Why I haven't written a blog for 6 months

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This week I learned that when I’m in the middle of overwhelm, the last thing I want to be told by anyone is that I am indeed in the middle of overwhelm, no matter how well intentioned they are.

It’s been a demanding six months but I’ve been doing what we all do in times of stress; I’ve kept going. Grief, house moves, a new town, a new job, a broken nose… we all know that we’ve got to keep calm and carry on no matter what gets thrown at us. I’ve been getting through and past it, sometimes knowing that I was taking more steps back than forward but surely the amount of effort I was putting in had to mean that I was making progress?

So there I was in the gym on Monday morning, making excuses to my new trainer as to why I hadn’t been doing my homework and he kindly suggested that I was overwhelmed. Don’t imagine for one moment that I heard the kindness, the criticism stung. I became defensive and did that thing that I always do, I got angry at the suggestion that I wasn’t coping. The funny thing about my anger is that my default is to aim it at myself, I seem to carry a bundle of imaginary sticks with me that I can take out to beat myself at the slightest provocation. The best part is that most of the time I don’t even realise that I’m doing it.

I didn’t want to hear that I was in overwhelm and failing at life when I was working so hard to cope. What I did hear was a crack in my defences and some part of me realised that it was time to stop, take a moment and take stock as to what was exactly going on inside my head. Thank goodness that we’ve all got that whisper of reason against whatever else is raging in our heads, if only we chose to listen to it more often.

I find that the experience of overwhelm is a bit like looking into a teenager’s messy bedroom, everything piled everywhere, no sense, no reason just stuff piled high. Everywhere you look there’s stuff, moving one piece is futile and just throws up a Jenga scenario - it’s like I’ve been closing the door for six months as it’s been piling ever higher.

So what did I do?

Well I stayed angry at myself for the first 24 hours, that helped….. not. In retrospect, 24 hours is quicker than my usual downward spiral for which I should be grateful. The anger subsided into panic over what to do, easier to recognise, although equally debilitating. Experience has taught me that only way out of free fall is to take a moment and focus on my breathing…in…out…in…out… everything slowed, I received a glimpse of clarity to see my next step.

I did that brave thing, I reached out and asked for help, I phoned a friend, admitted that I was feeling vulnerable and needed help. I put the phone down happy in the fact that I’d been able to step out of myself for a moment and witness the overwhelm and panic - she had given me a plan.

Days 2 and 3, I lose sleep worrying about the plan until I realised it wasn’t my plan, it was someone’s else’s plan, it was what I should be doing, ought to be doing. We need our own plans, that personal ownership is the only thing that works for us otherwise it’s another thing to pile up in the teenager’s room.

So day 4, today, I get up early and try to forgive myself for not having done my mindfulness, my morning exercise routine, for not having eaten my nutritious breakfast. I focus on what I can do and in that moment I chose to switch off my phone and the internet connection, I chose to disconnect from the noise and give myself a fighting chance. Sitting in the silence at the kitchen table with my planner, I start at the page 6 months ago when it all fell apart and begin my list. Everything that I’ve missed, forgotten and everything that’s outstanding, I do the same with my emails and finish off with random thoughts - I fill 3 and a half pages.

Even as I start writing the panic begins to subside, being able to see it all in front of me in black and white, the teenager’s bedroom is suddenly sorted into piles. I see immediately that only 2 items are urgent and I categorise the others accordingly. Most of them have to be broken down into action points but that can wait because for now, I have my plan and even faced with the onerous task of getting it all done, I felt strangely calm.

I rewarded myself with some easy wins and got some non essential simple tasks done straight away, the first steps having been taken, that bedroom is on its way to getting cleared. 

For the rest of the day, a cloud of clarity and productivity has swept in, at last I can let myself off the hook and for that I am truly thankful.

So if you’re wondering why your effort : productivity ratio isn’t currently working as well as expected you might want to consider the following:-

Self acceptance - It’s ok to feel angry but recognise the sticks and put them down when you can.

Breathe -  detach from how you’re feeling, focus on your breathing and force yourself to stop and breathe…in…out…in…out…

Find someone who will ask you questions - get to the root of the matter and formulate your own plan.

Be kind to yourself - have some compassion and patience for yourself

Set some boundaries - choose a time and place and walk away from distractions, give yourself a chance. 

Take a moment  - Get your thoughts out of your head in whatever way suits you, write, type, record them. Find a way to consider them from a distance.

Celebrate - acknowledge any positive moments and congratulate yourself for any progress made.

And finally... be grateful that those teenage days are over.

Top Tips to Improve Your Decision-Making Process

One of my clients came to me because she was at a crossroads in her life and didn’t know which way to turn. She’d tried everything; exhaustive research, listing pros and cons and seeking advice from experts, yet still the answer eluded her.

Some days I fly through making major decisions before breakfast but other days the shutters come down and I’m incapable of even deciding what I want to eat. How easy would it be if all decisions were made for us? No personal responsibility required? All consequences known? Desired results guaranteed?

