How self-aware are you?

“Experiencing one’s self in a conscious manner–that is, gaining self-knowledge–is an integral part of learning.” — Joshua M. Freedman

Being self-aware is being conscious of your own identity and how you come across others. Your experiences, abilities, habits, feelings and preferences influence your behaviour. How well you truly know yourself and your effect on others is essential in today’s ‘me’ focused society, where we are seemingly becoming more self-obsessed and self-interested. We give into convenient labels and the opinion of others and tend to put on a social mask to make a definite impression upon others and conceal the true nature of ourselves. Constantly seeking and finding external validation replaces our authenticity with superficiality thereby diminishing our sense of true genuine self.

Many of us face difficulty in defining who we truly are on the deepest level because we don’t have a proper understanding of our thoughts, feelings and are prone to various biases and pre-existing beliefs that affect our ability to have a correct understanding of ourselves. We tend to believe narratives that support our pre-conceptions. Most of our behaviour stems from such biases, preconceptions, limiting belief or thought patterns. Many issues like stress, worry, negative beliefs, and moods can be understood more clearly by becoming more self-aware. The more you know about your existing negatives, the easier it is to improve them or create new positive habits.

Studies have shown that people who understand themselves and how others see them are generally better decision-makers, are more creative and collaborative. Being more self-aware also increases your emotional intelligence by changing your thoughts and interpretations. Even though self-awareness is correlated with many positive attributes like overall success and happiness, it never occurs to most of us to ask if we know ourselves as well as we think we do.

Understanding Self-awareness..

According to the theory of self-awareness proposed by Shelly Duval and Robert Wicklund, “When we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behaviour to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.” Your inner ‘self’ is something that is central to who you are, how you relate to others and to your standards of correctness or values or ideals.

According to Dr.Tasha Eurich, author of the book, Insight, there are two categories of self-awareness, internal and external self-awareness. The ability to monitor your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, strengths, weaknesses, values, passions and aspirations, and how well they fit with your present environment is internal self-awareness. You feel happy or discontent depending on how you measure up to your inner standards. For instance, recognising whether your current job matches your true passion makes you either happy or dissatisfied. The ability to see how others perceive you or how you relate to others is external self-awareness. Knowing how you are perceived and your understanding of others makes you more empathetic and ups your leadership abilities.

“Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our actions, our habits and tendencies.”

⁃ Stephen Covey

Why is it important to be self-aware?

An accurate self-assessment can help you figure out your blind spots and unknown spots. Having self-awareness means that you have a realisation of your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, your motivations, likes and dislikes. The more you understand yourself, the better you will be able to accept some of your weaknesses and can improve those areas. Self-aware people manage stressful situations without giving into the thoughts or emotions that are influenced from external events or situations. It is an important tool in developing leadership skills as it is easier to understand others and how they perceive you. You can increase your work motivation by seeking your true passions and lessening tasks you don’t want to pursue.

Self-awareness is different from self-focused attention which consists of simply thinking about yourself. It is more about paying attention to your inner state with a beginner’s mind. Our mind is skilful in storing information about how we react to certain events. Such information often ends up conditioning our mind to react in a certain way when we encounter similar situation. Being self-aware makes you conscious of such conditioning of mind and preconceptions.

Self-awareness & Productivity

If a particular habit or behaviour or mindset of yours that is self-destructive is holding you back in achieving your full potential, and for whatever reason, you are not aware of it, you end up supporting such behaviour or habit or mindset. But if you develop self-awareness, you can work around such habits and can better evaluate your values, passions and goals which fit and align thereby making yourself more productive and focused. With realistic introspection, you can see where your thoughts, emotions and behaviour are leading you, so you will be able to take control of your actions and can make necessary changes in the direction of your future goals. These changes may include building positive habits, or altering the way you respond to challenges, or to increase your Emotional Intelligence.

Self awareness provides you clear understanding of your skills be it managing, leading, or team-building. It gives you an opportunity to identify any gaps that you might have and areas in which you are effective and where you might need to improve by weighing your choices. You can create better work life balance as you become more aware of your emotions. It can increase your effectiveness in your decision-making and you can be more productive and focus on what you want to achieve.

How to become more self-aware?

Developing self-awareness is like building any other skill, it can be strengthened through practice. Here are some ways to improve your self-awareness.

Gain a different perspective through honest feedback

Gaining a different perspective is important to get a true sense of who you are. Seek honest feedback from people whom you trust or work with or lead. Ask for honest and valid response that is insightful and helpful. Formalised feedback allows you to know your strengths and weaknesses. Be open to receive constructive feedback without feeling attached. Listen to it without justifying, evaluating or defending yourself. This way you can learn to become more self-aware. It is impossible to be completely self-aware without gaining a different perspective on who you are as this will help you shore up some of those unknown traits. You will also be able to differentiate a biased and dishonest feedback from real and genuine one as you learn more about yourself and others.

Practice Self-reflection

Daily self-reflection is important to improve your self-awareness. Develop a regular practice of reflecting on your strengths and core values. Also reflect on your fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs. Try to identify your perceptions. Write down things that you think you are good at or that you need to improve. Write about the thoughts that you come across in stressful situations and how do you react in such situations. Reflect on how people you work with perceive you. Write down your plans, goals and priorities to get a better idea of who you are and what you want to achieve. Self-reflection is a way to connect and pay close attention to your inner world –what you are feeling or saying to yourself.

Practice Mindfulness

Becoming self-aware is about bringing conscious awareness into your everyday living through the process of mindfulness. Paying attention to your inner state in the present moment non-judgmentally allows you to observe your thoughts without suppressing them. By simply being present in the moment teaches you to observe, identify, and respond to underlying emotions and thoughts in a constructive way rather than to recoil and react impulsively. Meditative mindfulness helps you in making choices that add up to help you build the life you want. Be mindful and accept everything that arises in your inner awareness to experience your unchanging inner self. You can practice regular meditation through mindful daily activities like while communicating, eating, walking or listening.

Ask ‘What’ instead of ‘Why’

Most self-aware people are those whose introspective thinking is based on ‘what’ rather than ‘why’. Studies have shown that asking yourself ‘why’ when introspecting can cause you to ruminate in negative feelings. Self-evaluation through ‘why’ could leave you feeling more depressed, anxious and unproductive. For instance, when you think of a situation that made you feel bad, if you ask yourself ‘“why do I feel bad?” makes you feel self-depreciated. Instead asking yourself ‘’what are the situations that are making me feel bad?’ can help you recognise the factors outside your control that are making you experience that particular emotion and you can come up with necessary changes. When it comes to developing self-awareness, asking ‘what’ questions are more productive to help you focus on your future goals and to come up with solutions.

Acknowledge and own your personal narrative

Everyone has a personal narrative that shapes our personality and gives a direction to our purpose. Our narratives help us discover our strengths, our experiences and guide us towards our future goals. Your personal narrative includes your opinions, reactions, experiences, emotions, your vulnerability and your strengths. It is important to understand your narrative to frame your life experiences. Focus on your life and highlight the times you felt something deeply – happiness, anger, excitement, grief, anxiety or fear. The emotions you experience act as your guide to repeat the positive times and avert the negative ones. Your personal stories not just help give a shape to your purpose, but also gives you the strength and guidance for the future. How do you frame your challenges and setbacks? What are the values you stand by? Which people and events have had the greatest impact in shaping the person you have become? Knowing your personal narrative and owning it can help you gain more self-awareness.

Finally, Reframe your limiting beliefs

Self-awareness is not about simply thinking about yourself. It means that you shouldn’t ignore the assumptions you hold about yourself or your thoughts, habits, behaviour or beliefs that are holding you back. If you have some negative or limiting beliefs about yourself, spend time to think about how these limiting thoughts made you feel about completing your goals or objectives. Did such beliefs caused a hindrance in the past? Reframe such thoughts to preferred positives to try in similar situations in the future.

To conclude,

How well do you know yourself? How deeply do you understand your strengths, motivations or flaws? What do you need to improve? Are you emotionally intelligent?What are you doing that is in alignment with your values? What thoughts are holding you back? What is your narrative identify?

