What doesn’t kill you/in Be Authentic /by Nick
New research suggests that we should stop saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – Because it doesn’t!
I found some interesting research recently, based on the experiences of people in Chile and neighbouring countries who went through devastating earthquakes and a tsunami in 2010 (link to full article below).
In short, those people who had previously experienced four or more ‘stressors’ were at a much greater risk of developing a post-disaster mental health disorder compared to those who had experienced few or no prior stressors.
The researchers defined a ‘stressor’ as serious illness or injury, death of a loved one, divorce, unemployment or financial struggles, legal troubles or loss of a valuable possession.
In the world of people development, it’s very common to see that “What doesn’t kill you …” quote from Nietzsche used with the intention of boosting people’s confidence or resilience in the face of extreme difficulty. It’s the so-called “stress inoculation hypothesis”.
But some Nietzsche scholars believe that the German philosopher was actually poking fun at the kind of thinking which regards repeated adversity as a source of strength. It was common for Nietzsche to do this – say one thing, but mean another. It’s perhaps unfortunate that his pithy sayings are so quotable!
As usual, I wonder if the truth is somewhere in the middle:
- It’s clear from the Chilean research that repeated exposure to stressful experiences makes you more vulnerable to negative impacts from extreme events – not stronger at all
- But perhaps it’s possible that it does make you more empathetic towards others who have also experienced stressful times? In itself, this is a very useful success skill.
Similarly, a big cause of stress in life and at work is the gap between our expectations of how things somehow “should” be – and how they really, actually are:
- In times of stress, that gap can seem huge (“My life and work should be successful/happy/fulfilling/safe – but it is actually not”);
- Perhaps it’s also possible that exposure to stressful experiences gives us a kind of, if not inoculation, than maybe a kind of world-weary assumption that sh*t does occasionally happen – and maybe that helps a little?
Let me know what you’re noticing about the impact of stressful events on your own resilience please.
Either leave a comment below if they’re still open at the time of reading, or tweet me @nickrobcoach.What your view? is it true that 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'? Or is it more nuanced than that? Click To Tweet
You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup/in Inspiration /by Nick
As we go into the Covid19 bounce-back phase, how Bruce Lee can help us to top-up our Resilience, Willpower and Empathy
More from my series of short videos about things that have inspired me, helped me overcome challenges or just helped me to get through difficult times.
Lots of the personal qualities that are so important in leading and managing others are like a cup – their contents get depleted over time and need to be topped-up. After all, As Bruce Lee famously said,
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
As usual, please leave me a comment if they’re still open below, or tweet me @NickRobCoach. Tell me about what inspires you, or gets you through challenging or uncertain times? Click To Tweet
Don’t tell me what I can’t do!/in Trust Yourself /by Nick
I’m too busy doing it.
My favourite response whenever someone starts imposing their own limits on me.
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As usual, please leave me a comment if they’re still open below, or tweet me @NickRobCoach. How unstoppable are you?
Can’t Keep Up?/1 Comment/in Trust Yourself /by Nick
Feel like you can’t keep up?
12 ways to simplify your leadership
Do you want to work as quickly and efficiently as possible, so you can finish early and still have time and energy to do other stuff? You’re not alone. More and more I’m seeing people who say they want to do more at work, enjoy more time with their family, and have more time to relax, but that their actual focus is on “keeping up.”
It may be that you’re temporarily in a really tricky situation and you just need to get out the other side of it. But if not; if that sense of not being able to keep up at work is persisting longer than it should, take a look at these short tips for breaking the pattern.
1. Identify your Top 1 – 3 priorities for the day
And once you’ve identified them, do these first thing in your day, or do them in your quality time, or scrub-out something else. Remember, you’ve either chosen to work on your own priorities, or you’ve chosen to forward somebody else’s agenda.
2. 80% is More Than Good Enough
Identify what level of %age completion/quality is right for the task you’re involved with and don’t go 1% over. Perfect is the enemy of good.
