Green Tea and Dark Chocolate: Seven Steps to Guiding Your Brain for Success in 2017

Green Tea and Dark Chocolate: Seven Steps to Guiding Your Brain for Success in 2017

This will be the third time I have posted this blog as a kick off to a new year.  

 

Interestingly, it is the blog where I have received the most ‘likes’ and feedback over the past two years. (Hint: Please forward this to all your mates and ‘like’ it yourself – I’d love to break last year’s record!)

 

Being the third time, I feel I can now own this as my annual Green Tea and Dark Chocolate blog.  

 

Those who know me well know that I cannot live without my green tea; and dark chocolate, whilst attempting to reduce its influence on my life, still holds its own on my Five Essential Foods list.

 

Enjoy!

 

Having a theme for the year has served me well over the past few years.

 

Your brain is dealing with many, many bits of information and data entering your senses at any one time, and you only have capacity to pay conscious attention to a relatively small amount.

 

The RAS (Reticular Activating System) is a useful little part of your brain that decides what data – from outside and inside your body – your brain will pay attention to.

 

The issue to consider is whether the choices your RAS are making are useful for you!

 

In the absence of any direction from you, the choices and decisions your RAS makes will be…

 

  • random, or
  • based on your past instructions or interests or random thoughts, OR
  • in line with a more primitive decision-making set of instructions designed to ensure your survival.

 

In light of this, taking the time teach year to give my RAS the gift of a solid ‘theme’ for the year has served me well.

 

For example, my theme back in 2014 was ‘PROFILE’– I wanted to raise the profile of my business and my expertise to attract new clients.

 

What happened was three-fold:

 

  1. I started to come across (and pay attention to) more opportunities to raise or contribute to my business and professional profile.
  2. I was proactive in making decisions that supported that particular outcome over other potential outcomes.
  3. I was more likely to act on such opportunities than I would have been in the past.

 

As a result, I more easily achieved my business objectives than I had anticipated.

 

In the absence of a well-thought out ‘theme’ I would probably not have paid as much. Or any attention to the opportunities. Or I may have tended to continue to make decisions and choices similar to the previous year (stay in my comfort zone). Or I may have failed to overcome my inertia on acting on the opportunities due to a desire to protect myself from the risk of doing something new and different.

 

In 2015 my theme was REWIRE – helping my clients to change their thinking and behavioural habits through the evolution of my programs. In 2016 it was CORE and I was on the road to developing an entire curriculum around this concept. BUT, CORE didn’t actually happen – instead, it evolved to a different but even better curriculum.

 

Over the last three years, the specifics I had in mind didn’t necessarily appear precisely as intended, but something else of equal value did. It was the fact that I was on a journey and had a thematic end in mind that counted. The fact that the goal wasn’t so specific also let me off the hook so I didn’t get caught up in ‘failure’.

 

Doing new, great stuff is difficult for the human brain and requires deliberate attention and undesirable effort. So, to make this a little easier, I encourage you to take some time TODAY to start providing some guidance for your RAS this year.

 

Here is my SEVEN STEP process to get you started…

 

FIRST…take some time out and head to a café where you can indulge in coffee and cake (or green tea and dark chocolate in my case – there it is – finally the reference to the title), and a notebook or device or small whiteboard depending on your personal process for scribbling and creating!

 

THEN…just reflect on what you want—big picture 1/3/5 years from now, how last year went, what needs to be different, what will give you the biggest bang for your buck this year, what you don’t want to happen this year, where you want to be in December… Create a vision board of scribbles and key words—WHATEVER takes your reflection fancy. AVOID lists and lengthy prose – use bubbles and key words and pretty pictures. Do this…

 

SO YOU CAN…land on a series of tangible and intangible goals that excite you! Let your imagination go here…don’t hold back. You need to zoom in to some specifics before you zoom out again to find your theme (note…these goals must EXCITE you).