That we get to make our own decisions brings both woe and joy in equal measure. Joy as we enjoy the freedom and choice to determine our own paths and woe as we live in doubt, uncertainty and fear. 

Looking back, when have you made your best decisions? Have you regretted taking misguided advice that seemed like a good idea at the time? Did you know the answer all along but not trust yourself only to live to sorely regret it? How many times have you admitted that you ‘should have known better’?

Decision making is fraught with chance and doubt and fear of getting it wrong. Here are my top tips to improve your chances of getting it right:

Is this a ‘should or ought?’ - The most common decision making tools and quite possibly the two most debilitating words in the English language. I should take the job, I should stay in the relationship, I ought to stay late - see if you can hear yourself when you next say ‘should or ought’. Ask yourself why you should do that thing then question your answer with another why. Keep going until you get to the bottom of your reasoning. The first time I did this I was stunned to uncover the real reason behind the ‘should’. It was the voice of a childhood headmistress instructing me.

Get out of your head and into your heart - How many times have your best decisions defied logic? When your mind has exhausted all options, how about getting it to quieten for a while and take a moment to notice how you feel. Sit still, breathe and relax, reassure your brain that you’ve got this. Then picture your choices coming towards you and note how that feels. I never fail to be surprised at the physical pain I feel in my core when I ‘see’ some things approaching me but I instantly get the decision that I needed.

Get out of your own way - Where are you when your best ideas come to you? Whatever works for you, do more of that. Ask yourself the questions that need answering then get out to your favourite place and wait for the answers to arrive.

Write it out - Get a blank sheet and write out your question. This is a way to get past the logical and reasoned arguments that weigh up the pros and cons of big decisions. This is about getting past the thinking layers to seeing what lies at the heart of the matter. Keep answering the question ‘Why’? when you’ve answered, ask again. Keep going until you get your insight - you will recognise it as your truth when you see and feel it.

Walk away - It’s not only when looking at artworks that perspective is best gained from afar. How many times have problems in your life sorted themselves out over time. Just like in nature when erosion uncovers geological gems, it’s possible that your best ideas will come when you stop digging and take a step back.

Be kind and patient with yourself - How many of us have left home and got angry with ourselves for forgetting to do something? It’s an all too familiar tirade that we inflict upon ourselves. How stupid we are forgetting to lock the back door, close the window, switch off the iron and so it continues. It gets to the point where we readily admit that we can’t trust ourselves. So how many times do we acknowledge the times when we got it right? How can we begin to trust ourselves when we take getting it right for granted? Start acknowledging the times you got it right and begin to build up your self-trust bank.

Trust yourself - You’ve got this! You are the expert on you, no one else knows what’s best for you. They may think that they do, they may even implore you to follow their advice with the very best intentions but only you can connect with how you feel and follow what brings you joy.

Remember, we’re all doing the best we can, guided by our own personal values and moral compass. Be sure to show yourself some compassion and forgive yourself for not getting it right every time, all the time. 

What do you do when making big decisions? What helps? 

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter or even send me an email. I’d be delighted to hear from you. 

How innovation contributes to a company’s resilience

If your company was an animal, what would it be?

Is it fit, fast, flexible and lean or maybe slow, cumbersome and not so elegant?

How’s the bottom line? Are your customers happy, always coming back for more and does that happen because or in spite of your team?

Is your team engaged or in conflict? I once worked in an organisation where the Managing Director loved to micro manage. He was so happy with his policies and procedures but if you had scratched below the surface we were all doing our own thing.

As middle managers we knew what words our boss wanted to hear so whilst accommodating him we created our own system to ensure that production and quality targets were met.

We only learned that the production team were treating us in the same way when one of them ended up in A&E having blatantly ignored the procedures because he’d found a ‘better way’.

Trust was low, a ’them and us’ culture thrived, departmental silos formed. Blame was everywhere, absenteeism and sick days were an issue - most days it was an effort to get the quality product out of the door. There was no well-being in that company.

When I left to set up my own childcare facility, I had to find another way. I knew nothing about childcare and was going to be working part time; micro managing was not an option. We all have worries that keep us awake at night. Far from the fluffy perception of day nurseries full of cute babies, finger painting and nursery rhymes, so exist the managerial challenges of recruitment, cashflow, health and safety, with the ultimate being cot death.

Having been a quality manager on the receiving end of poor quality childcare, my facility was only ever going to be the best and I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own. As a leader, I needed to create more leaders not followers; confident decision makers who in my absence looked after both the children and my business investment.

What’s your company’s purpose? When I asked my team, they replied to provide the best childcare, it was a great starting point, we were already committed to a shared vision. Do your people share your vision? 

How do you achieve it? I asked them to describe in detail the best childcare, they were all qualified and experienced, it was easy. Between us we built a picture of how it was going to be then broke it down into achievable chunks. By seeing exactly how even the minor tasks fitted into the big picture everyone understood the importance of their contribution in order to provide the best childcare and ensure our success. Do your people know how their roles fit into the big picture?

