Claim Your Confidence Newsletters

17 January 2019

Let's Talk Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage is not usually a New Year theme, but as we all want to start a new year off with a clean slate, dealing with self-sabotage might be the best thing you do for yourself all year.  

Self-sabotage is very often a component of a mindset. In fact, the saboteur is in all of us. She is a direct result of our belief that success and the changes that success brings, could harm us. If your inner saboteur is affecting you at the moment, then you must be doing something right!

The saboteur comes from your fears that if you keep going down this path, you may actually be successful. Oh my! Then what?? How will life be different if all that hard work pays off? Will you cope with the extra responsibility or the changes that success brings? Who at some time has not thought it would be easier to sit back and remain comfortable rather than go for growth?

Self-sabotage is simply another protection device that your brain uses to keep you safe. The threat is unforeseen change - the 'what if's..' that keep you awake at night. There can be just as many 'what if's...' in success as in failure. Embracing success means embracing your inner saboteur and showing her a little love. 

Why you self-sabotage


Inviting change into your life through a business means that you can respond positively to opportunities to be successful, allowing them to manifest, or ignore them for fear they will disrupt life as you know it.

The saboteur in you fears change so she disrupts your progress. Change acknowledges the power you have to act on opportunity and make something of it. 

Your power to act challenges a low confidence mindset because here is proof that you might have what it takes to achieve a dream and make something big happen.

But your saboteur prefers to play the tape in your head that suggests maybe now isn't the right time, or perhaps there is another road you should be taking over there. Even though you can see the reward in front of you, your feet feel glued to the precipice. Whatever the excuse, the real fear is that you might actually be more powerful than you think, and that feels scary.  

So what to do?


Dealing with your saboteur

Module 7 of the Claim Your Confidence programs discusses many ways to deal with your inner saboteur, but here's a few to consider.

  1. Don't ignore this part of yourself. Her primary role in your life is to protect you, and that is what she is doing when she disrupts your progress and suggests you take a safer path.
  2. Listen to her warnings. Sometimes you hear her advise you against taking a certain action or getting involved with a particular opportunity. These warnings may alert you to potential sabotage coming from others.
  3. Once you befriend her, take her with you on the journey. She operates on gut instinct not rational and logical choice. If she is wary there is a reason for it. Ask yourself what you are afraid of and listen to your intuition. Is this fear worth rewiring to enable you to move forward?
  4. To become an ally with your saboteur, you need courage to silence the voice of fear. Take even the smallest step forward to expand your creativity and take responsibility for your choices. 
You are a powerful woman with the right to succeed.  Every small step you take towards making and owning a choice or decision helps rewire your belief in yourself.  Don't spend another year glued to the edge fearing the fall.  Listen to your saboteur but don't put her in charge of your life. 


5 December 2018

Plan an Optimistic Future

At this time of year, many businesses are looking forward to closing up for a well-earned rest, while also planning ahead for the year to come. As I talk to businesses, I hear mixed stories about this time of year. Some are so busy they can't keep up with their workload, while for others, work essentially dries up in December until mid-January. The New Year can therefore be a time of abundant income or scarce income.

How you approach the New Year will depend on your mindset. If the January sales dip, or a lack of new contracts, or another year in a job you don't enjoy, triggers negative emotion like anxiety, your brain will warn you about an uncertain future. The scarcity mindset easily takes hold when the 'what if's...?' get the better of you. Decisions made in this mindset are usually protective ones. You might think about closing the business down, throwing your job in, or abandoning an idea because it didn't pay off big this year. 

The alternative mindset means that you consciously decide not to focus on fears of scarcity, and instead practice wiring in new opportunity-focused thoughts to get you through to the New Year. If you start practicing this week, by Christmas you will have wired in a new neural pathway built on confident thoughts, not fearful ones.


Opportunity Thinking

It might be hard to believe, but your brain finds many things more rewarding than money.   It's probably the reason why people who win the lottery aren't any happier a year after the event.  The brain does not get the same amount of pleasure from cold hard cash as it does from other things.  Strange I know!  

There is a few things that the brain finds more rewarding than money, such as having a high social standing; being in control of your life; humour, novelty and fun. 

But the big one is social relationships.  While you might guess that love and sex are deeply rewarding to the brain,  so is meaningful connection with other people - having social networks and helping others.  And I think this is where we can leverage our thinking towards opportunity rather than scarcity, when planning for 2019. 

By working with your brain's love of social connection, you are giving yourself a reward focus rather than a threat focus for the future.  This will keep you motivated for longer, help your confidence grow, and expand ideas for opportunities rather than shrink them.  Below are some suggestions to start 
you off. 


