Posts Tagged ‘personal development’

card-1081735_640Starting a new year provides the opportunity to start afresh and open up new possibilities for yourself. One of the fundamental factors we generally forget to take into consideration, though, is that a new year doesn’t necessarily mean a new you is going to appear magically. You still take your usual self into it.

Alas, if we really want to make something of it, and benefit from the opportunity for a new beginning, or to do things in new ways, or even be a new you, then making resolutions is a good start.

If you are genuinely interested in achieving all those things you’ve stated as your resolutions; the standard lose weight, eat healthier foods, stop procrastinating, or whatever it is you’ve resolved to do, then there are three resolutions you need to make.

These three resolutions are the cornerstone for helping all your other resolutions come to fruition, and are the foundation for growth, success and an impressive 2016.

Personal Development

Agree with yourself to work on yourself. Whether you do this in the form of reading books from renowned personal development coaches, attend some seminars or courses, or follow some e-learnings, this is a must.

Improving yourself will allow you to understand what it is that’s been holding you back, and give you the tools and power to move forward. You can apply these learnings to those more tangible, measurable goals and resolutions; like the losing weight, or writing 1000 words per day.

Practice Mindfulness

This fits in neatly with improving your personal self. Being fully aware of the situations you’re in, how you’re feeling, why you’re doing what you are doing, enables you to consider how you will react to whatever is that’s going on.

Whether this is yet another uncomfortable interaction with a colleague, or you’re sitting on the couch, avoiding physical activity, you are given the power to take alternative action. You can choose to react to your colleague differently, or get up and go for that walk like you said you would.

Speaking of sitting on the couch, practicing quiet mindfulness, in a meditative way, is also of great benefit. Practice doing nothing on a daily basis. Make sure it’s a productive sort of doing nothing, though.

Awareness of Others

This is a tough one for a lot of people to grasp fully. We generally understand the concept of “walking in another person’s shoes”, but take this one step further, and practice it daily.

Again, it ties in with the other two, so you do not have to do too much extra work each day!

As you practice mindfulness, be aware of you’re the thoughts that pop into your head when you see a person; how they’re dressed, what they’re doing, how they’re behaving. What are you thinking?

When you’re confronted by a person, rather than considering walking in their shoes, think about what may be driving them to do what they’re doing in that moment. Ironically, many of us are quite happy to defend our actions by saying “I had a bad night’s sleep” or “I was rushed because the train was late”, but rarely, if ever, do they afford the same courtesy to others.

Consider the driving forces before you react. And while you’re at it, make communication skills part of your personal development!

As with all goals and resolutions, making them is nowhere near enough. Anyone can say something; it’s taking the action that will do the trick.


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Lawyer on his workplaceJob interviews! If you have been to at least one, you know that the experience can be quite tense and can bring out exactly those aspects of our personality that we would prefer not to show to our prospective boss. However, bear in mind that job interviews can be stressful, intimidating and awkward not only for the applicant, but also for the interviewer, as this piece helpfully suggests.

What Not to Say

Hundreds of posts around the web will explain in detail what you are expected to say at an interview: when to say it, how to say it, what to say and why to say it. It is also important, however, to know what not to say, because a perfect interview can be spoiled by a single inappropriate utterance. Therefore, always remember how to not lose your cool – be composed, take your time and think before you answer. Nobody will have a bad impression of you if you consider your reply before giving it. On the other hand, if you answer hurriedly with a nonsensical reply, that may well be the end of the interview. As much as you want to be yourself, remember there is a fine line between being yourself as you will behave at your new workplace and being yourself with your closest friends.

So, what not to say? No inappropriate jokes. No embarrassing personal information (think in terms of ‘what would I say on a first date – I don’t want to appear as a loony!’). Not too many personal details – speaking briefly about your hobbies or your life is okay, but giving the exact minute-by-minute details of your day would be a bit too much. And finally, do not mention other companies that have offers for you, other interviews you are going to attend, other opportunities you might take – it is cheap and will always make a bad impression.

What Not to Do

To start with, DO NOT fail the handshake. Many people will form their first impression (even if it is a subconscious one) on your handshake. So grasp firmly and release on time, do not offer a finger, do not slip your hand, do not catch the fingers.

Try not to appear stressed or anxious. Just remember that worrying and being nervous will never help, it will only make it harder for you to focus. Compose yourself and go in; act confident and calmly.

Do not drink alcohol before the interview. As much as you would like some extra help with calming down, they will know, and it will not be of any advantage to you.

Do not do anything strange, weird or awkward during the interview. This includes many of the examples in the piece quoted above – dancing, singing (unless that’s what the interview is for!), applying or taking medicines, eating, leaving and reappearing, leaving without reappearing, performing magic, etc. You are there for an interview and will have to impress the interviewer with your composition, experience, knowledge and manner, not with fooling around.

Finally, do not be aggressive or stubborn. Never threaten the interviewer or anyone in the vicinity. Actually, this is something to keep in mind at all times, not only at job interviews. Take ‘no’ as ‘no’ and leave when you are expected to; do not make it worse by refusing to go or doing something stupid. Remember, it is always better to part with good feelings (you might be the second best candidate and be invited if the first decides not to start), than slamming the door and thus locking it for yourself forever.

