Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Tag Archives: Confidence

Snowdrops – the epitome of realistic optimism

Realistic optimism in action

Realistic optimism in action

I came across this curious phrase this week – realistic optimism.

Blind optimism rarely has it’s roots in reality. But realistic optimism is not only believing that you will succeed, but at the same time, believing that you have to work to make it happen.

Spring is tantalisingly close, and these snowdrops for me epitomise this realistic optimism. Knowing that success for them is to get their heads above ground, and point the way to brighter days and cheerier landscapes, but at the same time keeping small and low to avoid being trampled, squashed under mud or snow, and requiring too much precious winter sunshine to be sustained.

The path to success for them is rocky – often, quite literally. A fair amount of effort is involved in getting through the cold, hard ground of winter. But persevere they do, year on year, bringing cheer, and hope of better days to come.

Anyway, I risk extending the analogy too far.

But realistic optimism is an important attribute when working towards anything in life. Believing that success will land in our laps without any effort is naive at best, and at worst, destructive – for you and for those around you.

And if it did, would it mean as much without the effort to get there?

We display realistic optimism instead when we choose to believe that what we are seeking to do will succeed, and we are fully aware of how rocky and challenging the path to success is likely to be. Effort, planning, persistence, and good choices will be required.

Sometimes, going forward with what we want to do in life can feel a bit like pulling ourselves up by the shoe laces.

Self motivation can lose it’s sheen.

And it can be all to ease to give in to negative thoughts – worst case scenario thinking. Negative thoughts can be useful in enabling us to see pitfalls and challenges in what lies ahead. However, that negativity can also suck the motivation out of us, and lead us down the road to fear.

But we are in control of our emotions, not the other way round – that fear can be a prompt to identify what we are choosing to believe, and replace those negative thoughts with more positive ones.

How to do that?

We take time to create an image of the success we want to achieve. And in addition, see all the steps on the path to get there, so that we are more prepared for what lies ahead. In so doing, we combine a positive attitude with a realistic evaluation of the situation we face, and the challenges that we are likely to encounter. And that allows us to take ownership of our situation and put into practice what you know you can do that will make a difference.

It was John F Kennedy who said:

Don’t ask ‘why’. Instead, ask ‘why not?’

Imagine if the snowdrops thought – we’ll pop out of the ground just by magic, and it will all be wonderful. We’ll triumph over winter!

Or equally – it’s too hard, too cold, too snowy, too dark, we’ll just stay here in our bulbs, and give up.

Either way, the end result is no snowdrops – those most pretty of flowers and bringers-of-hope.

We choose to believe that we can succeed, and we recognise that it will be hard work. Therein lies the road to fulfillment, resilience and growth. Realistic optimism – our choices of course are all about us being proactive in the situations we are in.

Perhaps you are struggling to create a clear image of what you want your particular success to look like?

Or that dream is well established but you don’t know how to get there – realism is too often trumped by pessimism and inertia.

I can help! Get in touch and we can work on this together.

 

The habit of self renewal – or, letting our souls catch up

The habit of self renewalSelf renewal.

This habit is very close to my heart, even and especially as I am learning the importance of applying it.

I wrote here a while ago about the need to have time to let our souls catch up, and this is the essence of Habit Number 7.

Without appropriate time for renewal, in body, mind and soul, we cannot sustain the way we live, and our attempts to live out the preceding habits will eventually fail.

I have also written here about Burnout, and the dangers of doing doing doing to the extent that we forget to be, and ultimately we lose who we really are.

The final habit in the Seven Habits book by Dr Steven Covey is the habit of self renewal. There are four basic dimensions to self renewal, and this is my whistle stop summary, to outline what for me is significant about each one:

  1. Physical – looking after our bodies: food, exercise, rest, sleep. What would make the biggest difference to how you feel about yourself, and to the life that you live? Exercise is important – we all know that in theory – but we need to choose to be proactive and make time for it. Every little helps. When it comes to exercise, what do you love to do, and how do you love to do it?
  2. Social/relational – Who are the people who matter most to you? How often do you see those people and really connect with them (and I don’t mean on Facebook or to say “It’s your turn to take the bin out.”) What relationships feed your soul? Who are the people in your life that nourish you, make you laugh, inspire you, ask you about how you are and not just what you are doing? What would make the biggest difference to how you invest in these key relationships?
  3. Spiritual – this taps into who we see ourselves to be, and includes any expression of faith that we may have. What gives you serenity and peace? What renews you spiritually, in the broadest sense of the word? Again, the key here is knowing yourself. Taking time to understand yourself, and enjoy being that person is a good start.
  4. Mental – this is a broad area and covers everything from learning a new skill, reading stimulating literature, music, all kinds of creativity, on-going learning and mental development. What stretches and inspires you? What does being creative mean to you – if like me, you can’t draw and are not very artistic, you might need to reclassify and broaden your idea of what being creative means. Exploring the creative side of ourselves, and giving ourselves time to do this, taps into our right brain functioning and allows us to switch the left brain off – the structured, organising, to-do lists, practical parts of us. In so doing, we often gain a different, fresh perspective.