What qualities do you value in your people? Companies hire on qualifications and fire on attitude. We all agreed that we would prioritise attitude and founded our 16 Star Qualities. Our recruitment, training, review and reward processes all focused on 16 soft skills essential for success. Our top 3 were confidence, communication and integrity. What qualities do you nurture in your people?

 

If the person doing the job has all the information, why are you making the decisions?As in any business, there was a lot of information flying around and decisions that had to be made. I wasn’t going to be there so we put our vision was at the core of every decision. The key to answering every query was asking, ‘Would they do that in the best nursery’? Who makes the decisions in your organisation?

Communication is the real work of leadership. Information is power and we all needed to be powerful. That information had to flow. Teams met weekly to formally capture and review data and set the weeks goals. We all met monthly out of hours to keep on track. As we focused on increasing confidence and integrity so everyone became more informed and in turn more powerful. How do you communicate?

Where do your good ideas come from? When self confidence and trust grow within, people start looking to improve their environment. We researched shamelessly both inside and outside our sector for best practice and brought it home. As we grew in confidence and knowledge, so did the business. How do you encourage new ideas?

Did we get it right all the time? Any organisation is a living system in continual motion, some days we sped along, others not so much. Our priority was to focus on moving forward and accepted that springing forward can only be achieved by taking a step back. Blame went against our core values, mishaps were a reminder to review, regroup, learn and grow.  What do you focus on when it doesn’t go right?

We grew to trust each other and love our work, employee engagement was high, absenteesim and staff turnover non existent. We excelled in delighting our customers and our reputation and business grew. I learned that if I focused on looking after my team they became good communicators and confident decision makers looking after the bottom line.

How do you measure your company’s well-being?

Have you ever been dumped because their Mother didn’t like you?

Have you ever been dumped because their Mother didn't like you?

Have you ever been dumped by a 53 year old because their Mother didn’t like you?

I sort of get it - we were all taught from a young age that our elders knew what was best for us, why disrupt the status quo?

After all, mine taught me well, I learned what it takes to be a success in life:-

Work hard

Respect authority

Be liked

Don’t rest on my laurels

Keep going - Don’t ever give up

 

And it worked, I achieved everything that they had dreamed for me:-

The family

The house

The cars

My own business - it grew - won awards - I got Directorships

 

But there was another side to this success…

I was tired all the time… tired but wired

My stomach was burning a hole in itself

I lived in fear of being caught out as an imposter

No success I achieved felt enough

Every morning I would put my hand on the door handle to my dream business and a part of me used to die - my dream had turned to dust.

 

This was way past work-life balance - it got to the point when I realised that their idea of success was going to kill me.

That’s when I knew that I had to dare to disrupt my own life.

That’s when I knew that personal resilience was key to that disruption.

I could no longer live with someone else’s definition of success, I had to find my own.

There’s only one way to find your own answers and that’s by having someone ask you really good questions.

16 years later I have come to understand that resilience is a very personal thing. Based on our personal stories and everything we think, say and do, resilience is as individual as we are.

For me, it’s been learning to:-

Stop & silence my wired brain

Say no

Accept compliments from others and more importantly from myself.

Put myself first so that I can help others

Accept that I am not designed to be liked by everyone - particularly other people’s mothers…

 

In these days of political, social, environmental and technological turmoil the status quo is being disrupted like never before. As our daily lives are being impacted, we can no longer turn to our elders to know what is best for us. 

Those of us that find our own answers and dare to disrupt our own lives before they get disrupted for us will thrive. Personal resilience is not only the key to this disruption but the key to appreciating that no matter what anybody else thinks, we can thrive in these times.

Top Tips to Help Manage Anxiety

My son is currently in the middle of his finals. Those intense weeks at the end of every university degree which will determine how your years have been spent. He’s not coping very well. Each time we have communicated, I have watched and listened to him in his anxiety, it has deepened as his university term has progressed.

I find myself feeling more and more uncomfortable as I witness his behaviour because I recognise it. I admit that I have a habit of getting anxious, then just when I’m feeling at my worst, I go out and find more things to be anxious about. I have to wonder, did he learn this from me?

He isn’t sleeping or eating well. As a mother, I would like nothing more than to reach in and find the off switch to his emotional discomfort. Witnessing his anxiety augment into fear and sheer panic I long for him to calm down and take a moment. I’m guessing that he feels very much the same way I do when I’m in that place. Nothing exists outside of the anxious moment. There is no way out. Even if there was an enormous exit clearly marked with a flashing neon light labelled “this way out”, I wouldn’t see it. I’m too busy being blinded by the flashing lights and deafened by the ringing alarms of overwhelm, confusion and sheer panic.

He is experiencing a justifiable once-in-a-lifetime stressful situation. His reaction is not entirely unreasonable. These weeks of final exams alone will determine which future career doors will be opened or closed to him.  

So what is my excuse? Me on a normal weekday morning when my anxiety about work is running rampant and I’m blinded as to what needs to be done. I know that to achieve clarity I need to write a list but even that task becomes too onerous as thoughts flash through my mind at lightning speed, disappearing before I can catch them.

