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    It can always be difficult finding exactly the right speaker for your upcoming important event. Sigma Mindset provides presentations and keynotes that teach, inspire and elevate audiences to new levels of achievement. We believe the audience should walk away with an authentic experience and practical tools for life application.

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    Learning should, can and is fun. With this in mind, Sigma Mindset workshops are designed for the overall adult learning experience. Participants come away from workshops equipped, prepared and motivated to continue to tackle any necessary change.

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Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss

Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by julie

Is Stress Making You Fat?

Cultivating a Healthy Relationship Between You and Food

Part B

Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss

mindset

Have you heard the saying: “we are what we think”? Well it is just as true when it comes to our health, weight and our relationship with food.

Emotions are often a result of beliefs and it is strong emotions that trigger stress hormones like cortisol that we have already spoken so much about.

Beliefs are thoughts accepted as being true facts (e.g.: eating is my only way of coping with loneliness and sadness). They lead our behaviours in an automatic manner – they are the autopilot in our brain, held at a subconscious level.

Beliefs are determined by external stimuli, by experiences, events or situations we encounter (e.g.: being constantly neglected and feeling better only when eating).

In other words:

             situations lead to thoughts and beliefs

             thoughts and beliefs lead to emotional responses

             emotions lead to behaviours

             behaviours lead to habits and

             habits lead to visible results

Habits are behaviours which have been done so regularly that get to be performed without thinking, without requiring active attention

Now the really good news here is that this line of natural progress from our thinking to our eating habits and weight is totally controlled by us! Yes, totally! 

What result do you want?

Are you getting it? If not then follow the arrows above to find out where you blockage is

The real cause of your weight gain is your mindset. But, what does Mindset actually mean?

Mindset:

    * Is a fixed mental attitude

    * Is an inclination to do something in a habitual manner

    * Is formed as a result of experience, education and to some point personality

    * It Includes thoughts, beliefs, feelings, emotions and habits

    * It incorporates your beliefs about yourself and how you interact with your world

    * It determines how you will interpret and respond to situations and this response is automatic

What does this mean for you?

Your current weight is the result of your mindset.  If you are eating on autopilot and not happy with the results then the key is to turn off the autopilot and become super aware of what you are thinking and doing

The great news is that self defeating or self sabotaging beliefs can not only be learnt – they can be changed. If you really want to achieve a weight loss mindset but much more importantly a mindset of health and energy, then change your beliefs

KEY POINT

Let me say something here that I believe is very important for your success: always work from a focus of strength and positivity rather than weakness and negativity. I know it is “popular” to talk in terms of weight loss but you are really not doing yourself any favours here.  For the best results, choose a healthy, energetic mindset over a weight loss mindset.  The former will last you for a life time, the latter will last until you have dropped the weight

Ways to Cultivate a Healthy, Stress Free Relationship with Food

Food is a source of not only sustenance and nutrition but also it is a source of great pleasure. These two things definitely need to be part of the equation for a healthy relationship with food. What we are aiming for is to not use food for things it was not intended for, for example, comfort, stress reduction, to hide behind or medicate our pain

Here are some ways to help cultivate a healthy and stress free relationship with food:

             Build a strong support network where you can be comforted, supported and listened to when you have a problem rather than resorting to food. Of course, you can gain support in a number of different ways, for example, face to face, online, over the phone, with friends, a support group, or a professional

             Choose exercise to alleviate tension rather than food. Make the exercise preventative by exercising regularly on most days. The best exercise for cultivating positive chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins is cardiovascular so a 30 to 40 minute walk each day is a great start. This form of exercise also helps to regulate that nasty fat producing cortisol and hopefully will help you sleep better.

             Practice regular meditation and relaxation – a time where you are in the moment, focused on yourself and tuned out to the stress and problems in your life. Get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well when you’re stressed, that may have an impact on your weight loss efforts, too. (Research has shown there may be a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain.) Practicing relaxation before bed can help with a restful night’s sleep

             Keep a food diary. Tracking what you eat and how you feel about what you eat is an amazing tool for changing bad habits into good habits. You spend so much time on everything else – why wouldn’t you give a little bit of your time each day to developing a healthy relationship and habits with food. Remember, raising self awareness is one of the most powerful things you can do

             Monitor your reactions to stress. Maybe an honest look at your stress reactions will show you that you are overreacting to some situations. Try to put things into perspective – are they really that bad? Learn to let go of what will not have any importance to you in a few months time. If the situation is important then sit down and work out a written strategy to deal with it

             Recognize the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension. Your diary will help you with this but then it is important to use a better coping technique than food

             Have a routine with food. Learn to control food and when and what you eat rather than it controlling you. Who really is the boss here?

