What do you want your new ‘normal’ to look like?

A lockdown guest blog by Caroline Holt.

As lockdown starts to ease, there’s lots of debate in the media about what the new ‘normal’ will look like. And, you may also have been reflecting on how you want your life to be going forward from here.

I thought I’d share some thoughts along with a FREE Worksheet to help you think about this.

One of the gifts for many of us in these strange lockdown times has been the opportunity to experience different ways of working and living – and some space to reflect on what really matters to us.

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to wake us up to what hasn’t been working in our lives and give us the impetus to make changes.

A question worth exploring

However, what I often see with clients is that they’re very clear about what they DON’T want – e.g. ‘I don’t want to be stressed’, ‘I don’t want to work all hours’. But they can struggle to get clarity on what they really do want.

So, the question I frequently ask is: ‘If you don’t want xxx, then, what do you want instead?’.

If you’re recognising that you want to make some changes, it’s a question worth exploring.

Instead of stressed, maybe what you really want is to be feeling calm and confident, whatever your challenges?

Instead of working all hours, is what you really want to switch off at 18.00 and have time in the evenings for other priorities outside of work?

How to stop getting more of what you DON’T want

Until you shift your focus away from what you don’t want towards what you do want, very little is likely to change. In fact, what I see, time and time again, is that focusing on what you don’t want just brings you more of that i.e. what you DON’T want. More stress, longer working hours etc.

Let’s test this out. If I ask you not to think of a pink elephant, what comes into your mind? Yes, that pesky pink elephant that I told you NOT to think of! The mind has a funny way of ignoring the negatives.

I know this from my own experience. Nine years ago, the crisis that had me questioning what I wanted was burn-out. I had what looked like the perfect life on paper – founding partner and Director of a successful consultancy, a beautiful home in London, enough money to finance an enviable lifestyle – holidays, clothes, eating out. I didn’t want for anything materially.

But, I wasn’t happy. Self doubt and my fear of being found out a fraud (the Imposter Syndrome) had me piling on the pressure to work harder, go faster, do more. I was exhausted and miserable – and, all I could think about was that I didn’t want THIS.

Shift your focus to make changes

I woke up and went to bed with that thought. It accompanied me through my day. It was only when I shifted my focus and made up my mind that I wanted to find a different way of doing success and started to explore what that would look like that things started to change.

I looked at every aspect of my life. My career, my home, my social life, my health and well-being, my relationships (with myself as well as with others), my skill set, my financial situation and more.

Working out what I wanted in each of these areas was the first step in making the changes necessary to create the richer and much more fulfilling life that I now enjoy.

Focusing on what I really want has become a regular practice for me and one that I encourage with my clients.

FREE Worksheet to help you work out what you really want

So, if you know that you want to make changes after lockdown and create a different sort of ‘normal’, spend some time thinking about what is it that you really want.

Click HERE for a Worksheet to help you with that. Go ahead and download it now, put some time aside in your diary and take the first step in creating the future that you really want for yourself.

Caroline Holt is the go to person in the UK specialising in Imposter Syndrome and helping people get what they want. She is the Imposter Syndrome expert in residence at the Lucidity Network. 

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  and feel prepared, informed, and confident at work..

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

3 tips to keep your confidence at workFind 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

8 tips for boosting your confidence with creativity

Creative thinking

We often think that creativity is about whether or not you can draw. It’s not. Creative thinking can apply to anything. You can be a spreadsheet superstar, a marketing maverick or a clever content creator.

If you reframe creativity as ‘problem-solving’ it will help you feel more comfortable and makes creativity feel like less of a dark art. Creativity is about solving strategic problems, spotting opportunities, making connections and making good ideas happen to deliver the best learning and development for your employees and volunteers.

All human beings are creative. Research shows that creativity is more about a state of mind. And when we are in a relaxed or playful state our subconscious keeps working away, making connections and solving problems. That’s why when I ask people where they have their best ideas it’s very unusual that people say, ‘sat at my desk.’They usually have their best ideas when they are not at work: in the shower, driving, walking the dog, asleep, talking with their children or even on the toilet.

It can be difficult to work in an environment when we are expected to deliver more for less, inspire audiences with different needs to want to learn and ensure that employees have opportunities for professional development.

Yet so many organisations put their employees under pressure to simply ‘be creative’ or offer up massively unhelpful phrases like ‘think outside the box’ but without providing any guidance about how to do that.

So here are some simple tips to develop your already excellent creative thinking skills:

Know yourself: You are already creative. Step away from your desk. Think about where you have your best ideas and make time to go there. If this means spending more time on the toilet then so be it!

Get more curious: According to Steven Johnson in his book Where Good Ideas Come From, creativity is making new connections by putting old ideas together in new ways. Therefore you need to expand your portfolio of knowledge so you have more old ideas that you can put together when needed. So get more curious about the world. Read more books, go on a course, listen to a webinar and attend that talk.

