Can You Truly Know What Others Are Thinking?

Someone once said to me, that although you can walk with someone on their journey, you can never truly understand what someone else is thinking or feeling because unless you are them, you are not actually wearing their shoes.

I have taken this quite to heart over the last few years and always carry the thought with me when I am coaching, it’s very easy to think that we know what others are feeling.  However it is only when we create some detachment from our emotions to their situation that we can truly help them by giving them time and space to resolve their own issues.

I have just got back from an amazing weekend of personal development at the Calvert Trust in Cumbria.  The Calvert Trust are set up to support and encourage people with disabilities to tackle outdoor activities.  I tried lots of activities I wouldn’t normally consider such as ghyll scrambling and kayaking, despite being physically able to do them.  Most importantly I spent half a day in a wheel chair.  It was great fun, wheeling around the Calvert Trust after all they are set up for wheel chair users, with lifts wherever you need one and ramps.

Of course, I knew that at any point I could get out of my chair and walk if I couldn’t get where I needed to be and what’s more when I get home to my house with its narrow front door and porch step, or need to nip down the road to the shop that is on a 15% hill, things wouldn’t be quite so easy.

Yes, I believe its given me a greater insight into the difficulties a wheelchair user might experience.  Do I fully understand what it feel like? How could I?

So next time that you have to deal with someone in distress do ask yourself if you fully understand what they’re going through.  The likelihood is that whilst you do have empathy you don’t know for sure.

If you’re facing life’s challenges, coaching can give you the time and space you need to find solutions.  If you want to know if this could help YOU, give Carolyn a call today on 07714 216388 for your free consultation to see what you could achieve.

 Brett Trafford Photography-4copyright brett trafford photography

 

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Personal Development – what does it really mean to you?

I take quite a simple definition, its about anything that you want to change in your work, home or personal life.

 It can be about:

 How you react in different situations

  • Controlling your stress levels
  • Your work/life balance
  • Achieving your dreams
  • Work aspirations
  • Dealing with other people
  • How you perform a task

I could go on, although I expect you have the general idea.

 Self development can take as little as 10 minutes a day.  In reality, we forget in our busy lives to set aside this time for ourselves.  We place a low priority on what we do for ourselves compared to helping and supporting other people.

 So if you’re to make just one small change this week, allow yourself just ten minutes a day to think about what you’d like to change in your life and how you’re going to do it.

If you’re not sure where to start with your own personal development, ring Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to book your free consultation.

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words and pictures copyright Reflections Coaching (2014)

Comfort Zone Leap Part VI – The Final Countdown

The anticipated big day arrived. All the emotions I have ever felt in my life before came to the fore. I slept surprisingly well the night before however nerves really kicked in on Thursday afternoon. No matter how much I rehearsed complete with a makeshift hairbrush microphone, nothing flowed, bits got forgotten or confused and in front of my mirror it just didn’t seem funny at all.

Time out was in order and I grabbed Ziggy the dog and took myself out for a walk. I’m a big believer that fresh air and exercise is as good for the mind as it is body. Thankfully no one saw me walking around talking to myself as my act slowly came together.

By the time I arrived at the venue my nerves subsided as I immersed myself in practicalities.

I stood tall,  delivered, paced myself and the audience laughed and applauded. I walked off stage a whole foot taller than I walked on it.

So the learning from this is simple:

When something is standing in your way. Check first that it’s not you. Comedy was so far out of my comfort zone that I very nearly didn’t do it. The nerves I felt that afternoon were all “what ifs” that were all unfounded. Had I have listened to those thoughts that were telling me I couldn’t do it then I wouldn’t have made that stretch to my comfort zone that has ultimately led to a huge shift in my confidence.

2013-12-07_1733copyright Brett Trafford Photography

Comfort Zone Leap Part V – How To Deal With Nerves

Do you suffer with bouts of nerves?  Does your stomach turn over at the thought of standing up and talking to people? My heart pounds too!

Last week saw the last rehearsal for the comedy night.  I delivered what I felt to be a pretty good performance, well timed, confident and people laughed.  I forgot one joke that’s all. A couple of adjustments based on feedback but I’m now at the stage where there is nothing more I can really do.

The only thing is – every time I think about Thursday, my stomach turns over and my heart starts pounding.  So how do you make sure that these symptoms don’t get in the way of your delivery.

Accept them for what they are – our bodies are designed to react to danger, we have a flight or fight response, so acknowledge that feeling sick and racing heart beats etc are all about the adrenalin rush we get and adrenalin we know is good – right?