             Believe it or not, the first function of food is not pleasure. It is energy and nutrition to keep our amazing systems functioning on optimum. By all means enjoy food but when you are able to ask yourself, “Will this food nourish and energize my body?” maybe you will find it easier to say no to food that is actually destroying your miraculous system

One last point I want to make here is that food affects our mental health as well as our physical health.  The wrong foods or excess amounts can bring us depression, low motivation, instability, lack of focus etc.  In other words, the wrong foods can themselves cause stress. Nutritious foods can bring us joy, energy, clarity, hope, passion and excitement. If you are having mental health issues as well as physical health issues, seriously consider a healthy lifestyle

Julie Spain

 If you would like further help in changing your mindset once and for all or a copy of my ebook “Change Your Habits: Change Your Life”, simply send me an email at julie@sigmamindset.com or ph 0430186415.

Julie Spain is the Owner of Sigma Mindset and a Life and Leadership Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker to Executives, Professionals and Business Owners.  Julie specializes in strategic mindset coaching that: Makes a Difference and Makes It Quick

 

 

Is Stress Making You Fat? Cultivating a Healthy Relationship Between You and Food

Posted on July 29th, 2013 by julie

Part A:

How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image15995331

We are all aware of the relationships that we have with other people in our lives, but how aware are you of the relationships going on within yourself. We are made up of mind, body and spirit and each of these parts are connected and have a relationship with each other. If this relationship is not balanced and healthy, weight gain and ill health can be the result.

When it comes to our weight, all of the above are important considerations.  Part B of this article will focus on the psychological – how we think and feel.  Part A will help us to understand how everything we think and feel is transferred into hormones and chemicals and these have a direct affect on us physiologically

So, let’s first ask the question:

Is Stress Making You Fat?

8-things-making-you-fat-08-sl

Most people admit that when they’re under stress, healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain. Whether eating to fill an emotional need or grabbing fast food simply because there’s no time to prepare something healthy, a stressed-out lifestyle is rarely a healthy one. But weight gain when under stress, according to some researchers, may also be at least partly due to the body’s system of hormonal checks and balances, which can actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out

There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. When we’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies, leading to the release of various hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.  The hypothalamus directs the adrenal glands to secret these very important hormones

Cortisol has been termed the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy (for when we are threatened), stimulates insulin release, increases blood pressure, suppresses the immune system (this is essential for the flight and fight response) and increases blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite

Adrenaline is vital to increase your alertness and energy levels during times of threat. Cortisol works to also increase energy by increasing the production of glucose from protein

Cortisol, however, has another purpose. After stress, adrenaline tends to dissipate but cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. Now here is the clincher- one of the ways cortisol works to get our system back into balance is to increase our appetite so we can replace the carbohydrate and fat that we should have used if under a fight and flight situation

Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Stanford University states, if stress and cortisol levels stay high, so will insulin levels. This continual stress leads to a constant state of excess cortisol production, which stimulates glucose production. This excess glucose then typically is converted into fat, ending up as stored fat.

Cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat to be deposited on the abdominal area. This is sometimes called “toxic fat” since abdominal fat is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes.

Ok, I know that is a lot of science but I think it is essential to understand the biochemistry of stress and how this is thought to contribute to weight gain.

It is important to remember that the production of adrenaline and cortisol are essential to the stress response and hence to our survival. The issue for us today is that the modern stress response has more to do with overload and busyness than with running from a lion. This means that we do not utilize these hormones in the way they were intended and yes, stress can make us sick and possibly fat.

So How Does Stress Affect Weight Gain?

I often tell my clients that self awareness is the first key to resolving your problems. As you read these points, take note of which ones are relevant to you. Meditate and/or journal on them.

Cortisol Cravings

Among other things, high levels of cortisol can create cravings for salty and sweet foods. In previous centuries, this enabled people to bulk up on foods that would sustain them during times when food is scarce; however, in modern times and industrialized nations, when food is rarely scarce, this really is necessary and can cause excess weight gain

Social Eating

Socializing is about having fun and of course this means eating and drinking. When upset we often seek out friends and go and have a drink or some comfort food to help us feel better. Have you noticed how friends love to feed you when you are upset?

Nervous Energy

When stressed or anxious, many people want to fidget with their mouths. Sometimes this leads to nail biting or teeth grinding, and often it leads to eating when not hungry. Many people, out of nervousness or boredom, just munch on comfort food to give their mouths something to do.  This is also very similar to many smokers

Childhood Habits

Many of us have comforting childhood memories that revolve around food. Food was used to celebrate, feel better, be rewarded and even to punish. As adults, when we find ourselves in similar positions we often revert back to how this was handled as a child.  What are some childhood food habits that you think are not working for you as an adult?

