Posts Tagged ‘personal development’

What’s your Personal Best?

September 17, 2012

Just over a week ago the closing ceremony for the Paralympics drew to a close what’s been an amazing run of success stories for athletes this summer from across the globe – both from the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Many world records were broken and many personal bests were achieved.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to achieve a Personal Best!

It could be argued that many of the 70,000 volunteers and Games Makers, who helped make both Olympics such a success, achieved ‘personal bests’ in the services they provided, such as the example of greater confidence in the previous link.

Personal bests can be achieved in a whole range of areas …

What’s the best conversation you’ve had with a colleague or friend?

What’s the best lesson you’ve taught or best bit of 1-1 tuition you’ve done?

What’s the best conference you’ve organised or meeting you’ve ever run?

What’s the best bit of mentoring or coaching you’ve done?

I’m sure you can think of other areas where you can recall your personal best.

So, why were they your best moments? How do you know – what’s your evidence?

One Head teacher I’ve worked with identified the following elements of a successful meeting with her SLT:

  • knowing what was to be achieved from the meeting
  • clarity and understanding of issues from all
  • enabling and facilitating everyone to have a voice
  • encouraging creativity
  • ensuring conclusions and next steps are identified by all (taking ownership)
  • identifying clear strategies for communication of outcomes to all staff

What would your’s be? 

Once you’ve considered personal bests in a range of areas, are there common strengths underlying each one? How can you replicate these common skills in other areas to achieve more personal bests?

The nature of personal bests mean that there’s always the potential to beat them, either by changing some equipment you are using or by changing / tweaking your actions.

What personal best will you achieve this week?

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 2)

August 24, 2011

In Part 1 we set the scene for making lists of your skills, strengths and personal qualities. I also introduced an exercise to provide you with external feedback.

So what did you find?

  • Were there common strengths that crossed over different areas of your life?
  • Were there strengths, skills or qualities that others recognised in you, which you had on your list too?
  • Were there any surprises?
  • Has this boosted your confidence in any areas?

Interpreting the results from the ‘Ask 6 People …’ exercise

So, hopefully you gained a range of responses from this. Here’s what to do with them …

1. Look for common trends / themes – perhaps more than one person said the same thing, or there were different comments but around a common theme. How can you use this to enhance or support your own list of skills / strengths?

For example, sometimes this exercise can highlight a skill others notice in you, which you don’t see as a strength … “It’s just the norm; it’s what I usually do” … are examples of how people have responded to this outcome. Changing your perception of this area as a strength can be a good confidence booster. It can also provide you with a further area to make the most of!

2. Be aware that the odd negative comment by a family member might be more about their agenda than yours. For example, a parent / sibling may say you don’t visit often enough.

3. Look at areas where you can stretch yourself. Perhaps, for example, there’s a comment that you are good at leading meetings at work, and could be even better if you just had a bit more confidence.

4. Where people have suggested what you could do less of (question 4), is this something you can delegate?

As Ellen Degeneres once said, “sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” This exercise is good for highlighting this, but needs to be acknowledged alongside your own observations. So let’s turn to these.

Interpreting your list of strengths, from different areas of your life

For each item on your list, ask yourself how often you get the opportunity to show / use this. Are you satisfied with this, or could you find more opportunities?

Example 1: If your time management at work is good, could you transfer this skill-set to your home-life (or vice versa) ?

Example 2: If you’re good at writing or being creative, how often do you have time to do this? Is it enough? How else could you maximise it? Could you offer to do some writing for someone else in return for them providing something you need (skills-swap) ?

There may be some strengths, skills or qualities you have which you don’t want to do more of, as these would be more about meeting others’ needs and ignoring your own. Be mindful of these.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “anything you’re good at contributes to happiness“. So what other benefits do we find when we make the most of what we’re good at? When I apply this exercise to myself the outcomes for me are:

  • I feel more confident
  • I have a more positive outlook
  • I am more motivated / more productive
  • I have more energy

For me, maximising my potential is also about developing myself, as well as others. It’s about a level of self-awareness about my personal strengths and knowing what my emerging strengths are that I could further develop. I then use this knowledge to set appropriate goals.

What are the benefits you’ve found from this exercise, or maximising your potential in other ways?

Would love to hear your thoughts / experiences. Feel free to comment below.

(Photo credit: Kongsky)

De-cluttering Part 2: Mental clutter and tipping points

April 24, 2011

In De-cluttering Part 1 I explored the idea that physical clutter is different for each individual. We all have tipping points beyond which our ‘stuff’ becomes clutter and we feel the need to do something about it.

In Part 2 I turn my attention to the other dictionary definition: clutter = a state or condition of confusion. In other words, our mental clutter. Extending the idea of tipping points from Part 1:

What might the tipping points be that take us from clarity to confusion?

Here are some scenarios to explore this further …

1. Having too many choices


Sometimes with blog posts I start with a few ideas on a topic and I have a clear thought-train. Then, as I begin to write, I add other ideas and things can escalate until the clarity turns into fog! So at some stage, the tipping point came with one idea too many, or allowing myself to stray from my original path. The solution then was for me to strip away some of the less relevant ideas, or choose one aspect to write about, and save the rest for another post!

2. Not saying “no”


I’ve worked with several clients who talk about too much to do and no time for themselves. As we explore why this is happening, it becomes apparent they find it hard to say ‘no’ to requests/demands from others.

Thinking about everything you’ve agreed to, and trying to juggle the additional stuff with your regular things, is bound to lead to mental clutter. So recognising the tipping point between what we can manage realistically and what just becomes unwieldy is important. Learning to say “no” is useful to avoid additional clutter or confusion. Check out some tips to help with this here.