Reflecting on such questions and accepting your thoughts and feelings unconditionally and without judging yourself can help you bring awareness in to your daily tasks to achieve your goals. Like any other skill, developing self-awareness takes time and also at times it can be quite challenging to achieve an honest self-assessment, but by adopting a mindful approach without harsh self-judgment and building the above mentioned practices into your daily activities can help you become more self-aware.

Related reading

https://sscascades.org/2019/04/10/enhance-your-emotional-quotient/

https://sscascades.org/2018/08/10/harness-the-power-of-what-is/

https://sscascades.org/2019/02/24/how-to-build-new-empowering-beliefs/

 

Why you should stop being so hard on yourself

 

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” – Mark Twain

When it comes to doing your work or getting what you want in life, having high standards can be a good thing. Being a perfectionist motivates you to go beyond your comfort zones and keeps you focused on your goals and leads to big rewards. Perfectionism is often considered as a positive trait when it comes to excelling academically and professionally. Because of this we tend to associate it with our self-worth and the drive to perfect everything starts from very young age to overcome fear of rejection or failure.

Perfectionism helps you do well in your career, academics, and to excel in your personal goals. And while it sounds positive on the surface, it has its downsides and can sometimes do more harm than good. Perfectionism can sometimes become too big a burden as it is always more demanding and time-consuming. It can turn you into an obsessive, restrictive, and stressed person for things you haven’t done perfectly and might cause you to place too much pressure on yourself. This can lead to feelings of unworthiness, depression, anger or frustration and can become detrimental to your well-being and success.

What is being a perfectionist?

Perfectionism is a personality trait whereby the individual sets high personal standards for their own behaviour and actions and can sometimes set the same expectations for others. Perfectionists tend to want or expect things to be flawless. Here are some signs that you are a perfectionist.

• You end up spending lot of your time just to perfect something,

• You have extremely high standards for yourself and others.

• You constantly wait for right moment to work on your goals so as to deliver best quality work.

• You are highly demanding, critical and exceptionally hard on yourself.

• You would like to do your work yourself rather than delegate.

• You think there is no room for mistakes and think you know what others should do.

• You feel anxious and stressed when something doesn’t conform to your approach or when things don’t go the way you want.

• You are highly organised and have a specific manner in which things should be done.

• You feel dissatisfied and feel like no matter what you do, it’s never good enough.

• You find faults in what you or others do.

• You avoid situations that could result in perceived failure.

Some of the above traits can be advantageous at times, but when you become overly rigid, it can have negative effects on your health, relationships and self-worth. Though many view perfectionism as a strength, it often gets in the way of achieving your goals. Perfectionists strive ṭo produce flawless work, and they also work more engaged and are motivated, always ready to push themselves to achieve that next big thing. However, they are also likely to be rigid, inflexible, and have a habit of getting overly critical with themselves. They hold excessively high standards to evaluate their and others’ behaviour, hold ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset and associate their self-worth to performing perfectly. They become over-stressed always pushing themselves to constantly do more and achieve more. While certain perfectionist tendencies might be beneficial, they can also clearly impair your productivity.

Seeking perfection just ends up creating ridiculous amounts of stress and disappointment.” – Arielle Ford

The Downside of ‘Perfectionism’

According to research studies, perfectionism has an impact on a range of outcomes. According to them, individuals with higher levels of perfectionism experienced stress and emotional distress.

There are generally considered to be two significant dimensions of perfectionism. The primary being excellence-seeking perfectionism where there is excessive fixation on perfectionistic striving and refers to the individual themselves, whereby the person attempts or endeavours not to make mistakes and does their best to be as good as possible at whatever activity is in hand. People with this type of perfectionism not only evaluate their own performance but also hold high performance expectations for others in their lives.

The secondary being, failure-avoiding perfectionism which involves perfectionistic concern where they worry or feel anxious about making mistakes, they have doubts about their own actions, and feelings that there is a discrepancy between their own standards and their own performance or actions. They worry that others will negatively judge them for mistakes or failures and negatively react to situations that do not meet their exacting demands. The beneficial effects of perfectionism are stronger in excellence-seeking perfectionists where as the detrimental effects of perfectionism were stronger in failure-avoiding perfectionists. The research further shows there is no link between perfectionism and performance.

However, perfectionists have incredible work ethic and have what it takes to perform as they approach challenges with courage and motivation. But if left unchecked, perfectionism can sabotage your success. Here are some downsides to perfectionism.

• Perfectionists have a specific manner in which things should be done. Being detail oriented and getting obsessed with every single thing weighs them down. With the need to do things perfectly, they tend to put off the tasks for later time, some get in analysis paralysis and some even give up. Also due to extreme high standards, the targets stress them out and makes them procrastinate out of fear that they can’t meet the standards they have set for themselves.

• Trying to perfect every small thing ultimately leads to emotional exhaustion and wastage of time as they spend lot of time just to get simple things done to achieve that final perfect output. With the obsession ṭo achieve high standard, they try and try and strive to the point when it becomes detrimental to their health and relationships. They aim for high standards at the expense of their well-being.

• Perfectionists mostly compete against themselves and feel the need to be in control. Their perfectionist tendencies are not restricted to only their work, but also in managing other personal activities like cleaning, cooking, and parenting. Because they let their achievements define who they are, they often experience constant worry, unhappiness and feel nothing is ever good enough.

• Whenever something is perceived to have gone wrong, the perfectionists become extremely hard on themselves and are flooded with negativity thereby failing to learn from it or see it as the lesson that it is. They get depressed and feel everything must be their fault if they don’t achieve that perfect or desired standard.

• Having very harsh expectations of themselves, perfectionists are rarely satisfied with what they are doing. The always look for mistakes and issues to correct. This makes them often experience recurring feelings of dissatisfaction and regret over seemingly small things. They have difficulty in letting go of mistakes and imperfections and often mull over outcomes that don’t turn out as expected.

“The key to happiness is letting go of that idea of perfection.”– Debra Messing

How to balance your perfectionist tendencies?

Most part of your perfectionism might be a result of your passion about improving and giving your best at everything you do. If you are educated in an environment where success is extolled and mediocrity rarely regarded, you tend to achieve perfect standards in every area of your life making you an overachiever. Perfectionism is a healthy trait. To persevere in your goal-striving, you need to be positively motivated by high standards that can take you forward. But the problem comes when you get into a perfectionist mind trap and play host to a harsh inner-critic. You reach a point where your life seems to be programmed from a place of stress and fear rather than positivity or creativity. But with the right strategies, you can learn to recognise when you are bordering into the extreme perfectionist tendencies and moderate your behavior to overcone them. Here are some do’s and dont’s ṭo overcome extreme perfectionist tendencies.

1.Stop working when you feel you’re getting diminishing returns. Focusing on every detail and unimportant information drains you from getting more done. It is important ṭo ask yourself whether the details you have been obsessed about are essential to your end goal. If not, it is time to set them aside. Trying to push every little thing, especially the ones that do not affect what you are trying to achieve decreases your overall output. Check in with yourself when you are striving so hard for an external goal that it’s getting you down, and reassess your short and long term priorities before continuing on.

2.Avoid failure-avoiding perfectionism. Putting lot of emphasis on external achievements gets you wrongly associated with your self-worth and your perfection gets steered by a fear of failure. This leads to ‘all-or-nothing’ approach where you either do everything well or you don’t do it at all. Such mindset is self-defeating as no one achieves success without having failed in some form or the other. Everything happens in progression and not in all-or-nothing manner. Instead of seeing mistakes as failures, choose to see them as part of the learning process. Instead of trying to avoid mistakes and failure, reframe them as normal and as an essential part of your growth.

3.Stop self-criticism. The need for perfection makes you feel compelled to keep moving towards your goals with high standards and it’s easy to beat yourself up when things don’t go the way you want. Such situations can make your inner-critic quite harsh and strong. Check out the negative things you are saying to yourself in such situations. Ask yourself whether the need for perfection is self-driven or is it driven by your need for others to approve you. By understanding your motives, you can switch your negative self-talk to positive. Instead of blaming yourself, love and appreciate yourself.

