self-awareness

When your beliefs hold you back, reshape them to elevate efficiency

An age old adage teaches us that “there is no such thing as reality, only perception”. In other words, our thoughts and beliefs shape our experience of the external world and colour our reaction to a myriad of events and situations. For this reason, thoughts and emotions hold a great deal of power. It is up to us to harness this power for positive results in our personal and professional lives.

Firstly, it is important to recognize the way in which our thoughts and beliefs influence one another and affect our behaviour. For example, a thought, when repeated, often becomes a belief that our mind processes as an indisputable fact rather than a construction.

If one were to have thoughts such as “I am not creative”; “My ideas are not original” and “My colleagues are superior to me”, then one would be likely to believe “Other people have better ideas that I do”. When thoughts become beliefs, it is often difficult for the mind to shake them off and recognize that they are not absolute truths.

That being said, it is important to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic beliefs. If the thoughts “I am not creative”, “My ideas are not original” and the like are the results of conversations you’ve had with your manager or colleagues, it is best to collaborate with them in order to correct the issues you are experiencing in your professional life so that you may become a more productive employee.

If, however, your beliefs are not based in reality and exist solely within your mind, it is important to firstly recognize that these beliefs are unrealistic and secondly, identify the ways in which your unrealistic beliefs are hindering both your work and the productivity of your team as a whole.

If your unrealistic belief is that “other people have better ideas than I do”, then this belief is likely to influence your behaviour. For example, if you believed that “other people have better ideas than I do”, then you may be tempted to remain silent during virtual meeting, preferring to avoid the embarrassment of presenting a “bad” idea.

Further, if you really believe that you are constantly cooking up bad ideas, then you won’t be motivated to put the effort into thinking up good ones. Thus, your negative belief becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and will most likely impact your work and the rest of the team negatively.

If you don’t speak up during a virtual meeting, you are not likely to feel engaged with the team, leading to a decrease in enthusiasm for your job. Likewise, the rest of the team will not feel very engaged with a silent team member and may begin distancing themselves from that individual; perhaps not responding to emails in a timely manner or failing to put any effort into strengthening their relationship with that individual. Furthermore, a virtual manager will begin to wonder whether an excessively quiet team member is losing interest in their work or simply not keeping up to speed with their tasks due to the fact they have little to share at meetings.

Hopefully, by now, it has become apparent that our beliefs have the ability to influence our behaviour to a significant extent. When our beliefs are negative, they are referred to as limiting beliefs, and the above scenario demonstrates the reason for this label; when we allow negative thoughts to invade our minds, we are limited in terms of the contributions we make to personal and professional lives.

Another limiting belief is: “I have so much work to do. The task at hand is so large, that I will never be able to finish it”. This limiting belief will quickly diminish your motivation and increase your stress levels, both of which will lead to a decrease in productivity. Once again, the limiting belief will become a self fulfilling prophecy; because you believe that you cannot complete your work on time, you probably won’t. So, the question remains, how do we conquer limiting beliefs to become happier and more productive in our personal and professional lives?

We must:

1) Develop self awareness: It is important to set aside some quiet time to consciously examine your thoughts and beliefs. You must ask yourself: “Do my thoughts tend to be negative? Do I place an inordinate amount of blame on myself for things that don’t go according to plan?” “Do I put myself down while building others up”? The answers to these questions will give you great insight into your thought patterns.

Better yet, when a negative, disturbing thought pops into your head, ask yourself whether you are thinking realistically or buying into a limiting belief.

2) Consciously acknowledge your limiting beliefs: Tell yourself that a particular belief is limiting, but do not blame yourself for having that belief. Instead, let it pass through your mind.  Remind yourself that you have strategies for dealing with this potentially destructive belief.

3) Transform your limiting belief into something more realistic and positive.

For example, “Other people usually have better ideas that I do, so I’ll just say quiet” becomes: “Sometimes, other people have better ideas that I do. When this is the case, I will actively listen to their idea and identify what makes it good. I will do this by taking notes. I will transform their good idea into a learning experience. When someone has a better idea that me at work, I benefit because I am able to recognize this fact.  This shows me that I am learning and growing professionally. Often, I have good ideas, otherwise, I would not have been hired in the first place.”

“When I have an idea, I will share it. I will have faith in myself. Even if I think my idea is good but others disagree, my team will appreciate the fact I shared my thoughts. My manager will admire the effort I am putting forth. My team will provide me with feedback that will make my idea better”.

In the end, it is very important to recognize that our experience of reality is shaped by our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs, and that we are in control of our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. We must recognize and acknowledge the negative and unrealistic beliefs that creep into our minds because they have the potential to negatively impact us on a personal and professional level. When we transform our limiting beliefs into positive, realistic beliefs, we become happier workers and this will impact our personal productivity and our relationship with our team as a whole.

