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Do dips in confidence affect you and your team?

3 tips to keep your confidence in difficult times

Over the last 8 years I’ve worked with individuals, teams and organisations to help them to think creatively and develop their ideas to get better results. I’ve learned that regardless of role, seniority or sector, there are two things that stop people achieving the results they want. They are are lack of time to think and lack of confidence.

When we’re pushing to make change happen, tackling anything new or different, or when we’re faced with a difficult situation, like, for example, a global pandemic, we can feel vulnerable. When we’re out of our comfort zone it’s really easy for our confidence level to drop.

I don’t believe that people are born confident or not confident. I’ve seen how confident people actively develop habits to keep their confidence topped up.

We’re currently navigating unknown territory, so it’s perfectly normal if you’ve experienced anxiety, felt vulnerable or that your confidence has taken a knock.

Right now, in a period of massive change and uncertainty. We must support our colleagues, friends and family. Looking after ourselves and maintaining our confidence has never been more important.

Working on confidence can feel intangible but focusing on it is part of looking after ourselves, along with eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. When we’re taking time to look after ourselves it helps us keep our confidence in check. When we feel good we feel more self-assured and more confident to tackle whatever situation working life throws at us.

Are you keen to be more deliberate about building and maintaining your confidence? I’ve created a 55-minute webinar and workbook to give you a quick confidence kick start. It includes simple and practical tips you can action straight away to keep your confidence topped up.

You’ll finish this training feeling prepared, informed, and confident as a team leader.

Get the full 55-minute webinar and accompanying workbook for only £5.

3 tips to keep your confidence in difficult timesFind out more about this training here

This training contains:
– A 55-minute webinar, packed with practical actions to take immediately to build and maintain your confidence.
– A practical workbook with the key action points for success as well as a place to write down your notes and goals.
– Bonus guide on how to be brilliant at stepping out of your comfort zone.

Sign up now for only £5

Do you have an inner voice that sucks your confidence? You are not alone.

When I read sweeping research claims I do tend to take them with a pinch of salt. Here’s one ‘Women don’t apply for jobs unless 100% qualified and men will apply when they have only 60% of what’s required’

I first read this in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In with a raised eyebrow and I thought it was complete rubbish. Then I started to notice more. I spotted more women saying no to opportunities. Not going for the promotion. Not taking on the new project. Not stepping up. I heard the same clichés ‘I don’t think I can do it’ ‘I’m not qualified’ ‘So-and-so is better than me’ and ‘So-and-so deserves it’

I started quoting the 100% qualified vs 60% qualified research to them and asked them to prove it to be false by going for the promotion and taking the opportunities that they wanted and deserved.

Many did, and in the discussion about why they could and should step up, everyone revealed an inner dialogue that they’d had to overcome. Each person had their own name for it. The ‘official’ term is Imposter Syndrome, but amongst others, I met Jiminy Cricket, the little voice on my shoulder, ‘bad <insert persons name>’, devil’s advocate and my inner critic. The list was long.

For most of us (I have one too) the inner voice is like an old friend that sucks the fun and possibility out of your dreams and leaves you with a feeling of woeful uneasiness that if you get too big for your boots and put yourself out there you are going to ‘get found out’. Or worst still something bad will happen to pay you back for being greedy and wanting too much.

The little voice nags away, becomes louder, more insistent, more toxic until you just want to stick firmly with what you know because then you are safe and nothing bad will happen.

Sound familiar?

I disagree that the critical voice is just the territory of women, I think every human being has the voice. My hunch is that it’s the difference between how men and women manage their inner critic that is the difference that might mean that the 100% vs 60% has some truth to it.

Harvard Business Review claims that it’s not confidence that stops women going for the job, but a greater fear of failure because girls do better at school and it’s more instilled in us to follow rules and conform – and we perceive failure as having greater and longer lasting consequences. Conversely, men have a greater willingness to break rules and are less inclined to follow instructions (in the context of applying for jobs breaking the rules and ignoring instructions of needing a certain amount of qualifications and experience) and just apply for the job anyway. Men are better at ignoring or telling their inner critic to pipe down.

Make of it what you will, I see similar fears fuelled by the inner critics of both men and women I work with.

When it comes to getting the best results, confidence is a big deal. That’s one of the reasons I’ve created a 55-minute webinar and workbook to give you a quick confidence kick start. It includes simple and practical tips you can action straight away to keep your confidence topped up. You’ll finish this training feeling prepared, informed, and confident as a team leader.