4.Adjust your expectations. Have realistic expectations. It is impossible to do everything perfectly. Try to focus on the task at hand rather than running on what the end result will be. High standards and unrealistic expectations of yourself and others constantly make you disappointed and frustrated. Realise that you cannot control every situation and force others to meet your unreasonable expectations. Balance your pursuit of perfecting in all things with excelling in fewer and more important things. Choose tasks that are worth the effort and put your perfectionist traits to work on them.

5.Stop focusing on your achievements. Perfectionists tend to associate their self-worth and success with their achievements. When you focus on the outcome, you work towards pleasing others. Let go of comparisons and the need to prove yourself. Instead focus on the process and on your strengths and values. You are more than your goals and achievements. Treat your goals as guides and not as absolutes. Whether you have accomplished a particular task yet is not as important as the fact that you are progressing towards it.

6.Delegate and let go. As a perfectionist, it is tough to work with people as you may feel that it is easier and faster for you to do everything yourself as opposed to relying on others. You also may think having to rely on others is to deal with the errors and their imperfections. To achieve high standards, it is not possible to do everything alone. It is important that you find the right people and delegate your work by sharing your expectations with them. Allow yourself to let go of your expectations of them. Not everyone one will be able to measure up to your expectations.

7.Finally, Embrace mediocrity. The fear of being mediocre holds us back in many of our pursuits. But the key is to embrace certain imperfections. You dont have to be perfect to set out to accomplish your goals. Instead sometimes just getting started without worrying that you are good enough is also important. You can trust some of your imperfections and mediocrity without treating it as indicative of your abilities as a whole.

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

To conclude,

Are you a perfectionist? Does the pursuit of high standards weigh you down? Do you often seek to achieve a perfect standard so that others will see you as a success? Do you need to perfect every single thing you do at the expense of your health and relationships? Do you become extremely hard on yourself whenever something goes wrong? Do you constantly wait for the right moment to work on your goals? Do you feel anxious and stressed when things don’t go the way you want? Do you get stuck in ‘all-or-nothing’thinking? If your answer to the above is a ‘yes’, then it is time to balance your perfectionist tendencies. Use the above strategies to embrace your true self with some imperfections. Sometimes it is important that you should lay aside your perfectionism and let go of it to develop a healthy and a happier approach.

How to improve your Teamwork competence

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

Teamwork is important in every field of work as it enables you to be productive both as group and as an individual. To succeed, you must be willing to work along with others and achieve things together. We often have a natural tendency to put our own needs before others’. This isn’t a bad thing as engaging in self-compassion and self-care are important to create a good life for ourselves and for the people who matter most to us. But focusing on your own needs when working with others becomes a major hindrance as it limits your influence and the ability to work along with others. Sometimes as part of a team or a group, you may feel okay about identifying with the team and your role within it, but you may not actually do what you are asked to, or you may not be willing to adapt to your team’s requirements or collaborate with others. You might be excellent at what you do but if you are not willing to put aside selfish motivations and work for the greater good in a team, you may not be contributing to your or your team’s success. Each member of an orchestra has to play the notes on his instrument so that the net outcome is music and so is true for your personal or professional endeavours where teamwork is essential to achieve your objectives.

What is Teamwork?

Teamwork is a joint action by people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group. Effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. Accomplishing tasks through group of people requires collective responsibility and coordination. Happy work culture is a combination of teams working effectively and with collaboration. Teamwork is very important when it comes to raise overall productivity of any workplace to produce results.

Why is Teamwork competence important?

Teamwork is not only restricted to workplace, it is also important for your personal life situations to maintain better relationships in your everyday life. To be productive is to work in perfect coordination with those working beside and below you whether at work, or at home or in any other situation. Achieving success requires the support and cooperation of others and to gain support and cooperation of others requires your Teamwork competence. Your competence to share values and beliefs that guide the thinking and behaviour of those working alongside of you and your ability to have an empathetic outlook and understanding of their perspective increases the productivity of those you work with. If people you work with feel appreciated and valued for their contributions, they become more collaborative and are willing to share their insights and can take you closer to success.

Being a competent team player is one of the important quality you can learn ṭo develop in today’s work culture to get things done and ṭo achieve your goals. Research reveals that teamwork leads to human intelligence and increases cooperation while competing. Competitive mindset is important in today’s world, but can create isolation and might create interpersonal disconnectedness. Being cooperative to your coworkers, or colleagues, friends or family members helps you build healthy relationships and makes you a better team player. Being cooperative lets you overcome the unhealthy aspect of being over-competitive and you can increase your potential to come up with new strategies to work together effectively to accomplish goals.

What is your Teamwork competence?

Teamwork competence involves your ability to help other members of your team to achieve a common goal quickly and effectively and this requires a sense of maturity to rise above petty misunderstandings that may arise. Even if your role seems highly independent and you perform most of it remotely, you will still need to communicate with others and do it in the context of the organisation as a whole and depends on how well you are able to adopt and work along with your team members.

When it comes to working in a team, not everyone is well equipped to be a part of the team. But if you try and improve your teamwork competence, you will be able to work productively towards positive outcomes. To achieve this, you need,

• Communication skills like being able to ask and provide information or to receive and give feedback.

• Being able to collaborate, coordinate and willingness ṭo compromise or consider others ideas or perspectives .

• Having clear, common goals and expectations.

• Ability to understand the bigger goals, vision and values of the organisation you work for.

• Commitment to attain team’s mission/vision or goals.

• Personal responsibility and accountability for solving problems, completion of your tasks and outcomes.

• Ability to build trust among team members with right attitude and mindset.

• Conflict resolution skills and to work amicably with others in all kinds of situations.

• Ability to reach agreements and provide negotiating strategies.

• Ability to lead with empathy and to provide guidance and direction.

• Competence with the right knowledge, skill and capability to accomplish the given tasks.

• Belongingness to the team and being able to adopt and work towards a common goal.

Teamwork competence is important to embrace daily challenges, to solve problems, achieve things together and to sustain success in the long term.

How to improve your teamwork competence?

Better teamwork often produces far greater results than individual efforts and creates a harmonious working environment and effective relationships. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved harmonise their contributions and work towards a common goal. To improve your teamwork competence is to handle individuals with different preferences, skills, experiences, perspectives and habits in a meaningful and sustainable manner. Here are some ways to improve your teamwork competence.

Improve Communication

As part of a team, you should be clear about the priority of your tasks. You should be able to give and receive honest performance feedback and be able to explain your ideas as well as listen to others’. Encourage every member to bring diverseness to the effort to solve a problem, improve process and to reach goals. Ask questions whenever you want clarification or uncertain about something. Take time to reflect on events and interactions that took place and how they could have gone better. Disagreements should be expected and appreciated, but try not to create tension between others instead make efforts ṭo understand diverse opinions and mediate disputes or to resolve conflicts that arise among team members. You can do this by openly discussing or by directly talking with the person creating negative effects. Open, honest and respectful communication helps to express diverse thoughts, opinions and potential solutions to problems.

Be Supportive

You should be able to understand the roles and responsibilities of other members. Showing support for one another like in moments of achievement, or helping in more difficult times makes you gain the support and commitment of others to accomplish your objectives. Creating the system and support that enables others to work to their strengths and system or support to minimise the impact of their weaknesses helps to look at other members of your team as collaborators rather than competitors. Being supportive in problem-solving and helping them to reach the end goal increases optimism and commitment of all the team members. Instead of creating a culture of blame, acknowledge failed strategies and be proactive in the face of obstacles or setbacks. Show enthusiasm when confronting any hurdles by being supportive and resilient.

Create a culture of accountability

When we think of accountability, we tend to think of holding others accountable when in a team. If a team is not working well together, it’s highly likely that every team member is contributing to the difficulty in some way, and each of them can take personal accountability to make the team more effective. Accept that you too are part of the problem and you are absolutely contributing to the situation. Take personal responsibility for solving the problem. This way, you can commit to work along with others and avoid jumping to conclusions and being judgmental when it comes to others’ contribution. Instead of finger pointing, take personal responsibility to resolve problems. Assess how you are contributing to the situation and how you can improve and generate creative solutions to achieve team’s outcomes.

