4 Reasons to turn to Interactive Online Coaching

4 Reasons to turn to Interactive Online Coaching

Whether it’s personal impact, leadership, team performance or organisational change – coaching can be completely transformational both for the individual as well as for companies. And plenty of organisations recognise the incredible value great coaching can bring. At 4D we are passionate about bringing life-changing and leadership-changing coaching to more and more individuals and companies around the globe.

However, we live in an ever-changing, super-paced, busy world in which the contexts around travel, team schedules and leader availability can change in a heartbeat. The good news is that online coaching and development via online tech can be more than simply a substitute for face to face coaching programmes. More and more coaches and coachees are finding smart and creative ways to work together online. Even counsellors and psychotherapists are finding that working at a deep, intimate level around sensitive and vulnerable issues with clients can be highly effective when undertaken online. When thinking about taking on a coach, whether you are working on your personal growth as a leader, your impact as a speaker and presenter, your communication skills as a manager or your network and career progression as a valuable contributor to your organisation – building a strong coaching relationship online can tangible and outstanding results.

 

Here are four reasons why you might want to turn to online coaching to take your career, personal or leadership impact, company culture and performance to the next level:

1.    Convenience

When working online you can work from the comfort of your own home or the convenience of your own office. It means you save on valuable travel time which means you can maximize your development and learning time.

2.    Flexibility

When scheduling and working online it means you can be far more flexible when it comes to rearranging a session or the amount of time you might spend on a call. Once trains and planes have been booked and paid for it can be challenging to rearrange coaching sessions at the last minute so by cutting out the travel you immediately embed more flexibility into your coaching programme. On top of this most coaches, if working face to face, may charge a minimum fee of one or two hours. Which locks most face to face coaching programmes into traditional length sessions. Whereas when working online you might schedule a quick 10 or 20 minute session with your coach when your diary gets squeezed. Allowing you to have that all-important touch point and check-in, even when the pressure of your working day is squeezing your timetable.

3.    Worldwide

By choosing to work with a coach online you are also giving yourself the gift of choosing from the best coaches in the world. By working virtually there are no limits to who you can partner with to help you succeed. If you have seen a coach speaking online and loved what they had to say, if you have read an inspiring piece by a coach or if you follow a coach on social media who works in the specialised field you are keen to explore – whether they are based in Boston, Bali or Blackpool – this is your chance to drop them a line. Nothing is stopping you working with the pick of the international coaching crop from the comfort of your own couch.

4.    Modelling Leadership Impact Online

As a leader or manager you will be spending much of your time holding and participating in meetings, exchanging updates and idea sharing via conference calls – particularly at the moment when travel is limited. Another advantage of doing online coaching is that your coach gets to see you and your leadership impact online and so can get a real-world sense of how you relate, interact and make an impact in a virtual context. Meaning that they can help you adapt and develop your style to maximise your leadership impact across the web and across the globe. So that you as a leader can then model a conscious, impactful, present and engaging online leadership style to your team and people. Which is the beginning of the ripple effect for the culture of virtual communication you will create across your organisation.

As teams and tasks go more and more online, as business and briefings increasingly take place virtually, and as community and communication happen more frequently over the world wide web, a great online coach can be the partner and support that makes the world of difference to your personal, impact, professional success and your organisation’s journey. If you’re interested in exploring powerful and bespoke online leadership coaching with 4D Human Being do drop us a line and we can talk about how virtual coaching and development will take the impact and performance of you, your team and your organisation to a whole new level.

4D Human Being – helping individuals, teams and leaders communicate with impact – everyday.

5 Fresh Tips to make your Virtual Conference Hosting come alive

5 Fresh Tips to make your Virtual Conference Hosting come alive

When you can’t physically bring your people together for your business conference you can still bring your business conference alive – and your people together…virtually.

 

And while a great tech platform is important to host your conference, the key to making your event engaging, impactful and memorable depends on the human host running the show.

With increasing pressure and restrictions around business budget, organisational travel and employee health and safety many companies are looking to run large scale events through virtual online streaming services. So how do you ensure your event, while virtual, is still energising, motivating and connecting? There are plenty of articles out there about the tech, timing and troubleshooting of hosting virtual conferences. To help you make sure the timing of your event is aligned for all the time zones you are dealing with. To ensure you have the appropriate technology and bandwidth to run your online sessions and finally to check you troubleshoot for potential process and platform glitches before you hit the live button.

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YES…that’s all super important…AND…for us at 4D Human Being most conferences fall down once all these things have been checked, once the go-live button is pressed and then the energy drops to zero. Because even if you have the best platform hosting on the market, if you don’t have the right kind of ‘human hosting’ leading your conference, it’s all too easy for your virtual audience to switch off, drift away and go and do something less boring instead. Hosting Virtual Conferences requires a specific skill set, and drawing on our unique background in performance, acting, improvisation, TV, film, directing, storytelling, online training and coaching, here are our five top tips for giving your virtual event the wow factor – big on engagement, high on impact and unbeatable on online experience.