 We all know that the best defence is a great offence but if you can’t avoid feeling anxious these are the best ways I’ve learned to get past it as fast as possible:- 

Name it - Ask yourself what am I feeling? Listen to the answer and acknowledge it. “I feel…” Let me know if you don’t take a huge sigh in that moment, sighs are a great sign of knowing that you’ve let some tension go.

Walk away - As the intensity increases, remember to utilise your ‘down-time tools’. If you love kicking a ball about, do that. If you love gardening, do that. Find a way to break the self-destructive mindset and go release happy hormones. It will help. 

Set yourself an easy goal - Stop and appreciate yourself when you achieve it. No matter what else needs to be done, you achieved this one goal and that needs celebrating. Take a moment to enjoy that lovely feeling of accomplishment.

Get out of your head - Just for a moment, pay attention to the feeling of your feet on the ground or your back against the chair. A true victory would be to imagine sitting at the back of your head, relaxed, while watching those thoughts play out, completely detached from the unfolding drama.

Recognise that you’re in it - Even if you can’t do anything about it, being able to say, ‘Oh I’m in this place again,’ it’s another way of momentarily detaching from the drama.

Reach out - Phone a friend or enlist the help of a professional coach. Talking about it and setting goals will help you gain perspective to find your own solutions.

Give up trying to control the uncontrollable - Control what you can and save your energy by surrendering to the fact that there are some things beyond your control and that’s ok. 

Create a framework in your life - Tidy your workspace, stick to regular exercise and mealtimes, force yourself to get up and go to bed on time. Remember any small step is a victory.

Bring your mind back to the moment - We spend so much time creating worst case scenarios, come back to the now. The “who, what, why, how, when and where” of this very moment.

Show yourself appreciation - We’re always quick to thank others, how about appreciating our own efforts? Take a moment to appreciate what you’ve achieved rather than what needs to be done.

Take a breath and know that this too shall pass – We are emotional beings and like a pendulum, we can swing between all states from joy to pain. As sure as night follows day, rest assured that we won’t be in this place forever.

What else do you do to help manage moments of anxiety? Share your thoughts on Twitter with #personalresilience and your favourite way to relieve stress on Facebook at @LouiseLadbrookeSpeaker. 

How to choose intuition over logic

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Decades of popular entertainment have been devoted to characters who solve crimes relying on their gut instinct. The viewing public are enchanted by the notion that we can access an ‘inner- knowing’ that will give us the answers to problems defied by logic and science.

In today’s society it is not unusual that having pursued a decision to its logical conclusion, we are disappointed when it hasn’t worked out. We often look back in retrospect to the moment when we heard that inner voice, felt a knowing for an alternative solution but dismissed it as madness before following all the supporting evidence pointing the opposite way.

The idea to start my own business hit me like a thunderbolt. I was in a position of hating my job and frustrated by the poor quality childcare that my children were receiving. For months I had complained to anyone with a sympathetic ear, shrugging off any possible solutions raised. I still don’t know the forces in the universe that came together the night my sister suggested, like many before her, that I open a day nursery myself but it felt like I had been struck by a thunderbolt. The idea hit me like no other and from that moment, I became a woman possessed. In that moment, I chose intuition over logic. 

Indeed, I became unstoppable in the relentless pursuit of my goal. Guided by this personal conviction, there was no barrier that could stop me. It was a gut instinct like no other, I knew with crystal clear certainty that my dream would come true.  

Time passed and the business was created. It was never going to be just any day nursery, it was always going to be the best. I wasn’t surprised when awards were won and accolades received, they only confirmed what my gut and intuition had known all along. I was on the path that could only go one way so we expanded and grew into a second facility.  

Someone once said that the hardest part of becoming successful is to maintain that success but awards kept coming. Although somewhere along the line, my certainty dissolved. I don’t know how a successful business person is supposed to feel but my top three adjectives at that time would have been tired, nauseous and anxious. My once rock solid gut instinct had been replaced with a burning pain.  I was not well. 

I can’t recommend accessing your intuition via thunderbolts. As with any major disruption, my history is proof that the method is unsustainable. Po Bronson in researching his book, ‘What should I do with my life?’ discovered that powerful epiphanies are extremely rare and that whispers are more likely to bring clarity and unravel at a more manageable pace over time. As a keynote speaker and trainer, I know that it is far more effective to get the attention of the room by standing in silence rather than raising my voice. 

However, the 21st century is a noisy one, social media demands our attention 24/7. Information is power and there’s a lot of information out there. Text alerts mean that we can be kept informed within seconds of events that are unfolding on the other side of the world. It’s the new normal to become scooped up in the endless supply of information that ceaselessly gets delivered to our pockets.

When did we get so busy and when did that become something to be proud of? Busyness is worn like a medal of honour. Schedules bursting, timetables straining, no wonder tempers fray so easily as deadlines stacked like houses of cards collapse under the pressure of a single failed action. 

