Embracing Simplicity in Our Life

Embracing Simplicity in Our Life

Do you sometimes feel like we live in a world where more equals better? More money, more clothes, more gadgets, more productivity, more growth, … It seems like a big part of our life is in fast-forward modus. We find ourselves entangled in the web of constant notifications, hectic schedules, and the pressure to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of life. We are all very busy and many people perceive being busy as being successful. But is that true? Personally, the older I get the more I feel a need to slow down and embrace simplicity. And I think I am not alone. I can see that more and more people see the art of slowing down as a necessity, not just a luxury. Research shows that if you go too fast, you overload your cognitive abilities, and they degrade. One of the leading experts on this topic, G. Claxton, analysed what happens to a person’s focus if they engage in deliberately slow practices like yoga and mindfulness. He is very clear in this: slowness nurtures attention, speed shatters it. So, how can we create simplicity in our lives and savour the beauty of a slower, more deliberate existence? These are things that work for me: 1. Disconnect to reconnect. In a world dominated by smartphones and social media, taking a break from screens can be incredibly rejuvenating. I discovered the Focus button on my phone, and it is very helpful to designate specific times during the day and especially in the evening to disconnect from my device. Instead, I choose to read a book, take a walk,...
How to Hold Space -to be Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally Present

How to Hold Space -to be Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally Present

Life is never a straight line. There is no one perfect recipe to create a perfectly happy life. Sometimes everything is great, and we are in a flow, enjoying everything we do and sometimes we feel like we are standing still and maybe even going backwards. Life is a journey, with ups and downs, but always with opportunities. It is clear that recent events have had a huge effect in many ways, also in the workplace. I hear employees saying they feel exhausted, disconnected, or disengaged. I hear leaders saying their challenges have amplified. This new way of working is not so easy and there is no manual that teaches us how to deal with this fast-changing working environment. Or how to create the mental space to think and create, on top of getting the normal work done.   How can we address this? One way to do this is ‘holding space’, a concept widely used in psychology that has also become a leadership practice fostering innovative practices and a more inclusive work environment.   Holding space We can define holding space as being physically, mentally, and emotionally present so that someone else can find the way to growth or the solution to a problem. It is an approach to create time and validation without judgment. It is about listening, staying present, and making it known that the other person is safe to feel and share their feelings. It is about being supportive without stepping in. Holding space at work is creating a workplace culture that promotes listening over talking and that values respect over dominance. It is a...
When Unexpected Things Happen

When Unexpected Things Happen

Due to circumstances, and the unexpected things that have happened, I am forced to now follow the advice I usually give my clients! As the year draws to an end, this is usually a good time to reflect on everything that happened and look forward to what the future might bring us.  A good moment to stop, pause and reflect (mentioned in my previous blog) because taking a time out can sharpen our brain and make us more alert and efficient.   Forced to slow down Things can change fast. One moment I was just walking around, and the next I was unable to walk. All because of one single, small accident, I tripped my foot on an uneven tile and twisted it. Result: one broken foot that is now in plaster resulting in me being pretty immobile. I had and have no choice but to slow down. I also had to build new routines and shift my priorities. It feels a bit like the first lockdown again, I cannot leave my house, I cannot go anywhere, I am confined in my own little space. I am grounded. Unfortunately, this time the weather is not so nice, winter is coming and instead of seeing my garden blossom, like  in lockdown number one, I now see it slowing down and becoming quiet, with autumn colours fading away and leaves disappearing with the wind. The air has become dense, some days are misty from morning till evening, and others are cold and bright, showing a wonderful blue sky and pleasant sunshine (I definitely prefer the latter).   Gratitude Despite the huge...
Stop, Pause and Reflect

Stop, Pause and Reflect

When I give webinars or training on topics about wellbeing, communication or leadership I often share my mantra of “stop-pause-reflect.” Usually, the people in my audience all have a very busy schedule and they feel as if they are putting out fires all day long. Numerous calls, too many meetings, too many emails. They feel overwhelmed. And I have to admit, sometimes I do too. I have learned that pausing to reflect is not a privilege but a must. Consciously taking a moment to stop, take stock and reflect on what is happening can be quite illuminating. We can then see more clearly what is really important, what drives us and what keeps us busy. It can help us to make better choices to stay on course in the right direction. Taking time to reflect creates greater self-awareness and helps us to separate our own perception from a situation as an objective observer. It allows us to notice our thoughts and feelings and become aware of our internal stories. We can then shift from reacting blindly to responding thoughtfully.   It is not so easy Reflection is important and valuable, but it turns out it is not so easy. First of all, we have to make time for it.  We really have to schedule time for this in our calendar, otherwise, it is not going to happen and we will be consumed by the everyday tasks as usual. We might forget that time is our most valuable asset in life, we cannot get it back once it is spent. We should choose wisely how we spend it. Do we...
Feedback and its bad reputation

Feedback and its bad reputation

Being able to give and receive feedback is considered to be one of the skills every good leader should possess. It is important because it promotes the professional growth and skills of employees, and it can create a greater sense of job satisfaction in the workplace. Most leaders do give feedback (not so sure if they receive it too), however, research shows that, if we look at constructive feedback, only 1 in 13 times employees respond positively. The question arises whether promoting a feedback culture is beneficial?   Why is it so challenging to give feedback? There could be many reasons why we avoid giving feedback, such as: “I don’t have time – I don’t know how – I don’t feel comfortable doing this – I don’t want to damage the relationship – I don’t know how to react when someone gets emotional”. To get over these barriers we could use a feedback model, which will help us to structure the conversation and ensure we are specific and stay objective and factual. For example, the SBI model (Situation, Behavior, Impact), the CARE model (Context, Action, Reaction, Evaluation) or the COIN model (Context, Observation, Impact, Next step). All of these models focus on the actual situation and then move towards how it impacts us and what could be a good first step in the right direction. If you google them, you will find lots of information on how to use them.   Don’t eat the sandwich I would recommend not to use the widespread, yet harmful ‘sandwich model’. In this approach the manager says something positive, then addresses the skill...
Why Positive Energy at Work Matters.

Why Positive Energy at Work Matters.

Have you ever worked with a negative person, a chronic complainer who always points out why things are not going to work, often called a naysayer? And have you felt how this affects your mood and drains the energy in you and your team? You have probably come across the opposite type of person. Someone who brings positivity into a room, who has the ability to cheer you up when you are down, who makes you feel better about yourself. These are what we call positive energizers, they have the capacity to spread positivity. And by positivity, we don’t mean the happy flappy superficial thing, but the genuine open-minded approach based on the science of positive psychology.   The natural attraction of positive energy When we look at nature, we see a natural tendency towards light or positive energy.  The most well-known source of energy is the sun. The sun gives life to all species, including human beings. Every living system has a tendency toward the light (life-giving) and away from darkness (danger). This is called the ‘heliotropic effect’ Think about it, if you have a choice would you rather spend time with a positive or a negative person? Energy can have different forms. Some energies, when used, will diminish in strength. For example, when you do a sports activity, you will become physically exhausted.  The same goes for mental or emotional energy. When we use it, we get tired and sometimes even worn out. But when we use our relational energy and interact with positive people this energy grows. We don’t get exhausted from being with people we...