 

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1.    Navigate and Direct

Whether you are choosing to hire an expert host or using an in-house presenter, make sure your host is skilled at working online. People can be much more easily distracted when attending conferences remotely, so your host needs to navigate your audience through the agenda in a particularly concise and clear way. Tell your audience exactly which segments are happening when and what you will be expecting from them at various points through the schedule. Finally, keep them hooked in by letting them know the sections further down the line that are simply NOT TO BE MISSED. That if they drift off to grab a cup of coffee they may just miss the golden nuggets that are coming their way. Assume FROM THE GET GO that your audience will WANT TO SWITCH OFF OR leave the room and THAT THEREFORE IT’S UP TO YOU TO set a clear intention from the start to keep them glued to their seats

Also, be more directive with your hosting. When you are hosting live in a room with your audience you can ask more open, general or rhetorical questions and you can get away with a looser format as the energy in the room can fill the gap. But when it comes to hosting online events you need a host that understands how to clearly and tightly navigate your audience and be more directive with posing questions to guests or attendees. You can still, of course, have fun, engage and get people enjoying themselves, but you need to keep the event structured and scaffolded along the way. So instead of “Has anyone got any comments?” Try asking “Let’s hear one comment from each of you on that.”

 

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2.    Get Great Audio

While we as human beings are highly visual creatures, research reveals that the quality of your audio will influence whether your audience finds your content and messaging credible. “When the video was difficult to hear, viewers thought the talk was worse, the speaker less intelligent and less likeable and the research less important,” scientists wrote. So, when hosting a conference online we need to ensure our audio is as good as our visual equipment. If not better…as some people can actually tolerate poor video quality more than they can tolerate poor audio quality. Double the reason to maximise the sound quality of your virtual event.

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3.    Get Interactive

Hosting on the internet can still mean hosting interactively. Running a conference online doesn’t mean leaving your audience flatlined. Your host can still give your audience members a highly interactive experience. Pairs exercises and thought-provoking conversations and games will inject your sessions with the dynamic energy you are looking for. Making your virtual event highly memorable and practical. Your host can run short interactive, experiential exercises designed specifically for small remote working groups or individuals at their laptops at home. Meaning that a virtual conference can still feel truly connecting, intimate and personalised.

 

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4.    Energy Energy Energy

We are definitely obsessed with energy at 4D Human Being and when it comes to working online our obsession becomes fanatical! Your virtual conference host needs to be used to working on camera and needs to understand the power and dynamics of ‘Host Energy.’ Being a host in a live arena requires energy, but hosting online requires energy PLUS! The reality is that the camera sucks away 20% of your energy. So, as a virtual MC and host you need to up your energy level higher than you think might be necessary. It may only be one camera in front of you but it’s not one person…it’s one camera and hundreds or thousands of people all feeding off your brilliant hosting energy. And it’s your job to ensure your hosting feels connected, energised, personalised and really reaches into the offices, living rooms and workplaces of your attendees.

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5.    Feedback Loop

 

One of the most exciting things about hosting virtually is the opportunity it presents to create an instant feedback loop with your audience. Most platforms and tech include the possibility for your audience to do things like vote, chat and message the host and organisers in real time. This means that you can create a truly global and ‘live’ experience. Make sure your host has excellent improvisational skills and has humour and courage at their fingertips. Because then, they can flex and flow, incorporating comments and feedback into the conference in real time. Which simply put…for your audience…looks like genius.

These are some of the techniques that you can use to take your virtual hosting to a whole new level. You can find out more and sign up for our newsletter through our website as well as check out the 4D articlespodcastsvideos and online training programmes.

Good luck with your virtual event and if you’d like us at 4DHB to help you engage your audience, get your messages across online and have some fun…do get in touch.

4D Human Being – helping leaders, teams and individuals consciously communicate with impact every day.

4-Dimensional Dreaming

4-Dimensional Dreaming

Never stop dreaming. 

 

Dreams are not a childish waste of time. It’s in our dreams that we plant the seeds of our future. Today, we’re matching the power of dreaming with the energy of intention, so that we can catch our dreams and turn our wildest fantasies into our reality.

 

In this article, we’re looking at how we might live from our dreams in lots of different ways. We may have some disappointed dreams. Perhaps your job, hobbies, house or social life might not look exactly like you dreamt at 10-years old (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!) But are there parts of the dream or attitudes of the dreaming that you can bring into your adult life? In 2007 Randy Pausch delivered his “Last Lecture.” A month before giving the lecture Randy had received the prognosis that his pancreatic cancer was terminal. So Randy used his ‘last lecture’ as an opportunity to impart his final wisdom on the world. And what did the professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University choose to present on? “Achieving your childhood dreams.” In this surprisingly upbeat and light-hearted lecture, Randy talks about how you can still accomplish your childhood dreams and truly live your life to the fullest. 