How to hear a whisper in the deafening noise

Where are you and what are you doing when you get your best ideas? The shower is a favourite or out walking. My daughter was a toddler when I started the day nursery business. She was the only one of her age when we first opened so I continued to take her to her playgroup for a few hours every morning. It was easy to get consumed in my work with the challenges of the first year so I used to set an alarm to remind me to go and fetch her in the middle of my day. I sometimes resented the interruption as I drove but it was on those journeys, benefitting from time and distance away that I got to hear the whispers. With time, effort and repetition, it became “Louise will have the answer by the time she gets back”.

During the second year she started school, I never gave myself a break during the day because I didn’t have to. If I had, I’d have heard the whispers telling me that I didn’t want to expand and grow the business. My gut had been trying to tell me. It had started to burn a hole in itself with the effort and it took a long time for me to appreciate the connection between the two.

Put your phone down. Walk away from the desk. Give your gut instincts a chance to be heard. The new perspective you’ve been searching for has the greatest chance to be received and heard as you step out of the busyness and the constant buzz. 

Our gut instinct is always there. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to hear and it always knows what is best for us if we’re brave enough to choose the madness of “gut instinct intuition” over logic. Not letting one override the other can help you be You on a Good Day, Every Day. ™ 

Don’t drink the poison: 8 tips to break free of misery and self-pity 

Some years ago, while I was attending a personal development workshop, the participants had to pair up and each spend an uninterrupted three minutes regaling how we had been recently wronged. I chose the most miserable time of my life - the circumstances around my divorce. Three minutes was no problem, I could have waxed lyrical for three hours. My workshop partner actively listened, nodding away, pleasingly sympathetic as I shared my woes. It felt good to be validated, even by a complete stranger. I was not alone. The room was filled with similar chatter. 

Misery is easy. Why? Why do we drink the poison and expect the other person to die? 

The twist in the exercise was to then take three minutes to relate the same event in the positive. No negativity allowed, we could only relate the polar opposite, describing the upside, the benefits, the lessons learned. A seemingly simple twist on events. I was not the only one who struggled, the room suddenly became very subdued as we exchanged stilted statements; periods of silence and nervous laughter prevailed. I had to concentrate to get past the negative thoughts that swamped my mind, pushing them to one side to glean the sparse nuggets of positivity. It was hard work. In my 40 odd years of existence, I’d never practiced the art of re-framing a personal injury, of seeing the gift in the misfortune. Indeed the very word itself tells us that the fortune was missed.

Misery consumes us. Facts and scenarios churn over and over in our minds, keeping us awake into the small hours, the turmoil is company on long journeys, interrupting our working day, the conundrum that will never be solved. I now call wallowing in my misery ‘my cookie monster’, it has the same insatiable appetite. Relentless. In the same way that we pick at scabs regardless of the pain knowing that we will be scarred for life, we continue to prevail with the mindless chatter of misery.

Why do we chose misery? Why is it so easy? How do we break the habit?

When you’re in it you can’t see it. It’s become your brain’s default setting, the subconscious incompetence making it a habit. You don’t even know that you’re doing it, it become the norm, it becomes who you are. You’re the victim of your own story. Deciding that you want change in your life may be a small step but it’s a giant breakthrough.

To recognise what’s going on, start listening to yourself or take a moment to write out some of your thoughts and read them back to yourself. A greater understanding can help but if you still can’t stop at least you’ll have progressed to being consciously incompetent. It doesn’t seem like much progress but happily it’s in the right direction.

Like a plane in a holding pattern, misery takes a whole lot of energy but gets us nowhere. We need to break out of the never ending loop and choose a new direction. Decide what you want more of in your life and focus on that instead. If you’re stuck in the past, having to look over your shoulder instead of to where you want to go, you’re diminishing your chances of moving forward. Write out your dreams and stick them around your space as an easy reminder whenever you catch yourself in misery mode.

Be kind to yourself, you may not be able to control how long this is going to take, there may be many cha cha moments of 3 steps forward and 2 back but hang on in there, have patience and always be thankful for making any progress. You’re heading in the right direction to break free.

Surround yourself with supportive people - I remember being horrified when one friend said that we couldn’t continue our friendship if I didn’t stop. She had had enough, I thought her to be callous and unloving at the time but she did me a favour. Who do you spend time with? Are they happy to sit with you throwing yet another log on the fire to keep the flames of injustice burning or do they encourage you to move on and get on with your life?

There will come a time when even you will get bored and be able to break free from the relentless diatribe, look out for that moment, that moment when mid flow you can say to yourself, ‘Do you know what? This is boring, I’ve got better things to think about’. A time to celebrate as you step into conscious competence.

It will likely feel very challenging at first. Our thoughts create neural pathways in our brain and just like sheep tracks, they become deeper and the default route over time. Changing our thoughts means creating new neural pathways and just like a new pair of shoes it’s going to feel uncomfortable at first. It takes effort to move away from the well-worn pathway and you have to focus but appreciate that you’re moving in the right direction.

