Are you resilient? Have you got what it takes to ride the most challenging waves of life? As a psychologist with a PhD and 20 years experience I thought I did. But I was wrong. Through adversity, I found out the hard way that there is a big difference between ‘knowing’ about resiliency and stress management and being able to ‘expertly apply’ these skills when you need them most.
“What gets measured gets managed” Peter Drucker
By far the most exhausting and expensive mistake I have made in my career has been trying to make people happy at work in order to improve business performance. I have confused the concepts of a happy vs healthy workforce and in doing so lost many opportunities for business growth and innovation. [Read more…]
“When performance drives relationships business success is inevitable. However, when relationships drive performance, the urge to maintain the status quo will lead to failure”
“More teams (and businesses) are ultimately destroyed by unhealthy people-pleasing than by overt hostility and aggression”
A boardroom drama I will never forget: “What do you mean ‘we may be insolvent’? How much cash do we need? Why did we all agree to pay a dividend at the last board meeting if cashflow is so poor?” This team of directors was in trouble! Yet they were all highly competent, capable and overtly supportive of each other.
How did they get into such a mess? The answer lies in an insidious strain of conflict avoidance known as ‘people-pleasing’. This form of conflict avoidance has contributed to a range of major disasters including financial catastrophes, major industrial accidents, plane crashes, shipping disasters and company destroying product failures. [Read more…]
“Businesses don’t fail for want of intelligent staff, they fail for want of intelligent and courageous feedback” Unknown
“Feedback is the bridge between strategy and successful execution” Dr Pete
High performance teams thrive on feedback. But sadly, many of us avoid feedback and settle for mediocrity, whilst gossiping to our teammates about what is wrong and backstabbing our managers.
Having difficult conversations and giving staff feedback is tough! [Read more…]
Let’s explore further why affirmations fail. Have you heard of the (dysfunctional) exercise of looking into the mirror each day to tell yourself you are beautiful to boost your self-esteem? Why is it that sometimes we do not feel beautiful despite the fact we look into the mirror and tell ourselves we are beautiful every day?
In the last blog we discovered that the reason affirmations often fail us is that they don’t engage our thinking patterns at the deeper levels where our unhealthy mindsets are hidden. Whilst our surface thinking may be changed through our affirmations and mantras, the deeper unhealthy mindsets remain unaffected and so our negative views remain intact despite the positive things we say to ourselves in the mirror. We refer to these important layers of thinking as the ‘Story’, which represents our surface thinking and the “Back-Story” which represented our deeper level mindsets.
In order to become more resilient and happy in life we need to be able to (1) quickly and easily uncover the Mindsets that have created a negative back-story to our lives, and (2) genuinely challenge and change these negative Mindsets to re-write this into a more positive and helpful back-story for the future of our lives. [Read more…]
“The Devil is in the details, but so is Salvation.” Hyman G. Rickover
“To change your mindset it’s not ‘what’ you are thinking that is important it’s ‘why’” Dr Pete
Affirmations: A Poison Chalice!
“It’s not working!” cried my anorexia patient Chrissy. “Every day for the last few weeks I have been doing exactly what you told me to do – looking into the mirror each morning and telling myself ‘I am not fat and ugly – I am beautiful & healthy’, yet I feel even more depressed, fat and ugly then ever before!!!”
Affirmations are a poison chalice! Whilst it is a simple fact that your thinking patterns will lead you to happiness or despair – changing your thinking patterns is not so simple. When I did my postgraduate training to be a clinical psychologist I was taught to encourage people to use ‘affirmations’ and think ‘positive thoughts’ about themselves – and say these thoughts out loud in order to change their negative thinking patterns into positive ones. The idea being that if they repeat these positive thoughts often enough they will eventually replace the negative thoughts. Whilst this idea may be logical – the notion that you can ‘fake it till you make it’ – it does not change your thinking patterns – and used as a stand alone self-help strategy is down right dangerous – often making things worse. [Read more…]
“Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle” Plato
“Life is both ‘simple and hard’ but becomes ‘complex’ when we try to make it ‘easy’” Dr Pete
I am a fool. After all these years of research and clinical practice I still fall into the trap of thinking that people who are fit and healthy, good-looking, have extraverted personalities, shiny sport cars, happy families and an apparent lack of any personal problems, are role models of what it means to be resilient – but I am completely wrong! The notion that resiliency means you don’t have any personal problems is a myth!
I am also a fool when it comes to the subject of burnout! For years I thought burnout was some disastrous, slow-moving, hidden disease that was unstoppable once it started and only inflicted upon those Mother Teresa selfless type caregivers. I thought there would be no chance of recovery or return to health but rather a gradual slide into self-sacrificial oblivion which was only rewarded in heaven. The notion that burnout is both a complex irreversible phenomenon and only affects the selfless caregiver type is also a myth! [Read more…]
I have met some really caring people over the years – people who were calm, kind and generous, people who were knowledgeable, encouraging and supportive, people who excited, enthusiastic and motivated. I have also met some really fit and physically healthy people – people who were active, self disciplined and fashionable.
In each case I have admired their positive characteristics and felt compelled to strive for greater self-improvement. But also, as time progressed, I became aware of their imperfections and limitations as well. The really caring people were not always physically fit and healthy, the really physically fit and healthy people were not always the most calm and caring. [Read more…]
Everyone has a tipping point – when it all becomes too much. I had one the other day. After waking up too early with a new baby, followed by a multitude of regular waves and daily hassles, I had to manage a medical emergency with a family member.
I got home late in the evening and tripped over the kid’s toys and snapped! Luckily no-one was watching as I kicked the toys to one side and let out a couple of expletives before collapsing in a heap – exhausted and feeling like I couldn’t cope. [Read more…]
‘Forgiveness’ is such an important part of being able to recover from psychological problems and live a healthy and successful life. Yet ‘Forgiveness’ is often misunderstood and can lead to a range of unhelpful behaviors and consequences causing unnecessary harm to ourselves and others. In this article I want to share with you what the true meaning of forgiveness is and reveal the 3 most damaging myths of forgiveness and how you can avoid the mistakes and heart ache these myths may cause.