Join us as we look at ways we can reinvent our childhood dreams and bring an attitude of dreaming into our everyday interactions. To quote the American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau: “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

So…let’s get dreaming!

 

 

Distill your Dreams

 

You can still live from your childhood dreams. Because your dreams don’t have to look exactly as they did when you were growing up. Not if we deconstruct the dreams and capture the essence of the dreaming.

In ‘The Last Lecture’ Randy Pausch talks about his childhood dream of wanting to be an astronaut. However, as he got older he realised that it wasn’t blasting thousands of miles up into orbit that was the aspiration. Rather – the fun and fascination of floating in zero gravity was really at the very heart of his dream. What this distilling process left him with was the dream in its purest, simplest form. And this was a much more reachable dream that he could realise in many different ways. 

So, how did Randy do it? Well as it turns out NASA has something called a vomit comet they use to train astronauts, which offers the experience of weightlessness for about 25 seconds. NASA offered a programme where college students could submit proposals to win a flight on the vomit comet. So, Randy got a team of his students together and they won. But unfortunately, Randy missed the T&Cs which stated that under no circumstances were faculty members allowed to fly with their students. Luckily there was another bit of small print stating that students were allowed to bring a local journalist with them…and just like that Randy retracted his application as a college professor and applied again as a web journalist accompanying the students and as a result accomplished his childhood dream of experiencing weightlessness!

Could you put some of your long-shot childhood fantasies through this distilling process and live from these dreams in different and perhaps more tangible ways? Distilling or deconstructing your childhood dreams can help you to uncover the essence of the dream and will give you clarity around what you really want. As Randy Pausch realised, he didn’t really want to live the life of an astronaut and spend months away from family and friends. What he wanted was to experience weightlessness. And that was a dream he managed to accomplish. 

Let’s follow in Randy’s powerful footsteps and take a moment to deconstruct one of your childhood dreams. Perhaps you wanted to be a ballet dancer. What was it about that dream that you were specifically attracted to? Maybe it was the physical expression, the performance, the storytelling through movement. From here you can dig further still. What was it about the physical movement that made your heart sing? Maybe it was the flow, the symmetry or the precision. Keep going until you believe you’ve captured the essence of the dream. An essence that you can live from in lots of different ways. You may discover you can find a similar sense of flow or symmetry on the yoga mat. Or maybe you- like me- make your dream an important part of your personal life… 

 

Build your hobbies into your dreams

 

Hands up, I have a fantasy of being on Strictly Come Dancing! 3 years ago, I started taking ballroom dancing lessons. And I immediately fell in love with the grace and flow of ballroom and the patterns and precision of the different dances. Yet the dream- to dance on Strictly- still sang in the background. And if we don’t chase our dreams, we will never catch them.

But what was it about the Strictly Dream that I longed for? The glamour, the dresses, the competition, the grace, the show. The whole thing. And all of those elements are things I can chase in my personal practice- without having to become a professional dancer. How? By entering an amateur ballroom competition. These kinds of competitions are totally accessible and represent a truly tangible way I can turn my hobby, something I love to do in my free time, into my dream. It doesn’t have to be our profession or a full-time job for it to be achievable. Not if we deconstruct the dreaming and look at other ways we can accomplish our dreams through our hobbies.

Put your goal out there and then rub out the fixed path because there are many routes to accomplishing a dream. Setting a goal doesn’t often give you a clear set of directions. What it gives you is much more powerful: it gives your internal compass a bearing and sets you off in the right direction. But there are still are many other paths along the way. Stay open and you might be surprised by which one leads you to your dream. 

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Well, the same applies to dreaming: don’t judge a dream by its title, as you’ll be undermining its depth and limiting opportunities to live from it in lots of different ways. 

 

Dream Blockers

 

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” 

 

– Albert Einstein

Can we dare to dream in spite of the potential set backs? Some of the past century’s most inspirational leaders were people who were told no, experienced  great set-backs but dared to dream on anywhere. Martin Luther King is a perfect of example of someone who experienced dream blocks, yet continued to keep the dream alive by looking for ways around the dream block and towards the same end goal. 

Many things can block our dreams. We don’t operate within a vacuum. We are always dealing with the 2 Contexts as we call them at 4D: our environment and shared culture. Our environment is all the tangibles, like the weather, and the country you live in. Our shared culture is other people. A lot of these things are out of our control. And they can have a big impact on our dreams. Maybe our families had different dreams for us? Or perhaps society’s version of success has impacted the career we chose? 