3. Delegate the ‘What’ not the ‘How’
Make sure you’re only delegating ‘outcomes’ and not telling people how to achieve those outcomes. Be prepared to live with people taking a different approach to the way you might have done it. This is the ONLY option if you don’t want to, or can’t, do everything yourself – which you don’t and cant’!
4. Don’t use your Email In-tray as a To-Do app
It doesn’t work. It DOESN’T work. Email is for communication, not task-management. Get a simple to-do app and use that instead. If your email in-tray is overflowing, make a separate folder, dump everything into there and start again with a blank in-tray, this time using a separate app to record to-do’s.
5. Manage all your Emails (and other In-boxes) using the 5-Minute RAFT Formula
Everything that arrives in your various inboxes should be dealt with using the 5-minute RAFT approach, as follows:
- R is for Reading – can you read an item in 5 minutes or less – and do you really, really need to read it? If so, read it when it arrives, otherwise, bung it into a Reading File and wait ‘til it’s a priority. Or Trash it.
- A is for Action – can you action item in 5 minutes or less – and do you really, really need to do it? If so, action it when it arrives, otherwise, bung it into your To-Do app and do it when it’s a priority. Or Trash it.
- F is for File – can you file an item in 5 minutes or less? If so, file it now. If not, wtf is it!?
- T is for Trash – this is my favourite. Trash it. Hit delete. Gone and forgotten. Should be your default setting – can I legitimately just hit delete or chuck this in the bin and not get emotionally-hooked.
6. Under-schedule and Over-deliver
Rather then over-schedule and under-deliver! This is strongly linked with Items 1 and 12. The best way to do more is to try and do less. Focus, focus, focus. How jammed is your calendar, how hectic is your travel schedule? “Less is more” people.
7. Ask people for their ideas
Not only is this a good way to get and stay engaged with people, you’ll end up with new and different solutions that you wouldn’t have thought. Takes a bit longer in the short-term, delivers better quality and takes the load off of you in the medium-term.
8. Know and Say your Leadership Mantra
All leaders should be able to say what the strategic aim for their organisation or department is. “What we need to do is X, Y and Z.” Repeat this whenever and wherever until you’re sick of hearing it. And then repeat it some more. This way of simplifying really helps others to get behind the programme and take-up more of the effort themselves. You’ll be more than pleasantly surprised when you hear people repeating your mantra unprompted.
9. Work through People and on Tasks
And the more senior you become, the less you should be working on tasks and the more you should be working through people. Check how your current balance is on this and see if you need to spend more time leading and less time doing. See also 10 below.
10. One-to-one Meetings are your Main Tool for Working through People
There isn’t a better way to get things done than to sit down with your people individually and coach them through their own priorities. I’d give at least one day a week to doing this for every four team members I have. Use this Coaching formula:
- What Outcomes are they working towards?
- What’s in the Current Situation that you and they need to be aware of?
- What Approaches have they tried or do they want to take?
- What Support do they need?
- How will you know when it’s Worked?
11. Build Relationships
I bang on about this all the time. Relationships are the key to getting stuff one in organisations.
“It’s not what you know.
It’s not even who you know.
It’s how well do you know the right people?”Nick Robinson
When was the last time you prioritised coffee with a colleague just for the sake getting to know each other better?
12. Leaders think Short, Medium AND Long-term
So often we under-estimate what can be done in the long-term and over-estimate what can be done in the short-term. The key is to plan on all three time-horizons. What’s my priority for this year, for this month, for today – and how do they link together?
I hope those help a little? Give me a shout – add a comment below if they’re still open, contact me here, or tweet me @NickRobCoach if there’s something not covered or if you’d like to add one of your own tips.
Wind-up or Shine?/in Trust Yourself /by Nick
Image update for you to download:
If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?
Click the picture above and then right-click and select ‘Save as…’ to download your copy.
This one of my new favourite quotes from the 13th century Persian poet and mystic Rumi.
Working life can be full of little bits of ‘helpful’ feedback, annoyances, set-backs and other irritating stuff. You can either let that rub you up the wrong way, or take what’s useful, disregard the rest, and use the learning it provides to hone and polish yourself to a brilliant shine.