Raise awareness of self and others

Self-awareness is an important aspect when it comes to teamwork competence. Understanding your feelings, beliefs, and values. When you are noṭ aware of yourself and others, you are more likely to believe that the behaviour of others as the result of their negative intent and you tend to see your beliefs and values as the truth as opposed to what is true for others. Failing to recognise valid perspectives of others leads to misunderstanding and devaluing their work. Take time to reflect on your emotions, core values, your assumptions about another person or situation, and your interpretations. Be aware of how your words, behavior and actions impact others and correct the behaviours that are negatively impacting the team.

Have clear expectations

Having clear expectations and setting clear goals demonstrates constancy of your purpose. If it is not clear of what role each team member plays, if people don’t understand the greater context and if everyone is in it for themselves, then it gets difficult to successfully reach teams’ objectives. This makes everyone in the team feel that their work is endless and exhausting. By setting specific measurable goal, you can communicate your expectations for their performance to help them prioritise and drive them to expected outcome. You too can have a clear sense of where your work fits into the total context of the bigger goals, overall vision and values.

The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” – James Cash Penney

Recognise and value others’ efforts

You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When you help one another and value others’ efforts, you can harness the full interest and motivation of your team. They perceive that their service in the team is valuable and fits in the bigger picture and bring positive attention to their contribution. They become committed to achieving the team’s mission more enthusiastically and feel inspired to find innovative and creative ways to reach end goal.

Focus on elevating others

If you want your team to come together and achieve a goal, you need to put aside your selfish motivations and help others succeed. This creates an opportunity for growth and helping others to improve their skills can become a stronger contributor to the team and also puts your team in a better position to reach its goals. You can coach them to elevate their performance by getting to know them, understanding their challenges, concerns and things they are excited about.

Finally,

Put others’ needs before yours

“The ratio of We’s to I’s is the best indicator of the development of a team.” – Lewis B. Ergen

The most quoted expression – there is no ‘I’ in a team stands true. Good teamwork competence involves working towards a common goal without letting the personal agendas get in the way. Although it is important to present and defend your point of view, being overly stubborn and unwilling to consider others’ ideas or needs obstructs good teamwork. Valuing others’ needs leads to high performance of the individual and team.

To conclude ..

Your Teamwork competence is the key to success in most areas of your life, work or business to achieve your goals and to be productive. But to achieve it requires that you manage your ego, develop humility, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts and ensure that your actions help the others to commit to one another and a common goal is important. Follow the above strategies to improve your overall sense of teamwork competence and to contribute to better outcomes.

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

How to build lasting Motivation

 

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”. – Francis of Assisi

Whenever we try to make changes in our life, or include a new habit, or change unhelpful habits, or want to learn a new skill, or start a certain project, we need a lot of motivation. Sometimes it is easy to keep yourself motivated, other times, it is nearly impossible to figure out how to motivate yourself and you either end up procrastinating, or deferring or giving up on your new habits or behaviour. It is also tough to stay motivated all the time. There are bound to be days when you don’t feel like working towards your personal and professional goals and there will be off days where your energy and enthusiasm are in downward spiral. Often our motivation and enthusiasm tends to be very high after starting something new, but after a while, it fades away. As a result, we fail to maintain that level of enthusiasm through the action phase and we stop doing what we started to do. When you lack motivation, your great ideas almost seem impossible and impractical.

When we are motivated, it becomes easier to bear the inconvenience of action than the discomfort of remaining same and we come up with inspiring ideas. Motivation is important to become successful in your pursuit of goal-striving. You may want to set the best goals and establish right rewards to motivate yourself or your team or those around you. There are plenty of ways to get motivated. But certain permanent habit changes or to attain certain of your goals or objectives requires consistency. To achieve this, you need to stay motivated for long periods of time.

So, what can you do to be motivated on a consistent basis? To build lasting motivation, it is important that we understand what motivation really is, what factors guide and direct our motivation and types of motivation.

Understanding Motivation ..

Motivation is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviours. It makes you to act on your plans be it gaining a skill or working towards your fitness goals or work goals.

Motivation indicates motives or whys of our behaviour like our needs or wants or desires that make us do what we do. It is an inner force that pushes you to do and accomplish things, but by simply having the desire to accomplish something is not good enough to motivate yourself. It also involves initiation of behaviour, ability to persist through obstacles and focus to pursue the goal or desire.

Many factors lead to motivation that can activate, direct and help you in sustaining your goal-oriented behaviour. It is important to understand these factors behind motivation. Sometimes, our behaviour is motivated by certain basic human instincts like anger, survival, safety, fear, and love. Some are motivated to do things because of external rewards like money, fame, and compliments or for future expectations. But many of our behaviours are motivated to fulfil our biological needs and drives like need to eat, drink and sleep. According to Dr. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. our most basic needs must be met before we become motivated to achieve higher level needs. First we are motivated to fulfil basic physiological needs like food and shelter, then the safety needs, then those of belongingness & love needs, and then esteem needs like feeling of accomplishment. Once these needs have been met. The primary motivator becomes the self-actualisation or achieving one’s full potential.

To become motivated on a daily basis, you must be able to identify the factors that influence motivation and any thoughts that are moving you away from it.”

Types of Motivation

When it comes to motivating yourself for health or fitness or career goals being motivated ‘intrinsically’ or ‘extrinsic’ can make all the difference. If you are intrinsically motivated, you do something because you find it inherently satisfying. May be you take up to a sport because you enjoy the challenge, or eat healthy food because you prefer the taste. Intrinsic motivation is more powerful as it involves emphasising on your values, and processes for achieving goals that are relevant to your life in the present and not based on some distant future rewards. But the downside is that there is not always an obvious way to create intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation takes the form of a reward or punishment. Some intentionally pursue certain actions in order to gain rewards. External rewards like compliments or fame or winning can get you started but it only lasts as long as there is an external reward and there are chances that it might decrease your intrinsic motivation. Researchers have found that when people are given external rewards for activities that they already find intrinsically motivating, they became less interested in participating in those activities in the future. Sometimes there can be extrinsic-intrinsic motivational factors like for instance, from desire to help others or support a cause you care about, you would want to create something that will benefit others.

Use of external rewards to motivate desired behaviours can be useful in some cases as they can be easily created to get you started, but intrinsic factors like desire for achieving and willingness to put in your effort can be even more important to build lasting motivation. Your intrinsic motivation can be improved by making your activities sufficiently challenging and interesting.

Short-term vs long-term motivation

Maintaining motivation over the long run is difficult as your drive to achieve your objectives is constantly obstructed by negative thoughts and your anxiety about the future. Some people seem to have all the motivation in the world, while others in spite of having all the goals, remain unmotivated and stuck. Every one faces self-doubt. But what separates high achievers and highly successful is their ability to keep themselves motivated to go after their goals and aspirations. Sometimes we get motivated after reading an inspirational book or when we listen or watch a motivational video, but it doesn’t last long as learning and hearing about others’ success can only motivate you for short-term. Whereas by gaining self-awareness, creating your own ideas and applying them to achieve your goals can result in long-term passion and momentum that lasts long.

You have all these goals you would desperately want to achieve and feel as though you have so much potential, yet there are times when you feel unmotivated. There are some valid reasons for lacking motivation. May be it is your emotional reasoning, or negative thoughts and beliefs, or fear of failure, lack of focus or confidence that is making you demotivated. The key is to understand these reasons to help you become aware of how you got yourself into this demotivated state.

So, how to stay motivated in the long-term?

Without enough motivation, you will fall back to indulging in unhelpful and limiting habits that will only keep you stuck and unmotivated. With the right kind of motivation, you will always find reasons to keep going no matter what obstacles you might face. There isn’t a single method that fits all when it comes to motivation. But if you decide to take the initiative to make necessary changes in your pursuit of achieving your personal or professional goals, you can build right momentum to stay motivated. Here are some strategies to help you build lasting motivation.

Find your motivation

Set achievable goals to work on and spend time to think why these goals are important to you. Identify your motivations for pursuing these goals, either motivations you already have that is intrinsic or sources of extrinsic motivation you could create for yourself. Write down both the goal and the motivation. Always build your habits and set personal standards that supports your desired goals and objectives. If your motivation is extrinsic, don’t overrely on extrinsic rewards. Choose a reward or punishment that will reinforce your intrinsic motivation and try them only during initial learning period or when you have no intrinsic interest in the activity and phase out once you develop interest.

