Psychological safety : the individual’s perspective

Last week I wrote about Psychological Safety from the perspective of a leader trying to create that environment for their team or business. But what about the individual? Do they have to just wait for someone else to come and create that for them? You can probably guess that’s a no — but read on to explore more…


Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

I can’t work with that person they’re so intimidating.

This team just seems incapable of a decision and drive me crazy going round in circles.

I’m too introverted to get my point across, the extroverts just take over.

Nobody ever listens to each other. It’s pointless.

All possible scenarios where we can drop into the role of victim, believing that we need a rescuer to come and change things for us. The leader in his coat of shining armour who will take responsibility for the dynamic and make it all better. read more

Getting out of your own way

“I just need to get out of my own way” such a common phrase when someone’s stuck in something they think they don’t like or want. And yet this act of getting out of our own way can seem so hard.

We can see where we want to get to and we know the blocks that are in our way : I procrastinate on the decision, I over-think the process, I’m afraid I might get it wrong, I worry what others will think, I can’t break these habits that keep me here.

Have you ever been in one of these situations and put a strategy in place to overcome whatever seems to be in your way? A new habit, a positive mantra, a vision board, joining a group with similar folk, creating goals and action plans? read more

What you most resist is what shows up

Sounds annoying doesn’t it! But really it’s the best design in the world.

Have you ever been that driver who drives right up close to someone on the road because they’re going sooooo slowly?

Done, obviously, in the hope of making them go faster.

Have you ever then seen that person in front slow. right. down?

Winding you up even more!

Until you stop and see that what you’re doing is actually making the situation appear in this way. The solid-ness of the story ‘I need to go faster’ and ‘annoying slow driver’ has loosened. Space and lightness. Ease and clarity have returned. You hang back and then they’re off. Possibly even driving faster than before! read more

Mine’s better than yours

How comparing from the perspective of the self brings nothing of benefit.

Money Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

This phrase, “mine’s better than yours”, usually brings to mind a child’s voice, in my head a boastful, whiny voice, combined with the thought of the house, the car, the job, the clothes. All the material stuff that’s chased, believing it brings the contentment we seek. read more

Racing with square wheels

I was with a Board team last week who were talking about change. How it takes courage and can be hard because we’re having to lose something of us to adopt something new or move to something different.

This is true but only when we attach to our personal thoughts

When we attach to our personal thoughts it’s like putting square wheels on a racing car. We clunk along. Sometimes stopping all together, unable to move forward. Certainly not able to quickly change direction when needed.  But we believe in these wheels, we created them. Even if “horrible” or “negative” there’s a familiarity about them that brings comfort. We know where we are. We’ve adapted ourselves to drive with these wheels, forgetting how things used to be before we had them.

Then we start to consider maybe this isn’t ideal. Maybe I would benefit from a smoother ride. Normally we start working hard to change the wheels. Intellectually analysing how they were fitted, what they are made of. But some of the bolts seem stuck. Or maybe there’s a square wheel we subconsciously like the look of so we find a justifiable reason not to change it.

Now we’re driving with 2 square and 2 round wheels. Better but not exactly a smooth ride. Then you meet someone who glides on round wheels. You’re fascinated & slightly freaked out by their difference. It reminds you of glimmers in your life when you’ve glided, when smooth wheels suddenly appeared and for that short while you enjoyed it! Thinking it must have been what you were doing at the time that created that feeling, you repeat the activity, repeating the external conditions to create the smooth-ride magic as often as you can.

Maybe you didn’t realise that you brushed off the truth of what was going on because it seemed so simple and we all know simple doesn’t win kudos prizes.

The truth is that round wheels are our natural state. Round wheels are what we are born with. We just acquired the square as we grew up & blindly followed the square-creating rules of the world. Once we really see the truth of how the square are created, moment-to-moment, and what they really mean, then our attachment to them drops away with a natural ease and we slip into the round. The natural place we fall back to. Our innate state of clarity, wisdom and wellbeing. From here we glide round the corners, speed along the straights and rediscover a life of richness and fulfilment. All the while connected to our innate brilliance.

If you’re curious to learn more, this is what we’re going to be exploring through LearnConnctDo this year. The thread that’s going to weave through all the sessions.