We always have a choice. I can remember the exact moment when I realised this unlikely and often unpopular truth. Yet another wrong had been hurled in my direction but I hadn’t perceived it in the moment. The penny dropped 5 minutes later and the oh-so-familiar outrage began to consume me, my stress response flooding through my body in righteous indignation. In a lightbulb moment, I realised that I had been in possession of the facts for a whole five minutes without reacting. In that moment I knew that I had a choice; do I continue to experience the outrage or detach and return to peace allowing the injustice to glance off and pass me by?

Maybe in that moment I had decided that 5 years was enough. Enough therapy, enough coaching, enough support. Maybe other factors were at play, but I had been binding myself in misery for too long. In that moment I chose the latter. I chose to remain calm and step out and away from the misery. As the self-inflicted bonds fell away, I had never felt more liberated or powerful in my life.

Always remember that you can choose to detach and step away from misery and into subconscious competence for a happier and more resilient path in all aspects of life.

10 Ways to Boost Confidence and Resilience in Business

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My name is Louise and I’m a recovering perfectionist….

Perfection - a trait that has helped and hindered me in equal measures, ensuring that I both attained my dreams and successes whilst at the same time crippling me with insecurities and physical exhaustion. The outside world was awarding me for my business success, inviting me to share my experiences, the financial rewards were piling up, however life on the other side of this success was anything but perfect.

Constantly fighting physical exhaustion whilst trying but failing to switch off my wired brain, I was carrying a secret. Invited to stand on yet another stage to share my story of success none of them could have guessed that I was living in fear of being found out. Everyone seemed to believe that I had it sorted, that I knew what I was doing, didn’t they realise that I was making it up as I went along, waiting to be caught out at any moment?

I never felt like the success that they were proclaiming me to be, I always felt that whatever I had achieved was not enough. When I looked around and compared myself to others I was always found wanting, it was a long time before I learned that I had been comparing my insides with everyone else’s outside and we can all put on a wonderful outside.

My health deteriorated in proportion to the publicity, ironically the time when my photograph was displayed on billboards promoting entrepreneurship throughout Wales was the time when I felt at my worst.

I’ve learned a lot about resilience in order to regain my health and get back from that low point in my life :-

1 Host a pity party - We’re all entitled to our feelings, those moments when we want to wallow in our misfortunes are allowed. In my experience ignoring feelings doesn’t mean that they go away. It’s healthy to be aware of how we feel and acknowledge where we’re at, accept where you’re at and know that as with all emotions, ‘This too shall pass’…..

2 Reach out and ask for help - get someone to ask you questions although make sure that they are impartial. Get rid of any potentially harmful hidden agendas and pay for a professional. I thought that my coach was going to fix me but thankfully she asked me the questions so that I could find my own answers and fix myself.

3 Take a Moment - Remember the astronaut that stood on the moon and was too busy getting his jobs done, meeting his deadline to take a moment and feel what it was like to stand on the moon. What’s your moon landing, what are you missing in your life right now because you’re too busy with your own deadline? Stop and take a moment, appreciate where you’re at, how far you’ve come and what it really feels like to be in this moment.

4 Where do you want to burn your energy? - we all know that food contains calories of energy which we take in to maintain our own energy. How do you want to use yours today? Are you joyfully following your passion or finding that a part of you is dying at the thought of what you’ve chosen to do today?

5 Visualise your successes - copy Wayne Rooney. His match preparation includes asking the kit man the day before what he’ll be wearing so that he can visualise himself in detail scoring those goals. What goals do you need to score today? Have you visualised yourself already achieving them and the subsequent celebration.

6 Take a breath - stress is a part of everyday life - our adrenal glands control our stress response and are constantly on chronic low burn. Designed to react acutely and save ourselves at the threat of death, they have become the smoke detectors of the modern world, reacting to each social media demand unable to recognise whether it’s the toast or indeed the house that is burning down. Get oxygen into your bodies as effectively as possible with your ‘magic nose’. When our shoulders are tense with stress it’s impossible to take a deep breath so imagine that you have a giant ‘magic’ nose in the small of your back and breathe in from there. As you imagine taking a breath through your magic nose you’ll be reassuring your adrenals that you’ve got this. 

7 Who’s your number one priority? -  List the most important people in your life, what number are you? We all know who’s oxygen mask has to be put on first in the event of an aeroplane emergency. If you look after yourself first then you can help the person sitting next to you. Who in your life is in that seat, your family? your business? Who is relying on you to look after yourself so that you can be there for them? 

8 Just say no - for all those moments when you’ve compromised yourself, found yourself agreeing to unwanted suggestions, gone along with the consensus for an easy life, know that you’ve been haemorrhaging your personal resilience. Find your boundaries, stick to them and say no to the rest - if they don’t like it (and they probably won’t) they can talk to the hand!

9 Receive your compliments with grace - Appreciate that compliments in life are the greatest gifts. Acknowledge and receive them with the pleasure they deserve, take a breath, a moment and let them land - you deserve them.

10 Let go of the outcome - thinking that you can please all the people all of the time is the road to ruin. Prepare, show up, do your thing and walk away knowing that you’ve done everything within your control. Let go of everything that is beyond your control and give no apologies if it wasn’t perfect!

