Thinking in black & white

Most people I have connected with lately seem to think in black and white, whilst they engage in colourful culture. I am not sure how you view your world. This black and white thinking creates an internal tension which often leads to disappointment or judgement, both creating unhealthy outcomes. 

The black and white thinking approach is where we adopt an either / or way of thinking and believing. Weak or strong. Unlucky or fortunate. Blessed or cursed. Privileged or struggling. Beautiful or ugly. We have a view that we, and others we connect with, are one or the other. 

The reality is that the majority of the time it’s never either / or, it’s a bit of this mixed with a bit of that, it’s just wildly colorful. With the black and white thinking comes these sort of statements. “I never get a break”, “Things always work for them”, “They are always so lucky”, “Why does this always happen to me”. These statements are simply not true, but they form a set of beliefs that ultimately will not work for us. 

I believe we need to think more in colour and less black and white. This is about perspective. It’s about gratitude. It’s about letting go of comparing. It’s about seeing and thinking differently. The reality is, most of us walk through the good and the bad, experience the hard and the easy, discover both pain and joy, success and failure, beauty and affliction. 

Black and white thinking leads to either a disappointment in our own journey, experiences or current circumstances, or a judgment of others. Both of these responses will not empower you to succeed in relationships or in life, because black and white thinking makes assumptions, accusations and judgments that are just not true. Colourful thinking is open to options, different perspectives and gratitude. 

Think in colour friends, it’s a much fresher perspective. Brett 

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Beauty & Affliction

pierce-human-heart-beauty-affliction-quote-on-storemypic-15643There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.” Simone Wiel.  Beauty and affliction, and the meaning we give these two inevitable parts of our journey, will ultimately determine the quality of our life.

Beauty: those moments of delight, love and incredible joy. When we are captivated, held breathless, at peace and feel fully free. Laughter, fun, friendship, love and intimacy. We feel alive.

 Affliction: those moments of despair, grief, pain and suffering. When we are betrayed, hurt, let down, abused or walk through the valley of death. Tears, loneliness, shame, isolation and loss.

 Both beauty and affliction will be part of our journey in life. We will all walk through both, and they will impact our hearts and lives more than anything else. Beauty is easy to hold onto, affliction we try to avoid, but how we embrace and walk through affliction is most important of all. The meaning we give to our suffering and affliction is critical.

“Every epic tale that inspires us will usually follow the journey of a hero, their plight for greatness, their quest for restoration and their fight for freedom. This journey will almost always lead them through suffering, wounding and sacrifice. Often in this wounding the true hero is found, and the real adventure begins: The adventure of the soul.” (Richard Rohr, from Falling Upward)

I have learnt that hope, learning and new meaning could be found in the midst of suffering. One amazing example I can across was from a concentration camp survivor called Victor Frankyl who helped his fellow prisoners to find meaning in the midst of severe suffering. He realized that no matter the circumstance in life there is the ability to: find something to hope for, turn suffering into some type of accomplishment or learning, change oneself for the better and even take some responsible action. Suffering and pain are a real part of life, and for some of you reading this you may very well have experienced significant trauma, grief or pain. This thought does not minimize that pain, it gives hope in the midst of it.

There are many other stories similar to Victor’s that testify to the fact that there is always potential for new growth and understanding – even in the midst of heartache and trials.  Its stories like this and others that led to me believe that it’s never an event or experience in your life that is going to shape your future; it’s the meaning you give to that event that will ultimately create your outcomes and results.

But it’s not just big events that derail a person, it’s often the meaning we give small events that dictate and shape our actions. Ten people could all go through the same experience, let’s say they fail an important exam, and all of the ten people could give that experience a totally different meaning. One form of meaning might be: I am stupid, I am not good enough, I will never understand this, or I can’t do this. The other might go like this: I really didn’t study enough, need to put in more effort, this has shown me some areas I need to work on or I really need to get some help in this area. These meanings will determine the response and outcome of your experiences.

