Tag: emotional intelligence

Mindfulness: Reducing Stress in the Workplace

When I introduce myself as a mindfulness trainer, most people assume that I meditate. That’s correct of course, but for some people meditation is still a bit ‘fluffy’ and the ’stuff that the monks in the orange robes’ do. Mindfulness goes beyond that, and the focus on the workplace is key for my programmes.

I set out to meditate almost 15 years ago. I learned from many mentors that through meditation you would be more balanced, more focused and it helps you become successful. That was my reason really. 15 years later, and I have a 20 minute daily meditation routine. I then add some mindfulness exercises throughout the day, to destress during the day and refocus on the task at hand. Sometimes it is a short mindfulness break, sometimes a deeper going breathing exercise, or the three step breathing space I talk about below.

How do you define mindfulness? It’s about being in the moment and being self aware. Similar to Emotional Intelligence (EQ), it is about self-awareness and awareness of others. Being mindful. For mindfulness, the NHS uses the example of consciously feeling the banister when you are walking up or down the stairs. Being able to take yours surroundings in, non judgementally, just being very mindful. It is to observe your commute or taking a different way to work to change your perspective, that is of course if you are commuting to work at the moment.

In 2019 I did a training to become a Mindfulness at Work trainer through a spin off from the Mindfulness Centre at Oxford University. It was important to me that I get a good scientific based training plus a training that focuses on the workplace. It followed two other mindfulness educations earlier in the year.

One of my recent clients in the legal space achieved great results by feeling less stressed and overwhelmed by the end of the course; their happiness and wellbeing improved by 60%. See the case study of Jameson Legal here. On my website you find another case study too!

As a result we ended up doing more ongoing work, where we looked at productivity improvement and how to incorporate a three step breathing space exercise into a daily routine. A quick reset that takes not longer than 30 seconds or up to 3 minutes.

Download the guided meditation here and try it for yourself.

The improvements we are seeing through our 6 week long courses , and of course we can tailor for shorter or longer or bespoke ones, are the following:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Less stress
  • Reduction of healthcare costs
  • Less costs for sickness
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved leadership skills

Particularly the latter can have a hugely positive impact on an organisation. Compassionate leadership for instance and being able to communicate with employees better are just one of many positive impacts.

No matter how small or big you are as a company, we find the right programme for you to reduce stress, improve focus, and make your company a better place to work.

To find out more, contact me – I teach mindfulness, but also do individual and group coaching sessions with focus on productivity improvement and mindfulness of course.

You can’t give up. Ever. A personal look at life.

After an inspirational podcast recording the other day, my guest ask me if I ever thought I’d have a burn-out, given all the stuff I am doing. I wanted to pick that question, because this is a passionate topic of mine. I have always been work focused, enjoyed work and love being busy. I could never imagine not being busy or doing something. It’s an inner drive I have, however …

I am no King, but I like a laugh
I am no King, but I like a laugh

Reflecting on my work life, I have gone through seven redundancies in my career. That’s more redundancies than some people had jobs at my age. But, I haven’t given up. And, I have not had a burn-out or struggle with mental health problems. Given ‘blue Monday’ was last week, I have been reflecting on how lucky I am. Whilst I have to deal with anxiety when I hear the words of ‘restructure’, as it just has this negative association with redundancies, given my history, I believe that is fair enough.

There is something to be said about being able to get up 8 times when you have been knocked down 7 times. What I struggled most with was that people didn’t see the value I added, or if they did, they were bound by politics and ‘that’s the way it has to be done’, e.g. following ‘bullshit rules’. Redundancies are never personal, and once you understood that, it helps you to deal with them.

I am freeing myself from those bullshit rules more and more, in life and work, and focus on doing a great job. Simple. And the jobs I am doing now following a theme and passion of mine.

At the moment, I still maintain a foot in adtech, in an area I absolutely love and adore (data!), and which is changing massively over the next few years with Google’s recent announcement to abolish the 3rd party cookie; additionally, I work with companies that I can help and that can help you! I am excited by both sides, which is why I now work for myself.

