Archive for the ‘Globe and Mail Careers’ Category

Positivity at Work

October 28, 2013

NOTE: This was originally posted on my Big Cheese Coaching blog:

I’ve been swimming blissfully in the study and application of positivity for quite some time and lately have ramped it up a notch. I have always been hugely interested in and engaged with the science of positivity. I think it’s part of my innate DNA — but also very much a learned skill too.

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Recently, I’ve joined a group of global participants in an eight week  learning opportunity: a master class on positivity lead by the Barbara Fredrickson, the pre-eminent expert on the science of positive emotions and author of Positivity and Love 2.0.  This has been an amazing experience (and we’re not yet done).

I’ve also had the opportunity to bring the topic of positivity to several workshops and presentations lately (talking to staff at Sick Kids Hospital, UoT, Administrative Professionals Conference, Red Mountain Resort) and have more on the horizon.  It’s been tremendous fun and the participants seem to have really enjoyed the sessions. Check out the recent testimonials.

I just wrote an article for the Globe and Mail on the positivity advantage  (as part of my “Brain Works” series). It’s been getting a ton of buzz. You can read it here.

I’m learning so much  (from my studies and ‘living it’). Here are just a few tidbits.

1) Positivity matters: It is not just a ‘nice to have’. It is truly an essential ingredient to your success and well-being. There’s over 20 years of hard scientific evidence that links positive emotions with better health, improved brain and cognitive function, greater personal efficacy, a heightened ability to connect and a spark plug to boost your mojo (and much more….but hey, that’s plenty to convince me).

2) It’s in us already – we just need to tap into it with new habits: Positivity isn’t dependent on circumstances. Positive emotions can reside side by side with a range of emotions – even the not-so-positive. We just need to be intentional and learn easy yet authentic ways to tap into our positivity reservoir.

3) We need a steady and diversified diet of positivity: Good nutrition tells us to get a steady and ample diet of fruits and vegetables (and other essential food groups). Likewise, for well-being, we need a steady, ample diet of positive “moments”. Most people go with less than the recommended allotment. It’s not as hard as one may think to get your ‘dose’.  It can be just a thought away – or an intention to be present to moments that might offer you joy, gratitude, inspiration and more.

4) Positivity comes in moments: It’s not about getting to a permanent state. Positivity comes in moments and are fleeting. Still, if we get enough (a minimum of 3 positive thoughts to one negative) we will benefit from all the rewards.

Curious? Want more? Here’s how to tap into this further:

1) Read my latest Globe and Mail article for some high-level ideas and tips.

2) Get ready for Ease, my upcoming book soon to be released. It includes a lot of strategies on how to hone the positivity advantage.

3) Invite me to speak to your people (conference, employees, etc.) Have a look what others have said about my sessions.

4) Engage in coaching – this is my sweet spot and I’d love to help you hone your positivity advantage!

More to come but lots to dive into RIGHT NOW!

Enjoy and may you live with Ease and Well-being.

Eileen

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Six Ways To Tame Your Stressed Out Brain

August 12, 2013

UPDATE (DEC 2013):  if the topic of managing overwhelm is of interest to you – I just launched a new book called, Ease – Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy. You can get it at most online book retailers. Read here for more!

(Originally posted at http://www.bigcheesecoaching.com)

A slighted shorter version of this article has also been published in the Globe and Mail Careers.

The Scenario:

It is late afternoon and a busy executive, whom we will call Sue, is trying to finish up a project before she leaves to get her daughter from daycare. Simultaneously she is also dealing with several other priorities on her plate. Already running late, she receives an urgent email from her boss advising of a change in direction for a proposal due the next day.  Feeling stressed, Sue feels her anxiety escalate even further. Just when she needs it most, her normally sharp ‘thinking brain’ seems to freeze up. She feels overwhelmed, frustrated and stuck not knowing how to handle the demands piling up.

Stressed Businesswoman

(Microsoft Image)

Bye Bye Thinking Capacity – Hello Brain Freeze?

Sound familiar? Many people can likely relate to this scenario. It’s normal to feel occasional bouts of overwhelm.   Most people want to do well and to feel good about their work. But when stress levels go into overdrive, judgment, prioritizing and other critical thinking skills can become compromised, further escalating stress and impacting performance – and wellbeing.

Take heart. It may not be you. It could be your brain. And with just a little neuroscience savvy and a few brain-friendly strategies you can be better equipped to handle those times of ‘crazy busy’,  boost your performance and feel calmer too.

Brain Work 101: The Higher Thinking Brain vs. the Survival Brain.

Blame your stress on the amygdala – the part of the brain that ‘detects and protects’. Formed earliest in our evolution and part of the limbic system, the amygdala is akin to being a ‘survival brain’ with a super sharp ability to scan for and react to any perception of danger. Reacting instantaneously to any hint of threat, it gets us ready for fight or flight. Eliciting what’s known as the “stress response” with the release of adrenaline and cortisol to get our heart pumping and muscles primed for….well that depends on what happens next.