We are the ones who decide on the meaning; it’s totally our choice. I have had clients that have walked through the most traumatic experiences, but have experienced beautiful freedom by simply applying a new meaning to the same experience, and allowing that meaning to determine their results and outcomes. Seeing the beauty in brokenness, the strength in suffering, the growth in grief and the potential in pain. Perspective is critical. Sounds simple doesn’t it, and in many ways it is. We do choose the meaning we give to our experiences and what I have noticed is that the meaning we often give a hurtful or difficult experience, is negative and unresouceful. We tend to hold onto the negative emotion and make it about us, instead of the positive learning, and there are always both in almost every experience. This can take time, and of course it is easier to say than do sometimes, but it is really helpful to consider.

Trust this helps you in your journey. Brett

 

 

Overwhelmed?

Fto-do-list-390x259eeling overwhelmed is part of most people’s journey at times, with varying degrees of intensity. That sense of heaviness that can make us feel trapped, stuck or imprisoned by the demands, deadlines and circumstances of our life. It can literally stop us in our tracks, the weight so heavy that we feel as though we can’t move forward. For some it is a fleeting sensation that we move on from quickly, and for others it can create heightened levels of fear, anxiety, hopelessness and despair. It is different for us all, yet most have, and will experience feeling overwhelmed in our journey.

Most of our feelings of overwhelm are created when “what” needs to be done, outweighs the “why” we need to do it. When the what becomes bigger than the why, overwhelm sets in and begins to harass our thinking and feelings. We often forget to focus on or create a BIG why, and this is key to helping with overwhelm. I have found this really helpful when those feelings of overwhelm begin to creep in.

If I focus on everything I need to do; the what, the tasks, the processes, the conversations, the healing required and the steps, I lose sight of why I am doing these things in the first place and become overwhelmed by everything. If I can focus and develop the why, it gives me reason, motivation and inspiration to get the what done, because I am driven by the rewards and results of the why.

Why do I want to lose weight or finish that course or resolve that conflict or step out of my comfort zone? For what purpose, what will be the reward and result for me .. paint a very big why, with all the benefits, gains, wins, rewards and results. When we focus more on the why, the positive outcomes, our overwhelm begins to fade and become less significant because we know why we are doing all this work.

Make the why bigger, clearer and more important than the what or the how

Have a great day, Brett.

Disappointing Others

5.17.PastorsHandleDisappointment_194562135Disappointment is a significant issue that many people are facing. Letting people down. Hurting others. Disappointing people. These things can often leave us feeling like we are a disappointment. The reality is, we will all disappoint people in our journeys of life. When this becomes a fear, it will begin to dictate your life, your choices and even your behaviour.

1/ understand expectations: invalid expectations are one of the things that will produce high levels disappointment, frustration and anger. In fact, what I have found is that most expectations are invalid. This is because most expectations are not communicated, clarified, achievable or agreed upon. These are the four keys to valid expectations and are just as relevant to expectations we have of others as they are to expectations we have of ourselves.

2/ deal with perfectionism: we are often crippled by our idea and desire for perfectionism, which is a glorified versions of self-sabotage. Perfection is an unrealistic ideal that can stop you from enjoying life’s experiences. We often connect this with the joy sucking habit of comparing ourselves with others. Learning to be content with who you are and what you contribute to others is critical in your journey. Progress is more important that perfection.

3/ learn to say no: saying no often means we disappoint people, and we need to become comfortable with saying no. When we understand that saying no is actually really healthy, regardless of what other may think, it’s very freeing. The reason we struggle to say no is because we believe a no will mean people won’t like us, appreciate us or value us anymore. We don’t have to make excuses for our choices when they are aligned to who we are and the values we hold.

4/ it’s not about you: ultimately when people are disappointed in you, it’s often more about them than it is about you. It is a reflection of their insecurities, invalid expectations and uninformed deductions. Be confident in who you are the decisions and choices you make, and realize that you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.

