Monthly Archives: February 2015

Stop Using these 3 Words or Phrases : “Step Up”, “But”, “Potential”

We have all been there, done that and said it.  What would happen if we stopped using certain words or phrases during performance review.  What am I talking about?  The top 3 most common “dreaded” words or phrases:

  • Step Up:  Yeah that’s right, you have heard it.  Personally I have heard it and sadly I have used it.  What does it even mean?  It’s used as if everyone knows exactly what it means but truth be told really don’t.  At least not to person hearing it.  “You need to step up.”  What does that mean?  Step up to what?  Instead of “step up”, what would be a specific feedback that would help the employee to improve?  For example, “You need to step up on your leadership of the team.”  To the person hearing those words, what does it mean?  Does it mean “I need to shout louder so that people know that I am in charge?”, “I need to act more arrogantly so that my team knows that I am their leader”.  What could you say instead of using the words “Step up”? Managers don’t be lazy.  Think about the feedback that you want to give to get your employees to either reinforce or rectify a behaviour.  Remember, for feedback to be effective, it needs to be specific, impact driven and suggestive for actions.
  • “But”:  The dreaded “but” word.  No one ever hears or retains anything before the word “but”.  What other options do we have to communicate areas of improvement or focus.  “You are doing well but you are careless with the details.”  What does the person hear?  “You are careless and in trouble.”  What could you say instead of using the word “but”?
  • “Realise your full potential”:  Potential.  What is that?  Who judges that?  What is the basis of that judgement?  Is the benchmark against what we have set for ourselves?  Every one of us has “potential”.  Potential to be great, good or average.  The area that needs to be highlighted is what is useful to be developed further and what is not useful to be de-emphasized.

If you were to play the Taboo word game, what would you now say to your employee.  How much thought would have to go into preparing for the discussion or review?  What would you say differently?

Acknowledgement: Do we celebrate enough?

Who does not enjoy a good celebration?  Celebrations are great, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s full of energy and laughter.  We celebrate successes, big milestones and occasions e.g. Christmas, New Year etc.  Celebrations are meant to show appreciations, a coming together to recognise and acknowledge achievements and goals reached.  Apart of the “big” celebrations, we do celebrate enough?  Do we acknowledge the “small” achievements?  Do we acknowledge one another’s contribution?  Do we recognise the person that helped “behind the scenes”?  Do we celebrate enough?  Have you thought about the “smaller” celebrations.  Celebrations to acknowledge progress,  out-of-the-box ideas and programs, team work for getting a tough campaign off the ground.  Do we acknowledge and celebrate process and progress vs. just the end result?  My feeling is that we don’t do enough of that.

I have noticed through my coaching journey that most people do not celebrate or acknowledge their own progress enough.  By robbing yourself of that, we are robbing ourselves of an opportunity to recognise where we were to where we are now.  Each of us would have reasons everyday to acknowledge something that we have progressed in even if its reading a chapter of a book.  Why?  When we are able to acknowledge our progress, we will see ourselves moving forward.  Moving forward will give us a sense of accomplishment and that we are not standing still or not going anywhere.  It’s the constant progression of moving forward that will lead us to where we want to go or what we want to achieve.  No one achieves success without progressing forward everyday.

To celebrate and acknowledge progress would enable you to:

1.  Reflect and recognise progress.  Progress from step 1 to step 2 and so on.  No one achieves Step 10 without going through Step 1 or Step 2 first.  To recognise that will give you a sense of moving forward.

2.  Builds confidence and reduces fear.  As you acknowledge your progress, you are in the process of building confidence which will in turn reduce fear.  You will be more and more confident in performing a certain task and achieving your goals.  Self-confidence is an important component of how we feel about ourselves and in turn how others will treat you.

3.  It makes it fun.  We all need to have fun in the journey.  Acknowledgement and celebrations makes it fun and worthwhile.  It’s a tangible sign for your mind and emotions that you are moving in the right direction.  Who does not like to celebrate by buying ourselves a little present every now and then.

4.  It motivates us to continue and be bolder.  As we acknowledge our progress, it will motivate us to move forward.  Maybe even move forward move boldly and taking on more challenges.

Acknowledge yourself today.  In fact everyday.  Try it.  Think about what you have done today, whether it’s completing a task, teaching your son how to ride a bicycle etc..  No matter how big or small.  See how you feel.  Think about what it motivates you to do next.   Learn to acknowledge yourself for if you don’t, how then can you expect others to.

Uncertainty will create fear or adventure

I am reminded today of just how blessed I am.  To be grateful and thankful for the simple things in life.  I was in a group meeting and listening to some of the hard places that some people are going through was a great reminder to me that everyone of us has the hard and the joyful seasons of life.  The way we accept and face the varied situation is a choice.  The choice is in Acceptance.

A friend shared this video on Emotional Adulthood through Acceptance with me.  T.T. Rangarajan summarised his concept of acceptance in very simple terms.  He gives an example of when we face uncertainty what is our response.  If we accept the uncertainty, its called adventure and if we do not accept the uncertainty its called fear.   When we see someone having something we don’t have, if we accept that it will inspire us to do better but if we don’t accept that, it leads to jealousy.   Acceptance will lead to a positive path while non-acceptance will lead down a slippery negative path.