3 tips to keep your confidence in difficult times

Get the full 55-minute webinar and accompanying workbook for only £5.

 

Get out in nature for good health and resilience

A guest blog by Ellen Fineran.

I regard spending time in nature as one of my top priorities for feeling good about myself and staying resilient. That’s been even more relevant since the COVID-19 restrictions.

I grew up as a pretty feral child of the 1970s but then a career in the motor trade with long hours and a daily commute, combined with being a single parent, left little time for nurturing my soul through nature.

It wasn’t that nature wasn’t still all around me; more that I tended to ignore it and didn’t see its importance in my daily life. Then, in my early forties, I began working for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as Head of Commercial Development. Being around so many people who were passionate about our beautiful wild spaces reawakened my need to connect with nature and I now feel the healthiest and happiest I’ve been throughout my adult life.

And don’t just take my word for it – there is plenty of evidence that the natural world is the foundation of our health, wellbeing and prosperity. So if you’d like to feel the benefits of exploring the nature that’s on your doorstep, here are my top tips:

Don’t be scared – you don’t need any PPE or specialist skills to get out into nature. Find a local park or green space near your home where you can social distance from others, take a stroll and enjoy exploring. Personally I love spotting a Public Footpath and seeing where it leads to!

Really notice – nature is everywhere, no matter where you live, and very often we just don’t see it. Listen to the blackbird singing on the neighbour’s roof or notice the wild flowers growing on the roadside verges. I love to watch the seasons change and I enjoy the different colours, textures and sounds that each season brings.

Nature can alter your mood – find a space somewhere green to stop, sit and think. Take deep, conscious breaths and use all of your senses to experience it. If you can let yourself relax into this, it really will empty your mind and give you a new perspective on things.

You don’t need to be a wildlife expert – I don’t care that I don’t know the calls of all the birds or the names of the plants, but I know that I love the sound of birdsong and I take joy in looking at lush green leaves. As humans, we have a natural curiosity to understand everything around us (which is great if that’s your thing) but needing to know can take the joy out of simply enjoying nature and wildlife and feeling connected with it. So be blissful in your ignorance and enjoy the moment.

Build being in nature into your daily routine – make daily choices which bring you closer to nature. For me, that was getting a dog and taking a morning walk before work. If that’s not for you, find your thing. For example, you might take a stroll with a friend at lunchtime or have your post-work glass of wine in the garden.

Have fun – I love taking part in The Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild each year in June and it starts next week! The idea is to carry out a simple and fun Random Act of Wildness every day throughout June and share it with your friends on social media. It can be anything from spotting a bee in a flower to having a cuppa in the sunshine.

And finally, my best advice really is to just get out there and enjoy the natural world around you. Wherever you live, whether that’s in a city, the countryside or somewhere in-between, exploring the nature on your doorstep will help you stay healthy and resilient in these difficult times. I know that the days when I’ve started off with a mindful morning walk across the fields are the days where I feel energised and productive and ready to take on this crazy world.

Ellen Fineran is Head of Commercial Development at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, a member of the Lucidity Network and in her spare time she can be found baking amazing cakes and exploring the countryside with her dog Beano.

Here’s your link to take part in 30 Days Wild and get your free pack of goodies to help you to plan your wild month. We’re looking forward to seeing what you get up to.

Leading a virtual team: My five key lessons to build collaboration and trust

A guest blog by Andy Punter.

I was managing innovation projects at Cancer Research UK with a virtual team long before lockdown forced us out of our offices and onto our kitchen tables. I’ve learnt loads about remote leadership, collaboration, trust and how to get to best from people, some of which I thought might be worth sharing. Here are my five key lessons.

1. Remote working is its own thing

When we work remotely we are not simply ‘working from home’. Remote or ‘virtual team’ working as a long-term discipline brings its own benefits and challenges and they are quite distinct from being office based.

If you’re managing remote based teams it is important to recognise that and give your team the permission to flex their working style to suit them. I personally, work better early in the day so it is not uncommon for me to start around 7.30am to focus on ‘deep focus’ tasks. Then I schedule calls and meetings for the afternoons when perhaps my concentration levels start to dip. I often work in a nearby café or hotdesking site when I feel the need to be around different people. (If you’re reading this in lockdown, I appreciate this might not be possible, but even changing where you sit can make a different to your mindset.) As a remote manager, it is important to let your teams know that you recognise that their day is different to an office-based worker and so their work pattern can be as well.