So how do we push back out into the world when the world around us is blocking our dreams?

By waking up the 4th dimension: the intentional dimension. This is your best friend when it comes to dream enhancement. If you reach a road block to your dream, how might you find another way through, in order to reach the same end goal?

 

Activated Dreaming

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.” 

 

– John C Maxwell, ‘The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader’

Bringing your intentional dimension online is vital for achieving your dreams. However, living with intentionality isn’t simply about setting an intention and then sitting back and enjoying the show. Intentionality is something that impacts all of your other dimensions. It’s not simply something you say or do; it’s something that affects your whole being.

 

So, how can we activate our intentions in order to live with intentionality? We can start to match intention with action. Say for example you have a big dream to one day run a marathon. That’s the intention you’ve set yourself.  To activate this dream, of course you’re going to have to start training! And as sports psychologists know, it is our intentional self that is going to make the difference as to whether our training is successful. Because, if the training feels physically hard, we may emotionally feel despondent, intellectually you may be telling yourself a story about being useless at running, and so perhaps you don’t push yourself as hard, so you feel disheartened and so the cycle continues. This will lead to an undermining of progress. And this unhelpful circle of feeling/thought/behaviour can appear in all areas of our lives and is why it is so important to keep our intentional dimension activated and online. Because of course when we’re tired, busy, despondent or stressed it’s all too easy to fall into our default ways of operating. And it’s our intentional dimension that keeps us motivated and our dreams on track.

Living with intentionality is the best way to fast-track your way to your dreams and help to keep you moving forward step by step in the direction of you dream. There is perhaps no better example of this than Walt Disney. He matched the magic of his dreams with the energy of intention and quite literally built his dreams into being- a reality I’m sure you’ve had the joy of exploring, whether that be via wandering the magic kingdom or watching a film. To quote the man himself: “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.”

 

Dream Team

 

To use the wonderful words of John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” We all have dreams, however big or small. So how might the people around us help us with our dreams? And how might we help other people to achieve their dreams? Let’s use the power of dreaming and our ‘4D Dream Team Guide’ to help our team achieve even greater things…

 

Become who you want to become

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” 

 

– George Bernard Shaw

Dream dreams that are bigger than the things you could do. Dream about who you could be and step into a new way of being and experiencing the world. As Dan Pallotta says in his TED talk ‘The dream we haven’t dared to dream: “It’s time for us to dream in multiple dimensions simultaneously, and somewhere that transcends all of the wondrous things we can and will and must do lies the domain of all the unbelievable things we could be.”

Who do you want to be? For both yourself and also the people around you….

We used to think that the brain was fixed from around the age of 30. Over the past two decades, research into neuroplasticity has proven that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, our brain’s change at a slower rate at 7-years old compared to when we are 77-years old. But our brains are still building and changing right into later life. And that’s exciting because the science tells us that as human beings, we’re not fixed but constantly evolving. So, the question we should all be asking ourselves is: what kind of human being do we dream of being?

What would be your dream story about you? Maybe it’s around being funny. So, what behaviours would help you to build a new belief system around comedy? Perhaps it’s as simple as learning a joke a day and sharing your favourite one in your bi-weekly team meeting. Or maybe you sign-up for an improvised comedy course and try out some spontaneous comedy. Step in to the dream of who you are and your beliefs about yourself will follow. Be the thing you want to be, with regards to your actions, words and thoughts, and step into a version of you that you’ve always dreamt of.

 

 

Dare to Dream 

 

Our modern world stems from dreams – dreams turned into reality. So if we want to help shape the experience of ours and others lives, we have to value the dreaming stage in any project, decision or relationship.  Never stop dreaming, because living with an attitude of activated dreaming can completely transform yours and others experience of life and inspire your teams, friends and family to think outside of the box and push through boundaries.

Of course, dreaming comes more easily to some of us than others. So if you’re someone who struggles with dreaming, try asking yourself these 4 questions in order to fire up your dream muscles, and you might notice how much richer your life becomes and how much bolder and braver you can be! You may find yourself surprised by the dreams that arise…

 

1. What do you want your days to consist of?

Take a moment to think about the things you love to do, the places you like to go and the people you enjoy being around.

2. Imagine your 8-year old self…What did they dream of?

And how might you bring elements of these childhood fantasies into your adult life?

3. Now imagine your 80-year old self…What did they dream would happen?

How much of their dream could you make come true? Now plan it!

4. And finally, if your life were a movie what character would you be?

What appeals to you about the character or story plot? And how might you bring parts of that character into your everyday life?

 

Your reality starts from the essence of your dreams and the dreams of those close to you, so start living from your dreams today – with your whole being- and watch as your fantasies turn into your reality. Remember “You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?” (South Pacific, “Happy Talk”).

