Feedback is Your Friend

Most of us are not good at receiving anything other than positive  praise or report when it comes to the things we are doing or involved with.  We like, however much we pretend not to, the praise of our peers.  However, progress is rarely made with feedback that never addresses in any measure our weaknesses, failures, mistakes, forgotten points, moments of incompetence, lack of preparation or any other factor we would rather just gloss over.

That being said many of us who are involved in giving feedback aren’t good at it.  We tend to major on the main things that effected or annoyed us and skip over the positives rather too quickly.  When feedback is done well and incorporated into a relationship that has developed a level of trust you often find that people welcome what you have to say.  They believe and understand that your motivation is about helping them rather than condemning them.

So, here is a simple way to give good feedback using WWW and EBI.

WWW – What Went Well

This is a great way to bring out elements of any person/s work or involvement.  Look for any little or indeed big thing that worked and comment positively on it, for example:

You finished the work for the agreed deadline

As a team you work cohesively together, everyone was on task

The preparation for the event made everything run smoothly

You demonstrated a high level of patience dealing with that difficult person

WWW’s are used to draw a picture of a person’s successful performance and can be the springboard to some great discussion on developing excellence.

EBI – Even Better If?

EBI’s allow you to bring in objective criticism in a positive manner, i.e.  It would have been even better if …

You had planned time in your schedule to work on the report therefore meeting your deadline

Everyone was clear on their role and expectations to meet the team goal

You had a plan or organisational chart to help you prepare for the event

You had given time for the person to explain their issue before interrupting

The best ratio for WWW and EBI is 4 to 1; this allows for a positive feedback session where you can address one or two areas for development at a time.  People respond better to those they know are trying to help them move forward.  Therefore, using structured feedback is essential to developing successful people and teams.


Personal Momentum

I find myself most days having to set my face towards the gym and the usual 30/40 lengths that I make myself swim in the name of keeping reasonably fit.  As so often happens I spend my time swimming up and down and it would be easy to think that I was going somewhere but the fact remains that when I exit the pool it is the same environment, familiar decor and people who I see most days.  I have covered distance but fundamentally it hasn’t taken me anywhere.

Life can often feel like that?  The same old same old! Feeling like you have danced this dance many times over and yet nothing has changed.  The idea of making forward progress seems hard to achieve with the inertia of life (lack of movement) firmly holding you in one place!

Generating momentum (a driving force or strength) that propels us forward is something that needs to come from breaking down certain ‘life-loops’ or life cycles.  These life cycles are patterns of behaviour or thinking (mindsets)  that flow consciously or sub-consciously from us and minimise our potential to move forward in our life, career, relationships etc. and often cause us to miss opportunities that flow in and around our lives.

One significant way to begin to generate momentum is to identify a goal or target; something just out of reach but flows from a positive desire.  However, to begin that journey we have to stop doing other things for example:

Stop Complaining!  I recently re-watched Invictus a film portraying the life of Nelson Mandella.  I was particularly affected by the scene on Robin Island where Francoir Pienaar is in Mandella’s cell; thinking how a man spends 27yrs in those conditions, finally finding freedom but moving forward without the bitterness so many would carry from such an experience.

A great quote from the bible speaks of the apostle Paul saying … ‘in all things I have learned to be content!’  Contentment is something that needs to be cultivated in our lives as some things are certainly not worth striving for because, once gained they leave us yearning for more or disappointed with the experience.

Build on What’s in You!  We all have hidden potential and endless possibilities if we just take a moment to look inside.  Everyone of us has gifts and abilities that harnessed correctly will help us breakthrough into new experiences and levels of success. Identify what you’re good at?  Stop striving to be like other people and learn to be who you are and work with what you have.

Final thoughts!  Personal momentum comes from a decision to move forward, to persist and to follow up on the goal or target you’ve set.  What will you do today to initiate the momentum that will change your life?

Being a Better Team Player

Last night I was out at a local church teaching and training their people on the subject of Team Dynamics. It is always interesting watching people respond to the simple thoughts, tips and prompts when it comes to being part of a team. Most of us work in, play in or are part of some type of team and whether we’re proactive, reactive or disconnected our prescence in that team has an effect on the team’s performance. If you’ve ever done any personality profiling you’ll know that most organisational structures are made up of different types of people who display different characteristics but we can all learn to display common behaviour when it comes to team.