To cut a long story short, interviews are not as scary as they appear! The main rule is – “Keep calm and show them they need you.” Remember – the interviewer has probably seen some weird applicants out there, so he or she will be grateful for the lack of embarrassing situations. Good luck!

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Group of business people assembling jigsaw puzzle and represent

While some organisations focus solely on their clients, others realise that their people are their most important asset. Team building exercises have long been recognised as a great way to help groups break down barriers between associates and foster greater levels of communication and trust while boosting morale.

When most of us think of ways to build teams, shared activities such as a retreat or cookout often come to mind. Events like these provide a relaxed and informal space for workers to get to know one another on a personal basis. Unfortunately, due to the time and expense involved, these types of events are often only held on an annual or semi-annual basis. If your organisation is suffering from a lack of morale and cohesion, you really can’t wait for the next group picnic to turn things around!

Why the best education is all fun and games

A great way to quickly get everyone on the same page in your organisation is to have a little fun and play some games. Before you dismiss this suggestion, think back to your early school days. When was learning and cooperation the easiest? Why, when you and your classmates were having fun while trying to achieve a shared goal, of course!

The benefits of team building games

Make time on a regular basis for some fun and games in your organisation. Choose games that require members to step out of their comfort zones and routines and ask questions as well as actively listen. Playing games not only shakes up the routine and breaks up the monotony in your organisation,  it will help your associates to develop their problem solving skills, and creativity, and help them to feel free to open up and discuss ideas.

As your associates have to rely on one another and work together to find a solution, they will build bonds that they will carry over into their regular work space, increasing cooperation, innovation, efficiency and productivity regardless of what specific work they happen to be doing at the moment.

Suggestions to get your game on

A recent article in the online journal, Call Centre Helper, offered some suggestions for fun and challenging games that many teams might enjoy trying to tackle. A simple online search for the term ‘team building games’ can also help you to find appropriate team building exercise for your associates.

In general, role playing games, or games where associates must cooperate and share information in order to solve the puzzle, generally work the best to help associates step into one another’s shoes and see different perspectives.

Don’t resolve yourself to traditional thinking when it comes to picking out a team building exercise for your group. Even something as simple as dividing your associates into groups that have a friendly competition to raise money for a favorite charity has the power to bring people together and focus on doing their best to achieve a common goal.

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Woman showing a happy emoticon in front of face against a green background

The following four steps will help you to get started developing your persistence and mastery so that you can be more successful in all of your endeavours.

1. Listen to your inner voice. You might not realise it, but there is an internal conversation going on in your mind at all times. While most of us are too busy going about our day to notice and listen to this self-talk, taking time to stop and listen to this internal monologue is the first step in changing your mindset.

When you are going through a difficult time, or are facing a challenge that you can’t seem to overcome, if you stop and listen to your self-talk it is likely that it’s pretty negative if you have a fixed mindset. You will hear yourself thinking things such as, “I am not smart enough, talented enough, or pretty enough”, or some other self-criticism. You may also hear yourself say that it’s not your fault, or you may even become frustrated or a bit angry with those who offer help, advice or suggestions for improvement. All of these attitudes come from a fixed mindset, and you must learn to listen for it, and recognise it for what it is, if you wish to change your attitude, reaction and results.

2. Make a Conscious Choice. Up until now, it’s likely that you’ve either been ignoring this negative self-talk, or going along with it in agreement when you were aware of it. Just because you are thinking these thoughts, however, doesn’t mean that you have to agree. You can fight back, by making a conscious choice to look at the situation objectively and seek ways to turn it around. This might involve seeking the aid of others, working hard to improve specific abilities and skills or searching for another solution. Realising you can choose to disagree with these negative feelings and false beliefs is the second step to changing your mindset.

3. Replace the Negative with the Positive. As you learn to listen to your self-talk, and identify the limiting myths and false beliefs that come from a fixed mindset and begin to look for proactive solutions, you will need to also learn how to combat the negative, critical inner voice of your fixed mindset. Fight back with learning how to replace the thoughts from a fixed mindset with the positive tones and encouraging words of a growth mindset.

When the voice of your fixed mindset points out that you don’t have the right skill or talent to accomplish your objective, acknowledge it. “Yes, I might not have what I need right now.” Then, flip this negative into a positive by replacing it! “But, I don’t have to leave things as they are, I can work hard and persist until I do have what I need to get the job done! I can learn, I can improve and I can succeed!”  Learning to embrace challenges and face fears and combat negative, self-limiting thoughts with affirmations and statements that identify the actions that you can take to achieve a solution will help to give you the confidence, inner strength motivation and determination to not give up!

4. Take Action! Now that you’ve begun to learn how to see challenges and other issues with a growth mindset, and to identify areas for change and improvement, make plans and take action to achieve your objectives. Setting goals, and making a list of the steps that you need to take to achieve these goals is helpful during this stage. Over time, as you begin to experience some success, your confidence will grow. Eventually, your inner self talk will become more positive, your determination and persistence will grow and eventually you will experience fewer incidents of negative self-talk.