Three Ways to Leverage Opportunity Thinking


Plan to be generous

It might sometimes be based in self-interest, but giving to others not only causes the rapid firing of the reward centre of your brain, it sets up a similar reward response in the other person. When they feel your kindness or generosity, their brain wants to respond in kind. Reciprocity is wired into us. This global trend is fast growing as big businesses realise that working for social causes increases brand loyalty through reciprocity.

  • What new thought and action would increase your generosity towards yourself and your customers in 2019 (and maybe trigger reciprocity)? 


Cooperate 

Research shows that people who choose to cooperate with others rather than compete against them, even if they lose money in the process, show more reward in their brain than those who play to win. The reward keeps you motivated even in difficult times. Cooperation builds social connection, establishes trust and achieves things that you couldn't do alone. 

  • What new thought and action could you practice wiring in, to increase your opportunities for cooperating with others in 2019? Where can you work with others for mutual reward?


Give Social Support

Your brain finds providing social support to others very rewarding. This is the drive behind people helping out at evacuation centres, donating food at Christmas and forming the 'mud army' during floods. It feels good to help out. You might provide social support for other staff, for colleagues and friends, for customers or clients, or you might organise events for this purpose.

  • What new thought and action could you practice wiring in to increase your opportunities to provide social support to others? Where are you needed by your customers in ways that would benefit them and increase your pleasure in serving others? 



28 November 2018

Swap Scarcity for Abundance

We all have fears of lack and I find business an excellent way to bring these fears to the surface!  Every day I have a choice.  I can live in fear and worry that I won't have enough cashflow, customers, profit, products or status and give into my brain's threat response, or I can resist the fear caused by lack thinking, and focus on what I have and where I am going.

Lack thinking is part of 21st century life - or as many would say, the result of a focus on 'First World problems.'  Being blessed with so many opportunities is of no interest to a brain trained to find a gap that needs filling.  By focusing on what we lack, and pairing it with strong negative emotion such as fear, anger and anxiety, we wire in a neural pathway that fires up whenever we identify something we think we need but don't have.

Rewiring your thinking to a reward-based 'abundance' mindset rather than a fear-based 'scarcity' mindset, takes practice.  It isn't easy because the brain has 5 times more threat networks than reward networks.  This means it quickly grasps the slightest tremor of fear that your customer numbers are declining or your sales stalling, but is less interested in recognising the good things that happen every day.

However, deciding to rewire any belief in lack means we can release some of the panicked, grasping, anxious thoughts that what we have and where we are right now, is not good enough. Below are a few ideas on how you can do this. 

Think Abundantly

We all know how easy it is to be loving and kind to people when they are loving and kind to us, but how much harder it is to be kind when others act unlovingly.  I think this applies to abundance thinking as well.  It's easy to be grateful and focus on all the good things we have when life is going smoothly.  But when the road is full of pot holes and life gets bumpy, we discover just how hard it is to hold onto abundant thoughts.  

Reframe the situation
It was during times of great financial stress, when contracts collapsed and opportunities were cancelled that I started to reframe what was happening to me.  One day as a joke I changed my usual phrase, 'I have no work', to 'I'm between jobs.'   Instantly, I felt the pressure ease!  I was telling my anxious brain that another job would turn up eventually, and that put me in a more opportunity focused state rather than a fearful lack state.

Earlier this year I used the reframe, 'I'm on a sabbatical' rather than 'I'm unemployed', when I had to cancel six months of work due to a family emergency.  This reframe kept me mindful that I had a choice to view the cancelled work as an event that I was in control of (i.e. I'm taking time out) rather than a situation that I was a victim of (i.e. I'm forced to be unemployed).  It is rewarding to your brain when you acknowledge your own power and autonomy in a situation, which keeps you moving in an upward spiral, not a downward one.

Appreciate the little things
There are many days where just reminding myself how lucky I am to work in my own business, make my own decisions and choose work that I enjoy doing, is enough to beat back the lack-monster lurking in my brain.  By consciously acknowledging that I have a choice and I choose this, I make myself responsible for attracting and appreciating the good things that happen.

Lose the language of sacrifice
The voice of sacrifice goes like this:
  • If only I didn't have to..(do my bookkeeping)...I would enjoy my job more.
  • If it wasn't for..(these annoying people)...my life would be so much easier.
  • I don't really mind doing....but I wish someone would do the same for me.
  • It doesn't seem fair that I have to .... when he/she doesn't.
It takes practice to hear this voice, but as you listen for it, you see where lack thinking is creeping into your everyday thoughts. 

