How simple acts of gratitude will trigger persistent feelings of pleasure and wellbeing.
Gratitude is not just an emotion or an attitude. Gratitude is an intentional act to recognise the positive aspects of our lives and the things that bring us joy and fulfilment. (more…)
The reason why we look for negative views over transformative stories
I’m still dumbfounded by the minuscule focus that has been given to one of the most important topics that should be on everyone’s mind: How to strengthen our immune response. Our attention is unfortunately being bombarded with information that promotes hysteria.
The media is cleverly exploiting our genetically hardwire “negative bias”. For as long as we have existed, our tendency has been to pay more attention to threats (and dwell on these events) and overlook rewards. From an evolutionary perspective, being attuned to danger would make us more likely to survive. This positive-negative asymmetry as it is known, makes us pay more attention to the potentially harmful things that could happen and make them more important than they really are.
An effective way of countering our negative bias is to choose our news sources wisely and to set up a “news update” schedule to avoid overexposing ourselves unnecessarily to the barrage of negativity and dramatic stories that the media consciously serve us.
A study pointed out that “watching just three minutes of negative news in the morning makes viewers 27% more likely to report having a bad day six to eight hours later.” On the other hand, “those who watched transformative stories, reported having a good day 88% of the time”.
So le’s be more responsibly informed and less obsessively informed.
Practical ways of deepening the connection with your child during confinement
For many of the road warriors out there like myself who spend a significant amount of time travelling for business, having been confined in my home for weeks has been an unusual experience. But quite early on during the lockdown, the words of the wizard Gandalf the Grey echoed in my mind: “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you”.
One aspect that I have enjoyed the most during this quarantine is connecting with my children at a much deeper level, albeit not in my terms. Here are a couple of ways to deepen the connection with your kids:
1.- Follow their passion.– Start by asking a simple question: what do you love? My son is 16, and my daughter is 11, and it has been fascinating to witness the dynamic shift in their interests over the course of time. Go out for a walk and talk about their taste in books, magazines, music, television series, etc. – you will be in for a surprise!
2.- Play by their rules.– Set aside time to play with them, but given them carte-blanche to decide the type of game and the rules. Just by mindfully observing them from creation to execution, you will learn a great deal about the gifts that you have been given.
By now, I’m sure you are quite familiar with the psychological phenomenon known as “impostor syndrome”. Also known as the fraud syndrome, this is a condition in which an individual doesn’t integrate their accomplishments and has recurring patterns of fearful thoughts of being exposed as a fraud, despite substantial evidence of their success and competence.
But what if those feelings of incompetence are justified? And in spite of evidence to support this incompetence, what if these low performing people carry an internal illusion of superiority that leads them to assess their cognitive ability as greater than it actually is? In the field of psychology, this cognitive bias is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after two American social psychologists and university professors that co-authored a study in the late ’90s. They found that some people who are evidently bad at certain tasks mistakenly overestimate how good they are. Their lack of self-awareness is such that they simply cannot accurately evaluate their level of competence (or incompetence for that matter).
Before I continue, if you are currently dealing with impostor syndrome and are already panicking, thinking perhaps you are experiencing the Dunning-Kruger effect, please snap out it! As I said, you have to have substantial and concrete evidence that you are consistently underperforming in a given task or tasks AND despite these facts, you are convinced that you are performing above par. The delusion has to be evident.
What if you are managing someone that is showing clear signs of the Dunning-Kruger effect? What can you do to correct the situation? The following tips might come in handy:
1.-Review your recruitment strategy.-Before you get into this pickle, make sure you that there is a clear and undisputed match between the candidate’s strengths and the job in hand. Be extremely rigorous and selective in every stage of the process.
2.-Feedback, feedback, feedback.-Don’t wait until a performance review to inform the other person of their sustained underperformance. It’s not fair to the individual and it is harmful to the company. If you notice sustained incompetence early on, switch them to a different project or department were the person’s strengths will be fully utilised.
3.-Use objective indicators.-The person’s inability to assess their level of competence doesn’t block their basic mathematical capability. Numbers (hit a specific target) and dates (perform a task by a specific date) tell the story loud and clear, so use hard, quantitative metrics to measure performance.
4.-Be compassionately direct.-Feedback will be best received if it is timely, clear and caring. If the person on the receiving end of the conversation feels that you genuinely care for their development, the probability that you will get the desired outcome will significantly increase.
An event horizon is a notional boundary around a black hole beyond which nothing can escape, not even light. The gravitational force is so strong that the escape speed exceeds the speed of light. It’s the infamous point of no return. Once inside the black hole, you will reach something called a singularity, which is the place where all the matter in a black hole gets crushed into.