We’re starting on 14th March* with an introduction to the psychological understanding that underpins this smooth-wheel place. The Eventbrite will be up very soon on this page – if you don’t want to miss it jump on the mailing list by getting in touch with me here. As last year, all ticket profits will be going to Twenty:Twenty as we continue our partnership with this wonderful charity.  Thank you to PKF for continuing to host us so we can maximise how much we donate.

*3-6pm at PKF Cooper Parry’s East Mids offices (near East Mids Airport).

Life is LITERALLY what you make it

It really seems like that person is irritating / lazy / slow at their work / makes lots of mistakes.

Or that this other person is amazing / so capable / always on it / full of great ideas.

It really seems like this situation is upsetting, or that one is fun.

That this one will make me cry, or that one will make me laugh out loud.

It seems like these are definites.

But when you see that our minds are entirely like projectors, that definite-ness shifts.

Nothing, ever, in our whole lives, has “made” us think or feel any of those things.

All those people and experiences are 100% neutral until we experience them through our thinking.  We are a projector, not a camera, and always have been.

Life is LITERALLY what we make it because we can and have always experienced life through our thoughts.

The thing that makes these experiences seem so convincingly true and makes them seem like they’re coming from outside of us is that we mostly agree about what’s upsetting or fun and what counts as irritating or amazing.  We get taught these rules from the moment we enter the world so our thinking around people and situations is mostly very similar.

I witnessed it the other day in the supermarket. Someone talking to a baby.. “oh that’s better, there’s that smile” because clearly the baby not smiling wasn’t good or acceptable. Or at least that’s the message the baby – and we all – received. The thought that the baby attached its identity to.

But then you meet someone who doesn’t see things the same way as you.

A common reaction to these people is to find a way to not be with them.  The greater the differences the more we’ll psychologically or intellectually fight or run away from them.  Our ego likes to be right and certain and these people who remove such certainty and who challenge our right-ness are a danger – or at least our ego thinks so.

I ran some happiness workshops recently and while most people were in agreement about the stress and pressures of diaries and conflicting priorities, about the difficult people and demanding bosses, the high expectations and reducing budgets…there was one person who was different.

“You all seem to be thinking about this stuff far too much” he said.

“This is just work.  You come in, do your best with the time you’ve got, you close things off well for the day, you go home and you do other things”.

Most of the group held onto their own views and saw his as strange, or dismissed this difference with “well you must have an easy job” or “you mustn’t have the pressures that I have in my job” or, I’ve no doubt some were thinking, “your work isn’t as important as mine”.

As far as I know this guy hadn’t had any special lessons in how to get the most from life but he really seemed to have a good appreciation for the nature of Thought, and that when you really see that, your thoughts naturally drop away more easily and bother you less.  When you see that the feelings thoughts generate don’t need solutions life gets easier, more obvious and more fun.

Notice for yourself. Next time you find yourself confronted by a different view, see what it’s like to notice that thought and not follow it or hold onto it as if it were the truth.

Why people disengage

First day in the new job….
I’ve never been responsible for so much before. I wonder what the new boss will be like.
Better make a good impression or they’ll think they’ve made the wrong hiring decision. Better make a good impression or they’ll think I’m no good at my job.
Must look like I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about. I’m meant to be in charge of all this. Must look like I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about. I’m meant to be in charge of this department.
OK, let’s do this. OK, let’s do this.
[Step into the office, shoulders back, head up, eye contact, confidently greeting people] [Steps into the office, looking around]

Is he here yet?