 

The 4 things you really need this Christmas…

The 4 things you really need this Christmas…

How many presents get unwrapped on Christmas day? That nobody wants and nobody needs?

 

According to one study, Americans waste on average $15.2 billion on unwanted presents each year. I remember one Christmas competing with friends over ‘who got the worst present.’ There were some absolute shockers, but the outright winner had to be the man that was given a second-hand painting of a Hungarian Hussar! People really do hand over some weird gifts! So, it got me thinking: how much stuff do we get at Christmas that we don’t even want? When actually, we could give someone something they really need to unwrap without even given them a present. The invisible gifts of security, connection, wholeness and autonomy. Can we fulfil our own- or someone else’s’- primal human needs this Christmas?

We see Christmas as a unique time of craziness, when it’s often a reflection of our everyday lives, just in an exaggerated festive state, with baubles on! The festive season is a great time to become conscious of our behaviours and patterns and gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and connect with our fundamental needs. If you notice people getting annoyed on Christmas day, get curious, and find out which of their needs isn’t being met…

 

 1. Security

 

‘Tis the season for financial anxiety as according to the 2019 Bankrate Holiday Gifting Survey more than 6 out of 10 people told Bankrate they feel pressure to overspend on either presents, travel, social outings or charitable donations over the Christmas period. If you notice yourself- or a loved one- feeling stressed about money, get curious. Find out what the root cause of this stress might be. Because it may be that your sense of security is feeling threatened.

Abraham Maslow lists security as one of the basic human needs. And if we don’t feel secure, we can’t fully ascend to higher levels like love and self-actualisation (more of which later).

Many of us reach for external signs of security- money, good job, marriage- which means that our ability to ascend to the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy relies heavily on external factors. However, some of us aren’t given sufficient resources to satisfy these external security needs. And even if, right at this moment, we are satisfying those needs, many unknowable factors can threaten this ‘security blanket’- like redundancy and illness. So sometimes or even often getting our security needs met by chasing it externally isn’t actually our most secure option.

Some of the century’s most influential and surprising entrepreneurs do the opposite: they define security internally. They give themselves what psychologist Carl Rogers called an internal locus of control and don’t rely on external factors for their sense of security. Take Tony Robbins. He started his career washing his dishes in a bathtub because his apartment was so small it didn’t have a kitchen. He didn’t define security as needing X amount in the bank or having a certain size house or job title. He defined his security internally- and as a result, he was able to shift his attention towards a much more useful state for entrepreneurial pursuits: self-actualisation. His sense of security wasn’t reliant on unstable external factors; it was defined internally. And as a result, he ended up becoming one of the most successful life coaches on the planet. 

 

Here are two ways you can shift towards an internally driven sense of security:

1. Self appreciate.

If your internal voice is critical and harsh – be aware and be kind to yourself. 

2. Give yourself a heart hug…

…and stop asking your brain what you need. Ask your heart. Put your hand on your heart and create a loop back to yourself. Once you’ve created that loop, still with your hand on your heart, ask yourself what you should do. Not only will this regulate your breathing, it will also create a feedback loop to brain that ‘you are ok’ and as consequence will strengthen your internal locus of control. 

Defining security internally is a healthier and more sustainable way of fulfilling this need because it’s not reliant on external factors. Money is, of course, an important resource but far more important is time. We can rebuild our finances. But we can’t buy back time. And if we spend the majority of our time chasing external factors, then we won’t have any time left for other more meaningful pursuits. Defining security externally creates an illusion of security and breeds a cycle of insecurity. Whereas defining security internally puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life.

 

 

So back to Christmas…maybe you can’t afford the most expensive gifts this year or maybe there’s a worry about what work you’ll get in 2020. All fair and valid concerns not to be disregarded but also, not necessarily needed to define your sense of security. Can you- like Tony Robbins- take the locus of control over your security and define it internally? And give yourself the gift of internal security this Christmas. Whilst it won’t make these problems go away it will enable you to satisfy your need for security and free you up to be much more connected and conscious with your loved ones over the festive period.

Also- think about how can you make somebody else feel safe and secure? Can you be clear about your plans for the day? Can you make somebody feel that you’ve got a part of the day planned and organised and in hand? Because that’s one of the most fundamental and most important gifts you can give anybody. What does your partner or loved one need to make them feel secure and safe with you?

 

 2. Connection

 

I’m sure you’ve all heard a version of this story: a wife- who is hoping for a diamond bracelet- receives a vacuum cleaner, an iron or electronic scale for Christmas (yes- this one is surprisingly common!) One study showed that 37% of us have lied about liking a gift- with women ranking as the highest offenders with a shocking 45% versus 27% of men. If you find yourself hiding disappointment with an exaggerated smile this Christmas, then watch out for need no.2 not being met: are you feeling unloved or disconnected?