I offer Mindfulness Trainings for instance to improve mental health, and to improve resilience and therefore productivity in the workplace. My start-up Moment Pebble is working in a similar area. I have been training Mindfulness for myself since 2006, and I believe that it made me more resilient, and therefore I never had a burn-out or struggled with mental health when taking redundancies or faced the challenges of life. Unfortunately, I know too many people who weren’t that lucky, and I want to help them, and help others to avoid that experience. Does that make sense?

Productivity, resilience, mindfulness – all of those topics have been part of my life for many years, as I have always had a focus on ‘live to work’. I love achieving, whether that is to write a bestselling book, or have a can do attitude at work. I am a doer (manager’s quote) and I get shit done. Simple. That’s who I am and I absolutely love it. Striving, but not over-striving, resulting in not having a burn-out or doing too much. It’s a fine balance, but you can learn it. For many years, I have optimised my approach, refined my productivity (remember I wrote a book on it years ago), and tried to be better, running a more optimised life. And it has paid off, multiple times. The constant improvement, holding yourself accountable. That’s self-coaching, and yes I had help from external coaches and mentors too. Thank you!

And, with me being trained in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and other techniques, it means that I know when things get too much. I realise that when I am juggling too many balls and have to put one aside before I drop it and it breaks. I know when people around me struggle and I know how to help them. And, I discussed that with my podcast guest too, I never turned down a favour to help people. I never asked for more than I give, and always pay a favour forward. I believe in the greater good and the good things in life, the good people, and that the majority of people are genuinely nice people and are in this life to do a good job and achieve the most for others first, then themselves. This has always been my motto for many years, as I believe as a good manager, you rise with the tide.

Hence, in conclusion, I know where I can add value and whether I can take on more work. Yet one thing is changing, and that goes in line with what I preach: I start to live my life more in a way that family will always (!) come first, and that I work more around family commitments; ‘working to live‘ rather than ‘living to work‘. It’s about choice and balance.

This won’t impact my output or productivity, the opposite is true, it will make me even more efficient; with my 5 am routine I am already doing that, but it’s about balancing life, prioritising, and making sure all parties involved are happy. It’s not about slowing down, it’s about channeling the energy in the right way, applying focus. Maybe what I read in the One Thing finally comes to fruition.

Giving up isn’t an option.
Changing the way you do things is.

The most important thing is to be happy, enjoy what you are doing, put focus and effort into what you are doing, do a good job, and be good to people who surround you. It will always pay off in the long term.

Have a wonderful week.
Reach out for comments or contact me for a chat, I am always happy to help!

Volker

About Principles for Success (4)

I have a few more chapters I want to share of my book Principles for Success.

So if you haven’t bought and read my book, have a look at it. And feel free to tune into stories of success on any podcast outlet or www.storiesofsuccess.fm

We discuss life-life balance, realising that work-life balance doesn’t work, given we are spending more time at work than with our family. Maybe it is just a phrase but the underlying thought is that you only have one life. Why divide it between work and life, if you can combine the two. My prediction is that the way we are working is changing in the future.

And we discuss visualisation. Did you know that the brain can’t necessarily differentiate between the real experience and a good visualisation? This is a huge thing for athletes who go through a run or a swim over and over again. Just to get the brain and body to think you have done it. I did that for my marathon and it helps. Try it!

You would have guessed that mindfulness and meditation foster success, whether that is through journaling, reflection or whatever it means for you. I found that most of my guests had some means of finding calm in their day to relax their brain. With the information overload this is super important, and it helps productivity.

The values and culture, similar to the team and trust, are key to a successful businesses. Are you authentic. Is the team a team or a group of individual? What does your business stand for? What do you stand for as a leader of the business.

Be yourself, follow your dreams and make it work. You only got one life, so make the most of it.

Thanks for supporting me by buying the book Principles for Success and joining me on my podcast www.storiesofsuccess.fm

About Principles for Success (2)

Today I wanted to share a few more chapters of my book Principles for Success.