[Conversations in flow – listening deeply] [Conversations in flow – speaking passionately]
Wow I’m learning loads. Wow I know more than I realised, and he seems to be really listening. This is going well!
I have so many questions. These questions are really getting me thinking. I love this!
These people really know their stuff. I feel like I know my stuff even better than I did before this conversation!
They seem so engaged with what they’re doing and keen to change things for the better. I love this job and this new boss seems great!
I’d better show that I know stuff too [adds knowledgeable stuff to conversation]. And he has insights to add. That’s so useful to have a new perspective.
A few months later…..
[Amount of knowledgeable stuff added to conversations grows….] [Amount of knowledgeable stuff added to conversations is dropping, confidence is dropping]
Hey, I’m doing great!   Look at all this stuff I know now. I’m not sure I’m as good at this as I thought I was.
I can add so much to conversations. I don’t feel I can share anything he doesn’t already know.
I have so many ideas.  I’m thriving on sharing them with everyone! I don’t know where to take this next.  I can’t get a word in edgeways anyway.
6 months later….
I get all this now. I’ll wait to be told.
I’ve got a clear plan of what we need to do and how we’re going to get there. It’s always his opinion first so no point thinking first.

 

Why is this person saying this again? We went over this already? If he’d only listen he’d hear what I’m really saying. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t care what I have to say.
I asked for that last week. What are they doing? What’s the point, it won’t be exactly what he wants anyway.
I have this amazing idea – I’ll go and tell the people who need to make it happen. It must be done yesterday! Instructions received.   Robotic task-completion mode engaged.
Nobody has anything to say around here. …..
I wish people would just get on and do instead of seeking permission from me! Given he knows it all I need to check this first or it’ll be wrong.
Why does nobody interact in our meetings or bring ideas?

It’s like they’ve all just disengaged.

…..

We’re taught our whole lives – from school and through work – to show our brilliance.  Have the ideas.  Show you know things.  Demonstrate capability.  Do stuff and do it well and quickly.

All through school, university and work we’re rewarded and praised for knowing and doing.

Then we reach leadership and we keep knowing and doing.  And people disengage, switch off their brains, and do the basics or go elsewhere.

We need to just be.  To listen.  To allow space for others to grow into.  And yes to add insight.  To provide a broader context or set a vision higher than anyone might believe can be reached.  But all the while involving and listening to others.

How are you doing at being?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expectations in a Box

Think of yourself at work and how it feels right now.

If you imagine you’re in a box at work, what would that box be like?

Are you in a roomy box with space to spread yourself out and change position?

Are you cramped in a box that you feel you could burst out of any minute?

Do you remember once feeling like you could burst out and now you feel like you’ve shrunk to fit inside?

What about your team?  What are their boxes like?

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

man-stuck-in-box-no-control

Our brains are constantly scanning for danger, these days danger isn’t usually an animal that wants to eat us, it’s a threat to our self esteem, or our ego.  We’re raised in a world where being ‘right’ and ‘good’ are the things we’re meant to strive for*.  That’s what gets us praise, good school grades, a good job, a pay rise……stuff that boosts our self esteem and positively strokes our ego.  Interactions that make us feel like this are helpful to calm our fearful brain down which improves our thinking, helps us feel more abundant and generous towards ourselves and others, helps us become more creative by connecting dots.  This then leads to a growth in confidence and the desire to try more things, to push the boundaries, to come up with new ideas.  To coin the lyricist R Kelly, we believe we can fly! read more

#FeedbackCarnival – The Curation!

Wow! What an amazing month April’s been for fabulous feelings and philosophies on feedback! 33 posts all together! Impressive stuff and a great wealth of insight has been created on a topic which is clearly an area of work that continues to need some attention so that we can improve.

Thank you to everyone who’s contributed. It’s only because of you that this curation is possible and able to benefit others with this same challenge.

It all started with a post I began to write  after a Pilates class…..

“Every week in my Pilates class there’s at least one of us that needs help to perfect a move.

> Sit right back, put all the weight into your heels so you can lift your toes. > Keep your hips facing forward and twist at the waist. > Lift your chest keeping your back in neutral.

And we adjust what we’re doing and then go “Oh! That’s how it’s meant to feel”.

And sometimes words aren’t enough and our instructor needs to come and show us one-to-one. Perhaps just visibly. Perhaps physically adjusting our bodies for us so we can really feel the difference.

We think we’re copying her when she stands at the front of the class. And yet sometimes we’re just not. Sometimes we’re really completely oblivious to how our own bodies are actually moving.

Timothy Gallwey talks about this in The Inner Game of Tennis. How he has to get players to stand somewhere that they can see their reflection so they can watch their swing. And then they see “Oh! I really am finishing too high”.

