Is a Liar a Liar?

This week I posted this question on Facebook ‘If a liar believes what they say are they lying?’and got some very interesting responses. If you have ever had to deal with a liar you may well have a very strong point of view. The word ‘liar’ is an interesting one.

We have what are known as ‘little white lies’ when we avoid telling somebody something that we know might hurt them or distress them. Most of us, at some point, will have varied reality to help another person. Perhaps you child has just failed at an exam, sports event or a performance and so we may play it down and tell them how wonderful they have been. In these cases we bend the truth a little to make the other person feel better.

Only we can decide if our feedback to others is based in honesty or a doctored version of the truth that verges on being a lie.

Many people will use a version of the truth to further their cause. We see this everyday in politics. Currently with Covid we have examples of this everyday. The classic has been over the testing, when we later discover that figures were a convenient version of the truth so that the test figure included all those test that had been sent out not those that had been completed and a swob of a persons nose and mouth counts as two tests, and so on. Politics is full of what Winston Churchill referred to as ‘lies, damn lies and statistics. He was also reprimanded by the speaker for calling an MP a liar. He apologised and changed the wording from liar to a ‘terminological inexactitude’. I have known many people who have been otherwise known as liars.

Lying moves from these, what I might call good lies, to those that are deliberately and directly negative bad lies. These may be used to con you out of your money, get you into bed, or make you do something that you never intended or wanted to do. If I tell you a lie about a mutual friend telling you that they had said bad things about you or had done bad things to you it could understandably wreck your relationship with them. I have seen these types of things happen in the workplace when someone is attempting to get promotion and they lie and stand on their colleagues emotionally to achieve what they want.

So, here we have two distinctions in lying. The first is if the lie is to avoid hurting other peoples feelings or making a situation worse. This can happen at a funeral when the person in the box takes on the status of a saint and everyone says nice things about them when this may differ from how we knew them in life, who would it serve to “tell our truth”

Then we have the lies that are designed for the liar to get some advantage which could be money, position, status, power and so on.

Then we get into the world of psychology and mental health. A pathological liar is someone who lies compulsively. This is the result of an inner illness, syndrome, condition or even physical damage.

If someone suffering with Tourettes, who is disinhibited, may not be able to stop telling you that you have a massive big nose. In a sense they are being completely honest. The person who does not have Tourettes and is not disinhibited may also see that you have a massive big nose but does not say anything. Does that make them a liar?

Many psychiatric disorders can lead to someone always telling the truth, say what you see, to the point of offensiveness, others may appear to manufacture lies. Often these lies are not manufactured they are simply that person’s interpretation of events.

Anyone who has collected witness statements will tell you that a group of people experiencing the same events will tell different stories. None of them are lying it is just that they see the world from different points of view and are each telling their own truth they are not lying. When I was child and a Nun told me that smoking was a good thing and it helped distressed men relax and calm down she was not thinking of cancer or COPD.

If the engineers who put the cladding on high rise buildings, that we now know is flammable, if they did not know it was a fire risk they were acting honestly and not involved in any lies. Could we say the same for the manufacturer and the safety officers?

When a couple are getting divorced would we say that they were lying when they made promises to each other in the marriage ceremony  – until death do us part?

It would seem to me that unless you are being reckless and attempting to outwit others by not telling them the truth to take advantage of them, then the moving sands of time can change the way that we see the world. All we can do is to be honest to ourself in the present moment. Later we may realise that what we thought or believed was the truth was in fact a lie or not true. We then have a choice as what we can put right or not.

My hope is that most people are fairly straight and would seek to tell the truth. I do accept that there will always be the purveyors of terminological inexactitudes around us and maybe even leading us. Our job is to be aware enough to know the difference between the good lies, the bad lies, the psychiatric disorders and the truth. Though in the end my truth will simply be the way that I see it at that time.

Hey ho, aren’t human beings complicated?

Take care and be discerning

Sean x

TSHP368: COVID19 Stole My Dreams

What’s Coming This Episode?

The virus has ruined the plans of all of us. From holidays to weddings, christenings and exams. Everything has been pushed back or cancelled. A wedding is a big part of a person’s life – so how do we come to terms with the delay and cancellation of our moments? Let’s talk it through…

Enjoy the show and take care, it’s The Self Help Podcast!