If all four areas of self care are in balance and being exercised properly we create an upward spiral of restoration.

…More physical exercise gives us more energy, we are more alert, fitter and learn the benefits of being proactive.

…More mental energy gives us more space to engage in mental stimulus, expands our world, stretches us and gives us a sense of achievement.

…Time to be reflective, gives us space to understand and accept ourselves, our values and priorities.

…Thus we are more able to give of ourselves in relationships with others because we are more secure and comfortable with who we are.

So….what to do.

What would make the biggest difference to your own self renewal, as this year gets under way?

Habit Number 4: Think win/win

Think win/win - enough for all.

Think win/win – enough for all.

Would you do something for me? Take a wee minute and have a good scout around inside your soul. Poke into the dark and dusty corners into which you would prefer others not to venture. Ask yourself this question, and be really honest with yourself about your motives:

How often do I go into a situation/relationship looking for what I can get out of it?”

If you are human – and I am guessing that you are if you are taking time to read this – you will recognise that that response is indeed sometimes the case. It is a very human tendency to look to what we can get out of a situation – be it a bargain or a cheap/better deal, kudos or recognition, our emotional needs met. Or, put it more bluntly, we look to win.

Equally, you might ask yourself this:

How often do I go into a situation seeking to be helpful or make the peace, but end up feeling that I have been walked over?”

People pleasers, appeasers, those coming from a place of feeling the victim, those struggling with low self confidence and self worth – again, very human tendencies that we will all recognise. Allowing others to dominate, bulldoze all over us, take advantage of us and our insecurities can be an all-too-common outcome of a situation or relationship. In other words, to lose.

This is what is at the basis of Habit Number 4 – Think Win/Win. This one can be hard to get your head round, beyond it sounding really aggressively competitive and sport-related. And my opening comments this week might seem especially harsh and polarising. After all, life isn’t as black and white as this is it – you can’t divide life into winners and losers.

But to ‘win’ in the context of the Think Win/Win paradigm is NOT about selfish triumphalism or personal, individualistic gain.

Far from it.

This is about living life from a starting point that there is plenty for everyone. Having an abundance mentality, a generosity of character and spirit.

This is the idea that one person’s success does not need to be achieved at the expense or exclusion of anyone else.

I don’t have to trample over you to get what I want. Nor do I have to let you trample over me. There is enough for us both, and we can work together to allow us both to flourish.

This fits perfectly coming after Thanksgiving. Now I am Scottish through and through (and a wee bit Danish) but have some American friends, and I love the tradition of Thanksgiving. To take some time with your nearest-and-dearest, with friends old and new, and express thanks for the abundance of the harvest. And to share that abundance, even as you express individual thanks for what the year has brought you.

For me, this is the spirit of Habit 4. When we can see what we have and what we can do, and live from a place of thankfulness, we can truly seek Win/Win, which is mutual benefit and satisfaction in all our encounters.

This of course is all about character.

To constantly seek mutual benefit and mutual satisfaction in any relationship or situation takes

security in who we are, integrity in our behaviour, and a clear understanding of our own values.

It also takes maturity. In Dr Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he quotes a Harvard professor from 1955:

emotional maturity is the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others.”

This is about being secure in who you are, and at the same time valuing the other person and seeking to understand where they are coming from. This fits so well with team coaching – having a shared goal that all parties are working together toward rather than each seeking individual gain.

How might win/win work out in practice?