Don’t let these feeling get in the way.  There is a simple breathing technique I use to calm the nerves and take my mind off what is happening.

Breathe in to the count of 7

Breathe out for the count of 11.

This works in two ways.  Firstly concentrating on your breathing in this way focuses your mind on something other than what lies ahead of you.  Secondly the longer out breath expells some of the stale air and carbon-dioxide sitting in your lungs, your body will naturally need to take in a fuller breath of clean air and lots of oxygen, critical in aiding your brain to work effectively.

Try it – it really works.

If you’re facing an uncomfortable or stressful situation, coaching provides a supportive environment in which to prepare.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to see how Reflections Coaching can help you be super-confident.
P1070814copyright Carolyn Trafford

Level 1 – Unconsciously Unskilled

(You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you are blissfully ignorant: You have a complete lack
of knowledge and skills in the subject in question. On top of this,
you are unaware of this lack of skill, and your confidence may
therefore far exceed your abilities.

Level 2 – Consciously Unskilled

(You Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you find that there are skills you need to learn, and
you may be shocked to discover that there are others who are much
more competent than you. As you realize that your ability is limited,
your confidence drops. You go through an uncomfortable period as you
learn these new skills when others are much more competent and
successful than you are.

Level 3 – Consciously Skilled

(You Know that You Know)

At this level you acquire the new skills and knowledge. You put your
learning into practice and you gain confidence in carrying out the
tasks or jobs involved. You are aware of your new skills and work on
refining them.

You are still concentrating on the performance of these activities,
but as you get ever-more practice and experience, these become
increasingly automatic.

Level 4 – Unconsciously Skilled

(You Don’t Know that You Know – It Just Seems Easy!)

At this level your new skills become habits, and you perform the task
without conscious effort and with automatic ease. This is the peak of
your confidence and ability.

– See more at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_96.htm#sthash.SrfZRNRe.dpuf

Level 1 – Unconsciously Unskilled

(You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you are blissfully ignorant: You have a complete lack
of knowledge and skills in the subject in question. On top of this,
you are unaware of this lack of skill, and your confidence may
therefore far exceed your abilities.

Level 2 – Consciously Unskilled

(You Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you find that there are skills you need to learn, and
you may be shocked to discover that there are others who are much
more competent than you. As you realize that your ability is limited,
your confidence drops. You go through an uncomfortable period as you
learn these new skills when others are much more competent and
successful than you are.

Level 3 – Consciously Skilled

(You Know that You Know)

At this level you acquire the new skills and knowledge. You put your
learning into practice and you gain confidence in carrying out the
tasks or jobs involved. You are aware of your new skills and work on
refining them.

You are still concentrating on the performance of these activities,
but as you get ever-more practice and experience, these become
increasingly automatic.

Level 4 – Unconsciously Skilled

(You Don’t Know that You Know – It Just Seems Easy!)

At this level your new skills become habits, and you perform the task
without conscious effort and with automatic ease. This is the peak of
your confidence and ability.

– See more at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_96.htm#sthash.SrfZRNRe.dpufWant to know more about my comfort zone stretch in learning to do stand up comedy for Gingerbread – catch up on the last few blog posts below:

Comfort Zone Leap Part II – Stepping Up To The Mic

In last week’s post I shared with you my thoughts on the OMG state – a state of mind where your inner voice continually tells you that you’ve made a mistake and its all going to go horribly wrong.

I met up with my fellow comedy challengers again last week.  We’d all prepared some material – short comedy sketches to test on each other and I felt OK about it.  But when we got to the meeting room – there was a microphone and a speaker.  How can one inanimate object scare me so much.  I panicked at the thought of using it.  I quickly realised that this was my negative self (Frankie) trying to sabotage me.  What a brilliant opportunity to practice and use the mic now rather than face it for the first time at the show.

Turning thoughts around into a positive outcome is a great technique to use when you start to panic over something.

P1070681copyright Carolyn Trafford

I’d also really worried about my material.  Having stood in front of a mirror and read it out, it neither sounded funny nor was delivered in a funny style.  I was really nervious when I stepped up to the Mic.

Yet I was greeted with laughter from my 14 strong audience.  Loud laughter! Imagine what that will sound like with an audience of 300.  And better still the feedback I received was that it was almost there.  So my second learning point today is:

No matter what you say, do or in fact believe, when delivered to someone else it will be interpreted differently, gather feedback and if its positive believe it as readily as you would if it were negative.

Well I’m off to practice for this weeks meeting, I’ve added a few bits, changed a few bits and streamlined some of it, so we’ll see what this week throws at me.