Avoiding  Emotions

Another reason that many people eat is to quiet uncomfortable emotions. People who are uncomfortable with confrontation may deal with frustrations in their marriage with a piece of cake, for example, rather than with open communication. Food can take the focus off of anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, and a host of other emotions we’d sometimes rather not feel, and is often used for this purpose. Just watch a romance movie and see how the heroine always turns to a bucket of ice cream. I call it using food to medicate our pain

Slows Down Our Metabolism

Besides all the things we discussed above about cortisol, it can also slow down your metabolism and when you combine this with stress stimulating your appetite you have a double whammy for weight gain

Pleasure Cravings

When under stress, people do not usually reach for a nice healthy salad. We tend to crave foods that are fatty, salty or sugary (maybe even all of them). These are what we would call comfort foods

Blood Sugar

Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia.  Hyperglycemia is our body’s way of telling us we need to put some food into our system to increase our energy supply. Of course this may not really be true just confused messages from your blood sugar levels caused by stress

Fat Storage

Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.

Too Busy to Exercise

With all the demands on your schedule, exercise may be one of the last things on your to-do list. If so, you’re not alone. We live a more sedentary lifestyle than we have in past generations, yet our minds seem to be racing from everything we have to do. Unfortunately, from sitting in traffic, clocking hours at our desks, and plopping in front of the TV in exhaustion at the end of the day, exercise often goes by the wayside.

Stay tuned for Part B of this article: “Why Mindset is the Secret Key to Weight Loss”

 Julie Spain

If you would like further help in changing your mindset once and for all or a copy of my ebook “Change Your Habits: Change Your Life”, simply send me an email at julie@sigmamindset.com

Julie Spain is the Owner of Sigma Mindset and a Life and Leadership Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker to Executives, Professionals and Business Owners.  Julie specializes in strategic mindset coaching that: Makes a Difference and Makes It Quick

Care of the Carer: Preventing Burnout and Maintaining Performance

Posted on April 10th, 2013 by julie

Are you in the Human Service Industry?  Do you care for your fellow man in some way? Professions such as, firefighter, police, ambulance officer, nurse, doctor, mental health professional, aged and disability care all fall under these categories

Let me say straight out: these are special people. They give and give and give and often they give more than they really have to give which sometimes leaves them burnout.

Now “burnout” is a term that has been around a very long time (since the 1970’s) and as often happens, we become desensitized to commonly used terms and often brush them off particularly if it applies to us. But I can tell you burnout is alive and well in the workplace (and it is not solely the ownership of the caring professions but for the purpose of this article that is what I am talking about today)

When I was in private practice, I would sometimes see up to eight clients a day for counselling. I always said it was like sitting an eight hour exam but it just kept on going day after day, week after week. One week, I worked with two women who had been raped. At this time of my life I had 3 young children and had become an expert in not taking my work home. But this week was different. I found myself thinking about the sad situations of these lovely young women. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was burnout and if I was suffering in this way my performance was as a consequence compromised

So What is Burnout?

According to Wikipedia, “burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest.”

Maslach and her colleague Jackson first identified the construct “burnout” in the 1970s, and developed a measure, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, that weighs the effects of emotional exhaustion and reduced sense of personal accomplishment

Maslach and her colleague, Michael Leiter, defined the antithesis of burnout as, engagement, characterized by energy, involvement and efficacy, as opposed to burnout which is characterised by exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy

This in turn can affect job performance, physical health, mental health and relationships

As you can see, it would be much easier to prevent burnout rather than try to repair it

So let’s have a look at:

10 Steps to Prevent Burnout and Maintain Effective Performance Within the Helping Professions:

1.       Watch for your personal warning signs –

Your unique radar that tells you something is wrong within you system. This can be physical, behavioural, mental, emotional or relational. The sooner you catch these signs the better as the longer you let it progress the greater the possibility that your self awareness will diminish. It is common to have others pointing out the changes within you while you are busy denying these changes

2.       Know and implement your personal and professional boundaries

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated by others or simply to protect ourselves from a busy work and life schedule.  They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

It would not be possible to enjoy health, peak performance and healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others.

To learn more about this important topic read my blog:

“Organisational Skills for Busy Professionals: Developing Personal Boundaries in the Workplace That Save Time, Energy, Money and Relationships”

3.       Develop cultural intelligence

Here cultural intelligence refers to both the organisational culture you work within and the various ethnic and socio economic groups you work with.  Culture is always about “the way we do things around here”.  If you are at odds or incongruent with the culture you find yourself working within, it will take a toll on your mindset and wellbeing. We need sensitivity and the ability to adapt our behaviour to perform effectively while still being true to our own values and identity

4.        Understand your professional identity

This can be particularly difficult if you are new to your profession. It does take time and experience to develop. My suggestion would be to put it on your awareness radar and make it part of your professional agenda to pursue this.  Understanding and then being true to your professional identity will allow you to stand with feet firmly planted when the storms come to blow and blow they will

5.       Have a clear role definition

This is clearly linked to your professional identity but role definition translates more into what you do rather than how you see yourself.  Role definition gives clarity and with that comes confidence and assurance. Are you trying to be all things to all people? Of course this is not possible and simple revisiting your role may clear this up

 6.       Have both a preventative and crisis stress management strategy

Yes, they are different! Self care is truly about putting into yourself on a regular basis so you actually have something to give out. Crisis management is for those unexpected times that life and work can throw at us

For more on the topic of self care have a look at my blog:

“Achieving Work/Life Balance: The Secrets to Vitality and Success”

7.       Build your resilience

Resilience is a wonderful term that at its most basic means: “bouncing back when the going gets tough”.  Let’s face it, work and life does not always go the way we want it too. When times get tough, the question is always: “which road should I take, the road to being overwhelmed or the road to bouncing back?”