Is that a lion or a crazy deadline? The amygdala doesn’t know or care. Its job is not to discern whether the threat is real or perceived; its job is simply to protect.  When we experience an emotional response related to our work or life (‘oh no, not another crazy deadline or yet another change!), it fires the alarm just as it would if there was a real physical threat.

Unfortunately since survival always trumps reflection this happens at the expense of another essential part of our brain: the prefrontal cortex (PFC) which handles higher thinking skills like critical thinking, discernment, judgment and other cognitive skills. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) works best when under moderate stress and gets suppressed when the amygdala is all fired up.  Paradoxically, we need the skills of the prefrontal cortex to deal effectively with the stressful ‘stuff’ of work and life.

Bring back the calm  

To get a grip in a stressful moment, we need strategies that put the perceived threat back into its respectful cage and deliberately bring our higher thinking abilities (via the PFC) back online.  Here are six brain-friendly strategies to help you “tame your brain” and give your higher thinking brain a better chance at doing its work.

Six Strategies to Tame Your Brain and Give Your Higher Thinking Brain a Better Chance

1) Pause

When in the midst of a stressful moment, take a moment to simply pause.  While it may feel counter-intuitive when rushed with time-sensitive workloads, a short pause provides a time buffer that can weaken the impulse and mitigate falling into the stress response.  Counting to 10 or 20, breathing deeply or taking a short break can provide that reprieve amidst a sense of urgency and chaos.  More importantly, this intentional break can give you that small but critical opening for more productive thinking and putting things in better perspective.

2) Notice and Name it.

In his book “Your Brain at Work, David Rock, President of the Neuroleadership Institute, shares a powerful yet simple strategy for bringing your higher thinking skills (via the prefrontal cortex) back on line. Simply observe and then name your emotional reaction. For instance, you might say to yourself, “I’m feeling very stressed” or “I’m frazzled”.  It’s important to notice then label the experience without feeding into the emotion. While this awareness won’t likely give you full relief this simple cognitive act engages the PFC which can diffuse the strength of the ‘amygdala attack’ — making room for a more reflective approach.  Additionally, engaging the prefrontal cortex can elicit the hormone know as Gaba (gamma-amino butyric acid ) which provides a calming effect when there is too much adrenaline in the body.

3) Organize

Our left hemisphere brains love it when we make plans and get organized. Organizing is a powerful antidote to overwhelm and can provide a calming effect when we feel chaos and fear. Write out a to-do list; revisit your priorities; create an action plan; clean up the clutter on your desk or in a file. Do anything that gives you (and your brain) a greater sense of order amidst all the pressure of a demanding workload.

4) Focus

Our brains crave focus.  But all too often we work against this by trying to multi-task. Our brains, in fact, are not built for multi-tasking attention. Instead, the brain simply toggles from one thinking task to another. This constant switching is a major energy drain and a first class ticket to frazzle. This unfocused waste of attention also compromises productivity, creativity and efficiency.  Instead, work on scheduling more focus time in your day; chunk down your priorities and focus on one task at a time. Pay attention to your habits and notice where you can reign in the multitasking beast.

 5) Visualize

While our left hemisphere of our brain craves order, the right hemisphere can help us access calm with strategies like visualizing, looking at the big picture, and reflecting on meaningful symbols and metaphors.  Try to visualize success in handling a challenge you are facing; create an image in your mind that inspires calm; identify and tune into a metaphor that symbolizes strength. The possibilities are endless. The key is to integrate your whole brain and that includes both left and right hemisphere brain strengths.

6) Connect

Interacting with people you like can boost levels of the Oxytocin hormone which can have a calming effect when stressed.  Avoid the urge to hide or go it alone. Instead seek out others whom you trust and can count on for support.

So – how do you manage work overload?

Here’s to your personal and professional wellbeing.

Eileen Chadnick

Job Interview Tips (and video)

February 9, 2013

How do you prepare for a job interview? One thing for sure — never wing it. Preparation is essential. And I made sure to make that point in a new video series on interview tips at Globe Careers.

We taped seven videos for the series. I’ll post each as they get rolled out.

#1  A brief primer on how to prepare for your interview. 

#2 How to answer the ‘dream job’ question.

#3 How to discuss your ’strengths/weaknesses’ in an interview.

 

#4 So why did you leave your last job?

 

#5 So tell me about a time you solved a problem such as….?

 

#6 Questions you must ask in a job interview.

 

#7 How to answer quirky job interview questions.

Read the rest of this post at Big Cheese Coaching Blog!

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Five Ways to Say No Without Jeopardizing Your Reputation at Work

April 27, 2012

You’re swamped. Your plate  is full. You are juggling as it is. Then your boss – or someone else at work – asks if you can take on another assignment. What do you do?

You know you should say ‘no’ to this one – but yuck…saying no is right up with your other least favorite things to do…like going to the dentist to get a cavity filled. Well, at least that’s the case for many people including a Globe and Mail reader who sent in a question to the Globe Career’s Ask an Expert Coach feature. 