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Expectations and Acceptance

Self Belief

 

Us Brits are not good at blowing our own trumpet. We have real problems in understanding the difference between positive self belief, which is really self love, and arrogance or being up your own backside. Now, I think this is really sad because self belief is essential for so many things in life. 

Self Belief vs arrogance

There is a very simple way to understand this. People that have arrogance do not actually have positive self belief they are looking to you to tell them that they are ok. Imagine this scenario. There is a party, a gathering of people to celebrate an event or simply a social occasion, you get the idea. There are two people that are a little different to all the rest. One is sat quietly in the corner having a meaningful conversation with someone else. The other, makes a grand entrance that is loud, demanding attention and, getting it. Which one is the most confident and has the most self belief and which once feels small and insignificant?

Well, people that make lots of noise, who are larger than life and, demand attention are those that need other people to tell them that they are ok. They need the attention to give them value and to convince them 0f their self worth. The person who is quietly getting on with life in the corner has self belief within them. Their value comes from the inside out, they do not need anyone else to tell them that they are ok.

Belief to me is not solid. Belief has that faith element that is found in religion. Confidence on the other hand suggest the solidity of knowledge, of knowing. Very often self confidence developer through experience. When we are confident we might not know how to do something but we have the confidence to know that we can work it out. This ability to problem solve is creativity in action.

Often those that seem to be confident and full of self belief are actually not. Those of us that need to make lots of money, to obtain expensive possessions, to be rich and famous are often those that feel the least for themselves and actually lack self belief. We often make the mistake of believing the opposite. We may see the material trappings as an expression of success and self belief. Often they are saying ‘please pay me attention and tell me that I am okay’. Those that are genuinely confident about who they are do not need to make great shows for others to applaud. They can be happy just being themselves.

People with self belief can deal with it when things go wrong or they make mistakes. To have positive self awareness of your skills, qualities and to be open to accept your failings and, to have the awareness to be getting better at being a human being equals positive self belief. 

What do we teach our children?

We, as a society, whether we are parents or not, have a responsibility to teach the children around us to have value in ‘who they are’ and not in ‘what they have’. In a materialistic society it is easy to mistake possessions for personal value and real self belief. So many programmes on TV from “the house wives of…” wherever to “Big Brother” often show us the worst kind of people, with the worst moral and ethical values assuming a sense of self importance and self belief.

There are times in our society when we need to be aware of how we are seen/experienced. I can rarely attend a business meeting in shorts and a tee shirt I need to be in a suit to be seen as credible by my peers. This kind of fancy dress is playing a societal game which, for me, is ok as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. I am saying that I have the same value as you.

Self belief and confidence comes from within. It is an expression of how we feel about ourself and not about what we have or what we can display to others. If you feel deprived you may need to create more wealth, change your job, adjust you living situation and there is nothing wrong with aspiration. However, it does not matter how many material things you manage to accumulate unless you feel good about you and who you are. With wealth you will only be miserable in comfort.

Time to develop some positive self belief and confidence. Look in the mirror every morning for the next one hundred days and say out loud to yourself “I Love You”. If you can’t do it you have little self belief. But, if you do it for one hundred days it will become a new habit that is inner self belief. Because, guess what, self belief is a habit! None of us popped out of the womb with positive or negative self belief. The way that we feel about who we are is what we have learned to be – maybe time to change?

Be happy and keep looking in the mirror 🙂

Take care

Sean x

Sleep

After prolonged lockdown more and more people have allowed their natural sleep pattern to slip. To enable us all to get back to work we need to rebuild our sleep pattern so that we can get back into the our pre-lockdown rhythm of life. We all need different amounts of sleep but what neuropsychology tells us is that if you get less than seven hours you may be suffering from anxiety and if you get more than nine you may be suffering from depression. Sleeping seven to nine hours means that you are emotionally balanced neither anxious or depressed. Getting a good nights sleep is essential fo our physical and emotional health.

What time do you naturally wake in the morning?