Abundance language is more:
  • I am grateful I have the opportunity to ..(earn enough money that I have to do the books).
  • It's these daily challenges that remind me how much I have learned and grown in this role.
  • Doing things for others is a choice I make.  Many people have assisted me over the years.
  • I'm responsible for what I bring into my life, and I contribute where I can.

One Small Step

Today in your tea/coffee/hot chocolate/water or wine break, take 5 minutes to get an understanding of where scarcity might be impacting on your thinking.

  • What is a scarcity story that you tell yourself in your work?  It might be about the things you can't afford, a struggle or loss in your business, or your perception of someone else’s gain.
  • Identify the specific beliefs you hold about scarcity – for example, do you believe there is not enough to go around for everyone?
  • Identify the result of these beliefs in your life – where do these ideas limit you in your business? How do they affect your decision-making when starting, growing or employing in business?
Module 6 in the Claim Your Confidence Program examines the scarcity mindset in more detail, and will help you see where you might be self-sabotaging your achievements by focusing on lack thinking rather than abundance thinking.  The program will teach you the steps to rewire thoughts of lack, and once you have the idea, you can apply it to anything that keeps you from being grateful for what you have, or content with where you are going.

15 November 2018

Going With the Flow

A technique that I have found very helpful in my business, and in life in general, is the one I share in Module 5 on Rock and Water Logic. I use it when I'm stuck on a problem, to shift me from the belief that something has to be certain, perfect or 'right' before I can act on it. I'm sharing it briefly here so that if you have a chance to practice it today, you too can see how powerful it is.  

Edward de Bono came up with this thinking technique and in Claim Your Confidence, I apply it to getting movement on decisions that you know you should make, but are delaying.  Delaying is a brain tactic to stall you as long as you feel uncertain. Your brain wants your life as predictable as possible and waiting is one way to be sure that nothing 'unpredictable' can occur. Perfectionism is one way we might delay, as is waiting for the ‘right moment’ or the ‘right decision’ or even a ‘sign’ that you should take action.

De Bono suggests that the hard logic we use to decide if something like a decision is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, is too often based on the idea of ‘rocks’ rather than ‘water’.

Rock and Water Logic

‘Rock logic’ De Bono suggests, is based on judgement and trying to fit things into existing categories. It is “…hard, hard-edged, permanent and unchanging… We can say that a rock ‘is’. It is not going to let us down and change into something else. There is the sense of an independent absolute” (De Bono, I am right you are wrong, 1990).

Perfectionism is like rock logic. When things need to be ‘perfect’ they have a sense of being hard-edged, permanent and unchanging. Perfection can’t be anything but one thing and that is perfect. It ‘is’ because once it is perfect it can’t change into something else.

Wanting to be certain also uses rock logic. If we think that nothing can change our opinion once we feel certain that this is how it is, then we are using rock logic.

However, water logic is based on impermanence, movement and flow. Water logic emphasises flowing, leading, moving ‘to’ rather than being the ‘is’ of rock logic. Water logic can go places that rock logic can’t, because it isn’t permanent and hard-edged. This logic is softer, malleable and can flow around to fit the use that we have for it. When we want movement in a decision, water logic gives us a tool for moving forward, whereas rock logic leads us to one fixed point.



Using water logic to overcome uncertainty
Rock logic thinking uses ‘is’, i.e. ‘When my idea is perfect I will act on it.’

Water logic would reframe that thinking into where it could go ‘to’.
* 'As I act on this idea, it will lead to other ideas that may be even better.’
* 'I am moving to clearer thinking about this problem by taking a step in this direction.’
* 'Testing my idea even though it is not perfect will shift me to more insights about it. Wanting it to be perfect will not.'

Water logic and money
There are ancient links to the words we use today for money, to water. The word for currency in Latin is ‘currere’ meaning ‘to run’ or ‘to flow’. Affluence comes from the root word ‘affluere’ which means to flow to. The word ‘affluence’ means ‘to flow in abundance’. Using water logic can open us to new ways to think about financial decisions in times of uncertainty.

To rewire a belief that making a wrong decision will cost us financially, we can think about the decision as flowing to other benefits.
* Rock logic says, ‘A wrong decision is expensive.’
* Water logic says, ‘If my decision is a mistake it will lead to learning how to better manage my business in the future.’

Water logic and confidence
* Rock logic says, ‘My confidence is lacking therefore I should not be in business.’
* Water logic says, ‘Recognising my low confidence leads me to realise that business builds resilience.'

One Small Step
Today during your coffee/tea/hot chocolate/water break, take 5 minutes to write out a rock and water statement for a decision that you feel uneasy about making. Small decisions are a great way to practice because it might take a couple of attempts before you get a helpful water logic statement.  