I love this quote … “the question isn’t whether you’ll be part of the team the question is whether your taking part will make a difference.” Do you ever think about the effect you have in a team? Do you ever reflect on what benefit you bring? Do people in your team respond negatively or positively to you?  Here are ten thoughts on being a better team player.

1. Be Industrious – if you’re in the team work hard for the team, pull your weight and get things done.

2. Build Relationships – being a team player means working with others so endeavour to get to know those around you.

3. Be Loyal – stick with the team through the tough as well as successful times.

4. Learn to Cooperate – its not all about you and what you want listen to the ideas of others.

5. Have Enthusiasm – people like to be around positive people so bring your enthusiasm to the dullest tasks.

6. Take the Initiative – learn to to do things without being asked, if you see it, do it!

7. Upskill Yourself – Build on your strengths, keep learning and developing yourself.

8. Stay in Condition – keep yourself healthy, manage your energy and time for the long haul.

9. Have Poise – Don’t let the failures rock you and don’t get over confident with the successes.

10. Don’t be Mediocre – don’t let your attitude, skills or performance produce average results, always go for the best and the highest.

Let Them …

Having just returned from the gym from my morning swim, (40 lengths)  I was congratulating myself this week as I’d achieved a new record by swimming 3.5 miles and was feeling real good about myself.  I’d set a new target of doing 1000m more than usual as I’d received a challenging thought from a member about exercising beyond your comfort zone.  This had got me thinking about my ‘comfort zone’ when it came to life in general as so often I’ve settled down into routines that often I have not planned for, nor really wanted.

At our church we’re currently in a short period of prayer and fasting and these thoughts had caused me to revisit that verse from Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.”  This is such a common verse, quoted when there is a need for a season of expansion and increase, when mindsets need to be challenged and attitudes changed.  Yet, I think that one key element that needs to be addressed is our attitude to the ‘let them‘.  We need to see that ‘giving permission’ to others who we trust and have built relationship with, who are for us and wish to see progress in our lives becomes vital to increasing capacity within our lives.  Many people have never thought about setting a goal or target for a specific period, time frame or season.  The idea of making progress for many is possibly too abstract and they prefer perhaps to ‘just do life’.  However,  for those who see  life as a journey the need for input, for challenge and that push to go higher and further comes from the ‘let them‘ being developed in our thinking and attitude.

Like most people I don’t like my faults, weaknesses or hindering mindsets being exposed and of course it is galling to hear someone close to you put their finger on something that needs to be stretched in order to accommodate the potential of increase and growth but nonetheless, it is necessary.  So, if you like me have a desire to see something more, how will you develop and with whom will you develop, the ‘let them’ principle?’  It takes a level of courage to open yourself to the stretching process but even as the verse encourages … “Do not spare, lengthen your cords!

I’ll leave you with this quote and challenge “Every positive challenge provides me with the opportunity to see the potential of what is possible!” 2012 is the year where we are declaring that we won’t settle, but we will breakthrough.  Let them … provide the stretch for the breakthrough!

Insecure Again?

Have you ever felt insecure in the light of having done your best?  I hate feeling insecure especially when I’ve worked so hard to try and deal with those things that make the ground shift under my feet and caused me to worry and question my character.  Recently I was challenged over a matter where I found myself with that sinking feeling in my stomach and the rising voice of internal accusation resounding in my ears of not being good enough and having got it wrong again.  Have you ever felt like that? Like you’ve got it wrong for no apparent reason?

Overcoming insecurities can be a real challenge depending on how long we’ve been influenced by them.  Learning how to ‘take a step back’ and take an objective look can be a difficult thing for us as often we’re dealing with the emotional turbulence of how we feel.  Insecurities hold us back from accomplishing new things, taking risks, making or improving relationships.  So, where are our insecurities rooted?  Where do they start out?  I would suggest that they begin life in our minds quickly taking root in our everyday thinking and living.  We begin to worry where we should be confident, we agonise where we should rejoice.

I like this verse from Phillipians (Message Version) “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Worry is a constant outworking of insecurity!  Am I good enough, have I done well enough, will they like me enough? So, with this in mind here are some suggestions in dealing with your insecurities.