All of us have a natural body rhythm. My body/mind system is set to 5am and it has been that way for many years. This is so embedded in my system that even if I go to bed at 1am I will still wake at 5am though I might choose to go back to sleep. This is true except for when I go on holiday. I do what we all do and arrive on holiday feeling the everyday stresses of life but after a few day the levels of stress hormone in my mind/body system gradually reduce to a point where I might still be asleep at 8.30am. Then comes the magic moment when the holiday is over and I have to get back into my sleep rhythm to do my work. This can be tough. It might take me three or four weeks to rebuild my normal pattern and then there it is 5am and I am wide awake.

Lockdown sleep patterns are the extreme of holiday sleep. It starts like holiday sleep slipping into getting up later. After all there is nothing to do, no work to go to, nobody wants anything and nobody needs anything, the routine has gone. Prolonged holiday sleep in lockdown can start to become disordered. As it extends and we get up later and later the amount of hours that we are sleeping extends and that can be the key into depression.

Getting a proper night sleep is essential for our health and disturbed sleep can lead to deeper and more profound psychological and medical health issues. Sleep scientist tell us that the magic three for total health are exercise, nutrition and sleep. I would add in that we need to be leading the sort of life that makes us feel happy, valued and worthwhile.

Sleep has two main functions. The first is deep sleep or non rapid eye movement or NREM sleep. This part of the cycle deals with physical repair of the body tissues. The second is rapid eye movement or REM sleep. This is the dream cycle and deals with emotional processing and emotional health and wellbeing.

Many of the symptoms that I am dealing with during lockdown have their origins in the fact that our routines have been disordered and that we are unable to regulate our mind/body systems as we did before lockdown. As well as depression and anxiety commons issues are…

High blood pressure

This can come from lack of sleep and increased consumption of caffeine and alcohol and a reduction in exercise.

Mood changes and disorders

Often driven by boredom, anxiety and depression we can start to develop a short fuse, become irritable and intolerant. This can be associated with angry outbursts and even domestic violence and abuse.

Inflammation

Disturbed sleep can lead to inflammation in the body tissues. I take turmeric everyday to counteract any stress related inflammation. Constant inflammation can create cardio vascular disorders and the pain in arthritis and rheumatism. It can lead to diabetes and premature ageing. 

Confusion

Memory loss, especially short term, are commonly associated with disturbed sleep. Some people talk about brain fog or brain freeze as the frontal lobe of the brain becomes affected.

Muscle tension

We can feel stiff and develop aches and pains in our muscles and joints. This can be both from disturbed sleep and from lack of exercise.

Lowered immunity

We know that people with a good sleep pattern tend to have a more robust immune system. At the time of Covid 19 a good sleep pattern and a robust immune system is very important though maybe hard to achieve.

Getting back the rhythm

If we are going to make it out of lockdown and back into the normal rhythms or our everyday lives of work, family, school, socialising etc., we will need to start with getting our sleep pattern right. This means avoiding media and devices like phones and tablets prior to bed time.

We need to move our sleep pattern back to where it use to be. The easiest way to do this is to set you alarm and get up at your normal time, even if you feel really tired. This has the effect of making us want to go to sleep earlier. As long as you keep getting up to your alarm you’re pattern will shift back fairly quickly.

When you do get back into work you will probably feel exhausted and it may take several weeks for your mind/body system to reset itself. Then you will say, “I feel like I have never been away from work”.

Assuming that there is not another rise in the R number we will not go back into lockdown. But, if we do, try and keep you regular mind/body system pattern in sync so that when we come out again the transition will be easy.

Take care and sleep well

Sean x

Protest

I guess there are many reason why one group of people should see themselves as different to another group. In a tribal world with hunting grounds and competition for food and space there would often be a need to defend what is ‘ours’ and to fight off, battle with, or go to war with other groups that attempt to take it from us. This kind of group identity and defence makes some sense. The problem that we seem to be facing in the modern world is why do we see groups of people that we live with and share the same country as different to us?

Currently we see the USA replaying the racial unrest of the 1960s. The evidence seems to be that a man, I really don’t see the need to describe him as black, was illegally killed by a policeman, again I really don’t see the need to say he was white, in what is seen as a racial attack and possibly a deliberate murder. At what point can we start to simply be people, human beings, rather than ethnic groups, races and nationalities?

