How I face Life’s Challenges

My long weekend at the Calvert Trust has really given me a lot to think about.  On a daily basis I face challenges and sometimes when faced with challenges its easy to give up.  But last week at the Calvert Trust I got to try life in a wheelchair and it made me realise that when faced with certain things you simply have no choice but carry on.  If we applied that philosophy to everything we face in life, imagine what we COULD achieve…..

Brett Trafford Photography-8photo copyright www.bretttrafford.com

So what do you do when face with a challenge?

  • Do you give up and go home?
  • Do you tackle it for a little while until it gets really difficult and give up? Or
  • Do you never give in?

I know I could answer yes to all of these at some stages of my life.  So why give up sometimes and not others?  The answer is about how badly you want to succeed and if you want to succeed in everything you do, then you have to make yourself want that success.

I find it helps if I grab my notepad and write a list of everything that achieving  success will bring me.  Depending on what the criteria is, it could be anything from satisfaction of ticking off my to do list right through to earning enough money to take a dream holiday.

Add another column of all the things failure will bring one, and sure enough my first list looks a whole lot better.

I know one thing though, learning to use a wheel chair has really helped me get a better perspective and next time I feel like giving up on something, I’ll think again and question, has life really become that hard?

 

What would make the difference to you facing your challenges?

 

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.

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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 IV – Am I Consciously Competence?

Am I consciously Competent?  Simple answer? No not yet!    And for those of you who don’t know yet what I’m talking about – let me explain….

In learning we go through 4 stages of competence when learning.

(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

Stage 1 – Unconsciously Incompetent

How can you know what You Don’t Know?

This assumes complete ignorance.  Because you don’t know what there is to know you have no sense of how little you do know or what skills you are lacking.  Therefore it feels OK. 

I was at this stage when I first volunteered for stand up.  I hadn’t considered the range of skills I would need to know and therefore concluded I was OK.

Stage 2 – Consciously Incompetent

You Know that You Don’t Know!

This is the stage at which your lack of knowledge and skills can hit you.  You may find that there are others that know more or are more skilled than you. You become aware of your lack of skills and your confidence may dip as a result.  It can be uncomfortable learning when others appear to be ahead of you.

I quickly hit this stage during weeks 1 and 2.  Other people seemed to be naturally funny and I knew I had to work at this.  The realisation that  I would need microphone skills too came as a shock.

Stage 3 – Consciously Competent

Knowing You Know

This is where you start to learn the new skills, but it can be tricky and takes practice.  You have to think about each stage of a process where in others it seems natural.  Confidence starts to build.

This is where I’m out now.  I have my comedy routine, my practice audience have laughed at it.  I know its funny.  Yet I still have to work on remembering it, framing it correctly, using the right tone and language makes such a difference and if I stop thinking  about it I get it wrong.

Stage 4 – Unconsciously Competent

You Don’t Know that You Know

This is the stage we’re aiming for, the stage where it all becomes 2nd nature, natural.  Confidence is high and we don’t need to think about what we’re doing.  The new skill has become a habit.  We are polished in what we do.

I’m not here yet, I still have 10 days.  I’m practicing regularly perfecting my piece, so that the words flow and are natural.

So the next time you feel a dip in your confidence, do think….  Is it just because you’ve suddenly realised that you don’t know what you need to know – up until that point you were blissfully unaware you were lacking knowledge so felt OK about it.

Remember – you haven’t become stupid overnight – you just didn’t know you needed to know.  Put some simple steps in place and you’ll soon be confident again.

Many of my clients come to me because their confidence has dipped, coaching provides a supportive environment in which to analyse and change.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to see how Reflections Coaching can help you be super-confident.

Gingerbread Man - Babka

(Photo credit: avlxyz)

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Woosh!! & You Missed It – Was That Your Goal?

Somebody reminded me this week that we’re half way through the year.  When on earth did that happen?

I’ve achieved lots already this year, I’ve joined a really great new networking group, I’m almost at the point of relaunching my website, supporting the Princes Trust and picked up an international client.  Some of these were goals at the start of the year – others have been happy surprises.