Disappointing people is certainly part of life, and when the fear of this controls your choices, you are choosing to live in effect of what others think, instead of living at cause and creating the outcomes you desire. The fear of disappointing others is real, but it doesn’t need to be controlling your life. Let yourself be free from it by facing it head on, and loving who you are and the choices you make.

Cheers, Brett

Graciously Confident

IMG_1413Confidence is a popular buzz word at the moment and I love helping people grow and develop greater confidence in who they are. Internal confidence is the most critical, because it impacts all of our external pieces as well. Living confident in who we are does require some courage, as we have to become aware of our mindset, behaviour and blindspots, which is always a little confronting. Yet, through awareness and internal shifts, we will develop a greater level of inner grunt, the confidence factor.

One of the things I have noticed with people is that confidence comes in two varieties, one is genuine internal confidence and the other is more of a forced external confidence. The latter is interesting because it will usually manifest in what I would call “confidentially arrogant”. This platform of confidence is driven by the need to be right, the need to win, the need to prove our selves or the need to stay safe. Ultimately people with a forced confidence will be arrogant, controlling and significance getters.

Developing a healthy internal confidence, or as I like to describe it, “graciously confident”, is characterized by gratitude, humility and service. It is not timid, weak or passive, it is bold, strong and assertive, it’s simply gracious in all of that. Graciously confident is kind, inviting, accepting and empowering, desiring to serve and give significance to others in the process.

So as we are building, developing and growing in confidence, let’s ensure we are growing internally, and therefore adding value to ourselves by giving value to those around us. Graciously confident: Bold, strong and assertive, with compassion, gratitude and kindness.

Be confident. Be you. Be gracious.

Brett

Leading with Rapport & Respect

_MG_1472A leader needs both “Rapport and Respect” to build great culture, team spirit and effective development for their team. Some leaders naturally build rapport, being well liked by their team, because they are fun, a friend and just one of the gang. Without also building respect, issues of alignment, commitment and unspoken expectations can create a frustrating environment, impacting on results, culture and development in negative ways.

Some leaders naturally cultivate respect, making it clear who is in charge, what’s expected and the cost of stepping out of line. Without also building rapport they can demand, command and rebuke, punishing people for not aligning to the rules and expectations of the leader. This creates fear and intimidation, and will harm and impact culture, spirit and team development in negative ways.

 Tips for Building Rapport: 

1/ be genuinely interested in the life and well-being of your team. Get to know them, what they like, and what’s going on for them outside of work. When you see them, you can then ask personal questions, which highlights your intentional care for them. E.g. “Hey Matty, how did you go with that special event last week?”

2/ invite them into the conversation. Ask for their input and listen intently.  Create moments where you allow input from the whole team together. What are they feeing, thinking and seeing? They want to contribute and they need to know that you value their input, and point of view. Always thank them for their thoughts or ideas, and always communicate back to them later about your decisions.

3/ give the team some one on one time. I use to do this regularly when I was a soccer coach before a game and at training, walking with a player one on one, giving them some encouragement, or instructions about what I see them doing in the game or what I need from them today, or simply just saying thanks for giving 100% effort. It’s the same for any team, and as the leader, one on one time is highly valued by the team.

Tips for Building Respect: 

1/ set clear expectations – when expectations are not communicated, clarified and agreed upon, it leaves everyone frustrated, disappointed and even angry. Communicate what you expect at every level, and never assume, “they should just know”. Lead them. When your expectations of them, and visa versa, are communicated, clarified and aged upon it creates great culture of peer accountability. You’ll find the people stepping up, and holding each other accountable as well.

2/ develop team values and define success – define what is important to the team; what are the non-negotiable values you want to hold onto and what does success mean to the team. Success is always more than results. Create some agreed objectives, values and goals to work on together. As the leader you now have a great framework to build culture and commitment.