I keep saying it, and probably will for the rest of my life, but it really is this simple…

If we all look after each other then we will all be okay

Sadly we do not. It would seem that the path to hate is a lot easier to travel than the path to love.

Prejudice exists in all and every level of society. Are men better the women? Gays better than straights? Black better than white? Indians better than Chinese? Vegetarians better than meat eaters or vegans better than vegetarians? Muslims better than Christians? The list is endless and it is based in group identity. Once we form a group, ‘us’ you are either in, and one of us or you are outside of the group and one of ‘them’.

Colour and class
Having worked and travelled around the world I observe that in many societies, even black societies, light skins have higher status than darker skins. As I observed this in different countries I began to realise something. Those people that were the leaders, the higher status group, didn’t go out in the world that much. They stayed at home in their castles and palaces and high end properties. The common people, the workers, were outside most on the time in the elements, sunshine and rain. Their wether battered skinned were darkened by the sun and the wind. Soon it was pretty clear that those with darker skins did the most manual work outside and those with the lighter skins had no need to go outside and had lighter coloured skins. Suddenly the colour of your skin indicates your status.

I suspect that this happened in most societies around the world throughout our evolution. You can still see the same thing going on across the world especially in the Middle East. In situations like the USA the contract is stark. Sadly so is the history. It seems strange to me that the white folks aren’t on bended knee apologising for their mistreatment towards black people for hundreds of years.

The Karma of Empire
When it come to groups of us and them the ultimate are the empire builders. What can it be that makes one country, or group of people, think that it is okay to go around the world stealing people’s countries, taking their resources, abusing their residents to the point of slavery. Many of the financial houses in Europe were built on just such empires financed by slavery and opium.

To take groups of people by force from their native country and make then work for you for no reward and do whatever you wish of them, to own them beat them and sell, to hold the power of life and death over them is likely to lead to a lot of resentment and repressed anger. The current events in the USA, with the unnecessary killing and loss of George Floyd, can quite easily release 400 years of repressed anger held by generations who were used as slaves and who, even now, suffer and lack the status of the rest of their fellow citizens.

Europe beware
The British Empire spanned the world and mistreated and abused millions of people for many generations. the other Empires of European countries did exactly the same thing. Well, those Empires have peaked and are coming to an end. The power base is shifting and Europe may not become the third world but is likely to become the second world. The first world is more likely to be India or China. The American Empire has also probably peaked and may well now be in decline. Other empires are now trying to take the world stage. Both Russia and China have ambitions that may well make them the world powers of the future.

How we treat other people is important not least of all because it is the right thing to do. But as it says in the Bible ‘The sins of the fathers will be visited on their children’. There maybe much repayment required of the post empirical countries.

Stay safe and look after those around you

Sean x

Living Your Truth

Whats is the truth?

I like gravity because it shares an absolute truth of being an invisible force pulling matter together. The force that causes a ball you throw in the air to come down again, that holds the gases in the sun, that keeps you walking on Earth instead of floating away into space. The law of gravity does not compromise it effects us all equally. Unless… and this is the issue… you have wings, a parachute, ballon or a propeller. Even the truth of gravity can be subverted,

The psychological phenomenon of ‘attitude alignment’, happens below our awareness, as we take on the prevailing attitudes of whichever group we are with. These attitudes are the groups truth. The group my be familial, political, educational, religious and so on. Once we align with a group we embody the truths that are commonly held by the group and we allow those truths to become our truths.

Religious groups each believe that they are right. Their truth is thetruth and those that do not believe ‘the’ truth are outside of the group as infidels or heathens. In financial systems both the capitalists and the communists believe that they are living thetruth. In political systems conservatives, socialists and democrats all believe that they are living thetruth.

I work a lot with couples. At the outset I see each of them individually so that I can understand how they see the situation and what is ‘their’ truth. It comes pretty clear from the outset that both people are viewing the same situation from different points of view. In most cases both parties are true but that are partial. In general what any of us see as thetruth is partial to our own experiences, expectations and beliefs. The collective truth that is shared by a group or even an entire country is always changing or evolving.