Either way the start of July is an excellent opportunity to review where you are with your goals and here is my 5 step plan:

  • Review Your Goals – Dig that action plan out from underneath the pile of filing, dust it off and take a good look at it – it could surprise you.
  • Celebrate What You Have Achieved – don’t be hard on your self for what you haven’t.  Write down your successes, record them in a journal, open some bubbly, share them on facebook (or in the comments below)  – it really doesn’t matter as long as you celebrate it.
  • Review What Is Outstanding – are they still relevant to you? Change some, dump some, create some and then create a new action plan for the second half of the year, but make sure its focused on what you really want to achieve.
  • View Them Regularly – its no good creating an action plan and shoving it to one side.  And if like me you find SMART goals a little tiresome, create your goals in a way that will inspire YOU. Draw them, cut pictures out of magazines, create a vision board.  I have my vision board in Pinterest feel free to take a look.  Some of the picture won’t mean anything to you but they mean a lot to me.  Having your goals in a visual format can really help them become meaningful.
  • Share Them – one of the biggest motivators in achieving goal success is to tell someone else you’re going to do it.  So share your goals with someone.  You could even share them here. I’d love to hear all about them.

© Brett Trafford(c) Brett Trafford Photography

What Do Ducks Know About Being Promoted?

I had an early start this morning to attend my regular business breakfast meeting.  I was slightly startled by two mallards who decided to land on the other carriageway of the A53.

I had been quietly rehearsing what I might say during the 60 seconds round of my meeting and it occurred to me that Mr and Mrs Duckie might have been rather startled to land on the hard asphalt with a car hurtling towards them than the nice soft luscious green grass or still calm blue pond that they are more used to.

I rather imagine this feeling to be like the one I experienced during one of my promotions when I worked in the corporate world.  One day you know exactly what you’re doing, and the next, wham! a whole new set of responsibilities and other people’s high expectations of you.  Let face it – they appointed you so you were the best person for the job. Yet you still have doubt.

Bird - Duck - Mallard

Bird – Duck – Mallard (Photo credit: blmiers2)

All too frequently employer support can end there, and sometimes confidence issues can creep in however with a bit of support we can pick ourselves up  and settle into the new role.

Here is my top tip to help if you find yourself like Mr & Mrs Duckie:

Remember to seek out someone who can help.  Even at its worst you may feel like you really can’t fulfill the needs of the role, its usually just your inner voice talking to you.  Enlist the help of someone and use them as a mentor and confidant.  It could be anyone, a more experienced colleague, your line manager, someone you know elsewhere in the organisation who has been through a similar promotion, someone from outside the organisation, or employ a coach. 

Struggling with the changes that a new role requires is not a weakness – it is simply a natural reaction and one that most employers would expect.

Mindfulness – In The Moment

 

Mindfulness – what does it me to me?

When I first heard the term mindfulness I must confess I switched off a little.  I felt it was more about meditation and that’s not really my thing.  But the term mindfulness continues to crop up time and time again so I decided to understand what it meant to me.

I found this definition online:

Mindfulness is purposefully paying attention to things in the present moment without judgement. It is about taking a step back, being aware of what is happening on a moment-by-moment basis, and accepting things as they are.”

A friend described it as:

being aware of the present“.

The easiest way I can find to describe it is when I’m taking Ziggy the dog for a walk in the morning.  Its very easy to treat it as just another chore, and taking Ziggy along the same old routes every day can at times get a little boring – or does it?

Now when I walk Ziggy, I try and tune into my surroundings, the sounds of the birds overhead, the feel of cold morning air on my cheeks, the sight of the crocus buds poking through the grass.

As I sit here thinking about what I’m writing I’m hugging my warm coffee cup.  Its very easy to practice mindfulness by tuning in and out of how the cup feels as it warms my hands.

Mindfulness is about enriching

the experience of the little things in life.

However lets not forget the practical elements that we can bring to our daily lives.  When life gets hectic mindfulness can be helpful in our daily activities.  Practice doing one thing at a time, focusing attention on those simple mundane tasks such as brushing your teeth and then use the same skills to focus on what someone is saying in a meeting at work, or when the kids are yelling.

Multi-tasking is still inevitable in today’s busy world, however it should become a a conscious choice to do this, keeping an awareness that perhaps you’re won’t be as “there” as you could be.

So practice mindfulness every day. Over time, it will be second nature – and if you’re still not sure? – here’s 5 reasons you should:

  • Understand yourself better
  • Be more compassionate (with yourself and others)
  • Cope better with stressful or challenging situations
  • Have a more relaxed attitude
  • Improve your concentration and creativity

P1050070

Looking at the world from a dog’s perspective. 

Ziggy always takes in the sights, sounds and smells of his environment. 

 

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