 

NOW YOU NEED TO…take a step back and consider the shift or change or ONE THING that is going to make a difference and help you to achieve these goals – what has been the barrier in the past, what has gotten in the way, or what have you failed to do enough of or well enough. Write down a few ideas and order another cupcake or dark chocolate thingy.

 

AND THEN…forget it all for a while… That’s enough for now. Stop thinking about it and take a few days to let your brain percolate over this. Add to your notes as ideas come. Discuss it over more coffee. Eventually, the WORD or THEME will hit you when you least expect it, and when it does…

 

PROCLAIM TO THE WORLD…write it, blog about it, draw it, figure out what it looks like everyday, share it with your team and discuss what it means for you and them. Immerse yourself in it, set mindful reminders to make sure it is in front of mind. Do whatever you need to do to clearly instruct your RAS that THIS IS IT FOR 2017…this is our (meaning you and your brain’s) goal, our influencing context, our foundation, our driver. Hardwire it into your RAS – then get on with your year. And finally…

 

TEST YOURSELF and PIVOT… At the end of a meeting or conversation ask yourself…did I engage with my theme? Set device reminders to make sure you check in and reconnect with it regularly. If things aren’t quite working out, then PIVOT – make a small change in direction or energy to keep you on track. It’s OK to let your theme evolve.

 

At the end of the day/month etc, diarise a green tea and dark chocolate meeting with yourself and/or your team to reflect on how your theme is going. The BIG TEST is whether the theme is influencing your professional decisions and behaviours. If not, it’s probably not the right theme, or you are not really committed to it – just interested in the idea of it! If this is the case, change it, or get off your butt and commit to it.

 

Good luck. I hope it works for you like it works for me.

 

By the way, my words for 2017 is LEADING HUMANS. I feel a passion for becoming one (a better version of myself), and for creating them, so they can in turn lead them! Watch this space.

 

Welcome to 2017 – your best year ever – and I look forward to supporting you on your professional and personal journey!

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 4 Challenge

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 4 Challenge

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Part 4 of 4 –  Challenge. This is the last step to my 4-part series on Powerful Conversations. (Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

 

Time to Make Waves – Challenge and Stretch

“You can’t say that!”

 

Why not? Because we sophisticated, socially evolved human beings are too fearful of upsetting others or unwilling to risk or experience the discomfort of stretching and challenging the thinking of others, even when avoidance will lead to longer term pain.

 

I believe it’s because we simply aren’t that skilled at it, and we don’t do the work as teams and organisations that we need to that supports good quality business dialogue and deliberate and useful debate.

 

But we need to start stretching and challenge our own thinking and the thinking of others. Einstein is famously quoted as saying…

 

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

 

Powerful conversations take us beyond our current patterns and preferences of thinking and usually require the intervention of diverse and curious questioning, and a preparedness to call out the potential issues and flaws in the thinking of others.

 

BUT, we need to do it masterfully, and if you follow the three prior steps in this four step process – validation, permission and curiosity, you will be in a much better position to respectfully challenge thinking in a way that minimises a threat (pushback and denial) response and maximises diverse and creative thinking.

 

Here are some ways you can start your challenges…

 

  • May I challenge some of your thinking around that?
  • I can see some potential flaws in that thinking which you may not be aware of. May I share another perspective?
  • We have different experience and perspectives here. Would it be useful to take some time sharing those?
  • Unfortunately, due to policy constraints, that approach is unlikely to work. But would you be up for a discussion on how we can achieve the same outcome a different way?

 

So there it is – Michelle’s Four Steps to Powerful Conversations – I’d be keen to hear how you go using them all together and seriously invite you to post on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

 

Have a powerful conversation day!

 

Michelle

 

Rewired Conversations: Brain-Based Coaching & Conversation Skills Intensive

 

If you’re interested and committed to learning how to have truly Powerful Conversations, I am offering a 4-day Rewired Conversations intensive next May-June 2017 at a cost of $3,950 plus GST.

