This past week, I participated in a “TED talk”, along with two other speakers to address the 8th graders (14 year olds) at our school. The topic was on education, choices and careers and we each had 20 minutes to share our own journeys. At the end of the presentations, the students could post questions on a poster and the final list was sent to us. I was very impressed by the thinking behind these questions and one of the first ones I read was “Why do you love challenges so much?” I paused.
What attracts people to challenges? Is is something you are born with? Is it hereditary? Is it about success? Wanting to learn more?
Challenges have to do with mindsets. In Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset: the New Psychology of Success”, she writes about two different mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.
In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail, or you are not #1, it has all been a waste of time. The fixed mind set stands in the way of change and development. Making mistakes, as a fixed mindset, affects self confidence and prevents the will of trying again for fear of failure or being judged. Therefore, challenges can come across as being a threat to fixed minds.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, allows people to value what they are doing regardless what the outcome is. They are taking on challenges, analysing options and find their time working meaningful and valuable. If they fail they learn from it and try again. Their minds are curious, they are open to the “unknown” and are ready to step out of their comfort zones and take on new challenges.
Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, and what is your perspective on challenges?
Yesterday I was invited to speak on “Living and Thinking Out of the Box”, one of the foundations of Life Coaching. It is fair to say that most of us have a box or boxes that we choose to live in, retreat in, create in. It can vary from a house space, to an office space, to a mental space.
In Life Coaching, we use a lot of visualisation. I asked all the participants to take a moment and to visualise their box and to describe a feeling, in one word. Mixed reactions; “safe, happy, familiar, prison, mine, limiting, boring, peaceful, predictable, grounding, suffocating.” I then asked to describe the feeling of stepping out of the comfort zone and the reactions were also mixed; “freedom, risk, uncomfortable, adventure, inexperience, uncertainty, fear, anxiety, scary, butterflies in stomach, unknown.”
Leaving one’s comfort zone is not always easy and for some it simply is daunting and a huge challenge. Others, may not even be aware they are in a box. How many colleagues do you know who seem stagnate or stuck and have difficulties moving forward at work? How can you encourage them? Sometimes that is simply what they need, encouragement, another foundation in Life Coaching.
Five Tips to Empower Your Colleagues:
Curiosity: visualisation is a great tool to understand emotions and thoughts, become curious about their box and listen to their reactions.
Transparency: by sharing with them the big picture and goals, you provide encouragement and energy for them to take the first steps out.
Practice Risk: instead of them focusing on the outcomes, highlight their awareness of working in THIS moment, now.
Creativity: allow your colleagues to be creative and find new ways of solving problems. This will give them a sense of ownership, confidence and they will feel value.
Authenticity: set the example by doing it, not just saying it. Be yourself.
Ask yourself, what is it to be encouraging?
Here I am sitting in my modest bedroom in what previously used to be a monk’s cell, in a seventeenth century Carmelite Monastery, in Western Hungary. For once I am not coaching but moderating a retreat and have a couple of hours to rest before dinner. It is quiet, the room is small, there is no phone, TV or Internet and I take a pen and paper and begin drafting this blog.
Solitude seems to be a recurring theme for me in the last 24 hours, as is awareness. Last night, I found myself alone in a part of a terminal, in the UK, after a 6 hour delay, boarding at midnight. As frustrating as the delay was, I somehow enjoyed the silence and being alone. My 1 hour airport WiFi was up and instead of re-registering, I opted for finishing some thoughts, preparing the retreat, reflecting on the week, reading some coaching material and enjoying my own company. On the plane, I disappeared into a Chopin world and woke up in Budapest. At 3.00am, I walked towards my car and drove off, no one in sight. Budapest was quiet, empty and beautiful. I felt totally alone as I snaked around the city streets. It was such a nice sensation that I rolled down my window and just soaked this feeling in. Two hours later, I had to wake, again in silence and solitude.
I recognised that being alone is a value that my husband and I share. We are socially quite active, another common value, but solitude is important to us and we wish that our children learn to appreciate that, as well. At home, we encourage the limited use of technology and keep the living room and bedrooms device free. We want our children to continue being creative with their hands and minds, to continue making conversations, to continue expressing their emotions in person and be comfortable with solitude and embrace it, not escape it towards technology, which they work with everyday at school. Technology is taking over lives and more and more people rather text than speak, type an emotion rather than express it physically, use diminutives rather than sentences and chat rather than talk. There is also fear in being alone for many people, and technology makes good company.