Water logic is also a wonderful tool to consider what a new belief in yourself could lead to. Any belief about yourself that you think is fixed and permanent (like a rock) can be changed to a water logic statement that gives you permission to flow into new realisations and opportunities for growth and change.

It is by changing rock-logic beliefs one at a time that you give yourself permission to become more confident in who you are and what you are capable of.

10 October 2018

The Battle for Status

Tonight I'm going to a networking meeting I have never been to before. I probably won't know anyone. I have been practicing my introduction so that I don't stumble over it and look silly in front of women I don't know. My status is on the line - they don't know me and I don't know them. What if I come off badly? Already my brain is on 'threat alert', telling me that there is some danger in doing this 'harmless' networking thing. It feels like I have to force myself to go, with my brain digging its heels in and holding onto the door jamb as I drag it out the door!

Why so much drama for a few nibbles and a chat? Because my brain's wiring for status is almost identical to my wiring for survival. My brain associates a threat to my status with a life or death struggle. If I look silly in front of others, I may be excluded from the tribe and being alone would threaten my very existence. Certainly in business if they don't like me, my finances could suffer, I may never eat again, die alone....see the brain loves the drama caused by a status threat.

Seeing the Status Game

Yet love it or hate it, there is no escaping the desire for status in our lives. While a status threat feels like staring death in the face, a status reward is the most joyful thing in the world to our brain! It feels so good to be better than others because your brain is giving you the thumbs up. 'You made it! You ARE special' it tells you. 'You will be Top Dog in the tribe! Have some dopamine and go get yourself some more status!' 

It doesn't take much to see how status plays out in your life. When you feel worthless because you lost an important sale, or you pretend things are wonderful even when they are not, your brain is sensing a status threat on the horizon. You feel like hiding so that others won't see you without the status that your brain believes is so vital to your life.

Most women incorrectly think this is about not being confident, but it has nothing to do with confidence. Your brain is simply telling you that your survival is at risk and urges you to avoid anything that might trigger that drop in status that we all feel as shame and self-blame. Not feeling that you are 'good enough' is one of the worst outcomes of a status threat, and leads to the oft-quoted 'imposter syndrome'. When you don't know who you are without your status then of course you will feel like an imposter to yourself.

One Small Step
This week take five minutes to watch status unfold around you. This is what you are looking for:

  • Publicly, status focuses on the pressure of achieving, striving and succeeding.
  • Privately, status hides shame, guilt and fear of not being good enough. 
  • Publicly, status suggests that to be accepted you must outwardly demonstrate success.
  • Privately, status reminds you that no matter how much you try, you will never live up to your own expectations, much less anyone else’s. 
These are just 4 examples of status - the more you notice the hundreds of ways that status is at play, the more you will begin to see how frequently status is the driving force behind many actions you take.

Once you notice them, you can then decide whether to continue to be at the mercy of your brain's threat and reward wiring, or create a more empowering mindset that doesn't rely on status for your self-worth.

If you want to know how to do this, join us today in the Claim Your Confidence Program.  It's not too late to start and with the Program ending on 31 December, it's the perfect time to get started!

3 October 2018

What Are You Worth?

You may have seen the Specsavers TV ad currently screening, asking people how much they would sell their eyes for. Their shock when asked to put a value on a part of their body that they believe is priceless, is evident in each person's expression. Eyesight suddenly becomes valuable when they realise that it could so easily be taken from them.

We could play this game with any part of our body, ultimately deciding that every part is too valuable to lose. Our feet enable us to walk, our ears to hear, our lungs to breathe. Is there any part we could put a price on and feel good about losing?

So what value then would you put on yourself? How much are you 'worth' if the parts were sold off individually, or traded for something else? Are you indeed 'priceless' based on the value of your individual body parts, and if so, why is there an epidemic of 'worthlessness' in the psyche of so many women?  Could it be that there is a part of ourselves that we can't see, that we believe is not as valuable as the parts we could sell off?

Are You Worth it?
When we talk about something being 'priceless' we are usually describing something physical, like our eyes or our health. We tend to use the term 'worthless' when we refer to our inner self, the bit of us that we can't see but forms our understanding of 'who we are'. Both terms are subjective and not meaningful at all. But it's interesting to note that we place more value on what we can see and feel in our body, than what we see as our self through our minds and thoughts.