Takes a bit of practice, but it really is a choice everybody can make.
Every Time/in Trust Yourself /by Nick
Inspiration: 12 things to do every time if you want to go beyond your previous limits – in the form of a poem!
When I started it, I wasn’t really sure what this article would turn out to be…
In the end, it more or less wrote itself anyway. Very early one dark, rainy Monday morning when I was feeling great about things. Full of determination and ready for the week. Looking at it now, I’ve laid it out a lot like a poem, so, I guess that’s what it is!
Every time you doubt yourself,
Go do it anyway.
Every time you judge yourself,
Give yourself a break.
Every time you get a chance,
Lift somebody up.
Every time you’re not enough,
Be all that you are.
Every time your dream fades,
Dream it even bigger.
Every time you need a leader,
Look into a mirror.
Every time you let us down,
Learn to ask for help.
Every time you hit a wall,
Work your way around.
Every time you’re in the wrong,
Every time you mess up,
Every time you stop short,
Every time you fall down,
© 2018 www.nickrobinson.org
Leadership and Physical Intelligence/2 Comments/in Trust Yourself /by Nick
How’s your Physical Intelligence – and how does this affect your ability to lead others?
I’ve long been interested in the idea of different types of intelligence. The developmental psychologist Howard Gardener described eight “modalities” of intelligence (which he later expanded to include two more), one of which is ‘Bodily-kinesthetic’ intelligence:
Gardner describes this as control of one’s physical movement and the capacity to handle objects skilfully. This also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses. He believes that people who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are generally good at physical activities such as sports, dance, acting, and making things.
Click here to see Gardner’s book on Amazon (not an affiliate link).
Whether or not you believe it’s actually an ‘Intelligence’, you’ve probably been around people who are really great at using their bodies. They can hit a tennis ball right by you without seeming to try. Or they can insert a needle into a worried patient’s arm in one easy motion. Or they can make great choices about their own physical health, in a way that sustains them really well.
What other kinds of physical intelligence or smartness have you noticed in yourself or others?
I learned from studying Emotional Intelligence, that you can think about each of your own intelligences as having two components:
First, a ‘Capacity‘. This is like the limit of your own intelligence (whether it’s Intellectual, Emotional or Physical etc). For some aspects of each of those intelligences, research suggests that your capacity is fixed – that is, it can’t be increased. What you’re born with may be what you’re stuck with. For other aspects, your capacity can be increased – you can stretch the limit and develop new capacities.
Second, there’s a ‘Utilisation‘. This is how much you use your current capacity. If you want to improve your intelligence, be it Intellectual, Emotional or Physical etc, making sure you’re actually already using all that you can use is probably the best place to start.
As I get older and my body stops taking care of itself quite as automatically as it did when I was younger, I’ve become more interested in aspects of physical intelligence. I’m lucky to have a wide spread of ages and occupations and interests amongst my coaching clients, so this is something I often just get a little curious about with them. What do they do to take care of themselves physically? How does their physical being impact on their presence as a leader? Are there links for them (as the evidence seems to suggest) between their physical intelligence and their emotional resilience?
If I bring to mind a dozen or so people I know really well who I’d regard as great leaders, it seems pretty clear to me that they have a good range of several of Gardner’s Intelligence Modalities. They’re smart people and they’ve worked at that. They are good at building relationships with others and they’ve worked at that too. And they all do something to maintain or even increase the utilisation of their own physical capacity.
What’s also interesting for me, is the range of things that these leaders do to utilise their physical being. There’s all the middle-aged cyclists of course. And there are swimmers and runners and tennis players and footballers and hikers and so on. But then there are also dancers and yoga practitioners and tai-chi masters and Nia movers and Five Rhythms people. The range of things that people do to be in great relationship with their bodies is huge.
This is not just about “fitness” – although being fit certainly seems to be part of Physical Intelligence. It’s more than just that though; it’s also about being aligned with and being fully part of our physical being, our bodies, as well as our mental and emotional existence. Without that, it’s hard to be a complete person – which is another important aspect of being a great leader.