Email inboxes resemble black holes; usually, when you are replying to your 3rd email, you have crossed the event horizon. The gravitational pull of your inbox is so powerful that you inadvertently isolate yourself from anything else. Once inside, rather than getting crushed into tiny bits of matter, you have basically given sizeable chunks of energy and time to other people’s priorities and agendas.
I’ve always felt that the phrase “urgent email” is an oxymoron – there is not such a thing. If I’m going to be late to collect my son from school, I’m not going to send an email – I’ll call the school. If I lock myself out my car, I don’t send an email to my road assistance company – I’ll call them. So if someone sends me an email and then calls me (or texts me) to let me know that the matter is urgent/important, then I will give the email the desired attention.
I’m not trying by any means to downplay the importance of email. Although I have drastically replaced email with other systems of communication (video-calls, text messaging, content sharing applications, etc.), I still believe that email is a critical communication platform. That being said, we should not let that useful tool deplete our energy and govern our time like it generally does.
Using email wisely can single-handedly increase your productivity levels, safeguard your energy and improve your mood noticeably. You will feel less overwhelmed and more in control, allowing you to focus on your priorities and the things that matter most to you.
Schedule time for email review. Don’t just jump into your inbox every 10 minutes. That is such a productivity killer. Allocate time slots in your diary dedicated to email and stick to the assigned time.
Don’t reply to ALL emails. Some people feel the need to reply to most emails, even when they are put in cc. You don’t have to. I have some coaching clients that get north of 150 emails every day, so it takes them a great deal of mindful thinking as to where they will invest their energy.
Be mindful of email recipients. The best and worse email function is “Reply all”. It is 2019, and I can’t believe how mindless some people are when they click the “reply all” to an email which 99% of the recipients don’t need to receive in the first place. Be mindful as to whom you address your emails to and email karma will be good to you.
Use filters. Nowadays, email clients have gotten really smart. You can filter emails that are sent to you only, forward newsletters directly to a folder without even reaching your inbox, etc. Spend time understanding the mechanics of filters, and you will be amazed at how combinations of filters can help you manage your inbox wisely.
How comfortable are you with disagreeing with someone? Would you rather avoid conflicting situations altogether? If you are the type of person that shuns away from quarrels and disputes but at the same time is actively seeking for the next creative breakthrough or profound insights, then you should perhaps reframe your perception of conflict.
Conflict is defined as a “disagreement or argument, incompatibility between two or more opinions, a state of mind in which a person experiences a clash of opposing feelings or needs.” (for now, lets aside belligerent conflict). It is human nature to seek rewards and avoid threats, so it is no surprise that people that see conflict as a threat will be inclined to refrain from participating in conflicting situations or not take part of them in the first place.
Conflict, if managed and conducted civilly and professionally, can bring the best out of people, allowing exceptional ideas to see the light of day. Brad Bird, a highly coveted animator, director & producer best known for being the creative mastermind behind billion-dollar movie franchises like Toy Story, The Incredibles and Mission Impossible once stated: “The key is to view conflict as essential because that’s how we know the best ideas will be tested and survive. It is management’s job to figure out how to help others see conflict as healthy—as a route to balance, which benefits us all in the long run.”
At NASA, as you can imagine, there is little room and tolerance for errors. So when it comes to decision making, ideas are stress-tested to their fullest extent. When it comes to selecting the best ideas, some teams at NASA have been known for promoting healthy conflict. For example, if a team at NASA wants to arrive at the best solution possible, the team is divided into groups. Each group has then to come up with the best 5 ideas they can think of. Once each group has come up with their top 5 ideas, they need to debate as to which is the #1 idea.
Every team has then to present their #1 idea to the other groups and justify their decision with utmost certainty. As far as the overall decision-making process at NASA goes, the best part comes next. After each group gets a chance to present their top idea, all other groups are asked to give three compelling reasons as to why that “top idea” will drastically fail. In NASA’s 61 years of existence, this methodology has served them well.
Creating an environment to help people see conflict as healthy is an unending job, one the starts with us with seeing conflict as the path to heightened creativity and potentially exceptional outcomes.
1.-See civil and professional conflict as a tool to promote innovation and creativity. Reframe the concept of conflict not only for yourself but for your team members as well.
2.-Don’t take conflict personally. When ideas are challenged, some people feel threatened or personally attacked. Always remember that it is the idea (and not the person) that is being challenged.
3.-Promote healthy conflict. When promoting an environment that welcomes conflict as a creative strategy, always make sure that people participate within the confines of the rules of engagement. Even if you have experience operating in conflict-type environments, there is still room for recalibration.
4.-Be aware of the impact of conflict in people. Some people try to hide how uneasy they feel after a massive argument. Make sure to coach people to help them deal with conflicting emotions appropriately to avoid any discouragement from continuing debating ideas intensely.