Looking back at social history we can see that behaviours and practices that were acceptable a few hundred years ago are now considered difficult, wrong or unacceptable. Bear bating and slavery would be unthinkable in our society now. After all it was only in the 1960’s that women in Britain ceased to be the property or chattels of their husbands or fathers. In many countries women still suffer inequality with their men folk. I suspect that many women in Britain would, even now, feel that they do not have full equality. Is the truth that all women should have the same rights as men? Or is that just the way that I see it?

As human consciousness evolves I hope people’s behaviour will gradually develop to be less damaging and more helpful to itself and to all other beings and even the environment and the planet as a whole. The truth, as I see it, is that if we do not change the way that we are treating the planet we will make ourselves extinct.

One universal truth, as I see it, is that with greater awareness we can learn to attend to the needs of each other and… 

…if we all look after each other we will all be ok

Everybody wants us to believe their truth. When someone arrives at work feeling really cheesed off but insists that all is fine they are avoiding their own truth and being inauthentic. Truth, authenticity and honesty all run together. Sometimes dishonest can be fun if you see it for what it is.

When I go to replace my car I love that process of the salesperson doing whatever they can to secure the sale. It is seduction in action. There is nothing wrong with being seduced in this way as long as we are mindful of what is going on and that we are seduced with both our knowledge and consent.

So, through out this covid 19 period enjoy the seduction that you will be subject to by friends, family, the media, politicians and so on. Be mindful of what is happening and simply ask your self ‘Why are they saying that, what do the really mean, what is the true sound behind their words?’ After all what is their truth, what is my truth, what is your truth? Are we all right or does the truth not really exist?

Being honest and authentic with yourself is to be with your own truth. To live your truth is a good thing as long as it is not hurtful or harmful to others.

Take care, stay safe and be happy

Sean x

Mental Health Week and Kindness

This week is International Mental Health week. The subject that the week is focussing on this year is kindness. It seems so appropriate at this time of Covid 19 and lockdown when fuses are getting short and intolerance is on the rise, as the frustration grows. Then if we add in the anxiety and fear of getting C10, of what will happen next after the lockdown and if the world will ever be the same. 

In my consulting room I am picking all these things up at the moment and also the issues of death and the fear of death. Some current deaths are from the virus, some are because of the virus and some are unrelated to the virus. In each and every case the socially distanced funeral services can never be the same as before and there is no opportunity of a send off or wake. Instead people are agreeing to have a full farewell party once this lockdown is completed. I expect I shall be attending a few.

When it comes to kindness I am reminded of my very first training that was in Ayurvedic psychology. One aspect of that training was in what we would now call mindfulness and involved paying attention to the present generally and also the practise of meditation. There was a strong emphasis on the need for positive feelings towards both yourself and other people. The importance and need for loving kindness between all beings in creation is known as Mettā in Pali the language of Buddhism or Maitrī in Sanskrit the language of Ayurveda. 

Metta is something that we would always include at the end of any meditation practise, though it can used as a full meditation of loving kindness. In Metta we are expressing caring and empathy for all sentient, feeling, beings in the universe. That includes all those that you know, those that you don’t know and every living thing on the planet. Traditionally this begins with yourself, which is so important as a reinforcement of self value and self esteem. The loving kindness to yourself spreads from your heart like ripples from a pond in ever increasing circles to encompass all of creation. Some people live in Metta all the time and have a deep level of gratitude and love for all that is around them. 

When we think of kindness we might use the word compassion. Compassion means with feeling or with empathy. All sentient beings can feel good or feel bad, and that most of them, given the choice, will probably choose the former over the latter. Such contact with feeling implies that there can be suffering. All living beings can feel sadness and happiness. This is the point in my training where I became a vegetarian. The bottom line is that other animals do not have to suffer and die in order for me to live. 

In Metta, in loving kindness, we can feel the connection with all living things, sharing a common aspiration to find our fulfilment and escape our suffering. In this we are all one. If we realise that…

…if we all look after each other we will all be okay…

we can create heaven on Earth right now, but only if we want to.