  1. Stop Over-Thinking Situations! – The ‘why did they say that’ and the ‘what did they mean by that’ can be over analysed and played back time and time again.  If we’re not careful it is easy to take some meaningless interaction and blow it up into some significant event that causes a behavior response that outworks itself in negative self-talk causing moodiness and withdrawal.
  2. Allow Yourself to be Human – We all make mistakes, we all get it wrong from time to time but ‘beating’ oneself up isn’t healthy or appropriate.  Micah 7:8 says “When I fall I shall arise!”  What good advice,  be confident with who you are and as that confidence shows in your life, words and action people will be drawn to you.
  3. Learn to Enjoy the Experience – Life is about taking the opportunities that come along.  If you don’t jump on board because your insecurities won’t let you then life becomes very limited indeed.  Quite often we find that once ‘on board’ we perform better than expected, make relationships that were previously thought not possible and achieve goals that we believed were out of our reach.

So think on this famous quote and let your insecurities go! “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

What Do I Really Believe?

Have you ever heard the phrase  … “their heart’s just not in it?”  Meaning  that a person simply doesn’t have the energy, will or belief that what they are doing is worthwhile or even important.  James Allen once said “The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be a reflection of their inner beliefs!“.  Or more simply … you do what you really believe and those beliefs come from the core of who you are.  Psychologists like to call this our  ‘inner voice’ or ‘self talk’; an internal monologue that can be a source of great strength, determination and purpose or of weakness, doubt and negativity.  It has been indicated that much of what we believe in our lives is formed in the early years of our childhood and young adult life. The bible says “train a child in the ways they should go and as they grow older they will not depart from them” and easier said than done I may hear you say.  Inner belief’s need careful shaping or we can easily grow to adulthood and find we have strongly established thinking patterns that can hinder or promote our future.

I always though of myself as a risk-taker when I was younger doing all sorts of ‘risky’ and sometimes life threatening things but in adult life I find myself being more risk-adverse with things like money than I ever believed possible, why is that!  Well, I certainly hear my inner voice, my self-talk being more concerned with outcomes than at any other time or, is it simply because I never had to take responsibility for anybody or anything other than myself?  Training your inner voice is like everything else: it gets better with practice.  I believe the Spirit of God is constantly challenging us to change what we believe in our inner man, at our core to come in-line with God’s word.  You can confess what you wish but it is from the heart the mouth truly speaks and the life truly acts.  Corrie Tenboom commented on how in the concentration camps she had to train herself to see God as her sustainer and provider and learnt to give thanks in the smallest of things.

So, what am I saying? Well you need to make your self-talk consistent and constructive. You need to take responsibility for what you allow yourself to think and therefore do.  Training yourself to speak positively on the inside helps you speak positively on the outside.  Begin to see the limitations with some of the things you believe and use God’s word to restructure your thoughts and attitudes so that you can be more consistent in what you say and do.

The Power of Your Attitude!

Charles Swindol once said that a person’s attitude was the key defining aspect of a successful or unsuccessful day, relationship, job or indeed life.  His quote “life is about 10% of what happens to me and 90% about how I react to it”  has become one of the main platforms on how I try to live my life.  Sure, I don’t wake up everyday with a positive or world overcoming attitude but I do get to decide how my attitude will shape my day and that is a choice we all have the capacity to make.

I’ve often taught on the nation of Israel and how they spent 40years wandering around in what was a small geographical area, moaning and complaining, having believed the negative report of 10 men whose names were never heard of again and yet failed to listen to the positive report of two men whose names where endelibly etched into the history of a nation. So, what’s the nessage here?

Learn to move beyond disappointments and failures! Let’s face reality we all have experiences of being disappointed or failing to achieve but how we respond and think about those things will dictate how we enter into new challenges.  Failure isn’t fatal and we should learn to draw out any aspect that can help develop a successful outcome the next time. Disappointment will always endeavour to trip up your life but think on this, “dissappointment is to a noble soul like cold water is to hot metal, it strengthens, tempers and intensifies but never destroys.”  Victor Frank who survived the Nazi death camps said this … “the last of our human freedoms is to choose what our attitude will be in any given circumstance”.

Choosing to see the best and positive things in life is a choice and perhaps made easier by not listening to yourself moan and complain but rather by talking strongly and directly to yourself!  Maintaining an attitude that believes for the best, expects the best and most often times will experience the best, comes as we train ourselves to view circumstances differently from those around us who are often defeated by the negative confessions that shape their attitude.