Thanks for the overwhelming feedback and ‘likes’ on social media so far. Please continue to share the book and buy it of course :-).

I have had, and many of those I interviewed, mentors all my life. From early in school to business. They help you to achieve your success, and similar to coaches, give you an external opinion. They are trusted advisors.

Having mentors and guidance in building a business, helps you to be more successful. Learn from those who have done it before you. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Good coaches know of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming), allowing for modelling behaviour. This can really accelerate things.

But also learn from your team, be good in delegating, a good team player and trust in your team and people. Be a compassionate and empathetic leader, someone with a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Trust is such an important topic.

One want to trust the leadership to get the business where it needs to be. Or, as Jim Rohn says, and I mentioned this in most episodes, surround yourself with the right people, as you are only as good as the 5 people you surround yourself the most with.

Who are your 5??

Enjoy season 3 of the podcast which is live in your podcast outlet now, or feel free to get yourself a copy of the book to find out more, what success means.

Back to School

This week is back to school. If not a lot earlier, most people return to work this week. Particularly in the UK, with people enjoying splendid weather over the bank holiday weekend (just over a week ago), some took the additional week off. Why not.

I have been on it since early August, working on content for my blog, my LinkedIn Videos and launch of my executive and productivity coaching business. I have been lucky to see a trend that companies are interested in mindfulness trainings and how they can create a culture within an organisation that looks after their employees. As I continue with a top end training course later in the year, I started teaching meditation and mindfulness, incorporating emotional intelligence (EQ), working towards productivity. It all seems to come together.

This week is back to school for the kids too. That means childcare is sorted for most of the day, and life returns to some kind of routine. It also means that you see less of your children. Unfortunately, that’s how life is.

Those who follow me closely know that I currently split my time between a part-time job and launching my own business. That is splitting my time between security and flexibility. It is hard work, but I have a great team I am working with at my contract and enjoy both challenges. Best of both worlds really.

Also, this week we are back to my podcasts. On Thursday I launch season 3 of my podcast Stories of Success. It has been so much fun, that after 40 episodes I continue to interview high achievers and personal development people who give us their opinion on success. I have a few really interesting episodes recorded already, so make sure you tune in on any of your favourite outlets (including Spotify!)

As of next week, I am launching my 2nd book, Principles for Success. I will share more info about the book in the forthcoming weeks and give you a taster of what it is all about. It is an exciting journey to write a book and you will find out more on an article I wrote over on LinkedIn.

Despite my busy schedule I still have a couple of coaching slots available for Q4. So don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know if you are interested. Or, if you are part of a business, let me come in and I share my thoughts on how to create a more productive workplace.

Here is to Q4!

Mindfulness @Work

I recently put my first proposal for an 8 week mindfulness workshop together. What I learned by doing this, is that a lot of mindfulness is ‘meditation’. But is it? Actually it is not, it is a good mix of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and Meditation.

Also, listening to a recent EQ (Emotional Intelligence) webinar, I realised that one of the core messages (see also last week’s post on here) is about being in the moment, being present. So the lines of EQ and mindfulness are a bit blurred in some areas.

Apple Watch

So what does mindfulness at work mean for me?

First of all, I would define mindfulness as being kind and curious, paying attention to the here and now, the present moment. If we want to translate that to the workplace, we are looking at being present, being in the moment, and not disturbed by other means. An example could be to not be on your phone or laptop during a meeting, but paying attention to the presenter/speaker, and listen actively. Ask questions, be engaged and don’t get distracted by another email in your inbox or another whats app message. Pay full attention to what’s happening.

How does that translate or transform into productivity coaching and meditation? It is about being self aware (EQ) and being able to notice that you are stressed, or overwhelmed. Being able to then focus on your breathing or go for a walk; or to meditate, take some time off. And to be aware of others too.

So Mindfulness at the workplace translates into awareness and techniques to tackle mental discomfort in a way to make work a happier place.