So when we face the tough and hard times, what is our state of acceptance?  How do we accept?  What does acceptance involve?  I have read a number of books and articles on this topic and for me, these 3 things have been useful for me:

  • Let it go.  We can’t start the acceptance journey if we are not willing to let go of what we are resisting or feeling negative about.  The energy that goes into holding on to something whether a situation or a perception of a situation is hard work.  It saps your energy as it increases your stress level which causes cortisol to build up in your body which then leads to physical reaction and the cycle just continues.  So not only are you emotional and mentally drained, physically there are negative consequences.   Letting go requires you to relinquish the “control” that the situation has on you.
  • Open arms and heart.  Open your mind and heart to the acceptance and excitement that it brings.  No one can experience newness if we are not open to it.  We can have something new in the palm of our hands if we don’t open it.  But to open it requires that we are willing to let go.
  • Move On.  Moving on from this point onwards would involve making a decision to focus on the now.  What is the situation now?  What can I do now?  Not looking back and never taking back the issue.  I know that for me, that’s hard as its so easy to go back and rehash the situation and add more dose of self pity and have a pity-party.  Let it go and move on.

To accept is to learn to let go, be open to something new and to move on to embrace the next step.

Its Not Fair

It’s not fair or It’s just not fair.  Have we not thought that and even said it?  Have we not thought that about everyone who has something that we don’t?  Have we not wondered why life isn’t fair?  Some will say that Life is Not Fair and in many ways its true.  However, is that really true?  Is that perspective of fairness even fair?

I have come across many times when I have thought, that’s not fair.  How could so and so be promoted?  How could I not have been selected for an award and so on?  From my perspective, it’s just not fair.  However, there are many aspects to perspective and therefore just to judge someone on a scale that is ever evolving and different person to person is rifled with faults.

What do you do when you feel that “it’s not fair”?    How do you get of the negative perspective?  Here are a few quick tips:

1.  Life is only fair through your eyes.  Therefore through the eyes of everyone, it is fair, just not to someone else.  Once you accept that perspective, then the means by which we compare or judge others will need to be released.  What are you happy with?  What drives you?  What are you passionate about?  What are your strengths?  What are you good at?  Focus on those because you are most probably good at it.

2.  Don’t compare or judge others.  You are accountable for you, your actions and your thoughts.  Others are accountable for their actions and thoughts.  There is no “right” or “wrong” in most cases with the exception of against the law type situation.  The better question is whether the exercise was useful or not.  Useful to learn from or improve upon or not.  The reality is I can’t play golf like Lydia Ko even though I feel that its unfair how someone so young could have all that talent.  What I don’t see is just how much hard work she puts into it and the sacrifices that she would have made to be successful.  Therefore, comparison of this nature is not helpful.

3.  “Life is Not Fair” is in the eyes of the beholder.  Taking on a glass half full or empty perspective.  If we only see the half empty perspective then probably your view of situations will be “Life is Not Fair”.  But don’t become a victim because there are any aspects of your life that I am sure brings a smile to your face.  What brings a smile to your face?  What are you most proud of?  What stories would you tell your children and grandchildren?

4.  This is your one life – Live it Up.  We only live once and we can choose to live it up or down.  I am sure that we have all read many articles and books about people and their regrets, let’s not be one of them.  Let’s choose to live our your passion and dreams.  Choose to make the most of the time you have with your family, friends and how you spend your time.

Life is fair because all of us only have ONE.

How do you break your cycle of negativity?

I am sure that every one of us goes through a cycle of being down or negative.  We see the world and everything in it including ourselves through a great big lense of failure or pessimism.  When we realise or are aware that we are in this cycle, what do we do to break this pattern?  What sort of pattern interruption strategies do you use?  How long does your cycle typically last?

What works for me is to do the following:

1.  Be aware:  Be aware that I am in that “negative” stage.  Triggers that I have realised are lack of sleep or just feeling tired, when I am not feeling well e.g headaches, annoyed with something that had happened etc.  I would catch myself being impatient over small matters or thinking something dreadful or feeling like nothing I would do would work.  Awareness and acknowledgement of the situation is my first step.

2.  Pattern Interruptions:  Actions that can be taken to break that pattern or cycle.  For me, depending on time and situation can range from taking a walk/run to listing down all the things that I am grateful for.  I would also take out my journal and remind myself the reasons or purpose for what I am doing what I am doing.  Focusing on the core beliefs and motivations help me to be centered and hopeful with expectations and anticipations.  What do you do?  What can you do?

3.  Have an action plan to remove the triggers of negativity.  Being aware of a problem is good and having a plan to minimise or prevent a problem is even better.  For me, since my triggers are tiredness, I need to be mindful that I need enough sleep.  Going back to my routine or establishing a routine is critical.  Catching the start of a headache and taking medication is important to ensure that it does not become a full-blown headache.  Keeping my exercise routine helps me to feel good and clears my mind to focus on the simple things of life e.g I still have my health hence I can run.  What is yours? What do you enjoy doing?  What is your passion?  What is your feel good activity?

Let me know what you do to break your cycle of negativity.