If you are interested in increasing your resilience skills then you may like to read my ebook:

“Thriving Not Just Surviving a Life Crisis: How to Bounce Back and Find Happiness Again”

8.       Monitor your self confidence and self esteem

When our self belief is down, our confidence goes down. When our confidence is down it is more difficult to make decisions, enjoy life, communicate our needs and protect yourself. Do a quick confidence check every so often just to know that you are on track

9.       Know your limits and your strengths

Knowing your professional limits will protect both yourself and your client. You cannot be all things to all people and you do not need to be.  Knowing your strengths allows you to give the best of yourself to others. If you are not sure about these things then ask a trusted colleague or your professional coach or supervisor

10.   Regular supervision or coaching

The helping professions can be lonely and taxing. When you make a mistake, it can have grave consequences for your client and most of us take this very seriously.  We need the opportunity to debrief after events and strategize before certain situations. Coaching or supervision gives you someone to bounce off, to give you another perspective, to learn from, to download with. Why wouldn’t you cultivate this very important relationship?

You may be wondering what I did when faced with burnout in my personal story that I shared previously?  Well I took rather drastic action and downsized my private practice. I knew myself and knew the warning signs were severe for me. My non negotiable was taking work home and I was determined to protect my family from my work. As life would have it, taking care of myself and my family led to other amazing career opportunities

If you would like further help for yourself or your organisation or to attend my upcoming course see below:

CARE OF THE CARER: PREVENTING BURNOUT AND MAINTAINING PERFORMANCE

  • Personal and professional boundaries
  • Preventing vicarious trauma
  • Role definition and professional identity
  • Knowing your limits: Know your  strengths, manage your weaknesses
  • Resilience Building
  • Preventing burnout

 Just email me for further information at julie@sigmamindset.com  or phone 0430186415

Until next time

Julie Spain

 

 

 

Empowering Women Through Self Esteem and Self Efficacy for Professional Advancement

Posted on March 13th, 2013 by julie

Early in my career, a very successful middle aged woman came to see me for coaching. I must admit, after listening to her list of achievements – she was very well educated and held a high position in a company -I truly wondered why she was coming to see me. Then she told me that her life was a lie and she was terrified that her staff would find out how low her self esteem really was and how afraid she felt every day of her life

Over the years, I learned this was an extremely common problem.  Although some people seemed able to reach a certain level of success, they felt inadequate and knew that they were not truly reaching their full potential. Others were always held back by issues of self esteem and self belief

One study by a Sydney woman shows that when women are confused about their identity, at any level of leadership, they may have trouble advancing in their career

According to Suzi Skinner, a Sydney based business coach of SelfTalk who  conducted a three-year study on women in leadership that was supported by the Institute of Coaching at Harvard University, many women are confident about their ability to do their own job but question their leadership ability

Although there has been an increase in the number of female directors from 8 per cent in 2010 to 9.7 per cent in 2012, this still means the split is 90-10 in favour of men

Suzi explains, “the research I did showed that when it comes to leadership identify, we have been great at recognising a skills-based approach is important but not so good at recognising the importance of knowing how a person views themselves in that role. This is the area that I feel really needs developing if we are to have more successful female senior managers.”

Self esteem and self efficacy have an important part to play in women’s leadership identity and empowerment within the workforce

In looking at self esteem and self efficacy as a means of empowerment for professional advancement, let’s start by gaining an understanding of some terms:

Self image is about how we see ourselves.

Self esteem is about how we feel about ourselves.

Self worth is about the value we place upon ourselves.

Self belief is the trust that we place in our own abilities.

Self respect is about how we treat ourselves.

Self efficacy is defined by Albert Bandura as a belief in our own ability to succeed and our ability to achieve the goals we set ourselves

This belief has a huge impact on our approach to goal setting and our behavioural choices as we work toward those goals

According to Bandura’s research, high self-efficacy results in an ability to view difficult goals as a challenge, whereas people with low self-efficacy would likely view the same goals as being beyond their abilities, and might not even attempt to achieve them

So what are the benefits of high self esteem and self efficacy?