Connection is a fundamental human need. We are absolutely wired for connection. Yet, we’re not always good at meeting this need. In an article for ‘Forge Medium’, Brianna Wiest describes connection as: “the experience of oneness. It’s having shared experiences, relatable feelings, or similar ideas.” So, when your nearest and dearest buys you a rubbish (and perhaps insulting) gift, you may- understandably- find yourself feeling misunderstood and disconnected.

 

Thankfully, connection doesn’t just come in a fancy present with a bow on top. This- as with external signs of security- is a ‘show’ of connection. The real stuff is underneath. In the day-to-day moments that help to build a strong sense of tribe and trust. In order to maintain a healthy sense of connection, we must regularly ‘check-in’ with one another. Now we’re not talking about a once a year DMC (deep meaningful conversation), we’re referring to those everyday moments where you are present with your partner, friend or kids. When you see them where they are and find out how they’re doing and how they’re feeling. Right now. To quote Brene Brown: “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

For example, if you know your partner struggles with some of your family’s nosey questions, a simple squeeze of the hand might be all it takes to reaffirm the connection between the two of you. A squeeze that says “I see you. I know how you’re feeling. We’ll get through this together.” The beauty of this is in its simplicity: it doesn’t involve buying an extravagant gift, writing a poem or going away on holiday. Your presence with your loved ones is what reaffirms the bonds of connection. So why not give the gift of connection this Christmas to your loved ones? It could be the simplest yet most substantial gift they get this year.

 

 

3. Wholeness

 

Do you return home at Christmas only to find yourself regressing into an outdated version of yourself? Perhaps you’ve made some radical changes over the past year and are feeling quite different in yourself, yet as soon as you walk through the front door of your childhood home…bam…you’re back to square one. If this sounds familiar, then you may be needing more of the 3rd primal human need we’re discussing today: wholeness. To quote Carl Jung: “Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.” Ask yourself if there are parts of your ‘self’ that are wanting to surface, yet you don’t feel you can share because it feels out of line with ‘who you are’ within your family unit?

 

 

Say for example you’ve taken up stand-up comedy over the past year yet until this point you’ve occupied a more quiet, reserved role in the family. Can you bring a part of this ‘new you’ to the table and perhaps open up a space for others to share too? Perhaps your Mum has been focusing on being more than just ‘mum’ since all her kids flew the nest and has been busy involving herself with new hobbies and volunteer work. Can you encourage a more inclusive and open atmosphere this Christmas, so that people can bring more of themselves- and not just the role assigned to them within the family system- to the table?

Wholeness isn’t simply about showcasing the highlights in your life (like you might on your Instagram feed!) It’s about embracing all parts of your ‘self’ and the highs and the lows that are a part of being a human being. Maybe someone in your family is grieving the loss of a loved one this Christmas? Or perhaps a friend has recently lost their job? Can you be present with their pain and allow them to bring some of their whole self- as they are right now- to the party. Show them that they don’t have to wear a massive fake smile across their face to feel accepted and welcome around you. As Reboot Co-founder Dan Putt writes in his article ‘Wholeness, not Happiness’: “Happiness is just one part of our existence, wholeness is to embrace all that is within us. It’s to embrace our shadow qualities, to embrace our self-doubt, fear, anxiety, as well as the brightness, joy, and curiosity. It is all welcome. To welcome and embrace our wholeness, is to welcome and embrace all that makes us human. It is to allow our employees, and ourselves the full human experience. It is to allow ourselves to be human at work.” So, this Christmas let’s host with an attitude of wholeness as opposed to one that pushes happiness.

 

4. Autonomy 

 

The final thing we all need this Christmas is autonomy. Which may seem contradictory to primal need no. 2: connection. However, what we’re looking for is a balance between interdependence and autonomy. And the latter is far too often overlooked and disregarded, particularly when it comes to Christmas parties and family get-togethers.

You may be familiar with the power struggles that happen between parents and children or siblings, due to invisible hierarchies that might be in place. For example, the person who is ‘hosting’ may take it upon themselves to take charge of the event. Whilst this may be coming from a sincere place of kindness and generosity, it may be stopping others from having an opinion about the menu or helping cook a dish. And guess what…people like to feel useful!!! So you don’t need to slave away in the kitchen by yourself. Get your kids involved in some way (however young or old), give them responsibility for a task and refrain from ‘back seat driving’ while they are doing it (otherwise you may give off the impression that you could have done it better and faster yourself.) And even if that’s true, what’s happening here is much bigger than the task at hand because you’ve gifted someone with autonomous action. You’ve given them a sense of importance and purpose at the event. So, it doesn’t matter if the potatoes aren’t cut exactly the way you like them, because the people at your party are what matter. Not the potatoes. And by delegating responsibility you’ll not only take some of the stress off your shoulders, you’ll also be giving others a sense of ownership and autonomy.