Feel free to reach out to Ballueder Partners in order to find out more, or how we can cooperate to bring mindfulness and EQ to your workplace! Because that’s part of our executive and productivity coaching programme.

Social, Conversational & Emotional Intelligence

Social Intelligence is a term that goes in line with Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for me. Ever since I wrote my MBA thesis over 15 years ago, I have been involved in EQ. At that time I wasn’t sure about the concept but I am now! Social Intelligence is about the ability to form successful relationships and navigate social environments. And, strong relationships improve your immune system, and reduce stress and health problems like depression.

The relationships to others are key, and that’s where I found Emotional Intelligence comes in, and that’s why I like coaching and teaching people about it. For me it is about awareness, self management, social awareness, e.g. social intelligence and relationship management. Within social awareness we look at empathy and organisational awareness. How do I fit in, and how can I feel for others? How does that drive me forward, seeing myself more as a coach, influencer or team player? How does that align with the corporate goals and values?

Conversational Intelligence is something I came across through one of my podcast guests for season 3. It is defined as how open you are to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership and mutual success. What this means to me is, that you look at a subset of EQ, finding out how conversations can trigger greater and stronger social relationships and make those stronger, making you more productive and therefore more successful. It is about cooperation and team communication, making them stronger.

This can go very much in line with strengths coaching where you identify people’s unrealised and realised strengths, in order to activate hidden potential.

That’s what Ballueder Partners works on, and how we make you stronger as a team or an executive. Contact us today for a no obligation chat!

Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome

This is another term I wanted to write about: Imposter Syndrome. How do you define it? How did you first came across it?

Imposter Syndrome as featured in the New York Times

The Imposter Syndrome is something I see frequently as an executive coach; it is defined as a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments. They are afraid that they might be exposed as a ‘fraud’, despite them actually being very competent in what they are doing. It is a denial of their competence. Are you actually good enough to do that role?

It could happen that individuals attribute their success to luck, or a result of deceiving others of thinking they are more intelligent than they think they are. It is about being worthwhile and self aware (emotional intelligent).

This can lead to anxiety, depression and stress. Things that we can solve with some coaching, but also combine it with mindfulness training.

It is definitely something I come across in my work as an executive and productivity coach. Often it is caused by family expectations, potentially over protective parents; others are more around being a perfectionist or excessive self monitoring.

More often than not it is the story in your head, it is about your thoughts. Was my promotion justified?

We can help with that. The thoughts, that’s all it is, and coaching helps with that. Just having someone to talk to, as a sounding board, giving you some guidance on mindfulness, will help you succeed, and overcome the imposter syndrome. Your performance will improve, no doubt!

Intrinsic Motivation

We just discussed the hedonic approach, and intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation – what drives you on? You know, or should know, that your thoughts determine your action. And your brain determines your thoughts. What that means is, that you decide how you are motivated.

I loved the following picture which I stole from this blog (hope that’s ok).

When we grow up and cannot differentiate what motivates us (external/internal), or might be less self-aware (not having a lot of emotional intelligence/EQ), it might be all about ‘being like someone else’. I often mention the Kardashians as an example in my podcast on success. People seem to like what they do and how they set standards of what life looks like. However, they are rich, live an interesting life and might be in a complete different life cycle than yourself. Is that what you want to be, or aiming for?

You can of course aspire to what they do, however the motivation of what you want to be, who you want to be, is down to you, and should be based on your values. That for me is intrinsic motivation. Would you agree?

Hence for my coachees, it is so important to identify their values and goals. One of the first things I establish coaching with my executive and teams. Based on that we want to work on what motivates you. Particularly, working as an executive and productivity coach, I am interested in how your values align to your goals, your career, and then, how you can make things better for you, more productive essentially.

And if you haven’t heard of strengths coaching, then we should talk. Let’s have a chat and see how that can help you or your team to find some hidden potential!

Let me know if that’s something worth chatting about.

