Archive for life coaching

Are you too Cruel to be Kind? A guide to being both Authentic AND Kind in a Modern World…

Have you abandoned Kindness in your quest for Authenticity?

Authenticity. To be authentic is apparently nowadays a highly desirable way to operate in the world. To be authentic is an elusive yet very impactful way to lead, accordingly to HR directors and executive recruiters across the globe. To be able to be authentic is seen as key to enjoying fulfilling relationships and vital to feeling a sustainable sense of emotional balance. But what is it to be authentic? How do we do it? How do we juggle it with keeping people happy, with maintaining friendships, and with actually staying employed? And what is it not?

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Recently I’ve witnessed people fall off their authenticicty pedestals and also abandon kindness or compassion in the mix, and as a result I’ve asked myself this question more and more. How can we communicate authentically and purposefully, so we feel true and aligned with our beliefs and feelings, without acting cruelly and causing pain for someone else.

Here’s a guide based on what I’ve observed from many years in a corporate career, from what I’ve officially learnt through training and working full time as a coach and therapist, and from the insights which have fallen softly in to my awareness over the last few years of my own daily meditation practice.

The irony is, that it seems ( if feedback was ever to be believed ) I was pretty consistently credited with the authenticity badge right from the early years of my career. Yet in reality, I know that whilst I was probably rarely knowingly inauthentic, only the last few years have I made a more honest acquaintance with my own self….never mind dared or cared to share it with others.

So let’s start with a brief definition. Here when I’m talking about authenticity I mean expressing yourself honestly, expressing yourself in a way which really reflects how you feel about something.

Let’s just linger on the ‘how you feel’ part of that sentence a little longer. That’s the important part. We’ll be coming back to that later.

So should we be navigating some sort of territory, some grey, ill defined border between speaking our own authentic truth on the one hand and blatantly abusing the honesty card on the other – as an ill considered license to just say whatever the heck we want, with little or no regard for the welfare of others?

Well in the spirit of authenticity at this point I’m going to answer yes to that. That’s my current opinion. It is only my opinion. And it would have been an uncomfortable opinion for me to hear about 10 years ago, when my own personal brand of communication was what was politely called ‘cutting’, but in reality it often took the form of character assassination – in the name of ‘authenticity’.

If, like the old me, you are tempted to be brutally honest and your ‘authenticity’ is giving you the green light to go ahead without any regard for the welfare of others, you may be fooling yourself.

Can we express our opinions authentically in ways which benefit, instead of harm others?

Firstly, let’s remember that what true authenticity really is. Back to the ‘how you feel’ comment above.

Authenticity is a sharing of YOU, a sharing of your feelings and your vulnerabilities.

Many people, just like the old me, are completely bypassing their own feelings – either on purpose because the they don’t feel comfortable to share them – or by accident because they are so stressed, so routinely distracted from their feelings by their mental analysis or by what their ego wants them to portray – that they do not know or express their true feelings at all!

Authenticity is about you. It will sound something like this: ‘I feel alone / judged / compared / under attack / singled out / threatened / scared / out of control / ashamed……’. You get the gist…. This is the sort of authentic commentary we hear…….never. Right?

Now I’m not suggesting that we all want to start pouring out our hearts to others just to be seen as authentic. But what I’m drawing your awareness to, is that you can be authentic with yourself first. Quietly. Get to know yourself first, and own your ‘stuff’. It makes a difference.

However, what we are used to instead,  is mirroring and modelling our ‘authenticity’ on something else. What we usually mistake as ‘authenticity’ is the defence, the deflection the distraction, and these versions of authenticity end up being judgements and opinions about how others are wrong / bad / stupid / irresponsible / not enough / hurtful / thoughtless / not up to the job / crazy / too much…etc.

Very often what we assume is authenticity is simply an act of passive aggression ( I was the expert in that ), a defence mechanism, or a thinly veiled justification for a blatant personal attack.

So if you would like to bring your awareness to authenticity, to observe it in yourself and others in a new light, maybe even from the curiosity of what you might learn or change, you can start to ask this.

What is my genuine intention for sharing this? If I share this opinion right now, who will benefit, me or them?