  • They contribute to how much effort a person puts into a goal in the first place, and how much she perseveres despite setbacks.
  • They increase self confidence which in turn engenders behaviours that will more likely lead to success in the workplace
  • With an increased comfort zone we experience less fear which means a greater willingness to give new things a go
  • Increased self confidence increases our resilience to not run from a challenge and not give up when the going gets tough which is one of the major factors in success
  • With high self esteem comes not only the feeling of being approved by others but also much more importantly, we approve of ourselves

So how do we increase self esteem, self efficacy and self confidence and enjoy all the above benefits at home and work?

The bad news is there is no quick fix to issues of low self esteem and self efficacy

The good news is that self confidence can be learned but it does take some effort.  I remember when I told this to a young client looking for career advancement. She looked incredulously at me and asked “I thought you only had to set goals and do the work for things such as career and finance?” This young person was unwilling to put in a little bit of work to change how she thought and felt and ultimately change her outcomes

In writing this article, I’ve really struggled to answer this question? I want to give readers “tips” but I also don’t want to trivialize what I truly believe to be one of the most important topics for us all.

Self belief is a little like pain – when pain is absent we do not even notice it but when present, it occupies our every thought. When self belief is strong we step out with confidence, when it is low life can be extremely difficult and achieving our goals virtually impossible

So here are a few things that I have found worked to help women increase their self esteem and empower themselves:

  • Raise your self awareness about specific ways you think and act. You can only change specifics not generalities so initially take some time to think this through
  • Put a gap between a situation and your response. It takes us a while to learn new ways of thinking and we need to exaggerate the learning process
  • Spend time educating and motivating yourself – talk to people who you admire, read biographies that inspire, listen to speakers who encourage
  • Get one on one help if necessary. One of the things that really saddens me, is how long people suffer before seeking help. The client that I mentioned first in this article, came to me on the 6th session and said “I don’t know how you did it but I am a different woman”  Just a few sessions and she left confident, able to enjoy life and move forward in her career
  • Understand and accept that you are not alone – most people have insecurities like you regardless of how they come across. We can find comfort in this truth and humans simply do better when they feel supported
  • Keep a journal for this specific purpose where you note situations, your reactions, what you said to yourself, how you felt and what you could say differently to yourself that would give you the results you wanted
  • Just doing something can increase our confidence. To quote Anthony Robbins, “Do what you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”Consider these two ways of increasing your comfort zone:
    • Systematic desensitization which simply means we take “baby steps” out from the inner core. We can do this by trying something new but small, staying in that place for awhile and when we feel comfortable, moving on to the next step. An example of this could be you would like to increase your professional networks but find building new relationships too confronting. Try tagging along with a friend you trust to networking events. Set a goal to introduce yourself to one new person each time and ask them a question about themselves. As people respond, your confidence will grow
    • In vivo flooding. This is exactly the opposite of systematic desensitization and involves jumping in the deep end with no “warm ups”. An example could be that you have been wanting to speak in public for work but are just too afraid. You may decide to give it a go, put up your hand to chair the next week’s meeting and trust that the nerves will abate sometime during the meeting

Try to remember that this is a journey or marathon and we train very differently for a marathon than a sprint. That being said, with the right help and tools, very quick results can be obtained in specific areas

This is an extremely big topic but if you would like further help you may be interested in one on one coaching or my course below:

“Women in the Workforce: Developing a Powerful and Positive Self Image for Professional Advancement”

  • Discover your values and beliefs: discover yourself
  • Unlocking emotional and mental blockages to success
  • Conquering fear and anxiety that stops you moving forward
  • Empowering yourself through ownership
  • and responsibility
  • Positive personal boundaries
  • Know your strengths: manage your weaknesses
  • Adapting to Change: The Essential Factors to Success and Moving Forward

Just email me for further information at julie@sigmamindset.com or phone 0430186415

Fearless Public Speaking for Professionals: Developing Your Speaker Identity

Posted on February 26th, 2013 by julie

When I was starting out in my career, I was privileged to hear Florence Littauer, an American speaker, author and business woman speak at a function in Brisbane. I can remember sitting listening to her and thinking to myself, “I wish I could speak just like her”.

Florence seemed so elegant, charismatic with so much content and wisdom to share. Well it didn’t take me too long to realize that I would never be able to speak just like her and that was actually ok.

Over my career I have had more opportunities to speak than I could possibly count. I have taught in prisons, spoken to business people, trained in just about every life and leadership area that there is. I’ve chaired executive meetings, gathered my staff together to encourage and motivate them, presented strategic plans to heads of departments and run group therapeutic sessions.  I’ve moved from preparing the old plastic overheads to creating power points and videos using the internet. I’ve been interviewed on TV and radio and even preached a sermon or two.

Little did I know, as a young child that gathering my dolls and teddies around while I taught them from a blackboard would actually lead to a satisfying and successful career.   I have to say some of those stuffed animals were a lot more fun to work with that some of the participants in my classes.

