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Developing Mental Strength

We all have ups and downs in life and experience some really tough times. How we handle these times is a sure sign of mental strength. Avoiding emotional times and difficult situations will not serve as well and will make you vulnerable to when the tough times come.

I remember as a young police officer dealing with death, violence and witnessing incidents that simply stay with you. I developed my own mental strength on the go. It helped me years later experiencing family bereavements and stresses in the workplace. I explore how to develop mental strength

What is mental strength?

Mental strength means that you regulate your emotions, manage your thoughts, and behave in a positive manner, despite your circumstances.

Picture a mentally strong person. Whether you imagine a real person or just think about the characteristics of a strong person, you are most likely thinking about qualities like resilience and perseverance.

This is exactly what mental strength is all about – the ability to remain calm and composed under pressure.

When a disaster strikes, mental strength helps you look beyond the disappointment and tears, quickly helping you to move forward.

Mental strength means you aren’t stifled still in the face of adversity.

You can think of mental strength as your companion. That one friend who sticks by you in good and bad times telling you to keep moving and pushing forward. It’s the inner voice of respect, trust and confidence.

Stop Negative Thoughts

Although most of us don’t spend time thinking about our thoughts, increasing your awareness of your thinking habits proves useful in building resilience. Exaggerated, negative thoughts, such as, “I can’t ever do anything right,” hold you back from reaching your full potential. Catch your negative thoughts before they spiral out of control and influence your behavior.

Identify and replace overly negative thoughts with thoughts that are more productive. Productive thoughts don’t need to be extremely positive, but should be realistic. A more balanced thought may be, “I have some weaknesses, but I also have plenty of strengths.” Changing your thoughts requires constant monitoring, but the process can be instrumental in helping you become your best self.

Increase Emotional Intelligence

Allowing your emotions to control your life will deplete your mental strength. While there’s nothing wrong with being in a bad mood sometimes, staying stuck in a negative rut can be a slippery slope:

A lot of problems stem from our desire to avoid discomfort. For example, people who fear failure often avoid new challenges in an effort to keep anxiety at bay. Avoiding emotional discomfort, however, is usually a short-term solution that leads to long-term problems.

Develop an awareness of how your emotions impact your life. Decide that you’re going to be in control of your emotions so they don’t control you. Face uncomfortable feelings head-on and take charge of your life. The more you practice tolerating discomfort, the more confidence you’ll gain in your ability to accept new challenges.

Don’t be a Martar

We tend to think that mentally strong people “power through it all” by avoiding rest and working 24/7.

Over the long-term, the exact opposite holds true.

“Resilience is how you recharge, not how you endure.”

Shawn Achor

Staying up late and avoiding relaxation has an incredibly negative effect on your brain power. You’re at increased risk for succumbing to impulsive desires, inattentiveness and questionable decision-making, amongst other effects.

To gain mental strength, know when to put down your phone or turn off your laptop, and prioritize the much-needed recuperation of your body and mind.

You have to learn to work with your thoughts, manage your emotions, and behave productively despite the circumstances. Over time with regular practice, attention, and focus, your brain will actually physically rewire itself, through a process called neuroplasticity, so that stronger and healthier becomes the default. Increasing your mental strength is the key to reaching your greatest potential in life.

 “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher,” said Oprah Winfrey.

Striving to expand your network with inspirational people is a great stepping stone for improving your mental strength.

The Way Forward

You have to learn to work with your thoughts, manage your emotions, and behave productively despite the circumstances. Over time with regular practice, attention, and focus, your brain will actually physically rewire itself, through a process called neuroplasticity, so that stronger and healthier becomes the default. Increasing your mental strength is the key to reaching your greatest potential in life.

The difference between coaching and mentoring

Often mentoring and coaching are used interchangeably. While they may use similar skillsets to allow clients to reach their full potential, they are not quite the same.

Mentoring traditionally enables an individual to follow in the path of a more experienced colleague who passes on knowledge and helps to open doors to better opportunities. International Mentoring Group suggests mentoring as, “A process of direct transfer of experience and knowledge from one person to another.” Today, the word ‘mentor’ is often thrown around carelessly for anyone who provides a positive, influential guide to another person.

Coaching, on the other hand, does not require a coach to have direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role unless their coaching is specific and skills focused. The Cambridge dictionary defines “coaching” as a “job or activity of providing training for people or helping to prepare them for something”. But this isn’t a complete definition, because coaching is neither training nor preparation, but a framework to achieving goals.

Coaching and online coaching has progressed from having a stigma attached to it to affording status: coaching has become an indication that one’s company considers one worth an investment. Moreover, we think this is because something else has happened in many business cultures – people are more willing to admit to themselves and to others that they need the help of professionals to understand themselves and to grow and develop in their working environment. Senior executives now often acknowledge that they have had coaching and that it has informed them as leaders and influenced their value systems, the way they deal with other people or their approach to their work. This is increasingly seen as something to be proud of, as demonstrating emotional intelligence and insight.