To admit that sharing our opinion is actually in our own best interest rather than someone else’s takes a great deal of awareness, and a little practice. As a coach it’s what I’m trained to do. In fact my earliest memory of my coaching training was back in an executive capacity, in my corporate career, and I’ve held on to this simple rule.

Is it truthful AND useful?

If it is both truthful AND useful go ahead. If it feels truthful, but will not be useful, that’s the red flag to stop. Go ahead by all means, but do be prepared for the ensuing conflict and hurt ( or the detrimental effect on morale and performance in a corporate setting ).

It is very tempting to share opinions which might be damaging to others in the guise of authenticity, and to convince ourselves it is actually for the benefit of the other person, when in fact it is simply an act of selfishness. Sometimes we act selfishly in what we communicate to others for our own release, a sense of freedom or relief, a need to express ourselves, or because we have got triggered back into our own personal wounding. There will be times when this is unavoidable, but there will be many times when we can make a conscious choice if we want to.

How do we know whether or how to share our opinion for the good of others?

So if we are conscious and intentional about authentic communication for the good of others, rather than just to make ourselves feel better, how do we do it?

1/ Gauge their receptivity – Did they ask? Do they want advice? Is now the right time? If you were them, in their shoes in their life right now, with all they have going on….how would YOU react?

2/ Be aware of your HOW – Delivery is everything! Are you being KIND? Are you being cruel? Is this coming from a place of love and respect? Are you being critical?

Authenticity from love and kindness will look, sound and be received differently than authenticity from your own fear, anger and judgements. Tune into yourself, and pay special attention to your tone, your language, and your body language. Consider removing the shoulds, musts and oughts from your language, and  when asking questions ask HOW rather than WHY – all of the above, although very much a part of everyday language, can be implicitly ‘finger-pointy’ and allude to a sense of blaming or shaming.

Remember, to be truly authentic is to express and own up to your own experience. As we begin to seek to understand and be understood through our communications, rather than to be simply be right and to assert our opinion, some of our old automated responses can be looked at, challenged, and may begin to fall away completely, when we repeatedly and intentionally hold them in our awareness and shine a light on them.

What I have have witnessed in myself, and through working one to one with clients, using techniques like Meditation and EFT which both build awareness and honour our wounding, is that we can become more present to, and authentic about all of our triggers. In myself I have found the more authentic a relationship I have developed with my own ‘stuff’, feelings, stories and patterns, in turn the less I need to rely on expressing my opinion to feel good, connected or validated. To some degree, many of my old opinions are simply redundant. What my clients report, also reflect my own experience, we are able to observe and tune in much more to ourselves and others in a neutral way, which means we are less likely to get pulled off track into opinion based content which ultimately serves no real useful purpose or may even cause damage.

Lisa Bardell is an Executive Coach, Integrative Therapist, Life Coach and Accredited Mind CALM Meditation Coach working from private practices in Cheshire and London Liverpool Street. Lisa runs regular Mind CALM Meditation Workshops across the UK, Corporate Programmes and Personal Development Workshops, as well as Meditation Retreats in Bordeaux and Ibiza.

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2017… Planning with pleasure. Goals for goddesses…

If you want to  plan for pleasure you have to plan with pleasure. Welcome to my guide to goals for goddesses… 

 

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It will soon be time to wish you all a Happy New Year. You might already be thinking about the year ahead. Maybe you will want to remedy the excesses of Christmas, maybe you want to get fit and stay in shape for the whole year, maybe you’re ready for a lifestyle overhaul, or maybe you want something completely new? – a big change in your life, your income or your career?

Whatever you would like to plan, to action and to enjoy for the New Year and beyond, here are some of my Top Tips for setting, sticking to and achieving your goals for the future, instead of falling half heartedly off track before Spring has even sprung.

You can apply and adapt this strategy to any area of your life, and you can also use it for regular reviews to fine tune your goals and plans on a monthly basis.

#Review 2016

Before starting anything new, it’s always a good idea to review what came before, just the same way you would start your new year business strategy with a review of the previous year’s performance, you can adopt this approach for yourself too.