What have I learnt from all of this?  That to be a good or better than good speaker, you have to understand your own personal speaker identity. When you can do this, things will fall into place. Your confidence will increase and with it, not only your audience enjoyment, but yours also.

Professionals may not be called upon to be a public speaker such as Anthony Robbins, but it is very difficult to move forward in your career without some form of public speaking skills. The most common avenues of speaking for professionals includes: small meetings, annual general meetings, board presentations, staff presentations, interviews, presentations to customers and clients and training in areas of expertise.

Professionals need to understand two things to be a fearless and effective public speaker:

  1. What is your speaker style?
  2. What is your attitude to speaking and your audience?

Speaker Style                        

I mentioned before it didn’t take me long to know what my style wasn’t but it did take me longer to understand what my style was. I am a teacher. I love to impart knowledge and wisdom that transforms lives. When I am preparing and when I am speaking, this term of reference is always with me.

Here are a few styles – see if you can identify your personal speaking style:

  • Teacher
  • Charismatic
  • Comedian
  • Entertainer
  • Powerful
  • Story teller
  • Influencer

Do you aspire to any of these styles? You will find yourself attracted to one or two more than the others.  For myself, I have finally accepted that I’m not an entertainer and I just can’t seem to remember a joke but I love imparting wisdom and later in life I’m becoming quite a story teller. Sometimes we are attracted to speakers who echo our own personal style

 Speaker Attitude

This is what connects you to your audience and I’m telling you, your audience can smell it. You really cannot fake this, at least not for a long period of time. This is about what you value and believe in. How you interact with yourself and the world.

Here are some speaker attitudes you need to be a fearless and effective public speaker:

  • Compassion
  • Genuineness
  • Non judgemental
  • Open and honest
  •  A belief in your own worth
  • Self efficacy – a belief in your own ability to succeed
  • Willingness to work hard and prepare
  • An understanding that fear is temporary
  • Passion to share or bring about change
  • Authenticity

Understanding your speaker style and your speaker attitude will give you a speaker identity.  With this speaker identity will come renewed confidence and enjoyment for yourself and your audience whether it be an audience of one or one thousand

If you feel you could use some further help, then you may be interested in my one day course:

“Fearless Public Speaking for Professionals”

We will be covering this topic and many others such as:

  • Enhance your impact when giving speeches and interacting with clients
  • Dealing with nerves
  • The importance of authenticity
  • Speaker styles: speaking with clarity, power and conviction
  • Presentation skills that get your message across
  • Eliminating mindset blockages

Just email me for further information at julie@sigmamindset.com or phone 0430186415

 

 

Organisational Skills for Busy Professionals: Developing Personal Boundaries in the Workplace That Save Time, Energy, Money and Relationships

Posted on February 11th, 2013 by julie

 

Make no mistake – poor organisational skills are about bad habits. But the habits are the tip of the iceberg – the part that ourselves and others see. Underneath these habits lie mindset blockages that just seem to stop us doing what we really know we should be doing.

Time management, setting priorities, problems solving and procrastination are all essential parts of organisational skills (and are covered in my training course, “Organisational Skills for Busy Professionals) but what is often overlooked is the deeper issues of personal and professional boundaries in the workplace.

For years, I have been working with professionals within the workplace who are burnt out, unproductive, angry, overwhelmed and confused.  These are people who have a strong desire to do their best, but no matter how hard they try they just can’t seem to get on top of things and are left feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and anxious.

The workplace requires much from us but unless the busy professional gets on top of their personal and professional organizational skills, they will always feel that they are lagging behind. Developing personal boundaries within the workplace will save time, energy, money and relationships.

Recently, a manager confided to me that he had a major report to finish but just couldn’t get to it because his staff kept knocking on his door. He was feeling frustrated and his energy levels were lagging. After a short talk, we came up with a simple solution of setting a personal boundary – if his door was closed he wasn’t to be disturbed! The report was finished quickly and he was once again available to his staff.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you suffer from the need to please?
  • Do you find yourself saying yes when in fact you wanted to say no?
  • Do find that you treat others with more respect than you treat yourself?

Then maybe you are suffering from unhealthy personal and professional boundaries that cost you time, energy, money and productivity

What is a Personal Boundary?

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated by others or simply to protect ourselves from a busy work and life schedule.  They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

It would not be possible to enjoy health, peak performance and healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others. We must recognize that each of us is a unique individual with distinct emotions, needs and preferences.

To set personal boundaries means to preserve your integrity, take responsibility for who you are, and to take control of your life.

What is a Professional Boundary?

This is the same as the personal boundary but it plays out in the workplace. For example, we may know that we are burnt out but keep trying to push ourselves to get a job done as we do not want to let the company, staff or clients down

What are Unhealthy Personal Boundaries?

Do you recognize yourself in any of the following?

