The psychology of positive thinking

If you have ever applied for a job, you couldn’t avoid spotting positive thinking or positive mindset in the list of requirements. We all accept that having a positive outlook on life helps when it comes to facing everyday challenges even though we might not know precisely how positive thinking works.

Read moreThe psychology of positive thinking

The power of now and how you can harness it

I am no Yoda or a Jedi Master for that matter, but when it comes to being in the now, I definitely am more than just a padawan. Being in the now is not easy, I have been practising it and developing my skills in that field for many years and still learn about myself.

What is so special about being in the now? Why the fuss?

If you catch yourself dipping in your perceived past failures or getting lost in the ‘what if this or that happens tomorrow’ labyrinth, you have already lost your connection to the present; you stopped being in the now. It may just be a matter of seconds, and your mind starts drifting toward the sea of what was or what could be.  From that point on, you don’t think about solutions anymore; you stop being creative. Instead, you create illusions for yourself and make yourself believe those illusions are real.

Being creative and being able to see clearly what resources you have available is essential for managing your life and making sure you stand victorious in the face of adversities. You will face challenges, we all do.

Being in the now means that you are free from illusions, it means that you see life for what it is and live it when it happens. You don’t miss opportunities and don’t run from the difficulties either. The latter may not sound so good, I know.

So, how can one accomplish being in the now? I have a couple of tips for you.

First, breathe

Yep, you heard me well. Whenever you feel anxious about tomorrow, breathe in and breathe out, slowly.

Be conscious of your thoughts

They can act like funny little elves and cause trouble in your mind in no time. Be aware that you are not your thoughts, be mindful that you have power over your thoughts and you and only you can teach them how to behave.

Spend less time judging

It may sound a bit harsh, and you may think you are not judgmental, I am not saying you are. I mean that we all spend a significant amount of time setting expectations. We want things around us to happen in specific ways. We visualise things happening in particular ways. While I do believe in the power of visualisation, expectations make things harder.

Stop overthinking your performance

Don’t stop adding or creating value and don’t stop being demanding when it comes to the quality of your work. However, stop freaking out about your performance and how others see your performance or how certain things look.

Walk with your eyes open.

Have you ever had a walk in the park and had no idea whether the leaves on the trees were green or amber? I bet you were so deep in your own thoughts that you forgot to enjoy the nature around you. The very nature which could have instantly lift you up.

Being in the now also means that you dedicate time to connect with your surroundings. I love taking long walks in London. I love the buildings, the architecture and the people.

If something is bothering you, accept it.

Not the thing that bothers you. Accept that it exists. Accept that it found its way to your mind and started to dance around in there like your mind was its very own ballroom.

Once you acknowledge the existence of a problem that bothers you, you give yourself a chance to think about solutions and bang; you are in creative mode again.

 

More importantly, enjoy every single day because you only live once. Well according to some theories.

How do women do business?

Women in business. Interesting topic, isn’t it? I love it.

Some believe business is the domain of men and even though the number of women in various areas of business has increased over the last decade, there is still room for improvement.

I have built three companies so far and can confidently say all the businesses had a woman’s touch.

What is a woman’s touch exactly?

I have recently heard an interview with a property mogul, who explained that in his opinion women go deeper into the details to understand the whole process and the steps in it.

Based on my experience, I can certainly confirm that.

For better or worse, I like to understand what is happening in the process. I say for better or worse because going too deep takes precious time and I had to learn to be satisfied with the interpretation of critical metrics in my businesses. It was a learning curve for me to understand that my efforts to become knowledgeable about every teeny-tiny step in a process was merely my way of handling uncertainties and insecurities. I thought knowing all about it would make me more confident. It helped some, for sure, but it didn’t make the difference you would believe.

What made the real difference was to select excellent people and work with great suppliers. The ones who know their job and do their job.

I also understood from the interview that this property mogul thought women put more emotions and passion in business. Comments similar to that haunted me for years.

Male executives dominate the side of my business where we deal with business transformations; and I heard such comments, not once.

The problem wasn’t the comment itself but how I interpreted it. Whatever those men meant to say when they made such a comment, I believed it had a negative meaning. I bet, I wasn’t the only one.

Today, I can proudly say, that damn right I put more emotion and passion in it. Just differently. Business; small business or large multinational businesses are built on passion; the passion of the founder and the passion and dedication of the people in that business. How else would you deliver something better every single day?