It also seems to me that people who have a good relationship with their own bodies are more confident in their dealings with others, are less likely to get hijacked by their own knee-jerk responses and are generally happier and therefore more pleasant to be around.
What’s your view? Does your physical intelligence have anything at all to do with your ability to lead others, or to be successful in your work?
What’s the key? If you believed that physical intelligence IS important to leadership and general success at work and in life, and you wanted to improve your own where should you start?
In my personal experience, it’s all too easy to make this difficult. In the past I’ve managed to fill my own attempts to get physically smarter with all kinds of unhelpful beliefs about how much ‘should’ be possible for me. Or about how I need to keep the shambolic, beginner stages private. Or I’ve even fallen into the ‘no pain, no gain’ trap!
If we reflect back on my earlier points about Capacity and Utilisation, we’re actually talking about learning new stuff here – even if, in this case, it’s our bodies that are doing the learning. And the best learning is messy, playful, gentle and spontaneous.
Is that the way to improved physical intelligence?
Persist and Prevail/in Inspire Others /by Nick
How to tell if you’ll rise to a challenge – and three simple ways to do so
I’m a big fan of that old saying: “Get knocked down seven times, stand-up eight.” For me, that’s what resilience is mostly about; just the sheer bloody-mindedness to choose not to lie there, but to get up again.
But there’s another kind of persistence isn’t there? The kind where you’re rolling along smoothly, and you’ve not been knocked down, but yet another challenge appears in front of you. Something else that you could choose to rise to.
It’s a bit like when you’re out hiking somewhere with a lot of false peaks. You think you’re nearing the top and that the upwards part of the walk will be over when you crest the next brow you can see in front of you. But when you get there, that new perspective shows you that there’s still more peaks to come. And again, there’s likely to be some new climbs that you can’t even see yet.
I’ve had the good fortune to spend some time around some very pragmatic people just recently and I love how these folks respond to those unexpected challenges. Mostly it seems with a little sigh, some rubbing of the hands and rolling-up of the sleeves and a re-application of the shoulder to the wheel.
You can explore how anybody is likely to respond in those kind of situations, by asking them how they dealt with specific previous stressful experiences.
Describe a situation (at work, or elsewhere) that gave you trouble?
(Pick a specific example, don’t generalise). When that situation first materialised:
- What did you notice about your emotional response?
- How ‘deep’ into your emotions did you go?
- And how long did that last?
- Then what happened?
What you might want to be looking for is how someone deals with the emotional ‘whack’ that comes from facing yet another challenge. Can they process those emotions fairly quickly, put them into the bigger perspective of what’s really important to them and then move on, again fairly quickly?
Coaches sometimes use the term:
‘Going into and coming out of their emotions’
to describe this trait.
What’s less useful (in terms of dealing with challenges) is having someone who stays in the emotional stage, so that their ability to act is impaired. That’s a useful trait at other times (lots of creative people do this well, so that they can draw on the power of the emotions in their work), but it isn’t necessarily what you want for getting into action when the next challenge appears.
A small proportion of people don’t go into their emotions at all during times of (to them) normal stress levels. Those people stay calm and cool throughout, but may struggle to express their empathy for others. If they are also someone who experiences but doesn’t process those emotions and instead boxes them up in some way, that could come back and bite you later when you’re least expecting it.
If you want to train yourself to be able to choose whether to go into and come out of emotions, so that you can better respond to challenges, three practical things seem really helpful:
1. Controlling your breathing. Long, deep in-breaths, held for a while and then exhaled slowly will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite to the fight/flight system.
2. Preparation, in particular being consciously familiar with your bigger-picture goals and priorities. The more you know about where you want to go long-term, the less likely one more false-peak is to discourage you from continuing your journey.
3. Modelling. Who do you know who’s a bit like those pragmatic, sleeve-rolling-up, shoulder-to-the-wheel people I’ve been hanging around with lately? How would that person react when yet another challenge appears? What’s important to them, when that happens?
Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. –Joshua J. Marine