Build routines

The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

By building routines, you can follow through your work or goals regardless of your motivation levels. Routine building makes your activity repeatable and easy to do. It gets you started and reduces the chance that you skip it and can pull you into the right frame of mind . Your routine should get you moving towards your goals. When your routine gets tied to your goals, by simply doing the routine, you enter motivated state to accomplish your objectives. When you lack motivation, it is harder to decide what you should do next, and you often give up on the task or activity. However, by building routine, you can just follow the pattern, show up and build the momentum to do the work and can stay motivated.

Find your Flow

In order to build lasting motivation, it is important to find your flow. Flow is a state of being “in the zone” where you are completely involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; To find your flow, it is necessary that the challenges or tasks you face are just manageable. Break away from boring old routines and find ways to make them challenging that match your current abilities. By working on tasks of optimal difficulty and adding incremental challenges, you will not only be motivated but also improve your skills and move closer to achieving your goals.

Challenge your Limiting Beliefs

People with self-sabotaging beliefs are often unmotivated and simply lack interest. If you have set of limiting beliefs that are in conflict with your goals, or new ideas, or new beliefs, then you will likely to sabotage your enthusiasm and motivation. This is because when you face situations where your pre-existing belief system gets so strongly threatened, you experience negative emotions making you demotivated. When you have negative beliefs – ask yourself – what’s the evidence for and against your belief? If it is demotivating, replace it with new belief that strengthens your desire to achieve your goals. Being open to new ideas and alternative perspectives increase your motivation and make you willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal.

There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.” – Brian Tracy

Improve your Psy-cap

Your psy-cap is the psychological capital which is a combination of your self-efficacy,(your ability to take on and devote the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks) hope,(which increases your desire to persevere) resilience, (your ability to face problems and adversity) and optimism (ability to believe that you will succeed). By improving your psy-cap, you can feel accomplished, appreciated, motivated and empowered in your pursuit of achieving purpose oriented goals. This way you are more likely to stick with your routine or habits or behaviour. Surround yourself with positive people who support your goals and focus on your strengths to rejuvenate your motivation

Focus on the efforts not on outcome

Focusing on the outcomes or only on your talents can make you person of fixed mindset or view. This decreases your motivation and it is more likely that you might easily get unmotivated at the instance of a failure, or mistake or when you encounter a difficulty. Instead of focusing on the outcome and imagining your success, try to visualise the effort that goes into making your goals into a reality. Figure out what type of challenges you might encounter. This way you can deal with them easily and can come up with strategies to overcome those challenges. By assessing your efforts, you can build lasting motivation and can improve on your future actions.

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goal.” – Zig Ziglar

Finally,

Recharge your willpower

What most people try to do with willpower is that they keep exerting it forever thinking that it never gets depleted. You can only rely on will power to get yourself motivated in short bursts. Over-reliance on will power by convincing yourself that you need to try harder only leads to an endless cycle of over-exertion and failure. Avoid situations where your willpower is used continuously without rest. Indulge yourself in activities that you find relaxing and refreshing that can restore your willpower.

To conclude,

• Set clear goals that affirm your values. make you happier, healthier and feel better.

• Be aware of what committing to your goals will ultimately achieve, beyond the goal itself.

• Build routines to get you started that take you closer to your end goal.

• Strive for higher needs like passion and creativity.

• Focus on intrinsic goals like personal growth and well-being as opposed to external motivators like money and status.

• Make your tasks challenging enough to find your flow.

Strong, lasting motivation is often the biggest difference between your success and failure. When it comes to achieving your important goals, it’s very common to lose your motivation a little way down the line. When you aren’t feeling motivated, remind yourself why you are doing what you do and apply the above strategies to build lasting motivation.

 

 

Enhance your Emotional Quotient

People who perceive emotions accurately (both in themselves and others) better understand difficult situations.” – Travis Bradberry

Most of our lives are driven by emotions as we pursue whatever we hope will make us feel good and avoid unpleasant ones. Imagine what your life would be like if you spent much of your time and energy struggling to fix the weather every time it stormed, snowed or grew windy. Yet most of us attempt to do just that with our emotions. We seek help or look for strategies to fix our feelings when we get overwhelmed by them. But we never seek to improve our emotional state by working directly on our emotions. When it comes to achieving success, whether it’s at the work, or in bettering health, or in developing leadership skills, or pursuing your goals, research has revealed that your emotional intelligence is the key and plays a very important role in learning and managing your emotions and of those around you.

When it comes to better self-control, developing dedication and cultivating perseverance, many of us tend to suppress our emotional responses that might get in the way of reaching our long-term aspirations and rely mostly on reason, logic and analysis as opposed to our emotional understanding. But on the contrary, emotions can be a powerful tool to keep you mentally strong to persevere through your efforts with better self-control. Your mental strength is a matter of your emotional intelligence(EQ). Emotional intelligence affects how you manage your behaviour, overcome challenges and make personal decisions to achieve positive results. Building your Emotional intelligence can help you to manage stress, turn your intention into action and achieve your personal and professional goals. It is an important skill to acquire and matters more than your intellect and in a way it is the direct measure of your leadership skill and productivity.

What is your Emotional Quotient ?

Your emotional Intelligence quotient is your ability to recognise understand your own emotions, the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to manage our inner self, our relationships and to manage emotions of others’. Emotional intelligence or your Emotional Quotient is commonly defined by following attributes.

Self-awareness – Your ability to recognise and understand your emotions and how they affect you. This means recognising how they impact your thoughts and actions and how your emotions can help or limit you from achieving your goals.

Self-management – Your ability to manage, control, and adapt your moods, emotions, and responses in a way that allows you to accomplish a task or reach a goal. This also includes your ability of self-control and to control your emotional reactions.

Motivation – Your ability to harness your emotions to motivate yourself and others to take appropriate action, commit, and work towards goals. Instead of trying to force others into action, it is your ability to use insight and persuasion to motivate others to act in their own accord.

Empathy – Your ability to understand the needs, emotions and perspectives of those around you to better manage relationships. It is the ability to influence through your communication and listening skills.

Social-awareness – Your ability to accurately perceive the emotions of others and use that understanding to relate to others in social situations and the ability to lead, negotiate and work as good team players.

Why is it important to improve your Emotional Quotient?

People with high emotional intelligence make good leaders as they are able to understand what motivates others and relate to them in a positive manner with better decision-making capabilities, providing solutions to problems, resolving disputes and negotiating abilities due to the very nature of their ability to understand the needs and wants of others. Having greater EQ can help you in your interpersonal situations where it is important to understand others and plan your actions accordingly and to maintain mental and emotional well-being. It helps to alleviate anxiety, avoid mood swings, and stress. By better understanding and managing your emotions, you are able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and can strive to work on your weaknesses.

It’s easier to resolve conflicts when you empathise with others’ perspective. It is an awareness of your actions and feelings and how they affect those around you. It also means that you value others, listen to their needs and are able to empathise with them. Negative emotional state can sabotage your clear thought and focus. Developing emotional stability capacitates focusing at will and inhibits strong impulses and urges making you better equipped in terms of how to handle things rather than worrying about what can go wrong.

EQ enhances Productivity

Although your intelligence quotient is important to success in life, Emotional intelligence which is built on the foundation of self-awareness helps you to be more content and fosters your own productivity. Higher Emotional Quotient helps you to be internally motivated which can reduce procrastination, better self-control and improves your ability to focus on your goals. The ability to control emotions or impulses, allows you not to make impulsive and careless decisions and helps in resisting short-term gratification for long-term success.

Enhancing your emotional quotient results in getting to know the people you work with to build better relationships and in helping them to develop new strengths or refining their abilities. Being emotionally supportive and empathetic improves relationship strengths like influence, persuasion, teamwork,cooperation and motivates people to work at their best. Your emotional quotient built on the foundation of self-awareness, develops perseverance, resilience, and the drive to achieve goals.

How to enhance your Emotional Quotient?

