Blog

Be More Pirate – Change starts with you.

A guest blog by Gwenaelle Joubert .

‘There’s only one thing more stupid than stupid rules, and that’s the people who follow them.’ Sam Conniff Allende

Be More Pirate – or how to take on the world and win by Sam Conniff Allende has been on the Lucidity Network business book club list for a while. I’ve been looking forward to the day arriving when we got to review it. The title was a little too enticing for me, so I read as soon as I saw it in the list. I love pirates, pirate stories, movies, sailing, rum, you name it, I am there. I even wore a 50’s style dress with skulls and crossbones as a bridesmaid!

The book takes you on a journey through the history of the Golden Age Pirates looking at their more equitable and fair practices and also some of today’s pirates. One of today’s modern pirates Taylor Swift’s really struck a chord with me.

‘Rejecting the obvious record-industry route, Taylor is signed to a small-town label where she retains complete control of her career. With no industry machine to back her, she’s nevertheless amassed the clout to stand up to Apple and Spotify, and bring them both to heel. Her storytelling through song, content, social media and well-orchestrated gossip, vendettas and ‘feuds’ with everyone from Kanye West to Katy Perry means she’s routinely named on social media amongst the world’s most powerful figures.’ Bemorepirate.com

There are so many hurdles to the Arts and music. I have real respect for her taking on the big recording companies and being in charge of her own career. It made me see her differently and also showed me how sometimes you need to look at things differently.

Christine de Leon, Editor-in-Chief for The Beautiful Truth, beautifully summarises what author Sam Conniff Allende says in the book that being more pirate comes down to five key elements of the Pirate Code:

  1. Breaking the rules and rewriting better ones;
  2. Having the right crew;
  3. Sticking to your principles;
  4. Redistributing power to protect those principles;
  5. Using spectacular storytelling techniques so the world pays attention.

I work for a small mental health charity that punches above its weight, and in many ways, it felt like we were already in part pirates! However, I felt there was more we could do to adopt the principles of the book. Convincing the team to adopt a pirate ethos was a small challenge; everyone laughed but it made sense. We’d recently had a consultation across social media which had showed us that people didn’t want public sector organisations or even charities to give them mental health support, because they didn’t trust us. They wanted to hear from their peers.

As a peer-led organisation, it made sense to open up our social media channels to the people following up and accessing our charity for support. We let them take charge. We only had two rules:

  1. That you couldn’t say anything you would not say to your gran or your boss
  2. You couldn’t mention medication.

We launched a peer-led podcast, a newsletter and our own hashtag. We even rebranded. All this of this peer-led. And all motivated by the Pirate Code. The result – we doubled our following and engagement. Our income also grew.

‘Be more pirate or be more Kodak’  Alex Barker

Being more Pirate offers an eye-opening into how to challenge your thinking, how things can be done differently and being more authentic. However, the question I am left with is do you eventually have to go back and keep breaking your rules? Do you then become part of the problem? I’m off to contemplate this but leave you with if you could break one rule, what would it be?

Gwenaelle Joubert is the Fundraising & Communications Officer at Bipolar Scotland and a Freelance Consultant & Creative.

The Book

Be More Pirate – or how to take on the world and win by Sam Conniff Allende

Whatever your ambitions, ideas and challenges, this book will revolutionise the way you live, think and work today, and tomorrow.

How to be: More Pirate

If you want to go deeper – How to be: More Pirate is the 2020 follow up – the story of how the book became the movement. It does what it says on the tin, and is more of a practical guide, offering tips, and ideas based on how organisations, from Mercedes to the NHS, have put the pirate principles into practice.

The lovely people at Be More Pirate are offering Lucidity readers a 20% off purchase price. Just go to the website and enter the discount code LUCIDITY20 at the checkout.

How to make good habits stick

Co-written with Eva Gruber, Habit Coach

Habits are something that you do often and regularly, frequently without thinking about them, and sometimes without even knowing. Humans are, by our nature, creatures of habit.