Your inner self is the part that you doubt when the foundation you use to assess your worth, is weak. A weak foundation assesses your value as having a big salary, or an important career, or a great body. All of these things can easily crumble and disappear in the chaos of life. However, a strong foundation is one where you establish a basis for deciding you have value, deciding you are worthy as you are, deciding you are a peaceful and loving woman regardless of the chaos that life throws at you. If you don't consciously decide on your value, the world will quickly tell you that you have none. 

The foundation you are building in the present moment is the one that determines your tomorrow. The past is over and cannot be changed. The future is not yet here and can only be influenced by what you do today. If you do nothing different, then tomorrow will be much the same as today.

In the Claim Your Confidence online program, part of the rewiring process is Reset. Reset the foundation you have established for how you think about yourself. Reset those old beliefs about yourself and the faulty wiring that sparks in your brain every time someone pushes a trigger that leads to self-sabotage. Learn what triggers you and rewire that thought.

Thinking about yourself in a belittling way will not give you a strong and stable foundation. In fact, anything that does not respect your intrinsic worth is not a foundation worth putting your attention on. If you are indeed priceless, then building a new foundation on that belief will be the healthier mindset you are seeking.

One Small Step
Today take 5 minutes to reflect on the value that you put on yourself. If the idea of worthlessness comes up in any way, shape or form, ask yourself:
Is this belief:
  • Wise?
  • Worthy of me?
  • Building a stronger foundation?
Or is it:
  • Unwise?
  • Unworthy of me?
  • Putting a crack in the foundation?
If it falls into the category of old wiring that is overdue for replacement, then you have a choice to replace it. A new thought and a change of behaviour takes just a moment to create, but the impact could last a lifetime.
Are you worth it?

12 September 2018

Which Road Will You Take Today?

In every conversation, you have two choices: you can react, or respond. Reacting is one way to deal with the issues, problems and concerns people (and social media) bring you. It's a wiring shortcut in your brain that disregards your conscious thinking, allowing your brain to take the fast path of emotion and fear.

This neural shortcut is the 'low road' that happens when we are burned out from stress or exhaustion, among other things. Your 'short fuse' is literally the 'shortcut' in your brain straight to negative emotion. It bypasses the rational thinking area of your brain and 'lights up' the fuse in the amygdala, sparking a reaction that can burn others and yourself.

Responding takes longer to arrive at the destination but it's the scenic route. You feel your brain ready to shout 'fire!' but you calmly tell it to settle down. You breathe and switch on your higher thinking. When you feel more in control you respond. This 'high road' gets you above the fear of the low road and helps you see other solutions.

You can decide at every moment to over-rule the habitual reactions of the 'low road' and no doubt you do most of the time. But have you considered how this ability to use the 'high road' can help you cope with any emotional challenge you face?

Take Back Control
With the pressure to always have a quick answer, a witty response, a 3-line Facebook update and a tweet at the ready we are well trained in 'fast'. Take the time to let your higher thinking functions over-ride the fast reaction that comes so easily. You can't do it while multitasking or while letting the emotion of the situation flood you first. If you are plotting revenge it's too late! Try again next time.

Your brain is your own and so are the shortcuts you have wired in. Maybe it's not a short fuse to temper but an quick path to tears. You feel out of control but you are not. Having spent decades wiring in the fastest path to emotion, it takes practice to stop, breathe and rewire, but the practice is worth it.

There are many books that give tips on slowing down your thinking. Any book on Buddhism or Zen will give you lots of techniques. A favourite of mine is Pema Chodron's book, 'Start where you are: how to accept yourself and others'. Or just practice noticing where you go to the low road automatically and use a phrase with yourself such as, 'Let that go', or 'Lighten up'.

Literally notice it and stop it. Your brain is 100% capable of rewiring itself to anything you put your mind to, so see the answer to low confidence, or fear of public speaking or being quick to tears as simply an unhelpful shortcut straight to emotion, and put in an extra step. Breathe. Then respond, not react.

One Small Step
Today in your coffee/tea/hot chocolate break, take five minutes to decide to notice where you react and when you respond. There will be a pattern of reaction - certain things will trigger you and your brain will snap into its normal habit of response. Notice the irritations, frustrations or stresses that keep you hooked in the low road response.

Once you notice this, you can begin to notice when you don't react. When do you respond with thoughtfulness, or when do you take a breath before you answer? What patterns have you established for responding? Write one of those down on a post it note and stick it up today to remind you to do this.


30 August 2018

Naming Your Contribution

When it comes to talking rewards in business, we generally focus on what business can give us. Money, success, power, fame, travel opportunities and countless other benefits. We don't usually consider the rewards that we get from simply being a contribution to others.