1/ Begin by Celebrating Your Successes – yes take a moment ( or an hour ) to pat yourself on the back for what went well, where you performed well, where you achieved what you set out to, or where you acted resourcefully in the face of challenges.

One very useful and interesting fact about our brains and emotions, is that when we remember events from the past, and really associate and connect into the feelings, we actually produce the biochemistry of those positive emotions all over again – the brain does not know the difference! – all the neurological pathways of chemical and electrical messages get sent around our whole bodies once more. Connecting in to positive emotional states is always useful!

2/ Next step is to Acknowledge What Didn’t Work – without getting stuck into lamenting mistakes and mishaps! – do this succinctly to allow you to move on to point 3

3/ Now Reflect on what Lessons you have Learnt from the above. Note what you will take forward and use for the future.

4/ Let the rest GO! Yes just set a clear intention to let it go, the least useful thing you can do is to hang on to old emotional clutter. When you carry frustration and resentment forward with you, it shows. And more importantly you unwittingly send it out as an unspoken message. Every emotional state has a vibrational quality to it, and you will be broadcasting out your message, whether you intend to or not! ( if you don’t want to take my word for it, refer to Albert Einstein – more on that later! )

#Start with a Dream

Getting creative is important. When I work with my clients on specific goals, projects or problem solving, I walk them through the ‘Disney Strategy’ ( I won’t cover this in full here ). Walt Disney was a man who knew the power of dreaming, and conjuring up ideas…so much so he built it in to his business strategy. In fact he put so much emphasis on creativity he spent whole days or even weeks intentionally immersed in a creative, fluid mindset which he ensured was unhindered by being too practical, logistical or problem focussed.

So I would encourage you to do the same, here are the rules to adding ‘Dreaming Time’ in to your goal setting success strategy:

1/ Only dreams and ideas are allowed – schedule in your ‘Dreaming Time’, and when you have set the time aside, this time is only for IDEAS. Do not start criticising them, or checking them for practicalities at this stage. Just let the ideas flow, and make a note of them.

2/ Ask yourself this – ‘If I could guarantee it would work out, what would I do?’ – this question can help you start the flow and be more imaginative.

3/ Relax – we are at our most creative in relaxed and slow brainwave states – our brains are constantly sending out electric waves of information to other parts of our brain,  to our bodies, and to the space around ( including other people ). Brain wave frequencies affect out thoughts. The busy brainwave state that we are in most of the time is called Beta, it is fast, analytical and logical – the opposite of what we need for creative thinking! To help us be at our most fluid and inspirational, we need to slow down. You can easily do this by setting an intention to relax, slowing down your breathing, and engaging your peripheral vision.

#Reality Check– get practical, draw on all your previous experiences of ‘making things happen’ and seeing projects through to the end, and decide what your goals or intentions for the year will be.

#Be Specific – the more specific you are the better, this will help with all of the following steps. So you will be wanting, dates, colours, locations, people and all manner of details ready for your goal. It’s important. Make it real and make it personal to you.

#Understand the Power of the Inner Experience

Step in to the future, to already having achieved your goal. Now notice how you feel inside from having done it already. Notice your external environment, people, settings, notice how you look, and really get in touch with your inner experience of this, feeling how good it feels. Your brain will be forming neural connections for you, which will already be aligning you with this future by helping you to form a sort of ‘perceptual filter’ through which to take in messages. Most important of all is this inner experience of emotion.
This will be some sort of positive feeling; maybe pride, satisfaction, contentment, happiness, joy, confidence. Whatever it is, really make a note of it because this is what you are going to be motivated TOWARDS. Using this emotion will help you to express what you WANT in POSITIVE language. Most of the time, left to our own devices, we talk about our goals and futures by telling ourselves and others about what we DON’T want or about some PROBLEM we are trying to solve…..eg, get out of debt, stop feeling anxious, get away from an ex, move on from a bullying boss etc.