This is extending from Dr Covey’s work slightly, but for me, these are some of the outworkings of living with an abundance mentality where there is plenty for everyone:

  • replace “I have to….” with “I get to…” in your thinking and see how that shifts your perspective. What does that prompt you to be thankful for? What does that allow you to see about your circumstances and strengths that enable you to give with your best rather than perhaps begrudgingly?
  • do you live more with a spirit of entitlement or generosity? Pay attention to that little mind worm of ‘what do I get out of this’ and replace with ‘what can I give here?’
  • what can you do, and what do you have and how secure are you in that, as you go into encounters with people that require some kind of resolution?

A win/win abundance mentality of mutual benefit for all is not a bad way to start Advent.

How did I end up here? More on Team coaching

How might your team benefit from team coaching?

How might your team benefit from team coaching?

It’s a funny old thing, this being in a new line of work. (Although nearly four years have passed since my physiotherapy days came to an end).

Sometimes I catch myself on thinking, how did I end up here?

What do I have to offer?

What right do I have to think anyone will want my services or believe that I am any good at this?

But what struck me forcibly during a recent team coaching session was that many of the skills and strengths I am using as a life coach have been honed and developed and grown over years as a physio.

It now surprises me that this surprises me!

Along with many physios, I have much experience working with groups and teams, have done a lot of teaching and communicating, and am motivated by encouraging others to take personal responsibility for their own situation and effect their own positive change.

Even so, it is still hugely reassuring and encouraging – and a lot of fun – to get to use skills and experience from one part of my life in another. Nothing is wasted – change is an opportunity to see what is worth keeping and what was only for that time. To be rooted in who we know ourselves to be, and what we know to be important and not tied to a specific role that we believe defines our identity.

Internal confidence, not external security.

And so too with teams. Such energy and drive come from a team reaching a shared passion and purpose, and then creating their own priorities and crafting their own actions. I facilitate, direct proceedings, shake things up a bit, bringing things back on track when required….using the persistence, strategy, juggling multiple things at once learned in my previous career.

The other thing that strikes me is that there is very little that is new under the sun. I have crafted team sessions using a lot of material from various sources. I attended a webinar by Nick Wright that gave me the initial model for the structure. I have been inspired by reading both The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen Covey, and Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. His TED talk of the same name is a great summary of this oh-so-sensible teaching and perspective.

And I have taken it all, stirred it around, used the bits that fit and added a lot of ideas of my own. Most importantly, are the elements and priorities that the team themselves come up with.

How does Team Coaching work?

The session itself is a combination of things. I do some talking, with a little theory depending on the needs and expectations of the team. I try not to do too much of that – the session is about you not me. I do ask lots of questions that are answered in different ways with different approaches depending on those present. Many post-it notes and writing on bits of paper is involved. And there are some practical exercises that could almost be considered to be games, but in a non-cheesy way. The energy grows as the session progresses, and individuals get the hang of what is going on, and that – hopefully – it is neither ‘boring or samey’.

So, if you work as part of a small team, ask yourself:

How would your team benefit from:

  • having some time to step back together in a bonding and encouraging sort of way (team song and hug not part of the process!)
  • think together about your vision and purpose
  • gain clarity on key priorities and goals
  • consider what the strengths are of the team and it’s individual members, and your training and development needs
  • look at communication and how to improve it
  • have time together to deal with whatever specific issues are pertinent to YOUR team
  • collectively come up with lots of action points to implement immediately.

If this is something that your team would benefit from get in touch to find out more. You can also find out more here, and feedback from some recent teams I have worked with.

Email me on catriona@equipforlifecoaching.com

or phone me on 07713 974138

And here’s a lovely thing about being authentic….

Going from being caged in by your life to being free and able to take on anything….becoming fully alive again….

Free to be fully aliveHow exciting is that!

Would you like to be able to say that about yourself, about your own life? Maybe you are there already – yippee! Maybe not quite yet. Read on..

Last week, I was talking about being authentic, and what it means to start with who you are – living as the person you are rather than the person you feel you should be or are supposed to be.

The starting point for this is knowing who you are in the first place. You cannot begin to accept yourself and start living as that person until you know yourself and what your own, unique life means.

What are your skills, strengths, values, dreams? What are you passionate about and motivated to do? What have your life experiences taught you, and what do you uniquely bring to the world?

Yes you – not the person next to you. You are not them. That is the whole point.

This then enables an unpicking and an untangling. I often describe the work we would do together in coaching like this:

Your life is like a treasure chest, and what we are going to do with coaching is take everything out,

look at it, keep and celebrate the good stuff, and ditch the unhelpful stuff.

