the R.I.S.E. U.P. method to her patients who suffer from severe sleep inertia and need a concrete process to feel energised. R.I.S.E. U.P. stands for:

Refrain from snoozing
Increase activity for the first hour
Shower or wash face
Expose yourself to sunlight
Upbeat music
Phone a friend

3. Be mindful of what you eat

If you particularly tired, refrain from eating anything heavy, too hot or starchy. These foods will simply make you feel less energised and lethargic. Instead switch to light foods such as Greek yogurt, fruit, smoothies, salads, and lean protein. Bananas and nuts are a great snack to help keep your energy up throughout the day. Another great trick is to have strong spearmint gum with you – as chewing this helps to keep you alert.

4. Take a 10-minute nap

Studies show that the perfect amount of time for a nap, during the working day, is 10 minutes. Anything more than this and you risk being more tired. The perfect 10-minute nap involves sleeping slightly upright so that you don’t fall into a deep sleep and spring back into action. Those that do nap at work tend to do it in a conference room, a couch or their car!

5. Listen to your favorite upbeat song

Turn on your favorite song, that gets you moving. Listen to it using headphones at work and feel all of the happy endorphins run through your body, giving you all the energy you need, to tackle the next task.

 

How to fail intelligently

fail intelligently

Failure is a core component of our learning process. If we truly want to reach our full potential we should go beyond the concept of embracing failure and we should be learning how to fail intelligently. This means that we accept full responsibility for the failure, learn all of the lessons it affords us and ensures that we don’t make the same mistake twice.

Some of the most successful people in the world will tell you that failure is a precondition to success. A good example is Thomas Edison. He failed no less than 10,000 times to invent the light bulb. He obviously didn’t let that perturb him, instead, he saw it as the 10,000 ways that didn’t work.

Another great example is J.k Rowling who said “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.”

Whilst there is no one rule for how to fail intelligently – it’s entirely relevant to your personal goals and journey – there are certain common characteristics shared by those who know how to fail intelligently.

1. They maintain their confidence and enthusiasm in the face of failure

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

Failing doesn’t feel good. However, those who know how to fail intelligently, can maintain their confidence in the face of failure. This is what allows them to keep moving forward whilst their competitors stop. Its a tenacious part of their character that is fueled from failure.

2. They have a long-term goal

People that fail intelligently, don’t fail randomly. They have a long-term vision. They know what they are looking for and failing takes them one step closer to it.

3. They know how to fail in the right way

They fail fast and cheap. They don’t put too much time, money, and energy into something that’s uncertain. Instead they put in the bare minimum, so that they can validate their idea and then move on to the next without too much damage.

4. They see failing as a science experiment

When a failure occurs, they extract everything possible from it. They use it to predict future outcomes and they want to ensure that they don’t make the same mistakes in their next attempt. They see it as the ultimate learning opportunity.

5. They don’t mind tearing up their idea at any point

There are times when a failure will show them that their ideas are, on the wrong track. In this scenario they aren’t afraid of, tearing up their plans and going back to the drawing room. They don’t get trapped by their ego, they simply start again, knowing that they found a valuable lesson.

6. They experiment a lot

People that want to succeed understand that they have to “double their rate of failure”. As being successful means experimenting (and failing) a lot. Experimenting repetitively also allows them to perfect their method of failing intelligently. They have the right processes in place so that failures advance their purpose instead of destroy them. This is what differentiates them from others and this is what allows them to get up in the face of several failing attempts.

 

 

 

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