Take the Time to Connect

On a sunny winter Friday morning, I was taking our young dog for a walk. I was due to meet my partner on Oriental Parade, and since I’d arrived early, I thought I’d take a few moments to check my emails as I waited by the beach.

My dog, Astro, had been spotted by another dog and their owner as they came off the beach. The owner said how disappointing it was that there were no dogs on the beach; her dog wanted to play. I replied that I would let Astro off on the beach so the two dogs could interact; meanwhile, I sent off an email.

By the time I was actually ‘present’ on the beach they were heading off. I had missed an opportunity to connect.

The irony of the situation was that, on the walk down the hill, I had been thinking about a newsletter I was writing and tossing around ideas around wellbeing, connection, happiness, and mindfulness in my head. I was in my head and missed the moment.

An important contributor to happiness and wellbeing is our social relationships. Strengthening our relationships with others improves our experience. It could be making eye contact and smiling at a stranger, really listening to a colleague to connect and understand, a hug with a friend, or an act of kindness for someone else.

We are social creatures and need to connect. Because we are all connected, how I am will impact others. It’s a ripple effect.

That morning was just one missed opportunity to connect. We have so many of these opportunities each day – it’s worth taking the time to use them.


Problem...not the person

big red button.jpg

"That person is a...." or  "That (insert expletive) person is incredibly difficult" are statements which are commonly made and at the same time incredibly unhelpful.

While it is recognised as a way of expressing an opinion or feelings about a person, focusing on the person can create a significant barrier to changing or influencing an outcome beyond confirming a view that "this person is and always will be "difficult".

Basically, they have pressed your button. They have said or done something which is contrary to your needs, wants and/or values. If your  perspective is that the 'person' is difficult', then it is much harder to resolve, or have a meaningful conversation about the issues,  because it is now tied with the person's character, instead of some behaviour.  You may even find yourself in the heat of the conversation questioning their parentage!

If you chose instead to focus on the "It" - that is, what specifically it is that the person has said or done,  then the options to resolve the situation  greatly increase.  Sometimes a useful strategy can be to note in some way what the behaviour was that triggered the "that person is xxxxx difficult"

Increasing our own awareness of the reason why 'it' (x's behaviour) pressed our button, will minimise the chances of the situation escalating and of us over-reacting.

A focus on the  person and not their behaviour creates for us a fight, flight, freeze response because the brain perceives an attack from a person, whereas if it's a problem, we know how to sort those...we are naturally good at that!

Getting rid of the "That person is difficult..."type language is not easy. I would be interested to hear from others what strategies they use to help them change the focus to be about the problem and not the person.


Lydia Ko - reflecting her values

Lydia Ko, World Champion golfer, was interviewed  after day three of four in  her bid for a Rio Olympic Games golf medal. Going into the third day she was well off the pace and not really looking like a medal contender. After a great round of golf on day three, this is what she commented to reporters.

"I've just got to stick to my own gameplan. I think that's really important. Sometimes you can get carried away about what somebody else is doing. I'm just going to focus solely on me. Try and play some good golf, just stay patient but at the same time have fun. I'm having this opportunity at the Olympics to maybe stand on the podium and that itself I'm really grateful for that. Either way I'm just going to enjoy it. The other girls are playing some great golf and hopefully I'll be able to do the same."

In her response she reflected some incredible wisdom, depth of character and values.  Respect for others, humility, passion, drive and gratitude  are implicit.

Great example of living her values day-to-day.

Paralysis by Analysis - overthinking

I used to joke about people's ability to not make decisions, calling it 'paralysis by analysis'. Having too many options and not wanting to commit to one thing. Brendon Burchard gives some really clear steps to assist people who are stuck on making decisions. 

Brendon Burchard gave some good insights into what he terms ‘analysis paralysis’.

Look Beyond Yourself and Serve.
 Stop worrying if you’re good enough,  ready enough, or getting everything perfect in order to start. Look beyond yourself and realize your taking action can help others – your family, your team, your business and community. Serve! The way to get out of your head is to get in motion serving other people.
Clarify your vision and work backward.
What does your ultimate outcome look like? What would you define as success? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Once you have that vision clear in your head, work backwards from that to define the process to accomplish it. You don’t have to know every step, just a step.
Accomplish 3 things every day.
Just take three steps every day. If you don’t know where to start, try modelling others. What path did they follow? What are their habits? What do they seem to do every day or weekly?
Daily Practice.
If something is important to you, it needs to become a constant in your life. You need discipline and the willingness to show up every day and work towards it. Put it in your calendar and do something every day. The momentum of that will teach you to stop stalling.


Oh, the places you'll go - whose voice do we listen to?

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re are on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Dr Seuss

When my son was at the end of his primary school education they gifted him a copy of the Dr Seuss book, OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO. The book reflected the ethos of the school - empowering students to set goals, and achieve the best they could be.  It has become a treasured book in our house, and an anchor for setting sights high.

It was interesting when I did a quick google search on this book  it brought up a large number of comments from people stating it has been overused and cliched. Two things struck me about this. How many people felt the need to negatively comment, and how difficult it can be to block out the negative opinions. 

The abundance of literature around being focused, setting goals, determination, and achieving to the best of your abilities is prolific.  Yet, somehow we live in a world with a negative bias. Where ‘but’ and ‘can’t’ are given more weight than ‘do’ and ‘can’. 

 A useful question which I often think to myself when I hear someone making a negative or limiting comment to me is  “What are you gaining by allowing these comments too take up space in your head?” I have yet to find a satisfactory response to this question!

Over thirty-five years ago my economics teacher commented to the class that the prospects of having a secure job for life were rapidly decreasing and that we were likely to have at least two or three career changes in our working lives. He said the notion of being ‘loyal’ to one company for life was outdated and we needed to be prepared for new and different opportunities. They were words which had an impact on me and assisted me to be comfortable with change and to take opportunities.

While Dr Seuss suggests you can do this on your own, my experience has been that getting someone independent to help map out the direction you want to steer is incredibly valuable. I have on a couple of occasions used a career coach. Both times they helped set the direction I wanted to go, without the person imposing their values and opinions.  This coaching allowed me to work through any perceived barriers, and set realistic goals to allow me to follow my passion. It was well worth the investment.

On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are …
and will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)