Studies show that about 40% of people’s daily activities are habitual. That’s between 6-10 hours a day! The habits we form, like checking our phones on waking, eating fruit and vegetables at every meal or walking a certain number of daily steps, become a considerable part of our routine. Our habits ultimately become who we are. Good habits allow us to build environments in which to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. Bad habits can have a negative impact on our health, happiness and wellbeing.

New habits can take time to work out but not necessarily 21 days

Developing good habits can improve your health, productivity and happiness. You’ll feel the benefits of your good habits throughout all areas of your life. New habits can take time to work out. The secret is to make them as easy and rewarding as possible so we want to repeat them. When an action is repeated consistently, it becomes automatic, and when it’s become automatic, it’s a habit.

It’s a myth that a habit takes 21 days to establish – think about your own experiences or ask ask anyone that’s maintained a habit for 21 days and then stopped. Think about the time when you tried to heat healthily, gave up alcohol or did regular exercise. Habits are not about willpower. They are about making actions automatic so you don’t even make conscious decisions about them. If you’ve tried and failed to change or start a habit keep reading…

Emotions create your behaviour and, therefore, your habits. There’s a direct connection between what you feel when you do something and the likelihood that you will repeat the behaviour (and make it a habit) in the future. Good feelings spur the production of dopamine, a chemical that controls the brain’s ‘reward system’. If something feels good, you want to do it again, and a habit is formed. So, if you want to establish a habit, you have to connect feeling good to your actions and behaviour. We form habits by repeating behaviours. Research by BJ Fogg has shown that the most important part of forming a habit is having a strong positive emotion connected to the new behaviour. So the diet or exercise regime that you dislike even though you know it’s good for you will never become a habit.

To start a new habit, set an aspirational goal. It helps to have a good reason to start a new habit. It has to be something that you genuinely want to achieve (not what you think you should want or what other people tell you that you should want). It can be anything: a new job, getting fitter or healthier, losing weight or building better relationships. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something that’s important to you. Write it down.

Start small and make it simple. The secret to establishing habits is to start small. Decide on a tiny action to set you on the path. For example, if you want to get fitter, don’t set yourself a complete lifestyle change that starts again every Monday. Start with the behaviours that will result in the outcome you want. Start with one tiny habit. For example, one thing that will help you is to move more. Every time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, walk up and down in the kitchen. Aim for 20 steps every time you boil the kettle. Then start to introduce more: 30, 40, 50 steps etc. It’s these, easy tiny habits that you can build on that will set you up for success.

Many New Year’s resolutions fail because they are not tiny. The expectation of a lifestyle change on 1 January is too difficult and too big a step. According to BJ Fogg, doing something you don’t enjoy, and subsequently failing to make it habitual, is actually more detrimental to a mission for change than doing nothing at all.

Tap into your established triggers. A tactic to establish a successful new habit is to seamlessly slip it into your existing routine. In the example above, boiling the kettle is your trigger. It’s something you already do. Then decide on your tiny action that takes you nearer to your goal. If your goal is to get fitter then rather than scrolling through social media while your waiting for the kettle to boil, start taking steps. If your aspirational goal is to read more, read a page of your book while you’re waiting. Be deliberate by writing it down.

After I ………………..….(existing behaviour), I will ………..……………(new tiny behaviour).

Celebrate. When you’ve done your tiny action, pat yourself on the back. Tell yourself, ‘well done’. Say to yourself out loud that you’re awesome. Do this straight away as you complete the tiny action. Instant reward builds confidence and makes you more likely to turn this small action into a habit.

‘If you pick the right small behavior and sequence it right, then you won’t have to motivate yourself to have it grow. It will just happen naturally, like a good seed planted in a good spot.’ BJ Fogg

What tiny habits can you start to form today so that in a few weeks on 1 January 2021 you’re already on the path to the goal you want to achieve? In December over at the Lucidity Network we’re focusing on establishing habits for success. If you’re serious about making better habits and want to get off to a great start in 2021 join us.