Neuroscience research has discovered that your brain finds contributing to the wellbeing of strangers very rewarding. The neuropeptide oxytocin helps us bond with our offspring, but it also helps promote generosity towards complete strangers. This 'feel good' response from our brain's reward system might be what motivates us to stay in business and continue to contribute, even in tough times.

When you make a difference, work collaboratively and provide assistance where you are needed, confidence naturally flows. You can't fail when you are a contribution to others, and threats take a back seat. Being a contribution shifts the focus from your own needs to the wider whole and is one of the greater rewards for having a possibility mindset.

Get more reward in life
Your brain is highly sensitive to what feels rewarding, so it knows what will trigger a dopamine hit. Chocolate, coffee, cocaine, laughter, love, sex, novelty, alcohol, nicotine, stress, marijuana, autonomy, certainty, any break in routine and in men - even revenge - trigger dopamine release making us feel that we want more of these things.

Not all of those rewards are ones you can (or should) indulge in every day, and maybe not at all! Your task is to intentionally find rewards that are enjoyable, safe and sustain you on the days when you feel less motivated. Your brain's reward system is behind all the motivation you feel or don't feel every day, so having a richer choice of reward-based activity to choose from will help get you through the days where motivation is low.

Businesses need to be profitable to exist, but a measurement mindset fixed on competition and tactics is not the only way to achieve that. The rewards triggered by connection and contribution cost nothing and won't harm your health. Only your own thinking might stop you from seeing these rewards as equally useful to grow a business.

One Small Step
We often have a raft of reasons why we can't try something new because ultimately, to change an old habit takes work. Often, we just don't feel safe stretching out of our comfort zone.

The Claim Your Confidence program will stretch you in unexpected ways but it also provides a structured path through the habits that might have held you back in the past. As you tackle each one, you move forward a bit further. It's not meant to be a quick process, but it is a powerful one.

16 August 2018

Does Conflict Control You?

If there was one approach I would most recommend to combat a lack of confidence, it is learning to step back from your usual reactions to the things you perceive as threatening, view them with detachment, and ask yourself if these reactions are helpful.

Whether it is conflict, disapproval, new people or situations, rejection or any other situation that makes you anxious or uneasy, until you see how you typically respond to threat, you remain a victim of the way you have trained your brain to react.

Your brain is based on one core operating principle, which is to enhance your survival by minimising threat and maximising reward. To protect you from danger it comes hard-wired with many threat-detection networks. It learns what is a threat by assessing your emotional reaction to everything that you perceive.

For example, if you cringe at the sight of a barking dog, it files away 'barking dogs' as a threat and sounds the alarm when a barking dog approaches you. Without any conscious thought on your part, you draw back from the dog, look frantically around you and decide if you are safer walking away from it or remaining on the spot to defend yourself.  This is the fight or flight response in action, and it plays a huge role in helping or hindering your business success.

One Small Step
The fight/flight response is behind most people's dislike of conflict. No one enjoys the sensation of a raised heartbeat, nausea, sweaty palms and foggy thinking but they are the normal reactions of a body that is reacting to a brain's danger signal. Struggling with the urge to run or defend yourself makes it extremely difficult to hold a sensible and productive conversation with someone, but half the battle is won just by recognising your reactions and choosing to over-ride them.

Fortunately, your brain likes it when you explain things to yourself! Tell yourself 'This anxious feeling is due to my brain sensing danger', and it will help settle down the danger alarm. Naming how you feel is very helpful too, as in, 'I'm just feeling anxious about this phone call I have to make.' Take a deep breath to calm your heart rate. Sit rather than stand and never pace as it increases adrenaline which raises anxiety further.

As you learn to recognise the sensations which are overwhelming you, you can over-ride them with conscious thoughts, such as, 'I'm feeling anxious but there is nothing to fear. I will be fine and the conversation will work out well.'


9 August 2018

Do Women Fake It?

During the development of the Mentoring Women in Business Brochure, I interviewed several female mentors. One of them observed that the women she mentored were very uncomfortable with the 'fake it till you make it' suggestion.

While she found that her male mentees threw themselves in the deep end, the women hung back wanting to be 100% sure of themselves and what they were doing before they went ahead. If they were not totally sure of themselves, then they wouldn't move forward.

Her story reminded me of why I educate women in the basics of brain working. Every moment, we are at the effect of our thoughts. Our thoughts cause the effects we experience. When we hold beliefs that we are inadequate, the effect is that we question and doubt ourselves.

Why do many men appear more confident in their skills? From a young age, they wired in beliefs that they could make anything work. And if it didn't work, they just tried something else. They wired in 'fake it till you make it' because their thoughts were not based in 'I doubt myself' but 'I trust myself to give it a shot'.