How do you value solitude? Is it a challenge for you to be alone and what do you do when you are alone? Notice how many hours a week you choose to use social media over solitude? What is your perspective on that?
Sherry Turkle presents a very good TED talk precisely on this topic titled “Connected but Alone”, well worth the watch! In Coaching, we often look at values and which values clients honour. Need to reconnect with yours? Contact me at email@example.com
I have many people asking me how I became a Life Coach. Since I am a believer of short blogs, this is my executive summary: I knew nothing at all about Life Coaching until I became a guinea pig for a friend in training. She told me to come with a goal, issue, challenge that was present in my life, at that time. My issue (which seems never-ending!) was patience vs impatience, specifically vis-a-vis of our three children (eldest being 9-10 years old back then).
Setting: Kitchen in the evening
Issue: My daughter refusing to go to bed
20.30: Me (soft, relaxed voice) : “Time to go upstairs, it is getting late.”
Daughter: “ I don’t want to go upstairs.”
20.40: Me (soft, less relaxed voice): “Come on, please go upstairs.
Daughter: “No, I don’t want too.”
20.45: (nostrils flaring, voice tensing up): “ Enough now, time to GO upstairs please.
Daughter: “I said NO, I don’t want too!”
20.46: (I feel the impatience creeping up on me, adrenaline kicking in)
20.47: (I stop what I am doing and begin taking deeper breaths facing a wall)
20.48: Me (my blood boils, I can’t take it anymore and I explode): “ That’s it! Now get upstairs right now! This game is over!”
Daughter: “ What do you mean a game? It’s not a game! What are you talking about?!” (with a cocky look).
20.49: Me (I grab her pencil and paper and with determination, point the way upstairs, feeling my face totally flushed). Urggg!
Coach: “So what are you doing when she sits in the kitchen drawing and looking around?”
Me: (a bit surprised and irritated by the question) “Well, I am clearing the dishes from dinner, cleaning the kitchen, storing leftovers, setting up for breakfast etc…”
Coach: “ What happens if you stopped doing what you’re doing for 5-10 minutes?”
Me: (pausing and thinking calmly): “Well nothing, really.”
Coach: “ What is needed in this situation?”
Me: (an “ah-ha moment” ): “Sitting down with my daughter at the table and giving her my full attention.”
I sat at the table with my daughter, we talked for 5 minutes until she gave me a kiss and went upstairs. I continued sitting there in silence, stunned by what happened, realised that the answer was within me and clearly understood the power of shifting your perspective and seeing life from a different angle – complete awareness! This was just the tip of the iceberg and coaching opened my eyes wide.
I have just stepped out of my comfort zone BIG TIME, by being photographed professionally and making a video for the launching of my website. I felt a sense of excitement and great vulnerability as I reached my challenge and goal.
“Do you have a make-up artist or shall we arrange one?” asked the photographer. Make-up artist??? The only time I have worn make-up, in my life, was the day of our wedding, where the photographer begged me to at least have the “bare minimum”put on – I understood the impact of the wedding photos and so I agreed to…the “bare minimum.”
This time round, my choice and perspective was to stay natural. I have defined wrinkles, my skin complexion is far from perfect and I could have used a haircut, but that is who I am and that is the impact I want to have. I have nothing to hide, plus seeing that I had another hurdle in front of me after the photo session (the video), I needed to be bien dans ma peau (feel well about myself).
Public speaking is something I am familiar with, but to speak in front of a camera is not at all. My mentors and coaches all encouraged me to make a video so that viewers can “see who you are, feel your energy and connect with you.” Practically speaking, I thought with a name like mine (full version Anna Jankovich de Jeszenice – Troubetzkoi) it may be good for viewers to hear that I do speak English with a neutral accent!
Vulnerability is a value that I have come to appreciate lately. Luckily, it is never too late to make changes in one’s life and no one is perfect. So here I am in “black and white.”
(c) 2017 Anna Jankovich, all rights reserved.