The level of success that you experience in your life is really up to you. You can use the power of your mind to improve your life by taking action to change your mindset into one that is more growth oriented and positive.

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The world has probably seen successful start-ups at a local level being managed and run by one or several people. However, expansion and growth are impossible without a team of people working for you, and if you want your business to move from a local to a national or even an international level, you will need to invest in people. In one of his recent posts, Robin Sharma states that you can triple the growth of your organisation, but for that you will need to triple the number of people working in it.

However, taking people on board is not enough to initiate growth. More people = more growth is a good formula, but it has some factors that define its success. One of them is motivation. If you want your team to achieve success, you will need to inspire them. Be the leader they have always wanted to have. Show them the right path and arm them with dreams. According to Robin, your team will have more motivation to achieve the goals of your business or organisation if the goals themselves are bigger and more ambitious.

It is true that you hire people for their skills and pay them to work, but there are times when money loses its value and importance and what your employees need is encouragement and recognition instead. An employee will only be happy if their job is challenging and rewarding (but not only financially). Therefore, you should never miss a moment to encourage someone you work with – this may take 5 minutes from your day but totally change theirs and significantly improve the quality of their work.

Cooperating with your employees on a daily basis will certainly result in knowing them very well. This is to say, not only knowing things about their personal life, but also knowing what and who they are and what they are able to do. This will inevitably lead to realising what they can become and do if someone inspires them – a realisation that will come to you rather than to them because it is easier to assess the people around you than to assess yourself. And if you are wondering who should inspire them to achieve their maximum potential – the answer is you. You can and should always try to inspire your employees and colleagues to always improve themselves.

Having said all this, it is obvious that “the quickest way to grow the sales of your business is to grow your people”. If you want to achieve the growth you deserve, you need to take on board more and more people, to train them, to turn them into the best professionals and team players and to constantly inspire them to become better in what they do. The growth of your business can have no limits if you realise that the stronger and more capable your team is, the better it is able to work and help you expand.

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StonesHave you used team building exercises in your organisation?  Often the organisation can be too tied up in the day to day operations when a team building exercise could be used to address some challenges facing the organisation.  As such, some benefits from team building have been summarised below:

  • It can build morale amongst the team and improve the culture of the organisation.
  • Improves communication as the team building exercise will usually offer a challenge that requires different people who don’t usually communicate with each other to work together to solve the challenge.
  • Provides staff with an opportunity to lead, manage and delegate to other people in the team.  This can allow staff with less experience to gain an understanding of issues managers can face when managing or leading teams.
  • Establishes and strengthens relationships within the team as the participants get to see their colleagues in different roles.
  • Can motivate and inspire staff as they can see the organisation not only values their contribution but that working as team can result in achieving some great outcomes.

Other benefits of team building are that they can provide an excellent way to address problems and plan for the future.  While the focus on the above related to staff, the same could apply to the committee of management as they develop, for example, the strategic plan.  A properly facilitated team building exercise can allow the committee of management to identify future objectives and how they can be achieved.

Team building can be done internally where the facilitator has good experience but you can also consider using an external team building organisation.  There are many team building organisations that can easily be found with a Google search but prior to contracting one be clear about what your objectives are for the team building exercise and how they will achieve these objectives.

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With 2013 just around the corner now is a great time to start planning for your professional and personal development.  Often this is overlooked due to a perceived lack of time, low prioritisation or you are not too sure where to look for relevant courses.

The first step to take is to undergo a form of self-assessment.  Take a bit of time to review the last 6 to 12 months and do a bit of brainstorming to identify some areas that you would like to develop and make sure it includes both professional and personal development areas.

Once you have a list then discuss with someone you know, they may be a work colleague or family member, to bounce some ideas off them so you can review and prioritise the list.

If you are an employee, you can discuss with your manager and get agreement so you can formally incorporate your professional development into your 2013 Annual Performance Plan.  If you are a Board Member, as part of the annual evaluation process you should be able to identify areas where additional training would be suitable.  For any Board it is important to recognise that some training maybe suitable for the whole Board or maybe just for some members.  For example, you may decide that the members of the Finance Sub Committee should complete Financial Management training.

In addition to professional development courses you should also consider personal development courses.  Take stock of issues with your personal circumstances and take the time to find something that is of genuine interest to you.

There are a huge number of organisations that provide training services and a quick search on Google will help you find something that is suitable.  There are many organisations that provide training courses for Board Member such as the Australian Institute of Company Directors or Matrix on Board.  In addition, while TAFEs or universities provide the traditional long courses, many will often provide short courses.  In addition, for other areas of personal interest consider adult education courses similar to the Centre for Adult Education in Victoria.  Most states offer a similar type of centre that provides training on a unique range of areas.  Another good place to search is iTunes as there are some valuable resources that can be downloaded such as podcasts, books or audio books on a huge range of topics.

The importance of undertaking professional and personal development is that it keeps you up to date with current issues, provides you with additional skills and especially if they are for personal development, they can be great fun and help you pursue your own personal interest and passion.

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