When we express ourselves in this language we are setting off all those neural pathways in our brains and bodies associated with the problem, and we are also triggering our emotional response to that problem too eg, fear, frustration, anger, sadness. OK it may be a diluted response, but still we are sending it to every cell of our bodies, and because emotions have a molecular structure, they also have a vibration. If we vibrate negative emotion we attract it back in, just like a human tuning fork, we resonate with other negative vibrations. Now this might all sound a little ‘woo woo’, but actually it’s science, back to my previous mention of Albert Einstein, who put it like this:

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy, this is physics.”

So there you have it. Connect with the POSITIVE EMOTION that reaching your goal will bring you. And immerse yourself in that emotion as often as you can.

Put another way, if you are feeling sad, lonely, fearful and desperate to reach your goal – all you will send out energetically is that negative emotion, and it is highly unlikely you will align yourself with your positive future.

As Albert puts it, you have to match the frequency of what you want FIRST, in order to achieve more of it. THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE WHICH MAKES THE DIFFERENCE TO YOUR SUCCESS STRATEGY, and it’s the key to all Coaching & Therapy.

You have to begin feeling good, OK and positive BEFORE you reach your goal, and each step of the way as you take your actions to reach your goal.

If you are relying on reaching your goal as your only way to feel OK, you will find the path to success much slower and bumpier ( this is where professional help can come in very handy, as some people do need to work through their negative emotion before they can really begin to make progress )

#Say it out Loud – summarise the specifics of your goal, and how you WANT TO FEEL – and say it out loud. When we use language and speak ( out loud, or in your head ) we light up specific neural pathways in our brains, the more positive neural pathways we light up in connection to what we want, the more solid the foundations we are laying, and the more familiar our brains become with what we want, and the more branches of other positive pathways are likely to spread out across our brains.

The good news is that our brains are plastic, the term ‘neural plasticity’ explains how new neural connections are made as our brains learn. With the right information and intentions, we can feed our brains, we can mold and shape them in new directions, away from old stuck patterns and into new territory.

#Write it Down – same principle, different pathways – writing down information lights up different areas of the brain.

#Build a Dream Board – get visual – same principle, different pathways – visualising lights up different areas of the brain, and is one of the most powerful ways to fire together new neurons in the brain, so that they wire together. Putting lots of images and key words together in a board can help you to keep reminding yourself of the visual information and connecting up with your goal in a way which will change your brain.

#Chunk it Down – to reduce a potential sense of overwhelm that can come from having lots to do, chunk down your steps into bite size and achievable chunks which are set against REALISTIC timescales. The last thing you want to do is be beating yourself up for not having enough time! Diarise what you are doing, it can help to use a colourful, wall planner which again appeals to the very powerful visual senses which are equally useful when planning as they are when imagining.

#Find an Accountability Partner – tell someone else your plans, and ask them to hold you accountable, to check in on you. Give them key dates when you will be doing certain things and give them permission to chase you on where you are up to. Accountability makes us much more likely to meet our deadlines. We only have to compare our productivity and focus at work with our bosses and line managers with the way we are at home to know that!

#Be Flexible – I’m all for having a strategy, for formalising steps and actions and being specific about goals and outcomes. However, in the spirit of connecting up with positive emotion, of matching the frequency of what we want ( back to Albert ) and of communicating useful energy to our selves, our cells, to others, and to the universe at large – I would encourage a sense of fluidity and flexibility in every approach.

Firstly, if you are not working with a professional coach or therapist – setting rigid goals and action plans can tend to pile on the pressure and have you stressed out, tired and stumbling around in clouds of brain fog. Fact: Stress fogs your brain and switches off your clever, creative and resourceful functioning!

So remember, it’s all about ‘Progress NOT Perfection’. Always find time and ways to de-stress to cultivate your most powerful inner platform to succeed.

Secondly, through staying fluid and flexible, we might actually find we start to get drawn towards another, even more brilliant and suitable route than the one we had planned. When we stay relaxed open and positive we can begin to attract and engineer all kinds of amazing opportunities, possibly quite different to what we had in mind at the start of they year.

I hope you enjoy the process, and your year ahead, and make a note to be to be kind to yourself along the way. You now understand both the power of positive emotion, the huge part it plays in successful living AND you appreciate the mechanics of how those toxic negative emotions really will slow your success down!