The empathy of loving kindness involves the willingness to see the world from another’s point of view. When we are awake and aware we can learn from the experience of others. When we are asleep, and lack empathy for ourself and for others, we have to suffer in order for us to wake up and learn. 

Some of us will grow through awareness – 

most of us will grow through pain.

Someone once said something like ‘I may disagree with you but I will defend to my death your right to hold that opinion’. This is what I call the law of allowing. It is having enough loving kindness to allow an other to grow though their mistakes without the need to be critical or judgemental. I often see this as, just because some people are mad I don’t have to join in, I can allow them to be what they need to be at this time. 

Loving kindness is also Karmic. A Karma is often seen as the negative punishment of action. Karma is really the concept that all behaviour is consequential. There will be an outcome of all that I do good or bad it is just the consequence.  When we look after others the chances are that they will look after us and wish us well. Creating the positive and peaceful family of all of creation.

Looking after others with loving kindness involves consideration and generosity. Charity is when we offer our friendliness and support to others. This does not simply mean the giving of money, though it may include supporting others. The greatest charity that we can ever offer is loving kindness, It is when we can maintain an attitude of friendliness that meets another person’s suffering and transforms into our compassion for them. It creates an empathic joyfulness that transcends gender, race, ethnicity, orientation, nationality, species… 

…in the end we all are one.

One thing that neuropsychology teaches us is that to do good things for others makes us feel good at the same time. When we enact loving kindness we are creating our own emotional fulfilment and at the same time the fulfilment of the emotional development of every being. It is a win win situation.

To wish another well is to wish yourself well

Loving kindness is the real answer to almost every problem the world faces today. We know that politics will not do it. We know that money will not do it. We know that science will not do it and we know the technology and the social media that we hold in our hand will not do it. We do know that loving kindness will. 

Politics, news and the media go out of their way to reinforce the differences between us all, and exacerbate strife and problems. The positive news that is going on all the time, but is outside of the regular news media, is Metta. It is this loving kindness that is all around us. We share this planet together not just us human beings but all animals, all of creation, and we can choose how we look after each other. Do we go for Metta or go for self interest?

If you like to investigate Metta have a go at the meditation of loving kindness on the Palouse site and enjoy the other great links, knowledge and facilities offered there.

Here is a link to a full Metta loving kindness meditation…    

 

Lockdown will end. In the post lockdown world we will need Metta more than ever to support each other, right across the world, as we create whatever the new normal will look like. Let us ensure that it includes loving kindness.

Take care, be happy, I send my Metta to you. Who will you send yours to?

Sean x

A Path Travelled

This week on the podcast we had another guest, Alison Blackier a Transformational Mind Coach and founder of 2-minds who has just published her first book ‘A Path Travelled’ She has a very varied practice that spans from one to one coaching, corporate management coaching and working with offenders in prisons plus writing articles for the local press.

Her book is written from her own experience of life and her experience of working with her many clients. A Path Travelled gives the reader an opportunity to review, question and adjust their life experience, through insights and exercises so that they can move towards their own fulfilment.

In every life, each person is on their own path. It is the path of life that goes from birth to death. The nature of the path, the route, and the terrain is, in many ways dictated and created by us the individual traveller. Most people never realise this and often remain on the path that they inherited from their parents, class, nationality, ethnicity, orientation and so on. Much unhappiness in the world is the result of individuals trying to stay on paths that they do not really belong on. They may never realise or understand why they are unhappy. The current epidemic of anxiety and depression that swamps humanity is often the result of people attempting to live lives and stay on paths that are not good for them.

When people say things like ‘life is a bitch and then you die’ they describe exactly people being on the wrong path. The positive alternative might be ‘life is a joy and eventually and naturally you come to the joyful end of your path’. This can only happen when you are on the right path for you.

Throughout time there have been guides that we meet on our path that attempt to show us, the travellers, which way to go.  To suggests ways in which we might improve or develop our path. When we get it right we can follow a path, live a life, that is self fulfilling that makes us happy. Informally these guides have been the wise ones, who had insight and empathy, knowledge and wisdom. They were the shaman, guru, religious leader, scientists, philosophers, psychotherapists, coaches and so on.