This blog was first published at Business West - Women In Innovation

https://www.businesswest.co.uk/blog/10-ways-boost-resilience-and-confidence-business

How Compromising Yourself Lowers your Resilience

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The best thing about sharing my story with an audience is meeting them afterwards and listening to their stories. Considering that I’m the one who was booked to do the talking, I always learn so much from them. 

A listener shared their experience after I’d been speaking about times in my life when I felt compromised and the effect it had on my resilience. In comparison, mine was minor. He had been employed to intentionally mis-sell. He kept looking nervously over his shoulder as he confided about the whole culture of a company that instructed him to train his team to do the same. Yep, he was employed to train his team to mis-sell. The company application forms had even been designed so that the exorbitant annual percentage rate figure could be hidden with a thumb as the form was displayed for the client to sign.

We are all faced with times when our values are conflicted. Sometimes we’re more aware of our being compromised than others. We can be too deep into the deception to appreciate the problem, or unaware that something crept up on us or as we’re surrounded by people who are doing the same. We may even tell ourselves that it must be ok, because the bills must be paid, right? 

At the same time, something doesn’t feel right. Usually we are unsure why things feel “off.” It may be too difficult to consider. For me, it would be come physical with nausea, aches, pains and my loved ones suffering from my short fuse.

So how do you Un-Compromise Yourself?

The first step is becoming aware of what’s going on. Don’t be surprised if you become shocked and feel somewhat obsessed with the situation. As more and more realisations appear, more and more begins to go ‘round in your head.

You will probably want to find a place for the blame. Someone else caused you to do this. How could they have done this to you?  How could they treat you this way? Sometimes you’re really angry with them, sometimes you’re really angry with yourself for getting into this mess.

Once the initial reaction has subsided, it’s time to fully acknowledge the situation. If you’re too confused or unsure of your feelings to trust and confide in another, take a piece of paper and start writing. I cannot overstate how useful writing down your thoughts can be. As each point hits the paper, it stops swimming around in your head and loses both power and momentum. Let this be a relief and an outlet. 

Once you’ve acknowledged just how deep you’re in, push yourself to find some positives about the situation. If you’re struggling to do this, then have a think about the moments when you get your best ideas. Is it in the shower? Walking the dog? Travelling? Go to that place or do that activity and discover what ideas come. It may be a struggle sometimes. Our brains are wired to wax lyrical as to how we’ve been victimised and it’s almost impossible to even consider the possibility of any benefits of a seemingly hopeless situation. 

Focus on those positives and keep them very close. When you’re tempted to succumb to the hopelessness of the situation getting lost in a downward spiral, stick the list on the fridge and go back to it regularly. This is about focusing on what you want more of. Finding the positives is key to finding your way out of the compromising situation and help ensure you can avoid others like it in the future. 

I remember leaving a client after a particularly disastrous day. Feeling completely miserable about the seemingly endless journey back home, when rounding a corner the view across the horizon in the middle of nowhere was incredibly striking. Breathtaking, actually. The day became about stopping to take in the view rather than the failure of the not-so-successful client meeting. 

It isn’t easy to un-compromise yourself, but it is possible. Finding the positives in the situation, writing down your feelings about the situation can all help in the path to ridding yourself of the problem. After all, when you don’t feel as though your values, morals and goals in life have been compromised, doesn’t that let you be You on a Good Day, Every Day? 

Share your stories of resilience with me on Facebook and Twitter: 

I look forward to hearing from you! 

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LouiseLadbrookeSpeaker/ 

Twitter page https://twitter.com/LouiseLadbrooke

Five Steps to Stay Resilient and Escape Overwhelm

Since I have a significant level of business and entrepreneurial experience, I thought starting a new one would be quite straight forward. How difficult could it be? I’ve done it all before, I just need to decide on my strategy, marketing strategy, set up the finance, the legal aspects, the systems, then implement. On top of that I need to create and send out a regular newsletter, meet people, find speaking opportunities, get referrals, master the art of and post often on social media, write and post regular blogs, record and post regular vlogs and podcasts, maintain my creativity and always remember that if ever all that is achieved, the best speakers have written a book.

Do you ever have the feeling as if you’re running down hill so fast that your legs are going to come out from under you?  Or standing in a snow storm getting confused and losing your bearings in the swirl of snowflakes? Or maybe like an unattached astronaut spinning into the oblivion of space with no gravity to keep them anchored.

I’ve learned that I’m not alone and we’re certainly not the first to experience overwhelm and the debilitating mindset that can come with it.  It’s small wonder that history came up with all those wonderful phrases as we headed past overwhelm and into panic mode such as, ’gather yourself together’, ‘you’re all over the place’, ‘sort yourself out’, ‘get a grip’, ‘feeling scattered’, ‘in over your head’. It’s an age old problem, a human condition; and those phrases have been used for generations and probably been said with the best of intentions as was the sharp slap delivered to shock you out of your panic.