  • Going against your personal values or rights in order to please others
  • Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving
  •  Letting others define you
  • Expecting others to fill your needs automatically
  • Feeling bad or guilty when you say no
  • Not speaking up when you are treated poorly
  • Saying yes to all requests because you fear rejection or what others will think of you
  • Tolerating abuse or disrespectful treatment
  • Feeling you deserve to be treated poorly
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Having little sense of who you are or what you feel, need, want and think
  • Not seeing flaws or weaknesses in others
  • Focusing on pleasing those around you to the detriment of yourself
  • Taking on the feelings of others

If you have identified yourself as having unhealthy personal boundaries then you most likely recognize that you are not as productive, successful and energized as you would like to be. In fact, with some people, unhealthy personal boundaries can lead to depression, anger or burnout

What Are Healthy Personal Boundaries?

Healthy personal boundaries are evident and effective when you know who you are, and you treat yourself and others with respect.

A healthy personal boundary is a space around yourself that gives you a clear sense of who you are and where you’re going. When you choose who and what you allow into your physical, emotional and mental space, you’re activating your personal boundaries.

Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image. It is our way of communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will not allow others to define us. The result of this is that we are not only treated better by others but we have a strong self image as a foundation to move forward

Recently, an extremely competent professional came to see me because she couldn’t say no. Some days she worked until 3am in the morning and her body was telling her that she just couldn’t go on like that. Through understanding her personal boundaries in the workplace, she was able to deal with her fear of what upper management would think about her if she wasn’t working such long hours. With personal boundaries and good organisational skills, she learnt that she could get the job done and still enjoy life.

How Do We Establish Healthy Personal Boundaries?

Setting healthy personal boundaries in the workplace, involves taking care of yourself and having a strong sense of your rights, responsibilities, purpose and direction. The best time to set personal boundaries is before they’re being encroached upon.

Here are a few tips for cultivating effective personal boundaries in the workplace:

  1. Know that you have a right to personal boundaries. You not only have the right, but you must take responsibility for how you allow others to treat you. Your boundaries act as filters permitting what is acceptable in your life and what is not. If you don’t have boundaries that protect and define you, your sense of identity will be compromised. To avoid this situation, set clear and decisive limits so that others will respect them, then be willing to do whatever it takes to enforce them
  2. Recognize that other people’s needs and feelings are not more important than your own and yes, that does apply to your boss and your clients. I’ve seen people literally doing the work of three people, too afraid to say that they cannot sustain the pace. When we respect ourselves we can respect others and that will come out in our interactions. Yes, sometimes the cost can be more than we wanted to pay, but setting our own boundaries while respecting the rights of others usually helps set things up for a successful outcome
  3. Learn to say no. Many of us are people pleasers and often put ourselves at a disadvantage by trying to accommodate everyone. We don’t want to be selfish, so we put our personal needs on the back burner and agree to do things that may not be beneficial to our well-being. Actually, a certain amount of “selfishness” is necessary for having healthy personal boundaries. You do not do anyone any favors, least of all yourself, by trying to please others at your own expense.  Healthy personal boundaries come from assertive people who are able to take care of both the needs of themselves and to a point, those around them.
  4. Identify the actions and behaviors that you find unacceptable in your workplace. Worrying over someone’s unacceptable behaviours in the workplace is one of the biggest drains on time, energy and productivity that there is. Let others know when they’ve crossed the line, acted inappropriately, or disrespected you in any way. If this doesn’t work then seek help from your manager, Employee Assistance Program or Professional Coach

What are the Benefits of Cultivating Healthy Personal Boundaries?

  • Improved self-confidence and a healthy self-concept
  •     Increased energy, stamina and productivity
  •     More in touch with reality
  •     Better able to communicate with others
  •     More fulfilling work and personal relationships
  •     More stability and control over our lives
  •     More self reliant
  •     Less emotionally needy
  •     Less likely to live stuck in the past or avoiding change
  •     Able to meet our own needs without negating the needs of others
  •     More successful in life as the more emotionally intelligent you are the more likely you are to succeed

Understanding and implementing your personal boundaries in the workplace has to be the easiest form of organizational skills available, as once this mindset becomes automatic, it requires no implementation time. In fact, you will save time, energy and pain, as you do not have to deal with all the fall out that comes from unhealthy personal boundaries in the workplace

To find out more about our course “Organisational Skills for Busy Professionals” simply email julie@sigmamindset.com  or phone us on 0430186415 for a flyer

Dealing with Fear and Anxiety in Business

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by julie

“I think that maybe inside any business, there is someone slowly going crazy”

Joseph Heller

In a recent study, 62% of BRW Fast Starters identified anxiety as the biggest personal problem to running a business

Basically, this anxiety was about the fear of the unknown

I know, we all put on a brave face to the world to show that we have everything under control and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, we want to exude confidence in our business dealings. But the reality of life is such that we do and will face difficult times. The question has to be how do we deal effectively with these difficult times and in particular feelings of fear and anxiety.