Some of the important differences between coaching and mentoring are as follows:

Aim:

The aim of coaching is to develop potential with a focus on developing and enhancing performance, aimed at specific immediate work-related issues and career transitions. In mentoring, the focus is on the growth of the mentee professionally providing guidance for career development and managing transitions from a broader perspective.

Duration:

The duration of coaching is usually shorter than mentoring. Coaching can be terminated after a few sessions when a specific goal or skill targeted is achieved. Mentoring conversely requires more commitment from both parties and may continue for years.

Drivers:

The driving force behind mentoring is an effort to positively influence the personal and professional growth of the mentee. However, coaching demands defined focus to be present and the aim here is to acquire new skills as efficiently as possible.

Initiative:

Coaching will challenge and encourage rather than direct advice or teach like mentoring, but the individual being coached or mentored will find their answers for themselves. Hence, coaching does not require design, however, mentoring requires strategic models for specific components to be effective.

Focus:

The focus in coaching is task oriented i.e. to focus on certain skills development or address concrete issues. The focus of mentoring is relationship oriented and long term personal goals and growth. It provides a safe environment where the mentee shares the issues that affect their professional and personal success.

Evaluation:

It can be challenging to provide specific key performance indicators for mentoring as it focuses on broader issues. However, coaching has specific goals, therefore, it is easier to measure by tracking the accomplishment of those goals.

The difference here is largely based around goal-setting and focus which is the age-old battle between performance and capability building. The Brefi Group, a UK-based change-management organization, suggests the key difference between mentoring and coaching in this thought-provoking sentence: “A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions.”Depending on individuals particular needs and their circumstances, they will guide the process accordingly.

Key Differences

1) In mentoring, the mentor is guiding the mentee through the field they need information in, and the relationship is mentee driven.
2) Mentoring can be used by all levels in an organization; it’s a very broad audience to target a wide group.
3) Mentees often select their own mentor and do so by choosing a mentor with a background that they feel appropriately suites their needs.
4) Mentoring is not a full-time job for most mentors. (However, we recommend creating a role profile and baseline mentoring training to help mentors understand their roles and what is expected of them.)
5) Mentors usually belong to the same organization as the mentee.
6) The costs of mentoring programs are usually lower than coaching programs since the mentor volunteers to support the mentee.

Executive Coaching & Mentoring

There is a great deal of overlap between business and executive coaching or mentoring. The key differences between business and executive coaching and mentoring are that Executive coaches and mentors typically…

  • Have a track record in professional and executive roles
  • Work exclusively with the ‘high-flyers’ or with those who have potential to be a high flyer
  • Work at board or CEO level within high profile or ‘blue-chip’ organisations
  • Offer total confidentiality
  • Work with potential ‘captains of industry’ and high profile business leaders

Identifying Passive Aggressive Behaviours

Passive Aggressive Behaviours

It is easy for most people to retaliate indirectly than expressing their disagreements head-on as the latter can lead to confrontation. Expressing aggression or negative feelings is indirectly termed as passive-aggressive behaviour. A great deal of passive aggression arises from a failure to communicate, miscommunication, or an assumption that the other party is clairvoyant to being aware of the negative emotions felt by the other.

Passive aggressiveness can come in varying degrees which makes it extremely difficult to identify.  However, in a lot of cases, it’s said to be a disconnection between promises made and an individual’s actions. Such actions might not be viewed as a form of angry retribution, but rather disguised as feigned politeness or friendly agreements (which contain ulterior motives and mask deception and manipulation with well-meaning words). According to Dr Wetzler, author of ‘Living with Passive Aggressive Man”, passive-aggressive behaviour “really is a sugar-coated hostility”.  Below are some of the most common examples (but by no means all indicators) of passive-aggressive behaviours.

Silent Treatment

The most common form of passive aggressiveness is the silent treatment. This conveys a person’s anger or resentment in the form of refusing to answer the question, ignoring the other person, or refusing to acknowledge their presence. This avoids conflict by negating any verbal signs, yet makes the other person uncomfortable and may end up provoking them instead.

Masked verbal hostility with humour

Passive aggressive people use sarcasm and hostility laden humour to convey their anger, contempt, or disapproval of others. They may say something offensive and add the disclaimer ‘just kidding’ in the end to protect themselves.  They use humour and repetitive teasing to piecemeal erode one’s authority and credibility.

Subtle insults

A passive aggressive person could choose indirect methods for offending person. One such example is the use of compliments, coupled with underhanded insults or demeaning words. For example, ‘nice haircut’ is a good compliment. However, hearing ‘nice haircut, it makes you look much younger’ signifies a passive-aggressive behaviour.

Leaving things undone

Some people may remark that they might have that one colleague who accepted to perform certain tasks but didn’t finish them on time, indicating that they would not be complete by the required time. This means that they had to draft in other colleagues to get the work done in order to reach the final deadline. If such practices are frequent and not due to unforeseen or external factors, it may be a deliberate attempt to create disharmony and could be passive aggression in career, signalling resentment towards their field or job.

Complaining

Being sullen and complaining continuously to all around them could be a sign of passive aggressiveness. Individuals may go around complaining to all, except the person they deem responsible in order to avoid any type of direct conflict. When directly confronted, they may play innocent or feign ignorance of the charges that they’ve aired.