Because we really can be oblivious to what we’re actually doing compared to what we’re supposed to be doing – we all have Blind Spots.”

From those origins, the Feedback Carnival was born with this invitation for people to add their thoughts and observations; “Feedback would happen all the time if……”

carnival

So this post is my curation of all that insight to bring you some of the thinking that’s out there into one place.

A key point made by David Goddin in his post is that feedback benefits from being observations, not judgements, and so with this post my intention is to share the insights from all the contributions without judgement of whether they are right or wrong, good or bad. They are what they are and you will be able to read; debate with whoever will be helpful for you in that; and choose what is right for you – because some parts will be more helpful in some contexts than others. So while you read, I invite you to have your context and your purpose with feedback in your mind, and maybe start with a question.

What might help you?

What might help those around you?

What might help your organisation?

So, why should we care about feedback? What’s the purpose?

I think without exception, all the writers have believed that feedback is a helpful thing. Helpful for our personal development, and therefore helpful for those around us – and beyond – because it raises our awareness and so enables us to develop and improve what we do and how we do it, which improves ours and others performance, and therefore improves overall organisational results.

Peter Cook wrote a great example of how embracing feedback and doing something about it, coupled with persistence, got him the result he wanted for his career.

Heather Kinzie wrote about our fundamental human need of being wanted – or of receiving attention. This need for attention, which is very obvious in children, remains with us as we grow older, and feedback is one way in which we can meet this need in others. If someone’s given us feedback, they’ve seen us, they’ve noticed us, and they’ve cared enough to say something about it, and that has us feel OK – something Gemma Reucroft experienced when offering feedback to a colleague.

Kandy Woodfield acknowledges the purpose of feedback as providing a sense of belonging, a purpose, aspirational goals and trust in each other.

So the purpose of feedback isn’t just about that external results and performance stuff out there, it’s about the stuff that goes on inside each and every one of us every day. Perhaps if we took care of the internal stuff, the external would be more likely to take care of itself?

So what does that ‘helpful’ feedback place look like?

Many people acknowledge that feedback already happens all around us all the time, if we stop to notice it. However most of the content has focused on improving the ‘traditional’ work-based feedback situation. The place of ‘this is how you’re doing in your job’ or ‘this was the impact on me when you did that’.

As 70:20:10 learning strategies continue to be the focus for improved sustainability of learning, effective feedback will have to be central to that, given that it sits in the 70% of on-the-job learning, and in the 20% of coaching and mentoring, as well as in the 10% of classroom learning which  Rachel Burnham picked up on with some practical examples of making feedback part of a learning environment.

Jo Stephenson has a dream for how her future place of feedback will look “I’m dreaming of time when it’s common practice that feedback talk happens as standard, within the 1:1s I’m part of. It’s expected, it’s what we do here. We value it.”

Meg Peppin, Julie Drybrough and Gemma Reucroft all wrote about a place where feedback isn’t a separate ‘thing’ you ‘do’ it’s just part of the conversation between two or more people.

David Goddin read more

#EQSummit – Thoughts about Happiness and Ego

Last week was the #EQ summit which I would have just loved to be at! Thankfully Alison Smith, Sukh Pabial and Phil Willcox were there and have shared some great content.

One post by Phil got me thinking. Especially the bit to do with happiness, so these are my thoughts as I’ve got them out and onto ‘paper’…..

There are two types recognised in Positive Psychology – Hedonic happiness and Eudaimonic happiness, which Alan Wallace called ‘Genuine happiness’.

Phil noticed that neither type of happiness was labelled as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, although the name ‘Genuine’ does suggest that Hedonic is therefore false or not real.

And in many ways that is true. Hedonic happiness is the type of short-lived, happiness buzz we get from an experience – buying a new pair of shoes, driving around in a fast car, going to a fancy restaurant, going on a rollercoaster, getting to 1000 Twitter followers…. As well as the buzz Phil mentioned we get when, for example, we see someone happy from the appreciation we’ve just shown them.

For the moment, I just want to explore the first group of stuff…..

This is the materialistic, man-made-reliant, experience stuff – it’s the stuff that as a society we are addicted to and which many people believe will bring them happiness.   Trouble is these things really are addictive because the happiness they bring is short-lived, therefore we need to keep doing them to keep getting a fix.