Spring 2019 Blurb – Happy Easter

Hello friends,

I hope you still remember me, and I am allowed to count you as my friends. It has been a while since my last post. No, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. As a matter of fact, I am still writing regularly, I finished the first draft of my book on success, on the back of my podcast, and have drafted a few blog posts. However, I haven’t published any in a while, as you are aware 🙂

Why is that? I find a new peace and reflection in not having such a public life. Of course, I am nowhere close to being famous or feel like I am walking down a red carpet, however whenever I put something in the public domain, I am conscious that people are reading it. This has never been a problem, and still isn’t, but I am currently not keen on sharing too much, unless you ask of course 😉 My focus has shifted from ‘one to many’ towards more ‘one to one’. It allows for deeper relationships I find, so I caught up with a few people over the last few months. And it is good. If we are also friends on Facebook, or you might follow me on one of my Instagram accounts, you might have seen that I am more selective than ever in terms of what I publish.

It’s all about what I said at the beginning of 2019: life is about focus for me, and particularly 2019. I am connecting, to myself, the family, the job, life. I am making decisions and prioritise. A friend of mine uses the expression, that if you want to make an omelette, you need to crack an egg. Changing the form or your state, mind or physique takes time, and it involves giving one thing up and transforming into another. A bit like a butterfly. Do you remember the hungry caterpillar that ate and ate and ate? Whilst weight loss is one of my objectives for this year too, the metamorphosis for the caterpillar to become this beautiful, happy butterfly, is what I was angling at 😉

It took me 5 months since the marathon, half an hour of physio exercises every morning, and lots of patience, to run a 10K again. Never ever give up! I cannot deny that this is something I loved sharing on Strava, and that is something I am proud of. Persistence, continuity, and a lot of hard work. My aim is to recover from my knee injury by summer and run a half marathon, as one of the 12 my wife is running this year for RNIB. She has been busy doing one half marathon a month and I plan to join her for a few if my knees allow.

Focus on what you can change, and there is so much to change and remodel, reframe etc., and one of those focus areas are my knees. Btw, I am drafting this post looking at Bournemouth Beach whilst my wife runs her 4th half, and the kids enjoy some climbing activities. Thinking time is so important, having some ‘me’ time to write and reflect. Another things I got more of this year already. I attended a silent retreat, spend time connecting with myself.

Change work is very important I believe. As a matter of fact, going back as far as 1997, the year I left the navy after my military service, I got involved in NLP and change work, always striving to be a better version of myself. What success meant to me back then, heavily influenced by German society, the navy, school and society – that ‘success’ means something completely different now. If you haven’t heard of Mindvalley, check out Vishan’s content online or read his book. It is one of the few personal development books I happily recommend. The idea of letting go of old BS (Yes, BULL SHIT) rules, and making way for new rules, is so important. What things meant to you 20 or 30 years ago, is not the same they mean for you now or in the future. Change is permanently happening, and you MUST realise that. Embrace it, find your focus, and understand what is happening inside yourself. Be happy, it is that simple.

In terms of success, my podcast has a lot of influence on that change work too, in case you were wondering, and it is still going strong. My focus shifted a bit, away from advertising technology success stories, to people I love speaking to that have a focus on mindfulness and success. Now, to define mindfulness, this is a complete different story, and for another time, but it is about awareness, thoughts and happiness for me, managing change.

Having recently completed an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course and a recap on EQ (Emotional Intelligence), which I researched back at university as part of my MBA degree, I am now more than ever keen on bringing this to more people. My children love to meditate every night with me, and agree that they fall asleep easier and sleep better. Isn’t that wonderful? With mental health awareness week coming up in the UK, I want to draw some attention towards something that is often hidden to most people, and can be helped with more awareness.

This is just a small part of my happiness I wanted to share with you today. Feel free to reach out to me at anytime if I can help you in any way. Advice, happiness thoughts, or just for a chat over coffee or a pint. I love to help and support, connect one on one, and share my journey with you!

Have a wonderful spring and Easter.
Kindness and love from my little corner of the world.
Volker