personal development

  • How to stop zoning in on the negatives

    The other day I was reminded of something that happened about twelve years ago when my eldest daughter was about seven. Her class at school were raising money for charity and had decided to do a sponsored spell of a hundred words. No mean feat for a child of that age.

    The day came and at the end of the school day my little girl ran out of the school gates excited to tell me that they’d had their spelling test and she’d got ninety-nine right. Fantastic…but you can guess what’s coming next…

    I said “That’s amazing. Which one did you get wrong?”

    Ninety-nine right and I zoomed straight in on the one she got wrong?! What was all that about?

    Not my best parenting moment – but something that happens all the time at work. How often have you ignored the many things that go right and are done well to focus on that one mistake?

    Yes there’s the argument that says that we want everything to be right, that there are standards to uphold – but it’s also a great motivator to celebrate success and see what’s going well.

    So how do we make the switch?

    1. Spend some time each day looking for the positives

    For some reason we seem to be hardwired to look for that one blip, and that one mistake. Instead try to (as Ken Blanchard says) ‘catch someone doing something right’ and look for the positives. What’s going well and where someone’s really gone that extra mile.

    2. Praise

    Everyone loves to be told when they’re doing a great job. It’s a great motivator and re-enforces the behaviour that you want. So, don’t wait – instead praise as soon as you can after the event.

    3. Communicate the positives

    It’s easy to focus on the missed targets, and the drop in sales when briefing your teams. Hearing messages like this day in day out can soon lead to an attitude of ‘what’s the point?’ so communicate the great stuff too, and celebrate success.

    Bonus Book Worm Tip: – Whale Done by Ken Blanchard is a great read if you want to learn more.

    I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences of where you’ve motivated your team and switched from focusing on the negatives to focusing on the positives. Let me know by leaving a comment.

  • 5 ways to help you really switch off

    This week I got asked this question:

    “Barbara, I lead a team of 12 people and my biggest problem is that I struggle to switch off. I regularly check my emails at home, and take calls at the weekend, and my phone is never really far from reach.  Any tips?”

    This is such a great question and one that  so many people struggle with, especially as it’s just so easy to be really accessible.

    The problem is that if we don’t switch off from time to time, we don’t give our brains the chance to have a breather, and before long it can leave us feeling stressed, exhausted and with no balance in our lives at all.

    Saying that, it can be easier said than done especially if you’ve got into the habit of being available for your team, and working on your emails in your own time.

    So, if this is a problem for you, here are my tips for getting some much needed breathing space.

    1. Re-educate your team

    Rather than just going off line explain to your team that you won’t be available at certain times, and what they should do instead. If you have to have someone available around the clock consider taking turns to be on call with another member of your team.

     2. Be disciplined

    Decide when you’re going to allow yourself to check your emails outside office hours, and when you’re not…and stick to it. This is going to be tricky, and you may find yourself slipping from time to time. If that happens, remind yourself and start over.

     3. Share your plans with your friends and family

    Tell those around you what you’re trying to do and ask them to help you out by telling you to stop checking your phone or turning your lap top on. It’ll serve as a good reminder if you’re hearing it from other people.

     4. Keep your phone away from your bed

    By making your bedroom a gadget free zone you won’t be tempted to reach for your phone before you close your eyes or the second you wake up. This’ll also help you feel relaxed and get a good nights sleep as well.

     5. Get your team involved

    It’s not uncommon for everyone in the team /company to have the same habits where phones are concerned, and you might also have had meetings with phones buzzing on the table. If this is the case think about having a phone free zone where phones have to be put away, or even switched off so you can all focus on what needs to be done at that time without any distractions.

    Bonus Tip – Have a look at the e-mails that you’re answering and the calls you’re taking at home, and ask yourself whether they need your attention straight away, or whether you’re just dealing with them out of habit? If they’re not urgent, give yourself permission to deal with it the next day, and get the down time you really need.


    I’d love to hear your ideas for switching off. Let me know by leaving a comment.

  • Tips for my 18 year old self

    After seeing the fantastic linkedin influencers theme ‘If I were 22’ I was reminded of my eldest daughter turning 18.

    Rather than buying her an extravagant gift I wanted to give her something from the heart. So I created a scrap book of her life with letters from all the members of the family. Everyone was asked to write something of importance to my daughter: A favourite memory, a funny anecdote or some top tips for an 18 year old starting out in the world. (more…)