 2. Get to know each other

If you’re working in really close proximity everyday with someone you will inevitably learn their tics and habits; and without really noticing you will come to understand how they think and work. If, however, you only see that person every few weeks that process can take much longer.

When you work with remote teams it’s just as important to understand the people you work with (perhaps even more so) but you must work a bit harder on it. Whenever we kick off a new project, we do an exercise called a *‘team canvas’ where everyone feeds into defining the team’s core purpose, what they need to achieve it (both in practical and cultural terms) and what tools we are going to use to get there. This helps speed things up but then as a manager a big part of your role is to ensure those things are implemented and maintained.

3. Collaboration is king

One thing that often holds organisations back from embracing remote working is the impact on collaboration when everyone is spread out. I am pleased to report that if you are organised, structured and use the right tools then there is nothing you cannot do. We use Slack/Teams, Trello and Mural to plan our work and collaborate remotely, but more importantly we make judicious use of video chats to stay in touch. One very important thing to note though – even if just one of you is remote, then ALL of you must be too. There is nothing worse than being the lone voice on a conference call when everyone else is in the room.

4. Social time

As a rule, we all tend to do better work when we enjoy working with our colleagues; so how do you keep everyone engaged when you can’t spontaneously take everyone to lunch whenever you fancy? We have a few different strategies.

  • We have a weekly video chat at the start of each week where there is no agenda and the only topic off limits is work. This helps to keep everyone in touch and fosters a social atmosphere.
  • Team Spotify playlist – hands up, this has one been a mixed bag and jury is out on how much listening time each week it gets. But, it has been really fun to learn about everyone’s music preferences; you learn a surprising amount about someone when you discover that their number one jam is the Greatest Showman Soundtrack.
  • No conference calls! If there’s more than one person on a call, then make it a video call! I really can’t stress how valuable this has been to us. You get the benefit of reading body language and it is just a much, much nicer way to work. When everyone has access to video chat I can’t really think of a good reason for conference calls.
  • Get a good instant message client – we use Slack/Teams and having a forum to share quick links, Gifs and ideas without the formality of email has been a godsend.
  • Make really good use of your face time. We typically get together once a month in person, and as we emerge from lockdown it will be possible to meet face to face again. We really make a conscious effort to make sure there is space on the agenda for the conversation to wander a bit if needed. It may feel as though the discussion can get unfocused at times however, fostering team togetherness takes priority over everything else.

5. Discipline and Trust

To the untrained eye it might look like it’s all video coffees (and the occasional video pint) and Spotify playlists, but it is important to point out that all of those things exist to make the work better. As a manager you can’t simply lay out the ways of working to your team. Ideally, it should all come from them. The only way it works is if everyone buys into it. If someone from the team starts regularly skipping social calls etc, then you need to question if it’s worthwhile and achieving the goal. Although you are using creative tools and practices, there has be quite strict etiquette and agreed rules of use to make them work. The role of the manager is to support these and help make sure they are working for everyone.

And finally, my number one learning since working with a nationally spread, remote virtual team is that there is nothing you cannot do that office-based workers can and given the choice, I am not sure I can see myself working in an office environment again any time soon.

Andy Punter is a relationship fundraiser working at Cancer Research UK. Living in Sunny Devon, his twin passions are effective remote working and helping a virtual team innovate more effectively by putting the supporter at the heart of each and every decision.

 

*’team canvas’ is a great tool. I’m running a webinar on it for the Lucidity Network soon. Sign up to receive Lucidity Insights and be the first to get the leadership of virtual team webinar information when we’ve set a date.

Take one lockdown day at a time

Now I’ve experienced lockdown, I absolutely promise never to absent-mindedly muse about ‘having time to binge on box sets, or ponder how great it might be to just do nothing and stay in.’ (Has anyone else in the past ever wished for that?)

Turns out that in week 4 of lockdown, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The days have merged into one. I’m scared of my own reflection. I’ve taken lounging about to a new level and must remember that the dog licking my face does not count as ‘washing’. Groundhog day doesn’t’ even come close.