One Small Step
Today in your coffee/tea break, consider how just twenty years ago, this information, much less this program, couldn't have been written. Twenty years ago no one thought the brain could reshape itself by growing new neurons and rewiring old patterns. Scientists believed it got old and withered away as you aged, with no hope of regeneration.

Today, researchers are falling over themselves to describe how little you need do for your brain to regenerate and change itself. Doing so is not hard, it's just one small step a day in a direction that leads to greater belief in yourself. No faking it - just focused attention on trusting, not doubting yourself.


2 August 2018

Beliefs and Time Management

This week we focus on the power of our beliefs. Beliefs are powerful because they sit on the surface of your life, generally without you being aware of them. The concept of time and how we management it, is a clear example of this. While drafting this newsletter I heard myself think, 'I'm running out of time', 'I don't have enough time', and when I was distracted I thought, 'I'm wasting time'.

These are all beliefs I subconsciously hold about time. Quietly they sit in the background of my life, directing my choices and leading ultimately to my experience of the day. All three beliefs raised my stress levels and reduced my ability to think clearly.

Your mindsets are built on your beliefs. When your beliefs about something are unrecognised, you cannot change them and the mindset persists. Being aware of which beliefs shape your thinking is the first step to deciding if they are helpful or not. One small step to success this week is to listen for your beliefs about time.

Beliefs Form Mindsets
Beliefs become deeply empatterned in our brain and activate when a situation triggers them Your beliefs about time may be triggered by a looming deadline or a day of back-to-back meetings. Here are some common beliefs about time that you might relate to when you are triggered:
  • I never have enough time
  • Time runs through my fingers
  • If I'm not productive I'm wasting time
  • I don't have time to stop.
When a belief pattern is activated, the neurons responsible for this belief pattern fire up. Before we realise it, the belief is front and centre in our thoughts, sabotaging or supporting our next step.

We find proof that our beliefs are true because the brain likes to maintain a familiar, established way of thinking. Rational proof is one way the brain convinces you that your belief is true. By believing what you see - I can see my desk piling up with work and the clock ticking down to 6pm - my belief that there aren't enough hours in the day is proven again.

However, you also see what you want to believe. If you want to believe that time is short then you will see plenty of tasks to occupy your time and prove this to be true. If however, you believe that you have all the time you need, you will see every task as the work to do right now, knowing that there is time to do this as well as every other task that turns up.

One Small Step
During a coffee or tea break today, identify one belief you have about time, such as 'I never have enough time'. My self talk is often, 'I'm drowning' which is a belief that no matter how much time I have, I will never get above the waterline!

Now play with this belief. Turn this belief into the complete opposite and write down a new belief in your phone with a reminder set for every hour to repeat it. For example:
  • I have enough time for everything
  • Time is plentiful
  • Everything that needs to get done will get done
  • I am putting all time to good use
Then come up with a new action to pair with the new belief. Use them whenever you hear your old belief surface. I'm going to stand up, take 5 deep breaths, repeat my new belief slowly and say it like I mean it, and then go back to what I was doing. Without a new action you just have an affirmation, and this alone won't shift a belief pattern.

Your brain will immediately tell you that this couldn't possibly work, so let it have it's say and then let it know are experimenting for a few days. Then notice how things turn out when you use a different belief and a new action.  If you find your new belief is helpful, use it for a few more days. The goal is not to get more work done but to find more helpful beliefs that support you to be more confident in every task you undertake.

 
26 July 2018

Mindsets tell a Story

Today I was in a workshop when a business women asked if negative people intentionally focus only on the bad things in life? She wondered if they did it on purpose because it was easier than problem-solving and finding solutions.

Negativity is a popular topic when I run workshops and I explain it in the Claim Your Confidence program here. Your brain is wired to pay attention to negative things, but some people are born with more threat networks than others. As a result they tend to see more threats in their environment, process these threats faster and feel more urgency to avoid them than you might.

If you know someone who is often negative, you can probably 'read' the story behind this mindset. A negativity mindset uses a script that the world is a dangerous place so it pays to be on alert and cautious where you place your trust. But what's on the surface isn't the only story behind a mindset.
Is Your Subtext Showing?
Mindsets also have a story under the surface. I call this reading the 'subtext'. It's the story that we don't usually share but people might read it in our actions regardless. For example, the subtext of a negativity mindset is often, 'I don't believe I'm safe.' You might read this subtext when someone avoids facing a problem or isn't willing to try something new. 