To view a FREE VIDEO INTRODUCTION to a ‘Daily Meditation, Relaxation & Self Coaching Programme’ called SHINE, to help you succeed and thrive in your year ahead – click here: SHINE FREE VIDEO

Lisa Bardell is an Executive Coach, Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Accredited Meditation Coach and Creator of SHINE Meditation. She runs private Coaching Practices in Central London and Cheshire, Corporate Coaching Programmes for businesses in Manchester and London, regular Meditation Workshops in the UK and Transformational Retreats in Ibiza and Bordeaux. More information can be found on her website: LisaBardellCoaching.co.uk

 

What predicts a successful life?

What is a successful and satisfying life?

We all have our own opinions on what makes someone’s life look like a success from where we see it. But there is a simple definition of a successful life which I like to use, because many people who look like they have it all, are still not happy, not satisfied and do no feel good enough or successful on the inside ( in fact a lot of the time this inner sense of lack is what keeps driving some people to achieve more ). So let’s keep it simple:

  • “A successful life is one which is ENJOYED by the person who lives it”

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How do we get to ENJOY our lives?

Good question – this is something I work on all the time with clients, many of them extremely ‘successful’ yet deeply unhappy.

One of the UK’s foremost ‘happiness’ experts, Professor Richard Layard and his team, have been asking themselves the same question. What factors lead some people to a predisposition to feel happy, satisfied with their lot, and to enjoy an inner sense of success as an adult?

After investigating the factors in a person’s life that can best predict whether they will lead satisfied lives, a team headed by, has come up with an answer that may prove controversial. Any parents reading this may want to take note.

Layard and his colleagues at the Wellbeing research programme at the London School of Economics conclude that a child’s emotional health is far more important to their satisfaction levels as an adult than other factors, such as if they achieve academic success when young, or wealth when older. The authors explain that evaluating the quality of a child’s emotional health is based on analysing a range of internal factors in a person’s early life, including whether they endured unhappiness, sleeplessness, eating disorders, bedwetting, fearfulness or tiredness.

The academics claim that their study, What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life-course Model of Well-being, published in the latest edition of the Economic Journal, offers “a completely new perspective on which factors contribute most to a satisfying life”. The study claims to challenge “the basic assumption of educational policy in recent years – that academic achievement matters more than anything else”. This claim appears to be an implicit criticism of former education secretary Michael Gove, who instructed schools not to focus on “peripheral” issues such as children’s moral, social and cultural development in favour of academic excellence. Gove’s successor, Nicky Morgan, has pledged to reverse this approach.

Many people have assumed income is the most important factor in an adult’s life satisfaction. But the academics say their data makes clear this is far less important than emotional health – both in a child and in an adult. “Income only explains about 1% of the variation in life satisfaction among people in the UK – one sixth of the fraction explained by emotional health,” they note.

Money really can’t buy you happiness…

The findings might be controversial, giving some measurable evidence that education and income are among the least important determinants of adult success, as measured by life satisfaction!

It’s interesting and welcome ( in my opinion ) that the economics of happiness or wellbeing is now a growing and respected discipline within economics that is starting to influence politicians.

David Cameron has even reportedly stated: “It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money and it’s time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB – general well-being.”

Imagine the effect of a nation of much more content as satisfied people….I wonder how much less we would spend trying to make ourselves look better, feel better or escape our stresses?….

Neither can academic achievement!

The report boldly concludes:

  • “We find that the intellectual performance of a child is the least important childhood predictor of life-satisfaction as an adult.”

Well the good news is, if your childhood has already happened, and if your adulthood has been plagued by feeling unhappy, fearful, dissatisfied or stuck – the brain is very good at re-wiring, with the right guidance, no matter what your background or childhood history. All is not lost!

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12 Habits of Emotionally Resourceful People

What is it that allows some people to bounce back, and to remain resourceful, positive and inspired despite the chaos of their circumstances or the stress of those around them?

Have you ever wondered how some people just seem to…..