Lockdown is like we’re living the most boring movie storyline of all time where nothing happens. Or possibly we’re living amidst a conspiracy theory. Climate change activists have created a (fake or real) virus to stop all human activity until the planet is on the road to recovery. These are the things that chatter away in my fretful mind at 3am as I lie awake and wonder what will happen tomorrow (nothing), next week (probably nothing) and next month (unknown).

What would the movie be called? Stand Away From Me, Honey, We’re Home Schooling The Kids, 12 Bored Men, Nothing Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Sound of Coughing, Eternal Sunshine of the Bored Mind, or Pandemic (oh Netflix already took that).

I’ve been reflecting over the last few weeks and I’ve learned that;

We all have good days and bad days Whatever our personal situations, we’ve all got a lot going on in our brains. We’re isolated and worried about friends and family, yet crowded out from being locked in with family. We’re anxious about the uncertainty of the future. We don’t know when the situation will end or what ‘end’ looks like and our lives will never return to ‘normal’. Some of us don’t know how we’ll pay our rent, or if we’ll have a job or if our loved ones will be OK. All of us are on our own unique journey. We’re all at different places at different times. Emotions come in waves. One minute it’s fine, you’re making the most of the lockdown situation, enjoying Netflix, cleaning out that cupboard under the stairs and doing an online Pilates class, the next minute you question the point of your own existence. When you’re OK someone else is not. Sometimes (mostly) it can help to talk and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a gamble. When you’re trying to hold your shit together talking to someone who is having a super day can make you feel terrible (or good). And talking to someone who is not doing as well as you can drag you back to (or help you out of) the dark place you’ve been trying so hard to escape from.

It can feel constantly overwhelming I know that I’ve felt overwhelmed by lockdown and the big picture situation of changing our way of life entirely for an indefinite amount of time. I’ve also felt overwhelmed with the day to day, for example the panic of the supermarket cheese aisle getting too crowded and the few people who don’t get the concept of social distancing brushing past others (me) who are patiently waiting to get their cheddar supply. I’ve felt overwhelmed by so many webinars, catch up calls, check in sessions, WhatsApp groups and Zoom conferences. I feel like I’m constantly multi tasking to keep up with correspondence (which I’m failing at), then I feel bad about failing to check in with everyone and also frustrated at not getting anything else done.

I appreciate and value very much the invitations to connect, but I can only manage so much per day before feeling like crawling under the carpet until it’s all over.

Concentration seems to be a thing of the past I just can’t think straight. Part of that is due to the constant connecting. Turning off all my notifications and hiding my phone has helped so I can do some tasks without consistent anxious checking and scrolling.

In the ‘normal’ world I work really hard to break my day into chunks. I have a schedule and lists to help me be productive working from home. I’ve been doing it for years and the processes and systems I have work for me. Check out my free webinar with my tips for being happy and productive working from home here.

But something has happened.  With lockdown a brain fog has descended making it really hard to think properly about anything. Maybe its because it’s a paradox of nothing to think about combined with the immensity of what this pandemic means that my brain just kind of shuts down and can only manage one day at a time.

So I’m sticking to the tried and tested systems and processes, including writing a realistic list and plan for each day and diligently working through it. Yes, it does have things like, clean teeth, get dressed and drink coffee on it. It is helping though. This blog has still taken me about a week to write.

Busy is a construct of our own minds and time speeds up and slows down I’ve been saying this for a while. I help individuals, teams, and organisations drive change and the biggest barrier to innovation, or doing things differently is ‘too busy’. Busy is a badge of honour. We’re too busy. Now what? I know some people are busier than ever as colleagues are furloughed. However, I have a hunch that those of us who objectively have nothing that they have to do are still too busy to get the boring things that we don’t really want to do done. Like cleaning the house from top to bottom, sorting out paperwork or painting the spare room.

If your work defines you (which for many of us it’s a significant part of our lives and who we are), not to have to go to work can feel like a bereavement. We’re all experiencing a wide range of emotions and like the press keep telling us we are living through ‘unprecedented times’ so we don’t have a blueprint of how we should be feeling and how to respond to those feelings.

My lockdown learning over the last few weeks, is that to manage, you’ve got to tune into you, and what you need to keep yourself as well as you can. You have to put your oxygen mask on first in order to be able to help other people. I don’t know what the ‘right’ thing is for you to do. Take one day at a time. Listen to yourself. Accept that how you’re feeling is how you’re feeling. Acknowledge if you’re feeling dark. Think about what you might do to help yourself edge towards the light. And also trust that those feelings will pass.