Frustration Buster Part 3 – The Happiness Trap

This is a fascinating book by Russ Harris. It’s a programme based on ACT: a mindfulness-based approach to overcoming anxiety and stress.  He uses great day to day analogies we can all relate to with lots of practical quizzes, worksheets and exercises too.

The central idea is that it’s more effective to observe any unhelpful thoughts or feelings rather than try to control them or fight them. And then to ensure that you act on your values.

I’m finding the ideas helpful for me and for the leaders I coach. Try them out for your next presentation, big meeting or challenging conversation.

Here are some simple tips from the first part of the book to help you de-fuse those frustrations or anxious thoughts:

  1. Notice the thought or feeling is there
  2. Observe it, don’t fight it or challenge it
  3. Say ‘thanks mind’ or ‘thanks for sharing’. Notice what happens, or
  4. Pick a favourite cartoon character or movie character like Brian’s mum in ‘The Life of Brian’, (my favourite!), bring it to mind and ‘hear’ the thought in that voice. Notice what happens.

You can use these ideas yourself for day to day worries. The ACT programme is also used by counsellors to help with depression. Buy ‘The Happiness Trap’ by Russ Harris on Amazon here.

KineticFuture is a leadership coaching company specialising in communications. We coach one to one and in groups.  Contact Karen Moyse if you’d like to discuss this on Karen@kineticfuture.com


I’m Only Human

Leaders are only human.  This is a great Ted talk we thought you’d enjoy if you want to tackle any of your own bad habits at work and at home.  It’s all part of being a great energising leader.

This great Ted Talk shows that it’s more effective to be curious about a bad habit than fight it.  The technique tested was twice as effective as the gold standard smoking cessation therapy.

You can use the same approach whatever your habit.  Perhaps you get stressed or angry at work or constantly look at texts, drink too much or take no exercise.  Most of us do something which isn’t helpful to us as leaders and as humans.

This Ted Talk is from psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer.  He’s using a blend of mindfulness and neuroscience to find a way of slowly letting go of bad habits.

Part of the solution is to be curious in the moment of committing a bad habit; feeling and noticing what’s going on.  One of the people in the smoking cessation study said, “It smells like smelly cheese and tastes like chemicals. Yuck”.  It’s a way of breaking the spell.

So the process is:

1. You have the urge
2. You are curious
3. Have the joy of letting go and
4. Repeat.

Developing insight into your own strengths and ways of thinking is the starting point for our Energising Leadership Programme.  If you’d like to find out how it can help your team to become energised and energising leaders, contact us today.

Watch Judson Brewer’s Ted Talk ‘A simple way to break a bad habit’ below.

Watch ‘Human’ by Rag’n’Bone Man below.


Take a Brain Break

We really like a few of the business sessions from Smiling Mind – a new and free mindfulness app from Australia. Here are some of our personal favourites:

Brain Break – a quick way to get in the zone for a trickier situation

Connecting With Your Inner Leader – finding your authentic leadership style by accepting what’s a strength and what’s a weakness

Managing Transitions and Change – for daily and more fundamental changes

There is a great deal of evidence that using mindfulness on a regular basis boosts performance, reduces anxiety and calms your brain. It’s great to have some new guided sessions to use.

Click here to go to Smiling Mind and download the app.

If you would like to know more about how to manage your mind-set as part of handling trickier conversations, presenting or energising your teams, please do let us know. We incorporate a number of evidence-based techniques into our courses and show you how to apply them to your own challenges. Call us to find out more.


Ruby Wax Launches Mindfulness for the Frazzled

Ruby Wax has recently launched her new book – a fun, accessible guide to what this mindfulness ‘stuff’ is all about and the neuroscience evidence behind it. I particularly like her quote:

“If we don’t advance our more human qualities then we’re doomed evolution-wise to become cyborgs, with an imprint of an ‘Apple’ where our hearts used to be.”

Buy ‘A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled’ from Amazon here.