Being passionate is a good thing, as long as it drives forward the business. I believe the problems start when fear creeps in, lack of self-confidence creeps in, question marks queue in your mind every single day, and doubts build up. I make no mistake, it happens, you cannot avoid it from happening.

Putting more emotion in the business is not wrong, it is just different. Women and men are different and therefore they do business differently. I didn’t do research on how women do business, but I know how I do it. I put compassion in it, and I am well aware of that. I know that my thoughts drive my emotions and see the difference between an opinion formulated based on feeling and a hard fact. So this is precisely why I think it is fantastic that women build businesses differently than men do.

The world is changing. Technology cuts through the fabric of business and society; people want to be connected more than ever, the level of self-awareness is increasing, people stay with companies who demonstrate social responsibility. We get closer to the balance of heart and mind every single day. Women doing business is a part of this evolution. I am fortunate to be a part of this evolution.

How do people drag you down?

People in your environment can drag you down in many ways. You may remember your mom telling you that your friend was trouble and you should have known better than hanging out with him or her.
Truth to be told, being with friends who always look for and find trouble is not the only way to be dragged down.

Your energy level changes frequently throughout the day. Depending on what you do and who you are talking to, you may feel great and inspired at the end of the day, or you may feel tired by the end of a meeting. I am sure you know what I am talking about. Who didn’t hear about energy vampires? But I don’t want to talk about energy vampires today.

I’d instead talk about people, even in your immediate environment, who you wouldn’t consider as energy vampires. People who merely by telling their opinion or giving you feedback can set your mood and negatively influence your self-confidence. It sounds scary, doesn’t it?

It is somewhat troubling. We have power over each other. Of course, others will have control over you only in case you let them have it.

You may have a friend, who you have known for ages, and you love, and suddenly things just don’t click the same way they did in the past.
Your friend probably hit a rough patch, and you may or may not know about it, but your friend’s negativity leaves its mark on your life, too.

  • When you have a success you can’t wait to share and meet your bitter friend who finds your success only temporary.
  • When you get a fantastic opportunity which your friend suddenly finds suspicious.

Unless you are very conscious about your friend’s situation and can remember how her or his balanced views helped you before or how different the negativity you experience from your friend is, you may find yourself trying to find out why that particular opportunity wouldn’t work for you or why was your success in fact a failure, without you recognising it.

You can also think about a colleague who shares a job with you and even though you both rely on each other’s efforts and work, this colleague doesn’t seem to care as much as you do. Your colleague, for whatever reason, doesn’t finish the report on time or forgets to send out an important email.
May not be much work to do anyway but if you have to do it instead of this colleague repeatedly, it becomes annoying. Or if you receive negative feedback as a consequence of your colleague’s mistake, it feels off-putting. Mainly because you now form a team and share the success and the responsibility, too.

So, what can you do?

Your plan of action will depend on why your colleague neglects his or her responsibilities.

Don’t be harsh; your colleague may struggle with problems in the family or illness. He or she may be stressed out because of other responsibilities or may already be overloaded with conflicting priorities. Think about the environment you both work in and make your first step accordingly.

Naturally, if you find that your colleague has all the opportunity to deliver on his or her promises, you may schedule a meeting where you can share your thoughts and views about the situation.

Many times, we don’t want to be the bad guys and let others get away with things that annoy us. That might work out for a while, but the time will come when you feel you had enough. Believe me, it is better to have that discussion before you reached the point of no return.

Ways how self-awareness helps your career progress

And why you are the best person to improve it

Some believe that self-awareness is the most important skill when it comes to building a successful professional career and others may tell you that self-awareness is somewhat superficial, and you need to have a solid education and professional skills to make it in the world of work.

Even though there is an increasing number of articles and sources that provide you with information about self-awareness, it still might be slightly challenging to grasp the true meaning of it.

Finding a definition is quite easy but to understand how self-awareness works and more importantly how it helps your career progress may be a challenge.

Why is it a challenge?

I believe it is because understanding any concept is only the first step. Applying the knowledge and integrating habits that help self-growth can then follow.

First, let’s see what self-awareness is.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, it is a “Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”

After reading this definition, it is easier to understand how self-awareness affects career and career progress. Think about the time when you started your career and be very honest.