A guide is anyone who can see a bit further up the path than we can. Someone who can explain the likely consequence of our actions as individuals, as a society or as a race. Good guides and teacher encourage us to face up to problems and dilemmas. They ask us questions such as…

What has your path been like? Have you enjoyed it? Where did it begin? Why has it followed the course that it has? If you started out again on a path would you follow the same route? If ‘yes’, then, good luck enjoy it and do more of it? If ‘no’ then, how can you change it and ensure that the remainder of your journey is on a path that you might actually like and enjoy?

As long as we enjoy our path it is the right one to be on. When we wake in the morning with apprehension of the day ahead our path is probably not the right one. Perhaps time to go and see a coach?

Take care, be happy and follow your path.

Sean x

Developing Your Leadership Skills

This week on the podcast Ed and I were joined by Nikki Cross who is in the process of starting a new business in the middle of the pandemic. Her background and skill base is in learning and development and her passion is in getting leaders to self develop and improve who they are and how they function to the benefit of themselves, their teams and their business.

The work that Nikki’s is developing is important for the development of any society but at this moment it is vital to ensure that we survive and rebuild after Covid-19 becomes something that was rather than is. As we come out of lockdown it is the power of our leaders that will pull us through and recreate the world. It will probably not be as it was but hopefully it will have it’s own magic and we move forward to whatever awaits us.

I have invited Nikki to contribute to this blog, see below. But before that I just want to say this, we are all leaders. Leadership is not a title, a job or a position it is a set of skills, values and insights. Throughout life we may be faced with leadership roles from leading a project in the classroom to being a gleam captain. With friendship groups there are leaders and followers. As parents, as a mother or father, we offer and show leadership. As adults in the workplace at different levels from shift leader to managing director we are leaders.

Good leaders, at any level, lead by example. This is not ‘do what I say and not what I do’. The quality of any group from family to corporation is a direct reflection of the leader. All groups develop from the top down. When you meet nice kids you know that they have had a good role model. When you meet nice employees you know that the quality of their leadership is good.  So over to Nikki…

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to come on and chat through this topic with you guys today!  I was honestly disappointed when it ended (could’ve chatted all day!)

I couldn’t agree with your summary more – and with my ‘people development’ hat on the next natural step would be to explore: If I wanted to improve my leadership skills, what should I work on and what are the easiest ways to develop? If that resonates with you, I’ve identified five key skills and some tips for development …

  1. Commitment to growth.  It can be temping to rest on your laurels when you get the ‘leader’ stamp.  Don’t be deceived though – this isn’t because ‘leaders are lazy’ … this is usually because of a wrong and very dangerous assumption: “I’m the leader now, I have been given this title so I cant show that I don’t know what I’m doing” … this leaves the leader feeling like an imposter in their own role.  Truth is – the skill set that got them from a great nurse / bus driver / recruiter is NOT the same skill set that will make them a great leader!

EASY WAYS TO DEVELOP THIS SKILL:

  • Start journaling – each day take 5 minutes to become aware of your priorities, your internal voice, your challenges and your thoughts.  Once they’re out on paper, it’s usually much easier to see things objectively.
  • The internet is your friend– there isn’t much available these days by way of obtaining knowledge.  The trick is IMPLEMENTATION … it’s all very well watching the YouTube video … but what will you ACTUALLY DO?   
  • Read 5 pages before bed – pick a book (so many great ones out there on leadership) and just commit to 5 pages before bed. That’s it! Most leaders will say to me “I haven’t got time to read” but openly admit that 5 minutes before bed is completely do-able (FYI … 5 pages a day = 1,825 pages a year = approx.. four books a year!)
  • Hire a coach …plug…Seriously, get help! Look for a coach who takes time to ensure the right fit, understands ‘what good looks like’ for what it is you want to achieve, asks the right questions and helps hold you accountable
  1. Authenticity.  The ONLY way to establish influence is to develop trust.  The only way to develop trust is to be authentic.  Leaders who are able to seek clarity, provide direction and inspire people to do things they didn’t think were able to create agile, committed teams.