Sometimes we need help, encouragement and motivation to achieve the things we are aiming for.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 if you need help with yours and to book your free 45 minute consultation.

 

 

 

 

Comfort Zone Leap Part I – The OMG State

How often do you step out of your comfort zone?  What motivates you to do it?

You may already have read Snowballing – a blog post a few weeks ago which favours taking a small action, a small step in the right direction to help you step outside your comfort zone.

Snowballing was written in response to me saying “Yes” which at the time was a very small step in the direction of a huge stretch of my own comfort zone.  I said “Yes” to doing stand up comedy for charity.

As I write this, its a whole month to the comedy event and I want to share with you my comedy journey and how I face my fears leading up to the event……..

 

It started a few weeks ago.  When The Gingerbread Charity asked for volunteers.  Saying “Yes” was the easy part.  I was motivated more about proving to myself that I could step outside of my comfort zone than anything else, so the fundraising part was just a bonus.

Yes, I get nervous about public speaking.  Its those butterflies that keep me on my toes, give me an edge when I’m presenting.  Comedy on the other hand is something else.  How can the person that can’t even remember a joke stand up on stage and perform stand up comedy to an audience of 300 folks.  Is it going to be a step too far for me?  Let’s face it BBC Radio Stoke christened me Staffordshire and Cheshire’s least funny person.

My emotions vary considerably.  I go from super-confident, its just another skill to learn, practice and put into action to the “OMG” state.  What if I forget my lines?  What if my timing is off?  What if no one laughs? or worse still, I’m boo’d off stage.

Like everything we deal with in life – its simply a matter of learning to tune out of the negative voices.  That’ll be Frankie. Frankie is the voice of my negative self belief.  Frankie is the enemy in my head, the one who is always telling me that I can’t do something, or I’ll be no good at it.  When I listen to him he’s right and I often fail in my achievements.  I need to listen to Carolyn – my true voice.  Carolyn is logical, intuitive and confident.  It is my true voice that knows I can do this.

 

Corporate comedy club

 

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
Henry Ford

 

The good news is that I’ve been to my first meeting about the comedy evening and met with 9 other equally nervous individuals.  When tackling goals having the right support is important.  We’ve started to talk about material and how to create it.  One of my fears was where would my material come from and already I think I have about 50% of it.

So right now my logical, intuitive and confident voice is on top and taking some very practical steps in writing some material.  Knowing that I have this will be one huge confident leap into my ‘stretch zone’.

Anyone wishing to support the cause can do so via my Just Giving Page every pound donated not only goes directly to the charity but also spurs me on and provides motivation – another critical aspect of working with goals.

My next step is to get my material into a usable format and start to think about my delivery. Focusing on these small steps keeps me moving in the right direction.

What’s your next step?  What takes you our of your comfort zone? What will you do to help you get there?

Improving your self belief is an empowering process.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 for a free 45 minute chat to see what you can do to tackle your comfort zone.

 

 

 

 

 

Style and Substance – Are Both Critical To Make An Impression?

Week after week Francis was critically  given feedback in the Great British Bake Off for putting style over substance.  And Paul Hollywood was right, substance is important in a bakery competition, first impressions do count but if the cake doesn’t back it up then its all going to fall a bit flat isn’t it?

Working life isn’t quite like that, nor is promoting a business.  In both case style is important.  You need to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.  Take a look at these cakes:

If you had to choose one, you’d choose the nicest looking because you have nothing else to factor in.  That may be the way your potential clients choose their next service provider.

However if someone recommended you to them they may be more inclined to try your services.  Just as you’d choose a different cake if someone told you the slightly collapsible one would taste better, you’d probably give it a go.

However if that slice of cake didn’t taste so great, you’d not go back for a second slice would you? And what if your cake wasn’t there at all?

So yes, its critical you make a first impression.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile has a decent picture, your website and business cards look professional and that you turn up for meetings/interviews looking great, clean, tidy and professional.

And do back that up with substance, make sure that you are prepared and know what you’re talking about.  Be credible, have integrity,  be congruent in all that you do.

You may be familiar with the following impact statistics.  They are used frequently in personal development workshops and books.  Does it surprise you that performance only accounts for 10% of your personal impact?  Yet at work we so often spend so much time being diligent and hoping we’ll get noticed.  Yes it matters, but what matters more is getting yourself out there and getting noticed.  Volunteer to attend and speak up in meetings, attend networking events, make an online presence, use social media positively.

Remember your pie and make sure your cake is out there and on show – metaphorically of course.