  • How much was your first job a conscious choice?
  • How much did you consider your strengths and weaknesses when you sent out your job applications for the first time?

Majority of young people try to grab a job opportunity as soon as they can to start their career. So, don’t feel bad if you were not super conscious about your career choices back then.

I think I am right to assume though that, with time, your choices have been more about taking advantage of your skills and talent, and as you matured, you focused on building a career that gave you the opportunity to expand either vertically or horizontally. Whenever you switched jobs, you were looking for something else, a new challenge.

You listened to your motives and desires and shaped your job search accordingly.

While this was undoubtedly your self-awareness in motion, you may ask yourself a question whether there were or there are other areas where your self-awareness could give you a competitive edge. And the answer to this question is a definite yes.

Regardless of the industry you are working in, or your professional field, no work can be done alone without the support of and contribution from others. To get that, you need to have social skills and the foundation of all success in any social environment is self-awareness.

Let’s just see a couple of examples, think about your work environment and job.

  • What makes you feel stressed?
  • What leaves you feeling depleted?
  • How do you respond to authority?
  • With what type of leadership style do you work best together?
  • How do you deal with criticism?
  • What is your number one conflict resolution tactic?

From the above questions you can see that without being self-aware you are not able to answer such questions, furthermore, without being self-aware, your choices around which company or team to join may leave you with disappointment.

Just by answering these questions, you will have a clear picture of what environment you would like to work in or what type of work gives you inspiration and satisfaction. No one else can make these choices for you And although getting paid is great but getting paid for a job you don’t enjoy may be miserable.

So, even if you think self-awareness is not the most important thing when building your career, I am sure you agree that it has such a high impact that you cannot ignore developing it.

Is glass-half-full way of thinking hardwired in us?

Are there natural born positive thinkers?

I read an article a couple of years ago about research that found biological evidence which proved there are negative and positive people in the world. It sounded interesting.  At least I found it interesting because I have always believed that I have a choice of following a positive or a negative mindset.

A study performed in the Michigan State University, involving 71 women, found that some of the participants of the survey struggled to put a positive spin on difficult situations which they had to observe. The participants of the study had the opportunity to look at various photos and provide their opinion about a potential outcome of a situation they saw in the picture.

As much as I find the results of this research interesting, I still like to think that I have a choice. Even though some people might find it more difficult to view certain situations in a favourable light, adopting a positive attitude is possible.

Of course, I am not saying we should convince ourselves that whatever happens in our lives is positive and beneficial to us, but I still believe that being a glass-half-full person is in fact rewarding.

Let me share with you a couple of reasons why being positive is helpful:

  • Expecting a positive outcome and good things to come will lead you to take actions that result in progress and more often than not in positive outcomes unless your positivity is somewhat naivety or irresponsible behaviour.
  • Expecting negative results or that bad things will come your way will slow you down, or even worse will keep you from taking steps, and you will deny yourself of the steps that might have helped you prevent or reduce the adverse outcome you feared.
  • Expecting positive things to happen is also helpful when it comes to closing the gap between where you are now, even if you are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and where your desired destination is. With the positive mindset, you will take the courage to step outside your comfort zone and do something you found challenging before. It is undeniably an excellent way to stretch yourself because it builds self-confidence in a specific field and improves your overall self-esteem.
  • I often say that where a pessimist sees a problem, I find an opportunity. Have you seen anyone solving a problem by complaining about it? I haven’t.

Problem-solving is a creative process, and while it is true that it requires us to think about the problem itself, it also includes an analysis of the problem which then leads to solutions; given we are dissatisfied with the current way of doing things.

Some would argue that willingness to solve a particular problem also depends on the level of dissatisfaction and discomfort with the problem we are trying to solve, and I somewhat agree with that opinion. But beyond the willingness, being able to reframe the situation and view it from a different angle is as much important.  If you change the way you look at your situation, and the challenges in it, not only your view will change but the problem itself. Your mind will suddenly shed light on a rich array of opportunities to discover inner resources, ways to learn and grow.

3 Methods successful women follow to keep their career on track

Some grow up in a family where setting goals is a natural part of kids’ lives from their early age, while other parents let their kids discover the way of planning their life and tasks on their own. One method may work as good as the other.