A study on the importance of psychological autonomy in children concluded that “the preparation for a life in a competitive world of other individual self-contained agencies is primed through individual psychological autonomy with an early emphasis on subjective wishes, intentions and preferences.” Autonomy is not a millennial luxury: it’s a fundamental need and if it’s not being met for you this Christmas then it will be affecting your ability to access other parts of yourself like your creativity, conscious intention and personal growth. Wayne Dyer talks about the power of ‘non-interference’ in parenting. In this article, titled ‘The Enlightened Parent’ Dyer asks: “do you want your children to behave only when you’re around, or do you want them to have the self-discipline to conduct themselves wisely whether you’re there or not? I’ve always believed that parents are not for leaning upon, but rather exist to make leaning unnecessary”.

 

If you find yourself in the opposite role as per the scenario above, whereby you are the guest to an over-attentive host, then see if you can come up with a creative way to give yourself more autonomy. If the host is insistent on controlling every detail in the kitchen then maybe you can keep the kids entertained so they don’t get in the way. Or perhaps you can take charge of setting up a game and explaining the rules to everyone. There will be many ways you can insert yourself into the day without stepping on someone’s shoes. To quote author and speaker Daniel Pink (who appeared on the 4D podcast back in May): “Autonomy is different from independence. It means acting with choice.”

 

Give someone something they really need this Christmas! 

This Christmas, as you are sitting around opening gifts, think about the invisible gifts you can give to a family member, friend or colleague. It might not be something they’ve asked for but it’s definitely something they need. Because they are needs we ALL need! We all want to feel safe, connected, whole and purposeful and we need these needs satisfied in order to access our higher levels of self, like empathy, creativity, conscious intention even to be able to play and be spontaneous. Give yourself- and others- the gift of security, connection, wholeness and autonomy this Christmas and you’ll quickly forget about any rather pointless, weird or disappointing gifts. These gifts are greater than the external signs of Christmas and are the ones that will really make a difference this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

Wishing you all a conscious and connected Christmas and an intentional New Year. Lots of love Philippa and the 4D Team x

 

From Burnt Out to Fired Up

From Burnt Out to Fired Up

Are you headed for burnout? New studies show that chronic workplace stress may be a major cause of burnout. 

Earlier this year I was speaking at a conference in the US. All went brilliantly. The talk was interactive, engaging and thought-provoking. The attendance was fantastic. The atmosphere fun, warm and friendly. The praise and thanks afterwards effusive. An all-out success. Two hours later, back in my hotel, I realised I was running on empty. I finally had to accept something was up. I was burnt out. Still functioning, still able to perform at a high level, still appearing to everyone else to be fine. But burnout sneaks up from below or from the side. And it often hits those of us who pride ourselves on having endless energy and stamina. Which makes it hard to accept that our eternal flame might just be flickering to burnout. So, I decided to take a step back, catch my breath, and hand the poll position in the company to my sister Penelope. A hard decision. And the best decision. I hadn’t stopped since the death of my partner Tom in 2016. And it was time to recharge. Why am I writing this? Because when I told my clients I would be taking some time out I think I expected them to be a bit thrown and a bit disappointed and frankly abandoned. But in fact, they were not only supportive but many of them said to me I was modelling something that perhaps they too should think about doing. And they were right. I have coached a number of execs over the years who have pushed themselves to their limits to perform to their maximum. We’re all at it! And perhaps my move to take time out could do more than simply look after myself. Perhaps it could help others do the same for themselves. 

Six months on I’m gearing back into work. Keynotes and conferences lined up in the diary, new programmes and pilots rolling out and all of it feeling exciting and welcome. And I’m feeling renewed, re-energised and bursting with creativity and new ideas. Oh and there’s nothing like a mini-sabbatical to give one time to toe-dip into dating again….but that’s another story! Back to burnout and what the hell it’s all about…

 

An “occupational phenomenon”

The World Health Organisation recently defined burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” So, this month we’re reigniting the conversation around burnout and attuning ourselves to its early warning signs. How can we become aware of the often-silent signs and signals of this invisible syndrome? And how can we better manage our workload, so that it doesn’t end up managing us? This isn’t just about getting back in the driver’s seat of your life. It’s about understanding the mechanics underneath so that we can live and work at our optimum. Because knowing when to hit the brakes- and when to take a break- is key to building a satisfying and successful career. 

 

What is burnout?

Burnout was first described in 1974 by German-born American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. Freudenberger described burnout syndrome as “becoming exhausted by making excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources in the workplace.” 