Reflections coaching are experts in helping you make an impact, speak confidently, congruently and with integrity.  If you need help with your credibility at work or in businesses, then call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to book your free consultation.

Do You Lie To Yourself? Be “True to Me” instead

“The biggest lie I tell is the one I tell myself everyday – I am inferior to others” – Carolyn Trafford

Hands up if this rings true with you.  I’ve stopped for a moment to question why I do it.  What point does it serve to continually compare ourselves with others and then only conclude where we are inferior.  We were not born with a self destruct button!!

It is this type of negative, destructive action that if used repeatedly damages self confidence, self esteem and can leave us struggling to be someone else.  A role that we can not naturally fit into.

For years as I was growing up I have labelled myself “not as good as…..”, “not as pretty as…..” but never “better than” because we are taught that it is not nice to be conceited.  Yet these thoughts, once they are ingrained stay with us until we take conscious action to change our thinking.

Stop and think for a moment, what phrases you’re currently using to describe yourself.  Are they having a positive effect on you?  What terms would you prefer to use?

It is possible to change this type of negative thinking – it just takes practice.

So simply take 5 minutes now to think about yourself in positive terms.  What do you like about yourself?  What is your best feature?  What are you really good at?

  • Take time to write these down in a special notepad – I call it a “True to Me” journal
  • Take 5 minutes at the end of everyday and aim to note down 3 great things you’ve done or achieved.
  • Next time you find yourself comparing yourself less favourable to someone else, get out your “true to me” journal and choose something more positive to call yourself.

Keeping and using a “True to Me” journal is just one of the techniques I use with clients requiring some help to increase their confidence and can be a real boost.  If you need more help then please get in touch with me on 07714 216388 to discuss how I can help you further.

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copyright Carolyn Trafford

Learn To Take Your Own Advice

How often do others suggest we take our own advice?  What prompts them to say it? We’re probably very good at dishing out our own advice but are we as prepared to take it?

I had one of those moments last week.  You may remember about 2 weeks ago I wrote a post about The Art Of Serendipity and how Serendipitous Happy Accidents more often occur as a result of our own engineering.  If you want more of those chance meetings, you need to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.

Its great advice.  Yet once again I found myself debating whether or not I should attend a new business group.  Not just any business group, a group of professional speakers.  I do talks, seminars and training sessions, but these people are the peers I want to have, they are the best speakers in the area.  If I want to raise my game this is where I need to be.

Yet I still debated my own advice.  The meeting wouldn’t be finishing until late and it was an hours drive.  I asked a business colleague who I knew was attending if he thought it was worth it.

He suggested that if I wanted to grow my business that I needed to make the opportunities and put myself out there (that’s not quoted verbatim but it was the essence).  It was almost like he was throwing my own words and thoughts back at me.  How daft did I feel?

So I went, I met some fantastic people, and delivered one of the best speeches I’ve ever delivered without pre-planning.  It was a great meeting and I met 10 great new contacts.

So my top tip for today is, learn to take your own advice.  Next time you’re debating a decision ask yourself:

“If it was my friend asking me, what would I tell them to do?”

and then act on it.  Its the best advice you’ll ever get.

Perhaps you’d like to share your thoughts about when you last took your own advice and it really paid off.  Please feel free to comment below:

 

P1060895copyright Carolyn Trafford

The Art Of Serendipity

Hubby and I had a conversation about serendipity this week.  He’s read an article somewhere about it and the irony that perhaps serendipity isn’t perhaps as serendipitous as you might expect.

The idea of a ‘Happy Accident’, all things falling into the right place to cause a positive event whilst being great suggests a certain amount of randomness.

However the other view is one that suggests there are things you can do to ensure that ‘Happy Accidents’ occur more frequently and I’m not talking about asking the universe for it.

Take for instance the example that you want to meet a specific person.  This may be conscious or unconscious.  To walk into a room and find that specific person there might indeed be termed “serendipitous”.  However it could also be because you have done something different.  Doing something differently is a conscious act.

Therefore if you continue to do something differently, that opens up lots of new opportunities, each one leading to a potential event that couldn’t have happened without that change in your actions.

So, want to make more contacts?  The answer is straightforward, try going to more events, meetings, parties etc.  The more events you say ‘yes’ to the more likely that serendipitous events will occur.

I’d love to hear your stories about serendipity, and whether you think that they are truly so or more as a result of your actions.  Lets debate it here:

Carolyn Trafford is a career coach that believes in opening up opportunities.  If you need help with your career then get in touch via her website at Reflections Coaching

 

P1060696copyright Carolyn Trafford

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