We bring many habits and beliefs from our childhood, but it would be a mistake to believe that only those beliefs influence us, even at later stages in our lives. There are good practices we can learn from women who already made it.
Let’s see a couple of examples:

Plan your life as you would plan a project in your work.

When you are working on a project in your job, you need to plan resources, assess risks, consider limitations and make sure the project is going to deliver the benefits you or your stakeholders expect.

  • Why would you accept anything less?
  • Why would you care any less when it comes to your life?

If you think about your career as a journey from the “Where have you been” through the “Where you are at the moment” on your way to the “Where you should be”, you are going to focus on what positions, tasks, experiences and skills take you there. And that is precisely the focus you need.

Fear not to say no

Over your lifetime many opportunities will come your way. Some will look particularly great, while others you need to let go.

You heard the word “no” many times in your life but when it comes to saying it to someone else, especially to a person who may be able to influence how your career develops, saying no might not be the most natural thing to do. We are all inclined to say yes now and then; when we should say no.

Think about it that way, every time you say yes when you should say no, you take time and opportunity away from yourself. Every time you say no you create space for something that works for you better.

Work with mentors

Setting goals is easy when you have a clear idea of what you want and a sense of purpose, but it becomes slightly fuzzy when you are not sure what direction to take. If you are in this situation right now, just know that you are not alone. Many people, at some point in their lives, will reach a turning point when they realise they have to change their ways.

Our parents or grandparents had probably worked for the same company for decades, while changes these days are constant in the majority of business sectors; and professionals need to adopt new practices more often than not. Whenever a change, affecting your career progress happens, it also creates an opportunity to think about your life overall.

In the middle of changes and the daily grind, your ability to see the bigger picture is different, and it is advised that you find a mentor who either had a similar situation in her or his life or has already achieved what you want to accomplish.

3 Things That Might Hold You Back

And ways how you can avoid that.

Making a couple of good moves may be easy but repeating success poses a series of whole new challenges. Looking at all those successful people around you may make you wonder whether you are on the right track.

Read more3 Things That Might Hold You Back

Multi tasking and the reality

As we are progressing with the development of our products, the realisation of the sheer volume of the work is striking. I want to make it work, so what are my choices?

Multi-tasking would be one, but I am not sure that is the right way. When I decided to manage my own business first time, many years ago, I obviously decided to concentrate on multiple of factors and activities, because it is the nature of running a business, but I don’t believe focusing on all or most of them at the same time would be much of a help. I also don’t want to become a list queen. Not because being a list queen is a wrong thing to do, a couple of friends of mine couldn’t even exist without their lists.

I know, however, that I would at some point get lost in the pile of lists and sticky notes.

My way is probably simplification without wanting to oversimplify life itself because the complexity of life amazes me and I certainly wouldn’t want to stop feeling astonished.

On the other hand, a girl can appreciate the benefits of narrowing things down, putting them in context and deciding on priorities. There will still be many tasks to deal with, but it will become a bit more manageable.

So, where is the place for multitasking then? Is it a real thing at all in my life? To some extent it is, and not only in my life. People get distracted all the time and, on average, it takes about 25 minutes to get back to work after being distracted. At least that is what I read. Is it true for me, too?

I took a test and learnt new things about myself, which I now can integrate into my day-to-day work. I took the test on the labinthewild.org page. http://multitasking.labinthewild.org/multitasking/

The results seem to show, that I can concentrate better when things get more complicated, what a weirdo; and I am certainly slower than other participants.

“On average, you took 3.6 seconds to find and select an item. Other participants needed 3.22 seconds on average. More interestingly, however, when you had to remember lots of symbols, you got faster by 0.59%. Others slowed down by 0.21%.“

Taking the test was fun, it was quick and now I know there is another area where I can develop.

Multi-tasking is around me, it is required every single day to gain back the focus on a specific activity once I got diverted, but it is not there for me to get lost in it and to start multiple activities just to struggle finishing them.

The test also revealed there will be certain activities which do not require much concentration and will basically allow me to keep what I did before getting distracted in mind.

While doing the test, I wanted to remember the characters presented at the beginning of the test, and because I wanted to do it, I was capable of doing it. I am not saying I am or anyone is capable of doing anything, just because we want it, but wanting it gave the focus and I made the effort as a result of this decision, as a result of wanting it to happen.

The intent, desire, passion and drive are key factors in achieving better results every day and get going when the going gets tough.