For more help on mindfulness in moments of stress (perhaps when you are about to give an important presentation or attend a critical meeting), here’s a link to a very practical tool.  It’s incredibly simple, only takes a moment (actually just one minute), and could help you find both the composure and the energy you need to give a great presentation.

The One-Moment Meditation (OMM) app by author Martin Boroson, says:

“OMM is based on a very simple but powerful principle: you really can make a significant change in your state of mind quickly.  Just take a minute to tune in… and bring your mind back to the moment.

You can use the OMM app to reduce stress, improve focus, or boost your productivity and health.  With its one simple exercise, which just gets better over time, you’ll be able to recharge your batteries and find a bright, calm, and clear state of mind—anytime, anywhere.  You will see how taking just a brief pause to restore your attention can help you do everything better.”

On our presentation coaching courses, we blend brain science, positive psychology and advanced communications skills to help leaders become exceptional communicators.  You can work with us one to one or in groups. Contact us to find out more.


Acceptance Is Not About Giving In

Focus your energy on what you can influence and accept what you can’t.  You’ll be more effective and certainly less stressed.  It’s a cliché but true.  There are some things you won’t ever change and it’s time to accept them and move on.

But where does this sit with real ambition to achieve great change or great vision?  Is acceptance just about giving up or giving in?  Isn’t it a leader’s job to be optimistic and make the impossible possible?

Go a bit deeper into the subject of acceptance and it becomes a more useful idea at work.  Acceptance is not about giving in or putting up with bad behaviour.

First of all acceptance is about planning and timing.  There are certain things at certain points that are not going to shift right now, so be clear about the path to success and accept that things can change in stages.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.

Secondly, a great question to ask yourself is ‘what or who am I resisting in my life right now?’  Sit quietly for 5 minutes and ask yourself the question as if you are a curious bystander and see what emerges as thoughts and feelings.  Don’t try too hard.  This often starts to reveal the things which are frustrations for you – things which are not always useful and just getting in your way.  Perhaps things you need to accept.  This awareness is incredibly useful and energising.

Bear in mind too, that many leaders use meditation to help them liberate their minds to achieve high performance.  See www.headspace.com.  This question comes from their Acceptance pack in the Relationship series.

Extracts taken from Energise, the KineticFuture course for leadership development.  It shows leaders how to energise themselves and energise others to achieve their goals. Contact us to find out more.

If you are interested in an 8 week course which combines mindfulness with cognitive behavioural therapy, one of the most highly recommended public courses is at the Oxford University Mindfulness Centre. Find out more about the course here.


Holiday Preparation Stress Zone

Holidays are really important. But the lead up can be difficult. You can see the end in sight, you’ve had enough, you’re knackered and you’re worried about your key projects.

Positivity can start to wane and you can arrive on holiday stressed out. So what strategies can you use to manage the situation better? And how can you set a good positive example for your team? Here are some evidence-based techniques from positive psychology and neuroscience.

Acceptance.   Try accepting that you will not have everything in perfect shape before you leave even if you worked 24/7. Focus on the priorities. Stop trying to be perfect.

Reframe.   A holiday is vital for you to think, process & refuel. It is not a luxury. It is essential for peak performers just like good nutrition is for an athlete.

Flip it.   Take your worries and ‘flip them’ to find another way of seeing a situation. For example “projects will go wrong when I am away” could be flipped to “this is a chance for my team to take responsibility” or “they’ll realise how much value I add”.

Avoid multi-tasking.   Your brain will function better if you write your to do list first thing in the morning and then focus on each task with 100% effort. You’ll be more efficient in the time you have left and feel less frustration.

Mindfulness.   A ‘pressure cooker’ period is exactly the time to take 10 minutes to just walk round the block or to do that mindfulness practice (we like www.headspace.com).

Perspective.   Are you really so indispensable? Will the world cave in when you are gone?

Enjoy your holiday!

These techniques are extracts from the KineticFuture “Positive Leadership. Peak Performance” course. Contact us to find out more.