The unhelpful stuff, as it were, can take a little longer to unearth, and includes negative self talk, lies we believe about ourselves, bad habits, to name the commonest. But by far the most significant thing for a client to work to remove from their life is negative self belief: I’m not, I can’t, I’m worthless, I’m a failure, I’ll never be able to….

This week I received the most lovely and affirming review from one of my wonderful clients. It fits so well with this theme of being authentic and starting with who you are and what you can do. Confidentiality is central to my work, and anonymity for some clients is important – people don’t always want their world to know what is going on internally, so no name. She is a teacher, she and I had face to face sessions over 9 months, initially every two to three weeks, and then much more spread out as she implemented and lived out her new habits and way of being. In a bit of shameless self-promotion, this is what she wrote.

When I went along to my initial taster session with Catriona, I instantly knew that working with her was going to be a great thing. I instantly felt at ease, and that feeling has increased as time has gone on.

She is truly an amazing life coach and person, who really cares about what she does. She is so skilled at helping you identify where you need to do some work on yourself.  There have been so many times when I have had ‘aha’ moments with her when I have thought… I have never thought about that that way!  Those moments have been transformative for me.

I truly have changed my entire life by going to see Catriona. She is totally forward thinking which I particularly loved. No dwelling on the past, more making a plan for right now and the future.  I have gone from someone who was caged in by her own life to someone who now feels free and able to take on anything! And that is thanks to Catriona!

I cannot recommend her highly enough! I even have people across the Atlantic Ocean talking about how marvellous she is!  Truly, everyone should have Catriona as their life coach! Without a doubt, the best thing I ever did!

Shucks. This is why I love what I do, why it is such an enormous privilege. This lovely, transformed and exuberant woman got to where she is now through a lot of hard work, along with my questioning, listening, support and accountability. But for her, the results speak for themselves. For everyone, the process is different as the starting point is different, and the time involved for everyone varies hugely. Change is rarely easy. The question is, is it worth it? What is the cost of not changing, of staying where you are?

At the top of this post I asked if you could describe yourself as ‘free and able to take on anything….fully alive’.

If you read that and something stirs in you that thinks, I want a bit of thatget in touch. I would love to hear from you!

 

Start with who you are – to be authentic.

My word of the week this week seems to be Authentic.

Living as your true self and not your false self.

Being yourself and not trying to be someone else.

Honest and real.

These are all different ways of saying pretty much the same thing – being authentic.

Being where you are when you are there – that is a weird one, but read it over a few times and it does make sense. How often are we doing a task or engaging with someone but our mind is not really present. We are thinking ahead to the next thing on our list, or wishing we were somewhere else, or worrying about what we should be doing. And therefore we are not being authentic to the task or the person – we are not being fully present toBe authentic - start with who you are the situation we are actually in.

Earlier this week, through the astonishing wonders of the internet, I enjoyed a marvelous Mastermind session with a dynamic and exciting group of fellow life coaches. All of us in different parts of the world, and in five different time zones (that bit was quite complicated!).

The theme of being authentic ran through the conversation like an anchoring thread, bringing each of us back to key questions like – who am I, what am I passionate about, and what do I bring to what I am doing.

As we talked, it became clear that we all faced similar real and very human tendencies. We find it easy to see what we are not doing well, and where we have got it wrong – especially compared to others. Easier to spot and try to cover over character flaws, rather than acknowledge and celebrate what we are good at.

How often do we live trying to be the person we think we should be?

Burying aspects of ourselves that we don’t like and don’t want others to see. Playing down what we are good at, or not seeing it at all. Stubbornly refusing to acknowledge what we can take responsibility for about ourselves and therefore choose to change.

Getting stuck in I’m not… I can’t… I don’t have… I’ll never.

Not only is this not authentic, but it is exhausting. I have written here before about the dangers of the comparisons game. The choice we have is to see who we are and what we can do.

Last week I was musing about coming back to what we know to be true, rather than relying on our feelings which can be flaky and unsettling. What do we know to be true of ourselves? What do we know of what we are good at, and what we can bring to the events of today?

Be authentic. Start with who you are. We can get up in the morning and tell ourselves –

This is who I am. This is what I can do. This is what is most important to me. This is what I am thankful for today. I can be me today – bring who I am, with acceptance and grace.

If that all sounds too far removed from your reality to be do-able, and you feel a bit floored trying to think of what you are good at and can do, get in touch! I can help you see and enjoy being you, and build that confidence and self belief.

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