Eva Gruber is a certified Tiny Habits® Coach trained and mentored by world-famous Habit Researcher and Stanford Professor BJ Fogg PhD. Moreover, she is a Space Curator and expert in physical and digital tidying, decluttering and creating spaces at your home or workplace, trained and mentored by world-famous tidying expert and best-selling author Marie Kondo.

For more information about the Lucidity Network and how to get access to training on habits, group coaching as well as a network of brilliant people to help you achieve the success you want in your working life go to www.lucidity.org.uk/the-lucidity-network/ or drop us a line at lucy@lucidity.org.uk.

Don’t feel guilty about taking an afternoon nap on a Tuesday

I love a nap in my working day. It’s not always possible. (for example when I’m running a training course or a strategy day!) However, now so many of us are working from home it does provide more opportunities for napping. And napping can help our focus and productivity.

When I first left a ‘proper job’ and started working for myself, I was thrown sideways by how hard I found it. I completely underestimated how much I’d miss my colleagues and having people to bounce ideas around with. I also found it really hard to focus and get the work done. That’s why I put in a lot of effort into testing different ways of working until I found the things that worked for me. My important findings were:

It doesn’t matter when you do the work as long as you deliver what has been agreed, on time and to a high standard. Humans are not designed to work from 9am to 5pm. This is a leftover from when a large number of the workforce worked on production lines when everyone had to be there at the same time in order for the thing to get made. Today, especially now so many of us are working from home there is flexibility to work the hours that better suit us. That might be working around childcare and family commitments as well as daylight hours and when we do our best work.

The time of day that you do different tasks can help your productivity. We all have cycles; times of day when we’re more alert and decisive, times when we’re more creative and times of day when stringing a sentence together feels like a struggle.

I’m definitely more productive and have better attention to detail early in the morning. That’s when I need to do the difficult stuff that I need to think about. By 2pm my brain is getting foggy and I shouldn’t be trusted to do or remember anything important. Later in the afternoon I perk up again and can often have a really productive few hours. There’s no point working late at night. I’d rather get some sleep and get up at 5am. The same piece of work that will take me 3 hours at 10pm, will take me an hour (and will be better quality) if I do it at 5am.

Naps help my productivity. I love a nap. My body clock is definitely geared to wake up early, get stuff done, have a mid afternoon nap, wake up do more stuff and then bed at a reasonable hour. I was pleased to discover that there is much research showing the health benefits of naps. They can improve cognitive performance as well as boost mental and physical health. Naps help us to stay alert, can reduce stress, and we’re more productive as a result. There’s even such a thing as a nappuccino. (Coffee before a nap. For full details download the step-by-step guide to the perfect nap here)

Often when I’m running sessions with teams about establishing habits for happy and productive flexible working, including naps and working different hours, the topic of guilt emerges.

I hear things like ‘If I’m not at my desk from 9-5 I feel guilty.’ or ‘I’d feel too guilty to nap’ or ‘I feel guilty if I don’t answer my email straight away’

Is guilt healthy or unhealthy?

Guilt can be healthy. Feelings of guilt can motivate you to live according to your values, which, in turn, can improve your relationships with others, since you’re more likely to treat them as you would wish to be treated. However, unnecessary feelings of guilt can be unhelpful or even harmful to your quality of working life.

If the thought of working different hours or taking naps in your working day sparks feelings of guilt keep reading. Below are some tips to help you tackle these feelings. It will take practice and deliberate re-thinking to change entrenched patterns of guilt. Be patient with yourself and your team. Remember flexible working is here to stay and for it to be a happy and productive experience the best time to tackle any guilt about working flexibly is now.

Be direct and get more information. Ask your colleagues and manager whether it matters when you work. If you’re part of a team it’s important to agree and communicate when your working hours are. Good use of an out of office responder or a line in your email signature to let people know when you’re there and when you’re not can help manage expectations too.