Enhancing your emotional quotient is not to attain a permanent pleasurable emotional state, neither it means that you ignore, devalue, or pretend they don’t exist. It involves fully acknowledging your feelings and to act constructively in line with your goals. Although you cannot directly control or change your emotional state, you can achieve freedom from their impulsiveness and domination by enhancing your emotional quotient. Here are some strategies to enhance your Emotional Quotient.

Identify your emotional triggers

If your emotions are unpleasant or uncomfortable, you may want to avoid them by distracting yourself. But suppressing your emotions only makes things worse. The more you try to ignore them, the more uncontrollable they get. Instead get to know what triggers them. Some unresolved issues can trigger an emotionally reaction. By recognising your emotional triggers, you can respond to them in a conscious manner rather than reacting to them unconsciously. This way, you can resist impulses and urges, remain calm and can think clearly during an emotional turbulence. Learning what triggers your emotions and which emotions are driving your behaviour can help you achieve emotional stability.

Free yourself from unhappy emotions

Do you resent doing what you are doing? It may be your job, or you may have agreed to do something and are doing it, but part of you resents and resists it. Are you carrying unspoken resentment towards a person close to you or to a situation? If there is, observe it on both mental and emotional levels. Observe your emotion, which is the body’s reaction to those thoughts. Feel the emotion. Does it feel pleasant or unpleasant? Your unhappiness is not only polluting your emotions but also those around you. Attending to unhappy emotions by a way of communication and expressing fully what you feel, you can free yourself of unhappy emotions and improve your emotional quotient.

Practice self-observation

Make it a habit to monitor your mental-emotional state through self-observation. Do a self-evaluation. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you willing to accept your imperfections? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can learn from your mistakes and constantly strive to build on your strengths. Observe how you react to people. Do you rush to conclusions before you know all the facts? Examine how you react to stressful situations. How do you react when someone or a situation doesn’t measure up to your expectations? Look honestly at your ability to stay calm and in control of difficult situations and how you think and interact with other people. Self-observation improves self-awareness which is the building block of your emotional quotient.

Emotional self-awareness is the building block of the next fundamental emotional intelligence: being able to shake off a bad mood” – Daniel Goleman

Accept your negative emotions

If you call some emotions negative, what you really saying that they shouldn’t be there, that it’s not okay to have those emotions. When you attribute the cause of your negativity to outside factors, you become the target. Instead accept whatever feelings come up, rather than judging them as bad or denying their presence. It’s okay to feel resentful; it’s okay to feel angry, irritated, moody; by accepting your negative emotions, you can avoid repression, inner conflict, or denial. When you accept your negative emotions, you are no longer forced to act them out blindly, and you are less likely to project them onto others. This way, you can shift your attention to what you can do to improve your situation rather than trying to instantly improve your feelings, which you can’t do.

Improve your focus

Focus helps you to recover more quickly from upsetting emotions. Two kinds of focus enhances your emotional stability. First, focus on inward awareness of your thoughts and your emotions and apply them to constructive activities like achieving your goals. Second, focus on others’ emotions, to empathise, perceive and understand their feelings, desires, and motives, and this can help you to have effective interactions and relationships. Through mindfulness, you can focus on your own emotions and focus on emotions of others to be aware of how their emotional state changes from moment to moment. Focusing on your emotions through present moment awareness can influence your emotional state.

Finally,

Practice self-management

You must be able to use your emotions for constructive decisions about your behaviour. Constantly building on your positive emotional state and learning from your negative emotions will make you an emotionally better person. At times, when you are obsessed by worries and anxieties, by staying emotionally present, you can have resolute attitude and better self-control. Develop an attitude of tolerance and ability to make choices that allow you to control impulsive behaviours. By managing your emotions in healthy way, you can act thoughtfully and develop the ability to think clearly.

Conclusion

What is your emotional quotient? Do you fave difficulty in regulating your emotions? Is it difficult for you to gather your emotional strength to work at your best? Do you have the difficulty in reading emotions of others or of your own? Consider achieving emotional freedom by accepting your emotions, and the emotions of others, as a natural part of life. Assess your emotional quotient to know your emotional strengths and weaknesses. Apply the above mentioned strategies in constructive ways to influence your emotional state and to enhance your Emotional Quotient.

To-do

• Work on understanding and expressing your own emotions.

• Manage, adapt and accept your emotions.

• Perceive and understand the emotions of others and use that to build better relationships with those around you to lead, influence, negotiate, or work as a part of team.

• Regulate your emotions by being competent and self-motivated to achieve your set goals.

• Direct your emotions to maximise your productivity, handle difficulties, and to seek solutions to problems.

• Develop tolerance for ambiguity and remain flexible in the face of obstacles.

• Don’t give into your instant gratification, persevere and focus on your goals for long-term success.

Why you need to achieve Flow state

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When it comes to doing quality work and achieving your goals, you need to work on your tasks with full concentration and free from distraction. But most people have unproductive work habits caused by unhappiness, dissatisfaction and displeasure. They do not enjoy performing the activities related to their work. Because of this they fail to optimise their performance and produce quality work. Whenever we get involved in doing a task that is interesting or enjoyable, we do it with total concentration and we lose track of time and everything around us be it the noise or people or other distractions seems to fade away. Many of us would have experienced such state at one point or another in our life like while playing a game or pursuing our hobbies or while learning a subject of our interest or while writing, dancing and so on. Such state where we feel intense, exhilarating and satisfying is called Flow state.

By achieving flow state, you can overcome the problems of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and other unproductive habits. Flow can lead to improved performance and can be the key to achieve happiness at work.

Flow state is not only limited to your work but it also optimises your performance in activities like sports, art, and learning. When you are in Flow, you can exhibit your creative skills and abilities quite easily and such state leads to your productive best irrespective of which work you are involved in.

What is ‘Flow’ state?

Flow is about enjoying what you do and is known as the state of optimal performance and engagement. Flow is often referred to as being “ in the zone” and it is directly proportional to being productive. Flow experience is mostly active and is complete immersion in an enjoyable activity. Activity can be playing a sport or pursuing a hobby or pursuing your goals. Sometimes both positive and negative behaviours can lead to state of flow. But the negative behaviour at some point will take you out of flow because of the risk involved when compared to that of a positive behaviour.

According to Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

According to him, we find more occasions of flow when we work rather than when we are at leisure or relaxed. This is because at work, we have clear set of goals that require appropriate response and it provides immediate feedback in terms of measurable goals completed. And also job/task tends to improve concentration and prevent distractions.

When do you experience the state of Flow?

Almost any activity can produce flow experience. You can find flow in your daily activities or while working. In fact we find more occasions of flow when we are dealing with challenging tasks than the easier ones. You also experience Flow when you push yourself to accomplish a difficult task, or while contemplating on difficult questions or recalling enjoyable experiences, or activities that keep you engaged in writing or learning about the topics you find most enjoyable. You get into a state of Flow when

• Your time spent on the task seems effortless.

• You have a sense of control over your actions.

• Your action and awareness merges during which you lose self consciousness.

• You experience timelessness.

• You receive direct and immediate feedback.

• Your goals are clearly defined.

• You are able to focus all your effort and attention in the task.

• The task is challenging, but it is doable.

• You are internally driven with a purpose and direction.

While flow experience has above components, but it is not necessary that all these need to take place together.

Almost everyone can learn to achieve flow. But those with passion, persistence and enthusiasm tend to experience more flow. On the contrary, those who are highly critical of themselves or anxious or self-conscious and self-centred experience less of flow state. Engaging in high-skill, high-challenge activities that contain clear goals and feedback structure and mastering challenging activities would allow one to experience more flow.

Why being in flow is important?

Being in flow is a sense of effortless action and if you can achieve flow state in your tasks, it allows you to focus on your goals that are clear and compatible. Research shows there is an association between Flow and peak performance where the benefits included enhanced well-being and self-concept. It triggers positive mindset, grit and creativity. Being in flow state enables you to focus your attention completely in the task at hand leaving no room for contradictions thereby leading to better choices, decisions and more positive outcomes. Flow can help you achieve happiness, satisfaction and productivity.