3/ praise publicly, criticize privately – nothing will dampen the heart and spirit of a person more than pubic negative and harsh criticism. It’s totally ok for a leader to give feedback or correct and critique a team member, that’s part of the role of leadership and development, but there is a way to do it that empowers and motivates.

Brett – founder Be Leadership

Dealing with Distractions

brettw7We engage in a lot of activities, and not all of them are ultimately good for us, or serve our goals and desired outcomes. Creating awareness around the things we engage in for safety, comfort and distraction is great step towards enjoying greater freedom and living the life we truly desire to live. These habits, practices and behaviors are not necessarily always bad, unless they are stopping us from being who we want to be and create the outcomes we truly want.

Comfort distractions are the things we do, telling ourselves they are good for us, when in fact they drain and entangle us. They feel good in the moment, but leave us feeling empty and withdrawn, and can often lead to a sense of shame. They give us something in the moment, usually comfort or safety. It isn’t so much what it is, it’s the why behind the what that is critical. It could be any self indulgence from eating, drinking, watching TV, excessive social media or even exercise. What is critical is asking, “why am I engaging in this when it’s not serving my well-being or my goals”. We are usually trying to mask, medicate or ignore emotions that we need to deal with and work through. Often the result of engaging in a comfort illusion, is more guilt, shame and disappointment in ourselves. Creating awareness around this is not always easy, but always beautifully empowering.

Time distractions are activities we engage in that provide a diversion from things we need to be doing. Again it’s not what I am doing but the why am I doing it that’s important to create awareness around. Generally it’s an avoidance strategy, when we don’t want to do something we know deep down we need to do. It could be because we feel overwhelmed, or that it’s boring, or that it’s unfamiliar to us, so we engage in something that’s distracts us. In doing so we ignore the very things we need to do to achieve our goals and desired outcomes in life. We can get very busy doing tasks and activities that are not serving us and helping us achieve our goals.

The journey is this: to get the results and rewards we desire in life, means we need to engage in activity that at first may not feel good, even though it is good for us and good for others. Time and comfort distractiions can feel good, but are not good for us and not good for others. Ultimately, when we are disciplined to walk in the activities that don’t feel good, after time they are not only good for us and are good for others, they begin to feel good too. This requires a sense of commitment and determination, but when we don’t create awareness and therefore change unhealthy behaviours, it can lead to a life that doesn’t feel good and isn’t good for us, and none of us want that.

So what are your comfort and time distractions? What provokes or activates you to engage in these unproductive activities? What are some resourceful ways you can behave, respond and take action on these moments that will serve you better?

Have a great day friends. Brett

Adapted from the concept of “shadow comforts and time monsters” by Jennifer Louden

Dare to Be

DTB2Introducing DARE TO BE. Courageously being you. Understand your behaviour, nature and stage of life.

Develop the courage and confidence to be YOU. Embrace, love and live out of who YOU are.

Tuesday 9th May 7.30pm. Kingsway Cafe.

BOOKINGS: brett.shift@gmail.com

the Contentment Delusion

contentSo many of the clients I work with have a desire to be content with life, yet struggle to experience it at any significant level. To live a content life would be amazing wouldn’t it? To not feel anxious about tomorrow, to feel satisfied and at peace with today and to be free from any guilt or shame from yesterday. Sounds brilliant.

To be content would be comforting, tranquil, peaceful, satisfying, fulfilling, delightful and empowering. So why is living a content life so elusive for so many people? The dictionary says that contentment is “a state of happiness and satisfaction.”

The first idea that’s critical to understand is that many people confuse contentment with settling for mediocre or less. Being content is not about settling for where you are at in life, with what you have in life or with who you currently are. It’s not resigning from effort, change, growth, development and transformation. It’s not settling for good, when you can experience great. It’s not giving up on your hopes, it’s not staying in your comfort zone and it’s certainly not an idealistic fantasy of living with no regrets, ambitions, desires and dreams. In fact I believe that true contentment is a powerful motivator for excellence, achievement, development and success.