  • Be able to operate in a happy, confident and resourceful way, even when all around them are having an emotional meltdown?
  • Come across as positive and optimistic whilst still living in the real world and facing into the challenges of life?
  • Be highly effective and attract in more of what they want from life?

We might call these people ‘emotionally resourceful’. If we study their habits and strategies, we can learn a lot. Here are some useful habits to adopt if you feel yourself getting bogged down or stuck in a negative cycle.

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By beginning to take a new perspective, and to consciously adopt some of these habits for yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you notice changes in your own life.

  • 1. Take responsibility – Emotionally resourceful people don’t mope around feeling sorry for themselves, moaning about how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair, that sometimes they have to accept what they cannot change. We create stress by giving too much focus to what cannot be changed, to what ‘just is’.
  • 2. Understand you have a choice in how you respond – Resourceful individuals don’t have the impression that their emotional experience is controlled by the actions or words of other people. If you notice their language, it will not be passive or in ‘victim mode’ ….eg “My boyfriend takes away my confidence”. They understand that they have control over their own emotions and a choice in how they respond to external events.
  • 3. Embrace change – By welcoming change and being willing to be flexible, we can understand that change is inevitable and believe in our abilities to adapt and to learn life lessons from whatever the universe puts in our path.
  • 4. Choose what gets your attention – We feel what we focus on!! By giving the lost luggage, traffic jams or the annoying colleague our attention we encourage our feelings of anger, frustration or upset. Instead, an emotionally resourceful person will focus on what they can control in their lives. They also recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can really be in command of is their attitude and response to a situation.
  • 5. Be OK with people not liking you – Resourceful types recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. Whilst setting a clear intention to be kind and fair, they accept other people being upset and are able to form healthy boundaries in relationships which work for them rather than having them feeling used and trampled by the neediness of others.
  • 6. Take risks – Resourceful people are playful, and they realize life is an ongoing experiment from which we can keep learning lessons. When we lose our ‘over-attachment’ to ‘getting it right’, we free ourselves up from that old paralyzing analysis of what might go wrong. By taking risks, we take more action. By taking action we learn more and make more impact on our lives and others.
  • 7. Live in the present – The present is the only moment that you can experience anything directly. The mind, where we do our thinking, is only a ‘thinking about’ tool. By dwelling on past regrets or mistakes, or predicting the future, we sometimes become lost in thinking, and one step removed from the present moment. Emotionally resourceful people show up in the moment, take it in through their senses, and take part. Through showing up for the full experience of the present moment, we also remember and recall more.
  • 8. Do something different – If emotionally resourceful people are not getting the results they want, they dare to take a new action…”If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing – you will keep getting what you’ve been getting”. By accepting responsibility for our behavior and learning from past mistakes, we are less likely to keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead we can move on more freely and make better decisions and choices in the future.
  • 9. Teach people how to treat you – The resourceful person will teach others how to treat them. We are unconsciously teaching people how to treat us all the time – through what we stop, what we allow and what we reinforce. We can begin to be more conscious and intentional with what we are stopping and allowing, and gradually we form new dynamics and healthy boundaries with those around us.
  • 10. Know there’s no such thing as failure – What is failure? Look at all those examples of highly successful people who ‘failed’ many, many times before they hit their formula for success. Resourceful people do not view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use what some might term ‘failure’ as simply feedback.  Through allowing and accepting feedback in all it’s forms, we can expand our opportunities to learn, grow and improve. We can adopt a more innocent approach from which we continue to have ideas, make plans and take actions until we find our groove and our own personal recipe for success.
  • 11. Enjoy your own company – Resourceful people are just as happy alone as they are with a group. They embrace silence and stillness and use downtime to be productive. By enjoying our own company, we are less dependent on the companionship and entertainment from others to ‘make’ us feel good. Instead we become emotionally self-sufficient and independent.
  • 12. Know the world doesn’t owe you a favour – Emotionally resourceful people don’t feel entitled to things in life, they don’t adopt that mentality that others should take care of them or that the world owes them. If we begin looking for opportunities based on our own merits we can feel perfectly OK and satisfied with less expectation of others. This can free us up from eternal frustration and disappointment.

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