What starts out as only thoughts, gathers momentum and suddenly we’re experiencing more than mental response. It’s physical as well. Our hearts beat faster, we’re feeling nauseous and need the loo, feeling on high alert, starting to fidget and breaking out in a sweat.  As our adrenal response springs into action and the worse our symptoms feel so the brain switches from analytical to responsive in preparation to fight, flee and survive. Who hasn’t wanted to run away or hide when feeling overwhelmed, after all it’s what duvets were designed for! 

When your brain is in reactive mode it gets stuck in a cycle of reacting to the overwhelm, the more it reacts, the more it experiences and so the behaviour augments and we’re cast out like that spinning astronaut with no gravitational pull, swept into oblivion with no escape. 

Fortunately, these days, the face slaps are outlawed (or less socially acceptable) but there’s still always that one person with the helpful advice to, 'Just do it'. When I’m in the middle of feeling overwhelmed and suffering from self-inflicted mental and physical torture, believe me when I say that if I knew how, I'd be the first to, ‘Just do it’. I’m in awe of those who can indeed respond to the simple command but when I’m in the middle of overwhelm, the thoughts and queries are coming at me too fast. I’m way past seeing what needs to be done and I certainly can’t prioritise. It is difficult to “just do", anything.

When you can’t ‘Just do it’, here are the 5 steps that you can do: 

1     Stop - Recognise where you’re at and hit pause. Just stop. When all the doubts start to jump into your head that you can’t stop, that you haven’t got time, that you’re going to fail, that people are relying on you, listen to all of those, but stop anyway. Just stop what you’re doing. Acknowledge that you’ve experienced this before, this is what our brains do, the human brain traps us in loops that we need to find ways to break out of, acknowledge all that but stop anyway.

If you’ve ever witnessed a trapped animal trying to free itself, it’s a pitiful sight. With some kind of super physical energy, they repeat the same action time and again, more often than not failing time and again until either collapsing into an exhausted heap or finally breaking free, wide eyed, manic and in shock. It’s a natural programming of survival to give our all when under extreme duress, the tragic thing is that it’s not unusual to hear about animals who once having freed themselves and escaped are to be discovered not having gone very far, to curl up and die as a result of the massive stress overload. 

The tragic thing for humans is that we react equally to both real and perceived threat in the same way. Your body is already reacting as if your life is in danger, so stop. Even though you’re doing everything in your power to get out of this, just stop. 

2     Take a breath - this is the fastest way possible to detach yourself from your state of panic. You probably won’t have noticed that your breathing has changed in response to the perceived threat, your body is already in peak state to fight or flee. Bring your attention to your belly and breath, five slow, deep and purposeful breaths would be optimum but one is enough to help you detach.  Ground yourself and take a breath.

3     Change your state - physically walk away, if you can go outside, GO! Completely change your sensory experience. Actively seek out a change in temperature, sound, feeling, taste, the view. You’ll probably resist this suggestion because you really don’t have time, but in my experience, we have to press the restart button. Switching to social media doesn’t work, switching your thinking only is not enough, the stop and restart has to happen on all levels. At the very least walk into another space and make yourself a drink, put some upbeat music on, move away and put some distance between yourself and the feeling of overwhelm.

4     Reach out - have a conversation with someone. If you want to be typically British and only talk about the weather, do just that. If you want to discuss where you’re at, choose your confidents with care. Choose someone who will be able to listen with no judgement and witness you as your storm plays out. In my experience, someone who’s going to tell you what to do even with the best intentions will add to, rather than lessen the overwhelm.

5     Get it out of your head - Start writing and empty your brain on to a page or start speaking and record yourself. Ask yourself why you’re feeling overwhelmed and work furiously, I find that as I get one point out of my head, just like those onion layers, so another will reveal itself to me. 

For your own sanity, piece of mind and progress, get that confusion out. I like to see things in front of me, so I write, if you prefer to hear things, talk away. Keep going and keep asking until you feel that it’s all emptied out, I know that I’ve reached this point when I can’t think of anything more to say. More importantly, I know I’ve reached this point when I suddenly notice myself sighing or feel tension in my shoulders, in the storm of overwhelm when my brain is eating itself, it’s good to remember that I have a whole body attached.

 

So you stopped; you’ve breathed, activated your five senses, become aware of your body, reached out and had a chat with someone else, now you’re ready to take action to get past the overwhelm and achieve your goal.

 

Return to the notes or journal entry you made, or listen to your audio recording. Those wild thoughts have been tamed and now need to be organised. What’s urgent and important?  What’s the one thing that you can recognize needs prioritising? If there’s more than one, grade them on a scale of 1-5 . How important? How urgent? What needs your attention first? Like all things, one step at a time. 

Pay attention. Can you feel the echoes of overwhelm begin to rise? If this is the case, name and knowledge it, ‘Oh, I recognise this feeling’, ‘here it is back again’. 

The fact that you are aware of it and can thus detach from it means that you’ve reached your goal. Feel the feelings and know that it’s just brain chemistry. 

Take a deep breath, remember you are indeed resilient, and get to work.