3. Negative thinking

Do you find yourself thinking, “I can’t do ____”, “I’m no good at ____” or “I’ll never be able to ____”?

These limiting beliefs about yourself can overpower your more positive, constructive thoughts. They clog up your moments of clearer thinking.

I would suggest that the tipping point here is when you find yourself opting for the negative belief rather than an alternative. Finding alternative beliefs is key here. Ask yourself what would be a more useful belief to have. For example: “I’m no good at expressing my opinion in meetings” can become “I can express my opinion with confidence and clarity”. Even if you don’t feel you do this at the moment, following the belief up with a good plan to achieve it will get you there!

What form does your mental clutter take, and how can you avoid it?


(Photo credits: Too many choices ; Say no! )

De-cluttering Part 1: The physical stuff and tipping points

April 6, 2011

I’ve spent quite a lot of my spare time recently clearing out old books, clothes, games, ornaments, etc., and generally spring cleaning. During this process I’ve been considering why, every so often, we feel the need to de-clutter. Not everyone is the same, and what constitutes ‘clutter’ for one person might not be for others.

So how do we define clutter for ourselves, and what makes us feel the need to de-clutter?

A dictionary definition states clutter is a “disorderly heap” and “a state or condition of confusion”. The first deals with the physical aspect (a clutter of ‘things’), the second suggests clutter within the mind.

In terms of physical clutter, I know people who function effectively with plenty of ‘stuff’ around them … various heaps of paper, files, etc.  A previous mentor of mine operated in what others called a cluttered environment. He would argue that he could find logic and order in the clutter; he needed the clutter to find patterns and answers to work-related tasks / challenges. He was the most creative mentor and line manager I’ve ever had!

You may be nodding and agreeing, “this is me, too”; or you may be thinking “I couldn’t work like that”. Either way, I suggest you know your boundaries and there’s an inherent tipping point beyond which you can no longer function effectively – at home or at work.

What’s your de-cluttering tipping point?

The tipping point may well be different for home than it is at work. (I’d be interested to hear from those who also work from home!) It is when we reach, or even pass, this point that the urge to de-clutter kicks in. It’s about knowing when your ‘stuff’ is becoming a distraction (i.e. clutter), resulting in making you unproductive.

Some possible tipping points:

– not being able to find what you are looking for within a few seconds

– not having enough room for the things you have

– thinking “this is a total mess!”

– other people telling you your space / area / room is a mess (here you are responding to other people’s tipping points!)

What are your tipping points for the physical stuff?

Do you consider yourself a creative person? If so, can you function effectively with lots of things around you?

Once you’ve recognised your tipping point, will you go beyond it and procrastinate about doing something?

Would love to hear your comments.

Part 2 will focus on the mental clutter, alluded to earlier.

I’m a qualified coach – why would I need my own coach?

March 14, 2011

I am an experienced and qualified coach, and yet I have my own coach. Why?

There are 3 main reasons:

  1. It keeps me on track with good coaching practice
  2. Having my own coach accelerates my progress
  3. It provides useful objectivity that I can’t totally provide for myself when working on challenges and growth areas

I’ll come back to point 1 shortly. Points 2 and 3 are valid reasons why anyone should have a coach. You can often ‘get there’ on your own, but it could take a long time and you could give up out of frustration or lack of belief it will happen.

You might argue that coaches have the skills and tools necessary to coach themselves. It’s true they have a certain advantage over those without coaching training, but I return to point 3 above, and state that you can be too close to the situation to really see it clearly. I find that coaching provides me with that objective clarity I seek to ensure a more successful outcome.

Over the course of my time working as a professional and personal coach I have employed 3 types of coaches:

  • A life coach – to help me with my ongoing personal development
  • A social media coach – to get me started on different social media platforms (she is also a qualified life coach)
  • A business coach – to give me clarity and focus in my business, through its changes and challenges

The first two have also doubled up as supervision coaches to ensure I maintain good coaching practices (point 1 above); and all have contributed to my own personal and professional development in some way. One of the most important aspects of quality control for my business is to continually develop my coaching skills, and regular supervision sessions are key to this.

There are a variety of coaches today, many of whom will specialise in a particular business/organisational sector or a particular development area, such as confidence building, stress management, or leadership development. When looking for a coach, it’s important that you choose the one that best serves your needs and who you can develop good rapport with quickly.

If you are a coach:

  • how often do you use the services of another coach?
  • what type of coach do you use?
  • what benefits do you find?
  • do you prefer 1-1 supervision or group supervision sessions?

International Coaching Week

February 6, 2011

International Coaching Week started today in the UK. It is promoted by the International Coach Federation and members like myself can choose to celebrate this in a variety of ways: delivering talks/seminars, offering taster sessions, doing demonstration coaching sessions, writing coaching articles for local press, etc. The ICF website shows a great range of ideas and starting points for coaches.

This year I’ve chosen to offer complimentary 45-minute phone-coaching taster sessions. My previous blog today (Help! I’m being coached!) suggested some ideas for how you could prepared for your first coaching session. The rest of this week’s blogs will be focusing on other coaching topics. Some will be more useful to coaches, others to anyone with an interest in personal development.

If you have a particular area of personal development that you like to read about in blogs, let me know in the comments box below, and I’ll see what I can do!

A few topical questions that I’d also like to ask here:

  1. What would you like to know about coaching?
  2. How would you like to see the coaching profession promoted?
  3. What kind of events have you attended in the past that have celebrated or promoted coaching?
  4. If you’ve had coaching before, what have been the main benefits?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!