Napping has been proven to increase productivity. Rather than pushing yourself through the brain fog, a better use of your time is to take a nap and return refreshed and more alert. It will make you more productive. Have a go at reframing a nap as a productivity hack.

Challenge your expectations of yourself Consider whether you have a tendency to expect too much from yourself. Then, think about how an outside observer would view the situation. What would an outsider say?

Think how you’d see things if the roles were reversed. What would you think if your colleague said they were going to nap between 2 and 3 each day and work an hour more at the start or the end of the day? We often find it easy to be compassionate and understanding with others but are too harsh on ourselves. By deliberately taking the other person’s perspective, you’ll likely see your situation in a more objective light.

Look for the evidence. If you feel guilty not working the conventional 9-5 because you’re feeling that you’re ‘not doing enough’ or feel that others will think you’re not doing enough, list all the things that you’ve delivered on at work. Will working different hours make any impact on your ability to deliver?

Give yourself permission. Or if you manage a team, explicitly give your team permission (or you could even set it as a task) to figure out when they are most productive, when they are least productive and when a nap would be beneficial. Experiment to find the working patterns that work best for you. Agree them with your team and ensure everyone knows. This manages expectations and reduces feelings of guilt.

Working flexibly is here to stay. It’s a big shift in mind-set for everyone. It’s important that we look after ourselves and each other. Rest when we’re tired, work when we’re at our best and nap when we need to.

If you’d like help to ensure that your team is happy, productive and guilt free in their flexible working life, drop me a line at lucy@lucidity.org.uk.

Tips to get the best from your team when working remotely

Working remotely is here to stay and it brings with it a mix of opportunities and challenges. It means saving time and money on commuting, being home to meet the kids from school and with the right leadership and culture, the flexibility to work at the time of day when you’re at your best.

There’s a definite downside though.

Boundaries between home and work are easily blurred when your desk is the kitchen table. It can be difficult to switch off when work and home are the same places. Many of us can feel that life is all work with no space to really switch off, and this plays havoc with our personal life and our wellbeing.

If you don’t have the right leadership and culture, that genuinely allows you the flexibility to choose when you work and when you take time away from your desk to recharge, working from home can take it’s toll.

Life might feel more uncertain than usual right now. Human beings crave certainty and want to feel safe. When we don’t feel safe, our anxiety and stress levels rise and fear takes over.

I see fear playing out in different ways in pandemic working life. Some of the behaviours that might feel manageable in an office become unmanageable when working from home on your own without regular in person contact.

Micro management – it can make us feel in control and reduce the anxiety associated with uncertainty when we micro manage. However if you’ve ever been micro managed you’ll know that it feels horrible. You feel like you’re not trusted. It can knock your confidence and make you feel constantly on edge. No one does their best work in a constant state of edginess.

Always working – feeling like we have to be at our desk all the time to show we’re working. Fearing that if we’re not perceived to be working really hard that we’ll be at the top of the list when it comes to redundancies.

A friend who works in people development was telling me about an email they sent to all employees to tackle the problem that many people were feeling. Employees felt that they had to work all the hours. Their email highlighted that working hours were 9-5 Monday to Friday and there was no requirement for people to be working weekends. It highlighted email etiquette of not sending emails out of hours and if you did receive an out of hours email not feeling the need to respond. They forgot themselves and sent the email on a Saturday night.

Rising stress and anxiety – many people find working from home isolating and stressful. When we’re feeling stressed out or anxious we go into fight, flight or freeze mode. We can’t think straight. It’s often described as a feeling of ‘brain fog’ which leaves us incapable of focusing on any one thing for long.

How to overcome fears and have a happier life when working remotely

Trust your people that when working remotely that they’re doing their best. If you don’t trust your people – the problem isn’t that you’re all working remotely, the problem is lack of trust.