Break patterns: As we get older we repeat the same patterns. You’ll have experienced this when you feel like you’ve been on ‘autopilot’, for example, got to work and not really noticed how you got there. This inhibits our creativity because we simply repeat these ingrained patterns. To help break them, change your habits. Start with the things you do on autopilot. Change your route to work, listen to a different radio station, watch something different on TV, go to a different place for lunch. All these small changes will help to create new patterns, new neural pathways and help your brain to be more flexible at making new connections.

Ask why: When we’ve worked in an organisation for a while we accept the status quo, we accept ‘how things are done round here.’ Wear a different lens, pretend you’re new and start asking ‘why?’ When a new employee starts, ask them what they’d change.

Make it so: It’s actually much easier to say we can’t do something. That means that nothing changes. However, confident creative thinkers have a restlessness to solve problems and make things better. They are constantly seeking to ‘make it so’. The process of making the seemingly impossible possible also helps to flex your creative thinking muscles.

Ban idea killer phrases: You know them. Those phrases like ‘we tried that before and it didn’t work’ ‘we don’t do it like that here’ ‘we don’t have the budget’ ‘the board will never sign it off’. Stop using them. They may be true. However, the world changes fast and something that historically wasn’t the right solution might be now.

Say ‘yes and’: Encourage confidence in creativity by making a small change to your language. Rather than using an idea-killer phrase (even ‘yes but…’ is negative) change your language to ‘yes and’. ‘Yes and’ encourages people to keep thinking creatively, solve problems and keep making those new connections and creates an environment where creativity can flourish.

Practice: Like any skill the more you practice the better you get. The small changes you make every day will add up to powerful confidence in your own creativity.

If you liked these tips you might also like the Lucidity Network – a place for people pushing to make change happen, a place to learn, a place to share and a place to connect. Check it out and join us here.

A version of this blog originally appeared on the Charity Learning Consortium.

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 and feel prepared, informed, and confident at work.

3 tips to keep your confidence at work

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

 

We drew pictures before we wrote words

Creativity

Why is it when I ask people if they see themselves as creative, most people say ‘no’? Yet when those same people are given the opportunity to be creative the creativity that flows from them is astonishing?

Last week we hosted a Lucidity Network event with our partners Not9to5 on creativity at work, starring artist Jenny Leonard at the brilliant Spaces in Angel Islington.

When our guests started to show up and they saw tables with pens and paper in preparation for them drawing things, I know several people reached for some courage in the form of wine!

We are all creative

We are all creative. The biggest barrier I’ve found if that people don’t believe that they are. Think back to being a kid (or think of your own kids) we used to create all the time. An empty cardboard box could be a castle, a spaceship, a shop counter or an aquarium.

Yet somehow as we get older, we worry more about what other people think and about getting things ‘right’. We draw less. Drawing is a way of communicating. It’s a visual language. Human beings drew pictures before we wrote words. It’s not a case of being able to ‘draw’ its about being able to create and communicate.

Jenny helped us learn to create and communicate though a series of drawing exercises. Everyone had some A4 paper and a pen. Let me give you a flavour of what we did.

First everyone was asked to draw circles. There was no ‘right’ we just drew in whatever way we wanted. We compared circles. Everyone’s page was different. Not surprising, yet it actually was weirdly surprising at how different everyone’s circles pages were. It also helped people to relax, signalling it wasn’t about who was good at drawing. (In fact if you choose to use drawing in a work context you might choose to create a level playing field so no one can be a ‘good’ draw-er, for example you could get everyone to tape their pencil to a stick and draw from the end of the stick not the pencil. Or ask people to draw with their non dominant hand or draw with their eyes shut).

Then we drew something super simple, the wine glass on the table, then we built up to draw a frog, before really going for it with a dinosaur.

The next task was to create a character, any character that came to mind that might feature in a story. Then we passed the paper to person to left and they added something else to the picture, before passing the paper to the left again for the next addition. The final pass to the left involved making a speech bubble and writing something in it.

Take-aways

Once people relaxed into the tasks the fear feeling in the room shifted to a playful dynamic.It was fun. There was laughter and people were happy to share their creations.

The drawing exercises engage a different part of our brain to when we write. They help us to play. The more we play, the more we invent. In fact psychologists as far back as the 1970’s have linked creativity to being more about your mindset than anything else and that we are more likely to be creative when we are in a playful mindset.

Innovation and creativity is about collaboration. The rich insights we get from others input makes the sum of the parts more valuable than working away on your own.

If we can use some of these exercises in our work it can change dynamics and encourage and inspire creativity. They might even break the cycle of the same old ideas churning round and round the boardroom and provide breakthrough’s into new, exciting and different ideas. You just have to be brave enough to break the ‘how we do things here’ patterns and give it a go.

Join the creativity at work webinar

If you want to learn more, practice creativity and build your bravery for using drawing to help your colleagues explore creative thinking and problem solving, join us on the creativity at work webinar on Saturday 15 February at 11am. This webinar is just £10 and you also get a free months membership of the Lucidity Network which through coaching, training and events helps you to be braver, be more creative and make more impact. Here’s your link to sign up for your creativity at work webinar.