EASY WAYS TO DEVELOP THIS SKILL:

  • Understand that it’s not your job to have all of the answers… it IS your responsibility to find them out. 
  • Communicate with intent, and always state your intent right at the start of your interactions. It sounds like this “I want to talk to you today about your goals for the next month and how you performed last month.  To be clear, I’m having this discussion with you because I want you on my team, we are interdependent which means the more we rely on each other to deliver what we said we would, the more we collectively succeed …”
  • Share your own development journey.  The leaders I have been the most inspired by, didn’t just want to talk about my development as an employee – they wanted to share their own with me too.  Knowing that they were comfortable to demonstrate that vulnerability to me made it a safe environment for me to have straight conversations with them.
  1. Integrity (notice how this word contains the word GRIT) Integrity is possibly the word thrown around the most when we are talking ‘leadership’ or ‘company values’ … but it is so important. 

Integrity is when there is congruence between your moral convictions and your actions.  Or put simply ‘doing the right thing, regardless of who is watching’. 

It takes true courage and GRIT to behave with integrity, especially because when you are in a leadership position, the level of decision making, autonomy and responsibility usually increases dramatically … but the amount of checks to ensure you’re making the right decisions in the right way, with the right intent decreases dramatically. 

EASY WAYS TO DEVELOP THIS SKILL:

  • Think of your future self – recognise that there is always an easier option, but will your future self thank you for cutting corners today?
  • Set your standards high when it comes to doing the right thing.  When decision making ask yourself: Am I doing the right thing by the person, the team, the customer and the business?
  • Tell someone else – if you know there is a risk of you not doing the right thing, get someone to hold you accountable!
  1. Communication – if I said to you “this is going to be really hard, not sure how we are going to deal with this”… notice how it is different to “we have got a challenge on our hands team. I need our brains on this to help me figure out the best next steps” … one invokes fear, the other invokes inspiration. 

Great leaders are SELF AWARE not only about how they approach challenges, but also about how they communicate with their teams.  I’ve found that the most influential leaders will choose their thoughts and actions carefully. 

EASY WAYS TO DEVELOP THIS SKILL:

  • Switch up your perspective & language – simple switches like instead of the word ‘issue’ try the word ‘challenge’ … it can be tricky to do in the moment, so start this skill by checking over your mail language first
  • Get curious – Start sentences with ‘what if we tried…’ and use curious language in your thinking and in your conversations
  • Stop dictating – yes, you’ve got to practice patience here.  Yes it might be quicker for you to just ‘tell’ … but do you want to hand hold forever? OR do you want to create a team who feel empowered to do the right thing?
  1. Goal setting & accountability – great leaders will establish the strategic direction, then set the goals by chunking down the actions required to achieve the goal.   They are able to find the right mountain they need their team to climb, and are able to set mutually agreed actions with each team member to establish their contribution to conquering said mountain. 

Providing the goals are specific, measurable and timebound, there will be no problem assessing progress (providing opportunity for accountability!)

Lastly, the leader will be showing up, and making their own contribution clear. The team will know exactly how the leader contributes to the journey and will feel empowered by their contribution.

…Get the above right and you’ll find team gatherings where everyone can hold each other accountable for their contribution.

EASY WAYS TO DEVELOP THIS SKILL:

  • Always link people’s goals into the bigger picture – it’s inspiring to know that the work you’re doing is contributing to something bigger than your work … it also adds an appropriate amount of responsibility when you know the bigger picture cant be achieved without your contribution!
  • Invest time in expectation setting – specific, measurable and timebound.  Set expectations clearly and make sure you all agree to how often progress will be reviewed.
  • Lead by example – don’t hide away from sharing your own goals.  Get them right out there for everyone to see.  Not only will this create trust, but it will also create context for your team by not only giving them an insight into why they are so important to you, but also helping them to understand the priorities and challenges that must be overcome.

A big thank you to Nikki for coming on the show and taking the time to contribute to this blog as well.

We are all leaders in one way or another and all that is said in this blog and what we discussed on the podcast applies to all of us. Just remember that people learn from observation. A good question is ‘how do people see you?’

Take care, stay safe and be a good leader

Sean x