“The greatest athletes are the ones who ‘make it look easy’…The athletes and others in peak performance states are not ‘wanting’ to perform well but are engaged in the flow of doing.” – M. Hutchinson

People who experience flow are more productive as they tend to ignore distractions with more control over their thoughts. They pay close attention to details which often help them identify opportunities to act, set goals, gain feedback and go after bigger challenges. Flow activities in learning provide enthusiasm, provide intrinsic rewards and help you gain new skills.

How to achieve the Flow state?

Achieving a state of flow can be great way to make your routine chores or tasks more engaging and enjoyable. People who mastered certain skills often experience flow state and they make whatever they are doing look easy as they are totally engaged in it. You can achieve such a state by making the components of flow available in your work or other activities you pursue. Here are some ways to achieve the Flow state in your work.

Make your tasks more challenging

A boring task can be turned into more challenging by finding better ways to do it or to do it more efficiently or to find ways to accomplish more on the task by paying more attention to it. Approaching a challenging task without any prejudice and with more determination, you can make it more meaningful and can achieve a state of flow. One way to stay in flow is to consistently increase the challenge of your tasks, but not make them too hard. The task should be neither too demanding nor too simple for your abilities. It has to equal your skill level to tackle the difficulty or challenging part of the task.

Develop your skills

You can achieve state of flow by engaging in challenging tasks or work that are doable. Achieving flow state is enjoying what you do. so by developing your skills, you can match up to the challenging tasks which otherwise seem much harder than they actually are. When you are devoting all of your energy to learn new skills that are required to achieve a larger goal, this puts your thoughts, feelings and action in harmony achieving a state of flow.

“If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If they are too great, one can return to flow state by learning new skills.” – csikszentmihalyi

Set clear goals

Flow is about achieving your goals to your satisfaction. Goals add motivation and structure to what you are doing. Whether you are in learning or working or in creative field, learning to set effective goals helps you to gain focus you need and working towards achieving them. Gain clarity about your circumstances and the behaviours you are indulging in. Setting goals and aspirations provide you with a sense of direction that will help you to get in the state of flow. A clearly defined passionate life purpose can help you bring back to flow state.

Establish your priorities

Your core values will determine how you you prioritise your life. If your priorities have meaning and aligned with your life’s purpose, then this will help you find the motivation you need to get into flow state. By prioritising, you can match your skills with whatever tasks at hand or your purpose. And also figure out the required skills you need to achieve your goals and can extend yourself beyond your current ability level. Slight stretching of your ability is a good way to a experience flow state. Reevaluate your core values and priorities by checking if there are any specific habits and fears that might be holding you back from entering the flow state.

Expand your possibilities

A personal evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses let’s you identify the skills you need to build or work upon. Sometimes you may not find your flow because you have closed yourself off to new experiences. Find your flow by opening yourself to new possibilities or by gathering new insights and by exposing yourself to new ideas and opportunities. Surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you and those who tend to challenge you. This way you can step out of your comfort zone to open up to new possibilities.

Find your motivation

Being in flow state is by doing a intrinsically rewarding task. If you are Extrinsically motivated, motivation lasts as long as you receive a reward and can avoid a negative outcome. Such motivation is short-lived and doesn’t make you intrinsically driven which is important to find your flow. You can attain flow through voluntary engagement in a task that you find enjoyable. Without intrinsic motivation, you will fall back to indulging in unhelpful and limiting habits that obstruct your flow. By being intrinsically driven, that is doing a task for the sake of doing and not because of external factors, you will always find your flow.

Strike a balance

We experience many emotional states when trying to perform a task depending on the difficulty of the task and our skill level. If the work or the task isn’t challenging, we experience boredom and if our skill levels don’t match any challenging task, we could experience anxiety and worry. Similarly when we are not motivated enough and under too much or too little pressure, our performance often declines and becomes unproductive. According to inverted U model created by Psychologists Roger Yerkes & John Dodson, there is a perfect medium of pressure where people perform at their best. According to them, when we are overloaded with work or under high pressure, our negative emotions like stress and anxiety increases. Instead by balancing your skills with the difficulty of the task or work you are pursuing, you can enter a state of Flow.

Finally,

Guide your focus

If you control how you interpret the events that become part of your conscious experience, you are more likely to experience happiness and therefore more flow. Attention is an important tool that can be used to control your flow experience. When your focus is not guided like when you are idle or distracted, your mind tends to lean towards the negative paying more attention to negative experiences and information than to the positive. Guiding your freed-up focus for goal-striving or towards your intentions, and focusing your attention on one task at a time improves your flow experience.

You can only put your conscious attention on one thing at a time. If that’s all that has your attention, you’re in flow.”

Conclusion

To sum up. If you are willing to create conditions that would allow you to experience flow at work by having clear goals, establishing your priorities, receiving feedback, emphasising on focused attention, you can use your skills to their fullest capacity to create things that matter. Follow the above mentioned suggestions to achieve a state of flow in your everyday life be it personal or professional. Having a purpose and right direction, you can make better decisions about to what to pay attention to in any given moment , which, in turn, allows you to engage more fully in your activities, making them more engaging and enjoyable thereby making Flow a more likely outcome.

How to deal with toxic behaviour

In order to be successful in the work you do, you need to dedicate your time, effort and mental strength to what you pursue. But sometimes what makes your work difficult is the toxic behaviour of difficult people around you that fuel negativity, stir up doubt and generally make your work harder. Some people may cause endless interpersonal conflict and tend to make others feel bad about themselves on a regular basis. Toxic people deplete your energy, distract your thoughts and derail your progress and make you question your abilities.

We all encounter such people even in our personal lives or outside of our work places. We may also find traits of toxic behaviour that are undesirable in our coworkers, amongst our friends, or even in our family. Your interactions with such people in your life or workplace can be damaging to your self-image and create anxiety and stress.

When we come across toxic behaviour in our personal lives or in workplaces, it can be quite destabilising and has negative emotional impact with feeling of being deeply discounted or deflated, robs us of our enthusiasm and can lead to confusion or chaos. Your attitude to your own self is important, but it is more so when you have to deal with difficult persons who tend to rub you the wrong way. They usually are mean and grudging about everything and have an aura of unpleasantness about them. Toxic behaviour of such people not only inflicts a personal hurt, but also negatively impacts your success, wellness and productivity.

Toxicity of difficult people

People can be either easy to deal with, or difficult to deal with. Our relations with the former remain pleasant and smooth. We like such people. Relations with the latter are often under strain and friction. We often tend to dislike them as they create unnecessary complexity, strife, stress and toxic environment around them and others. You may experience toxic behaviour from anyone be it a parent or sibling or a friend or a co-worker or a superior in your workplace. One thing is common about such behaviour is that they try to justify their behaviour and they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.

Toxic behaviour can be of different forms like bullying, humiliating in the presence of others, or intimidation which is not only hurtful in the moment but makes you feel worthless and fearful in the future. Even blaming others, gossiping and rumour mongering are considered as subtle forms of toxic behaviours. Avoidance or ignoring a person in meetings or social events can be also be a toxic way of putting someone down.

Toxic behaviour can be a product of certain kinds of environments and it is important to know how to recognise such behaviour and how to deal with it effectively. Here are some character traits to identify toxic people in your life or at workplace.

Narcissistic: They are all about themselves and view themselves as more desirable and talented than anyone else around. They want to mange through fear and relate to others in a condescending manner and they even take credit for others successes and have a habit of manipulating thereby giving less importance to others or trust or teamwork.

Judgmental: They are highly judgmental and can be quite arrogant and intimidating. They have a habit of criticising making negative conclusions about your choices, or ideas without any reason and never give you a constructive feedback.

Controlling: These people control through manipulation and deceit and they exploit your weaknesses. They tend to inhibit your creativity and ignore your ideas or decisions because of their know-it-all attitude. They think they are never wrong.

Pessimistic: They have a habit of bringing everyone down by going on about downsides about every idea. They might drag you into their negativity, stirring up doubt and disappointment with in you. They tend to play victim card and never own up to their mistakes.

Retrogressive: They are unwilling to go along with others, greedy, clingy, dishonest, angry, insecure, greedy and mostly are non-believers. They often resort to gossip and telling lies that breeds suspicion and will make your environment unproductive.