Everyone is different – in terms of what support they need when working from home and when they do their best work. Have an individual chat with each person in your team to understand what they need from you to work from home successfully.

Give permission to not have to be at a desk from 9am – 5pm. Especially right now in the UK with less hours of daylight. Is there a reason not to work early in the morning, have a chunk of time off in the day in the daylight and finish up later in the afternoon or evening? As long as the work is done does it matter when or, on the topic of micro management, how?

Emails – if people are working flexible hours it might not be about not sending emails outside of core hours but more around communication and expectations. For example, if you choose to work in the morning, take the afternoon off and work again in the evening you’ll likely be sending emails after 5pm. It’s more about letting people know that you don’t expect a reply until they are working again.

It’s not just about work – allow time for those casual chats that build relationships. For example, allow some time at the beginning of a meeting for informal chats, or build in travel time to Zoom meetings to allow for human conversations.

Lead by example – model the behaviour you want to see in your team. Help people find heir way. Remember everyone is likely to struggle at some point when working from home. Be kind, look for signs of stress (like if someone says they have ‘brain fog’) and help if you can.

If managing the current uncertainty is something you’re grappling with, join me and Caroline Doran, founder at Deliver Grow for a webinar on Thursday 26 November. We’ll be discussing practical tips to help you manage uncertainty – and it’s also your opportunity to ask your specific questions. Here’s the link to sign up. Places are limited so do sign up today.

Is working from home affecting your creativity?

At the start of the year, if you were used to working in an office, working from home was a bit of a novelty.

As time’s gone on we’ve learned and adapted.

Flexible and remote working is here to stay and it brings with it a mix of opportunities and challenges. It means saving time and money on commuting, being home to meet the kids from school and with the right leadership and culture, it should provide you with the flexibility to work at the times of day when you’re at your best.

There’s a definite downside though. Flexible and remote working means that we miss out on the social part of working in an office, learning from others and bouncing ideas around. It can also be hard to know how colleagues are really doing if we can’t pick up on visual and non-verbal cues, if we can’t just casually say ‘hello’ as we’re passing their desk or hear about what’s going on for them over a cuppa.

Boundaries between home and work are easily blurred when your desk is the kitchen table. It can be difficult to switch off when work and home are the same places. To un-merge work and home life I’m an advocate of the fake commute – a journey signalling the start and end of the working day. Whether it’s just round the block, or longer it doesn’t matter. It’s your signal to start and stop work, which is going to be even more important in the future as working from home is here to stay.

Is working from home affecting your creativity?

I believe that one of the downsides of flexible and remote working is that learning and creativity will take a knock. It’s often those casual conversations while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil, the small talk before a meeting starts or the chance conversations that we have in passing that build strong working relationships, encourage learning, and spark creativity.

Creativity is often sparked by curious and random conversations and in my experience it’s less easy to have those sorts of accidental conversations on Zoom. We don’t pick up on nuances in the same way, informal chats with colleagues are less common and as a result so are the connections that form new thinking and the exchange of ideas.

When working remotely or from home we need to be more deliberate about creating those moments when creativity can flourish.

3 tips to help foster creativity when working flexibly or remotely

  • Build travelling time to your Zoom meetings. Allow time in your agenda at the beginning for the casual chat.
  • Have walk and talk meetings. Get up and moving about. If its raining walk about inside, it doesn’t matter where you go, just get away from your desk and from your screen.
  • Flex your curiosity. Go and learn something outside of your working life; a new skill, read a book, visit a gallery, (yes watching something different on Netflix does count….and I urge you to step away from a screen if you can) go metal detecting, foraging or bird spotting. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you’re interested in it and you’re learning something new.

If you’d like some help to keep creativity thriving in your team get in touch.

You could also join them up to the Lucidity Network. They’ll get learning and connected to some brilliant people who can motivate, support and inspire them. There’s more information about the Lucidity Network here. If you’d like to join your team, get in touch for a group discount.