The second idea that’s critical to grasp is that contentment is actually possible, but it does require us to go against the flow of our cultural rapids. To be content would mean you are not as influenced by the media and society onslaught on all our senses of comparison, acquisition, perfection and winning. Contentment needs to be framed around the ideas of gratefulness, learning, generosity and progress. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, practice gratitude. Instead of being driven by the need to acquire, practice generosity. Instead of being beaten up by the need to win, practice learning. Instead of striving for perfection, practice progress.

You will never experience true contentment unless you become grateful for your journey, for what you already have and for who you are. Stop comparing and start declaring your gratitude. Affirm the value of generosity, learning and progress by living it out every day. You want more joy, more fun, more peace, more freedom and more success, then live a grateful and generous life, acknowledging and valuing your learning and progress.

Stand against a culture that is robbing you of experiencing contentment. Have a brilliant week, Brett.

http://www.beleadership.net

the FOMO epidemic

raMag6-fomoHeader (1)_0The Fear Of Missing Out is an increasing fear for people in our social media driven culture. You may or may not have heard of FOMO but I’m sure you’ve experienced it, at some level. It is primarily driven by three thoughts: “I made a bad decision or choice”, “they’re having fun without me” or “I wasn’t invited or included”.

These thoughts are common, and are increasingly producing feelings of missing out, not being good enough, loneliness and insecurity. It can lead to heightened levels of anxiety, low self-esteem, disappointment and isolation. It leads us into unhealthy questions like, “why me”, “what if”, “why not” and “if only”. We can start double guessing our decisions, our connections and ultimately our life choices. It can become demoralising, debilitating and depressing. So what can we do?

There are four primary needs that we all have that I believe FOMO connects to: the need for connection (being loved and accepted by others), the need for significance (being good enough and appreciated), the need for variety (new adventures and challenge) and the need for certainty (particularly in this case around making healthy good decisions). When these needs are challenged and we don’t have the resources or healthy thinking skills to work them through, it can create FOMO that then leads to feelings of despair, disappointment and even sadness. One of the challenges is that FOMO can produce the result we are fearing in the first place, (missing out) because we end up really missing out on experiencing the moment we are in.

One of the keys in addressing FOMO is to back yourself, trust your choices, build your confidence and look for healthy and resourceful ways to meet the four needs. 

Three things I believe can help us with the FOMO experience:

1/ Don’t focus on what you don’t have, or what you are missing out on, or what you aren’t experiencing, focus on the moment you are in. Choose to enjoy it, appreciate it and value it. You can’t do everything or be everywhere, and valuing the moment you’re in is really important. Even if your home alone, enjoying some quiet, restful alone time, while you think everyone else is out “having fun”, recognise the value of your moment. Acknowledge the good, the beneficial and the value of being where you are, with the people your with (even if it’s just yourself) and your own journey you are on.

2/ Practice gratitude in every way and every moment. Similar to the above, this is about finding the things you can be grateful for in every situation. If we can’t be grateful, then we can’t be content, and contentment is key to overcoming the FOMO. There are always things to be grateful for, always. For example: Be grateful for the extra sleep you will get by not going out because that will give you the energy and rest you need to do other things the next day. Be grateful for money you will save by not going out because that will give you the resources to do something else that will be even more meaningful and important to your journey.

3/ Let go of comparison. Mark Twain said that “comparison is the death of joy.” Research has found that comparing breeds feelings of envy, low self-confidence, and depression, as well as compromises our ability to trust others. The thing with comparison is that we mostly compare our behind-the-scenes struggles and negatives with everyone else’s highlight reel. We compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths. Part of what makes life brilliant and interesting is learning from others, not comparing ourselves to them. Then we can focus on being the very best version of ourselves we can be, which is the greatest gift we can give to our world. Using someone else as a benchmark for your own worth and value is an ineffective and dis-empowering strategy for life in every way. Yes, be inspired by others and learn from them but remember who you are, and who you are becoming.