If you think that your mindsets are private - you would be wrong. Think of the last time you observed someone's behaviour and 'read' the subtext of it. Maybe you thought,
  • Why is she always so defensive?
  • When will she stop trying so hard?
  • She seems so together yet she always puts herself down.
Mindset stories highlight your beliefs. Many women don't believe they deserve success and aren't worthy of it and these beliefs show up in their mindsets. It is always up to you to decide if these beliefs are a helpful way to go through life. You can over-ride this network and wire in more helpful thoughts if you choose to.

One Small Step
During a coffee/tea break today, identify one belief that leads you to question your confidence. For example: 
  • What belief makes it hard to approach potential new clients?
  • What belief prevents you from attending a networking event?
  • What belief holds you back from visioning greater success?
Decide now if this belief helps or hinders your desire to be more confident. If confidence is your goal, then rewiring this belief is the place to start. 

19 July 2018

The Tension of Reinvention

Very few businesses get by today without having to reinvent themselves, either due to necessity or opportunity. Donna Hay, author, magazine editor and food stylist recently announced she was ending her Donna Hay magazine. Seventeen years and 100 issues later, she feels that it's time for a change. She writes in her final issue, 'I'm also a believer that in order to grow and develop, you do need to embrace change. And so, this 100th issue...will be the last as you know it.'

Donna has a growth mindset - you can hear it in her comment, 'It's time for me to step out of my comfort zone and do something bold and brave.' Her growth mindset gives her the courage and focus to reinvent herself and her brand, even when she knows she has a winning formula. She is willing to experiment because she believes it is important to see what else she can do. She describes this as, '...much like diving headfirst into the ocean on a freezing day,' 
Wow, there is tension in that statement! Wanting to feel alive by pushing through the fear and hesitation, and yet trying not to succumb to the idea it's just safer on the beach.

Standing at the precipice
The tension involved in reinventing yourself or your brand is huge. Dive in - don't dive in - it feels equally exciting and terrifying! Yet it's the tension in that moment that makes us doubt ourselves. Standing at the precipice you hear yourself thinking, 'A person like me doesn't cope well with change' or, 'Only people with real talent can live their dream', or, 'I wasn't born with the skills to do that'.

These thoughts echo a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is a great tool to keep you in your place. Believing your abilities are fixed when you were born and will never change, makes it really difficult to embrace the flexibility and adaptability needed to reinvent. It reminds you at every turn that you have to prove you are good enough, while limiting what you think you can achieve.

But inside you, there is a growth mindset waiting in the wings. A growth mindset acknowledges the tension between wanting and not wanting to move forward, and chooses to believe that you will figure a way through. The skills you have can be expanded and your capacity to learn and adapt is ever present.

One Small Step
During a coffee break of your choosing, sit in a quiet place for 5 minutes and consider one new idea you want to implement in your business but feel unsure about. Don't judge it, just acknowledge it. Then ask yourself one question:
  • When I feel the tension of wanting and yet not wanting to do this idea, what do I tell myself?
Decide if you are using a fixed or growth mindset to evaluate this idea and ask yourself, 'How helpful is this mindset to getting this idea off the ground?'

12 July 2018 

Two Powerful Words in the Shark Tank

Episode 7 of the 2018 season of Shark Tank saw female entrepreneur Tanya Wood, ask for an investment to grow her business. While the conversation centres on Tanya's work/family juggle in business, it's Janine Allis who picks up on Tanya's mindset. Janine tells Tanya that her saying, 'I'll try' is the reason that she won't invest (see the 21.50 minute mark on the TenPlay video). She recommends Tanya shift her language to, 'I will...' if she wants to encourage investors into her business.

Words send a powerful message. In the Claim Your Confidence program, we examine what a mindset is and how the brain naturally prefers protective mindsets, such as choosing, 'I'll try' over 'I will', because it wants to keep us safe from potential harm.

While most of the time we try really hard to make things work, sometimes we say 'I'll try' as a half-hearted effort to put some space around it. Trying to do something when your heart is not in it drains energy away from the promise. When your brain sees more threat than reward in the effort needed to get the job done, 'I'll try' becomes a protective response from the fear of possible failure. Your brain is really saying, 'It it gets too hard, well at least I tried.'

Stating 'I will' however, shifts your mindset forward to a point where the commitment needed to do it, is already building. Willing to do something has an energy behind the plan to make it happen. Nothing happens without your willingness to make it happen. Willing is the power of your decision-making ability in action.

One Small Step
One small step you can take today is to notice where you use protective words rather than growth words when you talk about your business. Sentences that begin with 'I might...', 'I ought to...', 'I should...' or 'one day...' might protect you from possible failure, but can also limit potential opportunity. Choosing words like, 'I will', 'I can', 'I am' are small steps but they can take you a long way.

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