Non-empathetic: They cut down your plans and ideas in front of others, belittle your actions, and create feelings of low self-esteem. They lack empathy and can resort to harmful ways to bring others down and this also makes them deflect their ability to consider the consequences of their actions.

Complainers: They are fault finding, blaming and often wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They are certain about what should be done and they never seem able to correct the situation by themselves.

Hostile people: They tend to react violently and can be cynical, argumentative and have trouble being in the wrong. They can be egotistical and are often difficult to deal with. They often engage in toxic behaviour trying to cover up their own insecurity and avoid taking responsibility for a problem and blame others.

Other character traits like aggression, paranoia, or sadism can also be attributed to toxic behaviour. Toxic behaviour is the result of prioritising self-interest above everyone else’s, inability to consider another person’s perspective or emotional state, and not caring enough to acknowledge how their behaviour affects others.

How toxic behaviour affects productivity in workplace

People look for meaningful work and they want to be part of teams that are efficient, engaging and one that contributes to the work place’s purpose and success. Any organisation’s or a workplace’s success is attributed to its culture which becomes its character. In today’s work culture, where people work in teams and project-based models, with daily interactions, there is more probability of facing or come across toxic behaviour of difficult teammates or coworkers. If some toxic behaviours are tolerated for some reason, it not only makes the good talent leave the organisation, but they also fail to attract the right talent.

Certain workplaces might give importance to expertise or other measurable skills thereby undermining the toxic behaviour as they might think losing an expertise can impact their work or business. But if tolerated can have long-term implications by negatively impacting the culture of workplace, their growth, right talent, and productivity. If a workplace is toxic,

• It results in unhealthy and damaging communication patterns like complaining, blaming thereby causing lack of trust. Poor communication, or withholding information, or giving misleading information which makes the place not only dysfunctional but also makes it difficult to follow and implement proper procedures resulting in creating inconsistencies and low productive work.

• It is often difficult for people to work together and accomplish their tasks in toxic environments. People who work in such environments often have emotional issues like depression, anxiety, irritability and a sense of fear or failure.

• Toxic culture might lead to biased behaviour which can lead to poor level of motivation and commitment to work.

• Unhealthy competition can lead to toxic behaviours like lack of cooperation, blame-game, gossiping, or unhealthy work environment.

If you work or live in a toxic environment where toxic behaviour becomes a fixed way of operating, then you become a target of hostility, rudeness, bullying or other forms. As a result, your productivity, morale, and engagement in work decreases.

How to deal with toxic behaviour

Whether in our personal or work lives, we likely have encountered such people with toxic behaviour and some difficult personality traits, while some may have developed the ability to deal with them in a peaceful manner, others seem to struggle in dealing with difficult people. Whether it’s your co-worker, your neighbour, or your friend or your family member, sometimes people can be overwhelmingly difficult. If you have to deal with someone who puts up resistance, things can go quickly out of your control.

To deal with toxic behaviour effectively, you need to hone certain strategies that can enable you to control what you can and eliminate what you cannot. If you can develop the ability to remain calm and manage your emotions when faced with difficult people and deal with them in an appropriate way, you can gain more control of the situation. Handling difficult people may not be easy, but it is important for your well-being. Here are some strategies to deal with toxic behaviour in your personal or work situations.

Set firm boundaries

Toxic person is one who refuses to hear your perspective. Any attempts to explain yourself or being reasonable only frustrates you as they refuse to understand your perspective. Be assertive in saying no to the demands that feel unreasonable without explaining or justifying yourself. Avoid interactions with them that increases their aggressiveness or that encourages intense emotions. If you work on a team with toxic people, set a clear boundary by limiting the time you spend with him or her. Keep your communications short and clear without getting bogged down with too much emotion. You don’t need to convince them as they will not see your point of view. Avoid being defensive and don’t waste time proving that you are right. If you don’t set limits, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. Minimise your interaction and try to keep things short by excusing yourself from conversation or by bringing a third party into the conversation.

Control your response

We normally respond immediately when we feel challenged wth unreasonable behaviour of people. Difficult people most of the times are irrational and are not creatures of logic. They are full of prejudice and are motivated by arrogance. So, there is no point in responding to them emotionally and get sucked into their negative emotional spiral. Distance yourself from them emotionally and take time before you speak or respond. When you find yourself with a person who is engaged in a toxic behaviour, decide when it is worth your efforts to discuss or when the issue must be addressed. Choose better time to resolve or to communicate. Don’t give them opportunity to manipulate you or twist your words. Do not resort to name-calling or react impulsively, instead the more calmer you remain the more likely it is that the other will reflect on his/ her behaviour.

Communicate with clarity

While communicating with aggressive and intimidating people, the best way to deal is by not engaging in an argument. Being polite and precise in your language can give them less room to engage in their toxic behaviour. Don’t focus on their criticism or inappropriateness, instead focus on your actions and response. You should know you are in the right to deal with arrogant people. Validating and getting to know their perspective can help them turn their behaviour around.

When dealing with chronic complainers, the best way is to allow them to complain unless they also present a solution to the issue. This will reduce their ability to affect you or fellow team members or those around you. Setting time limits and list of things to be accomplished to those who stall or procrastinate or unfocused or disorganised can reduce your stress and frustration. Communicating the consequences of their actions and behaviour can make them change it.

Find your support-system

Sometimes it will be entirely ineffective putting up with such behaviour alone or tackling it by yourself if you have emotionally invested in such behaviour. Tap into your support system to gain a perspective on the person involved and his or her behaviour. Identify people outside your work or team or family and those who root for you and ready to support you and seek their help to deal with such behaviour. Strengthen your ties with your friends and others you trust. This can help balance your perspective and having your point validated can boost your self-esteem. Find activities that keep you away from the toxic people and toxic environment.

Seeking support sometimes can be more helpful as others can be a solution as they are not emotionally invested in the situation.

Know when to move on

Before we seriously think about dealing with difficult people, we must accept a basic principle of living – we can do nothing about the way people are. Sometimes, we cannot deal with the way they are. In such cases, it is better to know when to move on by being practical and realistic. There is no point wasting time dealing with people who make no efforts to acknowledge their behaviour and change it.

If their behaviour persists, it is better to step back and reevaluate the situation. If you develop an ability to look at your part in the situation, you can choose whether you may want to tactfully correct their behaviour or want to pursue a conversation and try to resolve the differences in a calm and rational way. Sometimes if their behaviour is deliberate and habitual, then it is better to avoid any further engagements with such people because their perspective may not change.

Finally,

Focus on solution, and not on problem

When you are in conflict with a toxic person, your unchecked emotions can be damaging. When you fixate too much on the problem, you create a prolonged negative emotions and stress. Fixating on how difficult they are gives them power over you. Instead if you focus on solutions to deal with such behaviour, you can create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress. Stop thinking about how troubling or difficult the person or his/ her behaviour is and focus on how you are going to handle them.

Your failure to understand a person also results in ‘his’ becoming difficult. For a proper understanding of difficult people, it is important to understand yourself as others see you. Make sure others meet the real you. And you meet the real other person. Sometimes even having high expectations without thinking of others’ rights and limitations, puts too heavy strain on others where they are forced to react unfavourably and they get difficult to deal with. Focusing on solutions makes you more in control in dealing with toxic behaviour.

To Do:

Consider which of the strategies above will be most helpful to deal with difficult people in your life or at your workplace or business. When you find yourself in specific scenario where you find signs of toxic behaviour, consider asking yourself the following questions.

Am I part of the problem or am I trying to cast blame?

What will happen if I just let it be or what will happen if I take control of the situation?

Am I in the right frame of mind to deal appropriately with the person or situation?

What can I do to prevent such toxic behaviour happening in future?

Take some time to think before you act or respond if you are angry. Go to the person and deal with it and if you think you cannot deal with the difficult person all by yourself, seek support from a friend, or closed one or a coworker if it is in a workplace to get a read on your feelings.

Implementing healthy strategies while dealing with difficult people will prepare you to better handle stress and hbetter equipped to deal with any difficult person.