Oct 21, 2007

Are You Fighting Yourself?

Are you fighting yourself?

After talking to him for a few minutes, I knew that he’d be difficult to coach. While he didn’t realize it consciously, at some level he didn’t really want to change. Maybe he felt it would be too much work, maybe he was afraid of the unknown…maybe he was afraid of actually succeeding.

How did I know?

After having successes and failures with helping people make shifts in their lives, I began to see the patterns between people who changed more readily versus those who didn’t.

Those who change more easily have inner congruence; they have their inner selves aligned in ways that help them make the shift. Those that don’t have inner congruence find it difficult; no matter how much they think they want to change, a part of them doesn’t. They sabotage themselves by taking one step forward and two steps back.

What Are The Signs of Self-Sabotage?

How do you know when someone’s spending too much energy fighting themselves?

1) When they love their problems too much.

When you hear someone talk endlessly about their problems, especially in dramatic and sometimes even boastful ways; watch out! They may say they want to change, but they’re still enjoying the secondary gain they get from having this problem; it could be anything from having an excuse to get off the hook to getting attention.

2) When they argue exactly why suggestions to change won’t work.

Instead of wanting to listen and test new solutions out, they shoot down any suggestions with reasons why they might work for others but not for them. They only say they want to change when they’re obviously fighting it, that’s because they really want things to remain the same.

3) When they focus too much on negative causes and effects than positive intentions and outcomes.

Instead of having their eyes forward to create what they want in the future, they want to go further and further back into the past and dig out root causes of all their problems. The more obsessed this person is with finding out exactly why they’re messed up, the less energy they have to discover just how much better they can be.

How To Turn Self-Sabotage Into Self-Empowerment

If you’ve been self-sabotaging yourself or know someone who is, here is how you can turn self-sabotage into self-encouragement.

1) Fall in love with your strengths.

Everyone has strengths, whether you see it or not. You could stare at a 50kg dumb-bell all day long moaning about how you couldn’t possibly carry it, even explore with a sympathetic person the past origins of why you couldn’t. Or you could start exercising your present strength with a 5kg dumb-bell, knowing that if you keep focusing on working out, one day you’ll be pushing 50 and beyond.

2) Be willing to test out new solutions..

If you want to change, be willing to do new things you’ve never done before…that’s what change means, doesn’t it?

3) Focus on what you want to happen in the future.

We live in the present and can only go into the future. Milton Erickson once said, ‘insight into the past may be somewhat educational. But insight into the past isn’t going to change the past’. Decide to focus more on solutions versus problems. Look forward and answer the question, ‘if you could have the future anyway you wanted it, how would you want it to be?’

Here’s The Guiding Key To Shifting Self-Sabotage

After reading this article, you might recognize someone you know, or times in the past you’ve had moments of self-sabotage. Realize that even those times are now over, and you are bigger than thoughts and reactions you might once have had.

To key is, in the words of Robert Dilts, to shift people from learned hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness to have hope for the future, a sense of capability and responsibility, and a sense of self-worth and belonging.

Oct 11, 2007

Distraction Management

When it comes to time-management and boosting productivity, the greatest challenge is “distraction management.” People continuously interrupt me, asking for signatures, asking for advice, asking for feedback. Then there are the phone calls. Plus the pop-up reminder on the taskbar informing me that “I’ve got mail!”

People don’t realize that interruptions, no matter how small and minute, are a major time waster. When I am focused on a particular task, be it a letter I am composing, a presentation I am crafting, or a document I am reviewing, I get into a certain rhythm. Everything clicks. It’s like a natural high. At this point, any intrusion breaks that rhythm. Even a small knock on the cubicle divider, a simple “Excuse me,” causes me the concentration to lapse and it will take some time to get back into the groove of things. I look back at the document, wonder where I left off, wonder what was my train of thought, and then I need to get back into the thick of things. Sometimes it takes up to a minute. It is like a car trying to get back into speed from a dead stop.

So one trick in boosting your productivity is to minimize distractions. If you are blessed with an office, then all you have to do is close to the door to prevent people from barging in. If you are even more fortunate to have an administrative assistant, he or she can screen any visitors. But not all of us have that advantage.

So here are three tips that anyone can use to manage distractions:

1. Make a to-do list and prioritize

A to-do list is an essential tool. It does not have to be anything fancy. You do not need any sophisticated software. A simple notepad will do. Before the end of every day, I make a to-do list. I review this list first thing in the morning, adding things that I may have forgotten. I do this before I even begin to open any email or any envelope on my Inbox.

Then, with the to-do list in hand, review and decide which will be the first tasks to tackle. I decide which tasks are considered Immediate and those which are considered Important. Get the Immediate items out of the way pronto, otherwise they can appear while you are working on the Important items, further distracting you.

2. Do Not Disturb.

One trick I learned to manage distractions is to signal to everyone that I do not want to be disturbed. One way is to hang an obvious “Do Not Disturb” sign. Another is to point people to your “In” and “Out” box. I tacked a simple note to advise visitors to leave in the Inbox all documents that needed my signature and that any document that was placed before lunch would be signed before the end of the day.

3. Learn to use your voice mail

Phone calls are another source of distraction. To manage your incoming calls, you need to make full use of your voice mail. Record a greeting that advises all callers that you are busy and that you will get back to the caller as soon as possible. Avoid any message that gives the caller any impression that you are out of office; if he or she drops by, it could result in a loss of credibility on your part. If you absolutely need complete focus, then forward all your calls to your voice mail so that the shrill ring will not break your concentration.

4. You’ve got mail

I schedule about two sessions of “email time” during the day—one at 9:30 am and another at 3:00 pm. These are scheduled in my Outlook calendar so that any person who wants to book a time with me will not eat up on my email time. This email time is the time I use to clean out everything in my inbox. I turn off all pop-up alerts that inform me that I have incoming mail, otherwise you will see a mail that looks interesting and your concentration will break.

5. Invasion management

From time to time, a couple of people will drop by my office and not heed the instructions visibly tacked on the wall. Most of the time they need my signature. Often they come for advice. They loiter around my area like hungry vultures. Unless he or she is your boss or a senior executive, I have learned to totally ignore the invader. I don’t even cast a glance at them. If I do that, then they will take that opportunity to speak. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a harmless document to sign. Some times the request has to be evaluated, maybe even rejected. You may need to ask questions and it will take some brain bandwidth to process the request. Here’s what I have learned: if it’s important, the person will wait; if it is damn critical, he will call his boss, who will then talk to your boss.
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