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Are you a workaholic or simple a perfectionist?

Are you a workaholic or simple a perfectionist?

When you read the title above which one would you rather be a‘ workaholic’ or a perfectionist?  I would say most would prefer to be perfectionist there is something quite nice about the word.“ Perfection” whereas ‘Workaholic’ has got so many negative connotations. This article may change your mind!

Do you know any workaholics?

Think about it, who is the person being a hero, they are probably really proud to explain hope long they stayed at work being so so busy. It for them shows their commitment their dedication to the company or task, but what’s really going on inside that person?

The term workaholism was coined in 1971 by minister and psychologist Wayne Oates, who described workaholism as

 “the compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly”

  • Traits that indicated you were an actual workaholic included:
  • Feeling compelled to work because of internal pressures.
  • Having persistent thoughts about work when not working.
  • Working beyond what is reasonably expected of the worker

Check out the symptoms

Physical signs of workaholism (is that a real word) may include headaches, fatigue, indigestion, chest pain, shortness of breath, nervous tics or dizziness. Behavioural signs may include temper outbursts, restlessness, insomnia, difficulty relaxing, irritability, impatience, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, boredom and mood swings from euphoria to depression

Do you know anybody like that?

What the Doctors Say

A workaholic is driven to put in long hours by internal needs, typically a desire to escape intimacy and social relationships.

Professor Bryan E. Robinson in his paper , A Typology of Workaholics With Implications for Counsellorsays workaholics often come from dysfunctional homes and have learned that putting in crushing hours helps calm their anxiety about other aspects of life. But like heavy drinking or overeating, workaholism only masks the underlying problem while creating other difficulties.

It’s sad to say that in fact the more they work the less they do!

Prof Robinson says. “A workaholic will spend unnecessary time on a project, often going over it again and again before passing it on.”

Perfectionism is worse than being a workaholic

Despite all the negative evidence from above I feel perfectionism is the one that is the most vicious in its attack against the person.

It robs their victims of the feeling of victory, it steals the good achievements away from them while serving to drive them unhappily into a unfulfilling life.

Imagine creating something good or achieving your goal only to be told “That’s simply not good enough you must try harder in fact try again’

Who is that person saying that they are not good enough, how dare they make people feel so hopeless at what they do!

In fact it’s not an external voice it’s a perfectionist inner voice an inner critic that just wont go away

Protecting Perfectionism

Perfectionism may say its that mindset that drives them. This is not true perfectionist thoughts pretend to be motivating. They claim that they will be driven to do and be better. But it’s actually the opposite.

It turns people into slaves of success—but keeps them focused on failure, dooming them to a lifetime of doubt and depression. It also ends up undermining achievements and takes away that feeling of success.

The truth a perfectionist brain will never ever let them be proud of what they have achieved

Perfectionism takes away all the fun and innovation

Perfectionism reduces playfulness and the assimilation of knowledge; if you’re always focused on your own performance and on defending yourself, you can’t focus on learning a task. Self-reflection is overwhelming and worrying.

It lowers the ability to take risks, we all know that some things like a new idea or different way to find new clients has risks.

Perfectionism reduces creativity and innovation its the opposite of whats needed to help everyone perform at their best.

How To Perform Better At Work Without Spending More Time

It transpires millions of us are working in the wrong way! I explore the evidence and discover how successful people work.

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European Mentoring & Coaching Council

What is emcc?

The EMCC or European Mentoring and Coaching Council aim to raise standards for the coaching and mentoring profession, not only in the UK but also across Europe.

“Our aim is to define, create and promote best practice for all in mentoring and coaching. For professionals in the field we provide a reference point for key elements like standards and ethics and a continuous conversation about how to keep improving them.”

The EMCC Competence Framework is the result of extensive and collaborative research to identify the core competences of a professional Coach and Mentor

There are eight competence categories across four levels.  These eight core areas comprise of:

  • Understanding Self
  • Commitment to Self-Development
  • Managing the Contract
  • Building the Relationship
  • Enabling Insight and Learning
  • Outcome and Action Orientation
  • Use of Models and Techniques
  • Evaluation]

Coaching Conferences

The EMCC holds different conferences:

  • International Mentoring, Coaching, and Supervision Research Conference
  • International Annual Mentoring, Coaching, and Supervision Conference
  • International Mentoring Conference.

You can view details of all our EMCC conferences and book on-line at www.EMCCconference.org

Why have a coach?

Coaching is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future.

While there are many different models of coaching, here we are not considering the ‘coach as expert’ but, instead, the coach as a facilitator of learning.

There is a huge difference between teaching someone and helping them to learn. In coaching, fundamentally, the coach is helping the individual to improve their own performance: in other words, helping them to learn.

Good coaches believe that the individual always has the answer to their own problems but understands that they may need help to find the answer.

For coaching in the UK there are three main bodies Association for Coaching (AC), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and International Coach Federation (ICF) all share a mission to drive the highest standards.

EMCC hold a series of Webinars that may be of interest to budding coaches