Almost 45 years on since Freudenberger coined the term and research suggests that 23% of us are feeling burnt out at work very often or always, while another 44% are feeling burnt out at work sometimes. Given that almost 50% of us will struggle with burnout at least once in our career, why are we not taking it more seriously? 

The early warning signs

According to Freudenberger’s original description, burnout is characterised by a mixture of physical symptoms and behavioural signs. Physical symptoms can show up as fatigue, shortness of breath, digestive issues and insomnia while behavioural signs may include frustration, anger, a suspicious attitude, cynicism and depression. Burnout’s long list of warning signs can explain why it is so difficult to spot because it can look very different from person-to-person. For example, for some people, it may come on more suddenly, in the form of a physical collapse or emotional breakdown. Whereas for others, it may build up over an extended period, showing up as long-term agitation, anxiety and an inability to cope. 

Freudenberger went beyond simply describing the symptoms of the syndrome; he also described the personality traits that predispose someone to burnout and. He believed it was primarily “the dedicated and the committed” who are most likely to burnout. Or as a recent FT article phrased these individuals “insecure over-achievers.”

Thanks to the dawn of the smartphone, the geographical boundaries between work and home no longer apply, giving us remote access to our workload 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And if you have a smartwatch then you may also be able to catch a glimpse of your work emails while you’re taking a class at the gym. On the one hand – literally in the case of the smartwatch! – this is amazing because these technological advancements- amongst other benefits- have enabled companies to offer employees more autonomy over their workload.

However, on the other hand, I wonder whether this non-stop, 24/7 culture makes the “dedicated and committed” workers described by Freudenberger more vulnerable than ever. Is this bigger, faster, stronger, harder mindset causing us to miss the early warning signs of burnout? 

Normalising Stress

It’s become very easy for us to normalise feelings of stress and overwhelm. In fact, for many of us, it’s become a part of the daily narrative we share with our colleagues and friends. Perhaps you are someone who typically tells the “I’m so busy and stressed” story? And perhaps you are very busy and stressed. But do you ever stop to ask yourself why ‘busy and stressed’ has become a normal and culturally accepted part of life? 

 Five monkeys, a ladder, and a banana

In the influential ‘five monkeys’ experiment, a group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on the top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the others beat up the one on the ladder to avoid getting soaked. The scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. Upon entering the cage, the new monkey immediately went up the ladder. Immediately the other monkeys beat him up. After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though he never knew why. After a while, a second monkey was substituted, and the same thing occurred. And the first monkey participated on beating up the second monkey, even though he’d never been sprayed with water. The same occurred when a third, fourth and fifth monkey was replaced. What was left was a group of 5 monkeys who- even though they had never been sprayed with water- continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder. 

 

This is a great example of the way culture is created and why it perpetuates, even when it no longer makes sense. The experiment speaks to the phrase “that’s just how things are done around here.” When we get stuck in this fixed mindset, we lose sight of reasoning, stop questioning why things are the way they are and stop trying to change it. 

In many work cultures the early warning signs of burnout- stress, fatigue, overwhelm and overwork- have become a part of the ‘that’s just what it’s like around here’ culture. We’ve normalised these important warning signs and as a result, we might be missing the early buildup of burnout. But we can’t spend our whole life living in the fast lane, always operating from a state of stress. Our bodies simply can’t handle being in ‘fight or flight’ mode for that long. And over time, if we don’t listen to the signals the body is sending us, the body burns out. This is its way of forcing us to finally listen to the signals we’ve been ignoring all along.

 

What we need to do about it? 

As Heinemann & Heinemann point out in their 2017 research article: ‘Burnout Research: Emergence and Scientific Investigation of a Contested Diagnosis’ 

Freudenberger not only coined the term burnout, he also suggested preventive measures. “Because he believed that burnout is particularly linked to specific working environments and organisational contexts, he proposed intervening at an organisational rather than just an individual level. His recommendations included shorter working hours, regular job rotation, and frequent supervision and staff training.”

Freudenberger was certainly ahead of the curve. He recognised that burnout syndrome was much bigger than the individual it affects but a symptom of the culture he or she is working within. Which is why his advice for beating burnout is still very appropriate for employers and employees in the 21st century. We need to look- not only for the signs and signals of burnout in both ourselves and our colleagues- but also for the culture within which it perpetuates. Question yourself and others if you notice someone normalising stress. Create a dialogue about workload overwhelm. And start a conversation where it is okay not to be okay.

Model this value shift for your colleagues and you will help others to own where they are, get help when they need it and find a balance in life. 

 

From Burnt Out to Fired Up

We urge you to go away and open up a dialogue around burnout in your workplace. If you think you’re too busy all the time, then maybe you are also too busy to be properly listening to the signs of burnout in your own life and noticing them in your colleagues and loved ones. To create space, start a conversation and step into a more self-compassionate way of relating to your workplace stress.