While I was writing this article someone phoned me and we got to talking about how difficult it is for businesses right now. Unfortunately, for many, they suffer in silence and isolation, never asking for help or support. The question posed during this conversation is why don’t business owners seek help and support?

Behind every fear there is an issue of safety and when we do not feel safe we go into flight and fight mode – a natural instinct meant to protect ourselves. This fear, anxiety and feelings of being unsafe, often cause us to make decisions that we may not necessarily make as we struggle to regain a feeling of safety, I suppose in some way to build our world of the known.

But business is by its very nature, unknown. This is in fact part of its allure, as entrepreneurs love a challenge but we need to be equipped to handle the fear and anxiety that can surface when problems arise in business and they will arise.

Here are six keys that if you implement will help you get through the other side of fear and be able to move forward:

Key #1: Accept that fear will always exist if you live a life worth living. The positive is, it can keep you on your toes. Fear is a normal and natural part of life. We are programmed to respond to threatening and unknown situations with fear. Learn to accept this, flow with it and move into the more rational parts of the brain to respond. For example, just stop and ask yourself “What exactly is happening here and how is it affecting me?”

Key #2: The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it. After the first step, the fear will subside. As the unknown becomes familiar the fear will dissipate.

Key #3: You are not alone. Others feel this way. Network and find support. I can tell you right now there is someone who wants to listen to you and help you. But you must put the work in to find them. Do not give up

Key #4: Revisit your reasons for starting the business. Get out of the micro and into the macro – The Why! The Dream!  Fear can make us naval gazes and this only serves to cover up the problem and expand the fear.

Key #5: Use coaches or mentors – people who have experience with your issues. Every day I work with people having exactly these problems. I cannot count the number of times that people have left a coaching session with a completely different perspective and as a consequence a different feeling.

Key #6: Information is power – it will reduce anxiety and help you make better decisions. 80% of our decisions are made with 20% of the information – this is a recipe for disaster. Collect as much information as possible before making important decisions

Don’t allow fear and anxiety in business to cripple you. Rather face it head on and work with it and through it using the suggestions above.

If you want more help, this is one of the topics covered in my upcoming one day program: The Entrepreneurial Mindset Exposed

Until Next Time

Julie Spain

Business Mindset Strategist

Entrepreneurial Business Success – Don’t Quit, Think About Why You Started!

Posted on April 10th, 2012 by julie

What do you think the biggest enemy to your business is? Cash flow? Staff problems? Venture capital? No plan or goal? No effective systems? Of course they are all important but for me there is a much more sinister threat that is not often discussed in all those hugely successful business books. Of course by now you are asking – “What is it?”

Discouragement!

You know that feeling when nothing seems to go right. When no matter what you do and how hard you work it is just not happening. You pour everything you have into this great new idea – your time, love, money, energy, passion. You give up all the things you love to focus on making your dreams come true. Isn’t that what all the good books say?

That you have to stay focused. Block out everything else in your life and give everything you have to your dream. This is how the winners do it. If you don’t believe me read Napoleon Hill’s very famous book “Think and Grow Rich”.

You know what? I believe them but it just doesn’t stop that terrible churning eating away at your stomach until you start to think – why am I doing this? It is just too hard.

Every so often I have days like this. Do you? If so, what keeps you going? We all realize that of course, if we do not keep going, then our dreams will not come to fruition. There is this wonderful experiment that was performed a number of years ago with preschool children. The children were taken into a room and told by the person looking after them that they had to leave the room. They put a marshmallow in front of the child and told them that if they could wait until they came back and not eat the marshmallow in front of them that they would receive two marshmallows when they came back. The worker then left the room and watched them through a window. Some children put the marshmallow straight in their mouths, others just licked them and put them back and others simply did not touch the marshmallow and promptly received another when the worker came back. This longitudinal study followed these children up later in life and found that the children who were able to delay gratification had achieved more success in their lives than the ones who could not delay gratification.

The immediate is not always easy and there is always something more enticing to do with our time than work. But history does show that the more we can delay gratification the greater our chance of success.

So what are some ways that I use to deal with discouragement so that I can keep moving my business forward?

1. Make sure you have good support networks. Sometimes you will really need to download a hard day with a very sympathetic ear

2. Give yourself some time out to enjoy your favourite activities

3. Try to mix with likeminded people

4. Have a mentor or coach (see my coaching page at http://sigmamindset.com/services/leadership-development-and-coaching ) it really is a prerequisite for success

5. Everyday come back to your commitment. What is it that you are trying to achieve and do you still want it just as much as you did originally?

6. You must have a strong belief that you can do this

7. An attitude that every problem has an answer – just make sure you look in the smartest places for an answer

8. One that I try and apply everyday is an attitude of gratitude regardless of the circumstances. There is always something to be grateful for

Until next time

Julie Spain

Business Mindset Strategist

www.sigmamindset.com