New! On today’s Globe and Mail career site and in the paper edition:  Read what I wrote to this reader — “Five Ways to Say No Without Jeopardizing Your Reputation at Work”.

Sometimes saying ‘no’ is really saying yes — to being small; risking less than standard work; and more.

Reflect — what are you saying yes to when you shy away from the appropriate times to say ‘no’?

 What are your strategies, tactics, experiences with saying ‘no’ when it is appropriate?

Additional ResourcesSee my Webinar/Workshop page on this blog for a listing of Webinars (free) — including: Are you Addicted to the Yes Habit? As well, a couple more articles related to how to learn to say no from Investment Executive. See Part I and Part II (Investment Executive, March 2012).

Here’s to a TGIM Work + Life.

Eileen

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How To Develop That Dream Job Without Losing Focus on Your Day Job

April 18, 2012

Oh this one speaks to my heart – and my work-life. A Globe and Mail reader writes to Globe and Mail Careers – Ask an Expert feature  – asking how she can juggle the demands of two careers. She has a day job but also a ‘passion’ career that she would like grow. Doing both – she confesses, is ‘hard’. How to juggle both?

Read the article here – and the advice I offered to this reader.

TGIM work-life is all about passion. Waking up with optimism for the day. Going to work with a sense of ‘mojo’ because you want to, not just because you have to. But sometimes our work doesn’t quite allow for that – or it does to some extent but you want ‘more’. More fulfillment, personal expression, authenticity — or whatever your ‘more’ is. Enter the second career – and for some, managing two at once. 

Some people take on a second careers to pursue an interest, or a passion or simply transition to a new frontier. Not everyone can afford to do a hard stop on career #1 to pursue #2. For many, that ‘transition’ means having to manage two careers at once.

Not easy – but it can be rewarding. Especially if you like both. Hmmm…too much of a good thing sometime? Oh, bring on that balancing act! Learn to juggle! Learn to prioritize….and more!

Are you managing two careers? What have you learned? What ‘tricks and tips’ would be helpful to others. Please share!

To your TGIM Work-Life in all your careers!

Eileen

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Six Ways to Focus Your Career in 2012

January 2, 2012

New Year, fresh start! For those of you who have career advancement on your mind, the Globe and Mail published an article called Six Ways to Focus Your Career in 2012″ — offering tips on how to take action to advance your career. 

I was invited to contribute one of the tips. I recommended leaders (of all ranks) learn coaching skills. I do a lot of work in this arena — teaching leaders a variety of coaching skills — via workshops, webinars, and directly coaching leaders. No longer can a leader get by just on technical/functional smarts. They need to inspire, grow, invest and develop their people to bring the team and organization to excellence. Unfortunately for too many, the rise to leadership came without any guidance on how to coach/lead others. If you have your eyes on a bigger game this year, make sure you add ‘coaching skills’ to your learning agenda this year. And of course, check out the other very worthy tips from others in the Globe and Mail article!

Warning: shameless promotion coming up! You can read what people have said about my workshops, presentations and coaching  in this area in my “Workshop Testimonial” page  and “One-on-one leadership coaching testimonials

To a TGIM work+life in 2012!

Eileen

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Dealing with a career gap and lack of references?

November 29, 2011

In my latest “Ask a Career Coach” columns in the Globe and Mail Careers, a reader asks how to deal with a tough situation in his job search.

Shortly after graduating university, he was unable to pursue a career due to medical issues. Now years later, he is better and resuming his job search but has no recent references given the pause in his career. I offered a few tips — and things to think about beyond references.

The advice may be relevant for anyone in job-search mode. While references are important when presenting yourself as a worthy candidate – there is a whole lot more to consider as well. Equally important is a networking strategy as well as concrete ways to demonstrate you are up to date and work-ready (courses, retooling, etc). I also touch on volunteering. I have often heard of people who have landed great jobs leading to very full careers via a volunteer role.  Have a read of the article- and as always, I welcome your comments.

To a TGIM work and life!

Eileen

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“Help – My Boss is a Bully and Wants me Fired!”

October 28, 2011

Ouch! Yikes…a bully boss…a toxic boss… a bad boss! How unfortunate if you’ve got one of those in your career path. I suspect, many of us can relate and have had at least one story in our career paths when we had to deal with a ‘difficult’ boss. Well, I received a request for help recently via a letter to Globe and Mail’s Careers “Ask a Career Coach” feature (I am one of the Globe’s Career Coach’s for their Career site). The reader is in a contract position and is wondering what to do to salvage his future career prospects knowing his boss most likely won’t be a good reference. As well, he felt she had sabotaged much of his opportunity to prove his worth in that contract.

 

I hope you don’t have to deal with this kind of situation but if you do, rest assured. One bad experience does not have to derail your career. Have a read of some advice I offered in this particular situation. And let’s hope that bad bosses become the exception and not the rule!

P.S You can check out some of the other questions (and advice offered) from myself and my colleagues at the “Ask a Career Coach” page. And feel free to send me your questions too – I can respond to them here at TGIMworklife or possibly on the Globe and Mail site

To a TGIMworklife!

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