They’re also addictive because they’re ego-serving – i.e. they boost our ego and make us feel good about ourselves in comparison to others. Trouble is, that then backfires on us because when it’s our friends telling us about something they’ve bought / done / eaten / etc., we feel inferior and inadequate – our ego takes a knock and we tell ourselves we’re not good enough. We become unhappy. And we believe the only way to find our way back to happiness is to buy / do / eat the same as them – or ideally even better stuff!

Genuine or Eudaimonic happiness is the opposite of this. This is the happiness that comes from inside us. It comes from knowing what’s important to you that you want to make central to your life – be that your career*, your family, voluntary work…. – something which is your Purpose. It comes from appreciating what you have rather than what you don’t have. It comes from being generous towards others with no expectation of anything in return (see post here about Adam Grant’s ‘Givers’). It comes from living in the present and enjoying the simple pleasures and moments in life. It comes from positive relationships with others (hmm, something developing EQ can bring….)  And all of which is the stuff that Mindfulness and Positive Psychology support.

So where does the ego sit in Genuine happiness? I guess it’s pretty quiet. Not gone completely, but definitely quieter. In this place you feel congruent in everything you do. You feel confident that you’re good enough just as you are. You help and enable others to succeed, which may well be to help you achieve your Purpose but you’re doing it because the Purpose is what matters (not because you achieving it and gaining kudos matters). You’re open to others’ ideas and views because your ego doesn’t need boosting by showing you know all the answers or that you’re ‘right’. And this openness you demonstrate attracts others to you and brings you even more success in making your Purpose a reality.

But then, when you achieve your success, does that give you a Hedonic happiness rush?

Well, I suppose it does. Just as the example of you seeing someone else happy from the appreciation you’ve shown them might give you a Hedonic happiness boost. And I think this is Hedonic in its more helpful form.  Because it’s never going to be beneficial to beat ourselves up for enjoying some Hedonic moments.

But, that ego. It’s still there, ready to pop up and take over gain.

You know that thing when famous people say “I’ve got my family and friends to thank for keeping me grounded” – that’s this stuff. It’s so easy for our ego to get carried away by people telling us good stuff about what we’ve done or how we are. When that happens our ego creeps in and we start doing things to get that Hedonic buzz of positive appreciation, instead of doing things for the purpose of our Purpose. We can start to think we’re so good that we become sloppy or lazy in our approach – and we stop doing or behaving in the way that got us the positive appreciation in the first place.

So, the pop star changes and starts to make music to get more accolades / girls / money – when they started out doing it for the love of the music, for the opportunity to express themselves so that others may enjoy and benefit from it.

Or the person identified as ‘future leadership potential’ starts to become arrogant and self-centred – when they started out with care for enabling and developing others, with a focus on team (not individual) results, with a Purpose beyond pay rise and promotion – all the things which got them spotted in the first place.

As with all these things, there’s no right or wrong; this or that. There’s a continuum and a balance.

I don’t think we could ever live in a completely ego-less, non-Hedonic, Genuine happiness state all the time, forever. We have a basic human need for Attention and to feel Valued so those, right there, are always going to be sought out and will feed our ego. I believe that’s why people talk about ‘practicing’ things like mindfulness because we aren’t perfect, we’re always improving, always on a journey, always trying to gain the balance of this and that. And I believe we’re better to start that journey than to sit at the station waiting for a fast train to take us there.

So where are you on your journey?

Where do you seek an unhelpful Hedonic buzz?

What’s important to you beyond that?

Where do you gain your Genuine happiness balance from?

And when you’re flying high, who is around you to celebrate with you, and keep you grounded?

[*When “career” features in your purpose there’s a difference between the purpose of – “I want to be a CEO of a FTSE100 because I’ll be rich and will be able to tell people I’m a CEO of a FTSE100” (hedonic happiness and ego-boost involved) vs “I want to be a CEO of a FTSE100 because I want to create a workplace where 1000’s of people enjoy working and which provides meaningful work and trade in the communities where we’re based.”]

This is me….. www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

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