By : Amir Ahmed /April 23, 2014 /Blog /0 Comment Read More

How to be Authentic in the Virtual Workplace by Building Self Awareness

The most common advice you’ve received from your childhood onward is probably to “be yourself”. This enduring instruction portrays authenticity as the key to successful social interactions, meaningful relationships, and a generally happy life. It may sound like the most natural thing in the world to do; however, it can actually be fairly difficult to become attuned to who we really are as unique individuals. Our personal and professional commitments, plus, the countless voices, images, and opinions that we see and hear every day through by mass media can prevent us from taking a moment to discover our authentic selves. However, authenticity is especially important in the workplace. Acting as our authentic selves enables our team members to perceive us as trustworthy and will ultimately lead to an increase in a team’s productivity as a whole.

Authenticity is defined is being aware of one’s core values and acting in alignment to those values. Now that we understand the meaning and importance of authenticity, especially in the workplace, the question remains: how do we discover our authentic selves? First off, the foundation of authenticity is self awareness. We become self aware when we accept every part of ourselves; our strengths, skills, and positive attributes, along with the areas of our lives we feel could use improvement. Self-awareness can be most effectively achieved when we take a moment, or a few, for ourselves.

It can be difficult to find the appropriate time to self reflect when we are the midst of contributing to business on a daily basis. It can be easy to become caught in the motions at work; you might be unconsciously performing a particular task in the same way, possibly due to the force of habit or because the pace of your business compels you to be efficient. However, it is worthwhile to create an opportunity for yourself to pause and objectively observe your work in pursuit of self awareness or the knowledge of how you can do more than just “be” in our business but strategize to take it to the next level. How does one create this opportunity?

Firstly, unplug yourself, literally, from your surroundings. Turn off your phone and set your Communicator to “Busy” or “Do Not Disturb”. Remove yourself from distractions so that you are fully able to concentrate on yourself. If you are having difficulty disengaging from the outside world: try this: close your eyes and listen to the sound of your breathing. Pay close attention to each breath. This should help you become fully present in the moment so that you are able to begin the process of self reflection. We have a series of questions that will guide you through your self reflection, which can also be considered a self evaluation.

Once you are removed from all distractions and your mind is clear, take a mental inventory of your strengths, skills, and attributes, or write them down, if this is more your style. For example, you may say “I am an attentive listener “I am well organized and always meet my deadlines; or “I am trustworthy”. If you have trouble listing your positive traits, imagine yourself as your best friend or a respected colleague, and compose the list from their point of view.

Next, reflect on the areas of your life that could stand to be improved. For example, in a virtual environment, it is very important to be a good listener, due to the fact the visual cues are often unavailable in the virtual workplace. If, as a virtual worker, you feel your listening skills could be improved, create an action plan for how you will improve them. Your action plan might go something like this: “The next time I am in a virtual meeting, I will not judge the words of my colleagues. I will pay close attention to their tone, choice of words, rhythm of speech, and the pauses in their speech. If I am unclear about what is being said, I will ask questions. Listening goes beyond hearing what someone is saying; I must discover what is underneath what they are saying in order to become an empathetic listener. I must ask myself: what is the core of their message? Lastly, if I have an issue with something someone has said or have sensed something in their speech, I will take it up with them privately after the meeting”.

In addition to being empathetic listeners, effective virtual workers need to have a certain comfort level with technology.  If you feel you could stand to be more technologically savvy, create an action plan for this area of your life as well. Say to yourself “I have a coworker who knows a lot about technology; I will ask them to coach me” or “I will take courses about computers at my community college”. Remember to be honest when evaluating yourself.

Lastly, self evaluations should also include a consideration of your values, principles, and beliefs, to give yourself a better idea of who you are at your core. Ask yourself: What do I value and why? (Examples include: honesty, integrity, reliability, compassion, and empathy, etc.) Then, ask yourself: how do I manifest my values, principles, and beliefs in my everyday life? Is there a way my behaviour can be more closely aligned with what I value? If my core values are honesty and reliability, how to I demonstrate to others that I am honest and reliable on a regular basis?

As mentioned above, authenticity is especially important in the workplace. If a virtual team member is not being their genuine or authentic self, other team members will pick up on this. As a result, the inauthentic team member will not be perceived as trustworthy. Team members may become reluctant to share pertinent information with an individual they don’t believe they can trust, will be less likely to be open about what’s going on and will probably communicate more frequently with a trustworthy team member instead. An inauthentic team member will potentially be kept out of the loop, and this situation will negatively affect the productivity of the entire team. For these reasons, it is important for each and every member of a virtual team to show up as their most authentic self.

Next week’s blog post will focus on the portion of self evaluation that can be difficult to come to terms with: the list of areas in our lives that we feel could stand to be improved. We will explain how to accept our so called “shadow selves” with the aim of becoming completely self aware.

By : Amir Ahmed /April 23, 2014 /Blog /0 Comment Read More
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