 

What’s included:

 

  • 4 day intensive workshop delivered by a highly experienced and qualified Professional Certified Coach (accredited under the International Coach Federation – ICF), and the program is accredited under the ICF
  • An online PRISM Brain Map ($399)
  • 10-week 10-module online My Brain Academy education program ($499)
  • Copies of Michelle Loch’s books – 52 Weeks of Awesome Leadership and Your Brain is Your Business ($70)

 

Package cost:  $3,950 plus GST

 

 

Why this program?

 

You will be interested in this program if…

 

  • You want the people in your team – colleagues and direct reports – to do better thinking and have better conversations
  • You want things to start happening (increase performance, engagement or productivity) in your team or organisation
  • You are having the same conversations over and over again
  • You want to feel more in control in your conversations and meetings
  • You want to stop wasting time and energy and get into ‘useful’
  • You want to be more influential in impacting and developing your direct reports, and also in managing upward
  • You want to have conversations that work!

 

 

To register or find out more click HERE
4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 3 Curiosity

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 3 Curiosity

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The third of four steps to powerful conversations is Curiosity. (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

 

Curiosity killed the Assumption

How annoying are those people who finish your sentences? What assumptions do they constantly make about what is going on inside your head? Lots!

 

And they do this for good reason.

 

Firstly, the human brain learns by making assumptions – it lumps together similar information from all its sensory inputs, makes a map through connections and stores it for later use. To save energy, when new information comes into the brain it searches the archives and if there is a similar map to what it is experiencing, it will ‘assume’ it is the same.

 

For example, we assume that people who drive a Mercedes are wealthy, because other people we know who drive Mercedes are wealthy (and the advertisements also suggest the same!).

 

This is very useful in that it saves us from relearning behaviours and knowledge every time we need to use them, but it is often inaccurate because in the absence of facts, we simply fill in the gaps that make sense for us.

 

Basically, assumptions are a necessary evil – a cognitive shortcut that can cause us to respond to situations in ways that are not useful.

 

Enter the third step in powerful conversations – curiosity. I love this concept and spend significant time on it in my Rewired Conversations program.

 

When you are engaged in a challenging, emotionally charged or coaching style conversation, and you have Validated and asked Permission to engage in further conversation, it’s then time to get Curious.

 

Curiosity helps conversation in a number of ways. It

 

  • gets people talking, and hence engages them
  • shows you are interested and builds trust
  • provides you with context and information that will help you respond and support in more useful ways
  • fills in the gaps and gets the facts

 

Curious questions that are powerful are the ones you ask that you don’t know the answer to, and preferably that they also have to think twice about.

 

Here are some examples of curious questions:

 

Tell me more…

How long has this been an issue for you?

Do you know what to do next?

How can I help you think this through?

What self-talk is going on inside your head?

What would happen if you did nothing?

 

Spend this week getting curious. Here’s a link to download even more Curious Questions. My Golden Rule is to ask 3 questions before you give advice or counter someone’s suggestions or decision, and be present to when you make assumptions.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Michelle

 

I’d love to hear of your experiences or answer any questions on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

Rewired Conversations: Brain-Based Coaching & Conversation Skills Intensive

 

If you’re interested and committed to learning how to have truly Powerful Conversations, I am offering a 4-day Rewired Conversations intensive next May-June 2017 at a cost of $3,950 plus GST.

 

What’s included:

 

  • 4 day intensive workshop delivered by a highly experienced and qualified Professional Certified Coach (accredited under the International Coach Federation – ICF), and the program is accredited under the ICF
  • An online PRISM Brain Map ($399)
  • 10-week 10-module online My Brain Academy education program ($499)
  • Copies of Michelle Loch’s books – 52 Weeks of Awesome Leadership and Your Brain is Your Business ($70)

 

Package cost:  $3,950 plus GST  

 

 

Why this program?

 

You will be interested in this program if…

 

  • You want the people in your team – colleagues and direct reports – to do better thinking and have better conversations
  • You want things to start happening (increase performance, engagement or productivity) in your team or organisation
  • You are having the same conversations over and over again
  • You want to feel more in control in your conversations and meetings
  • You want to stop wasting time and energy and get into ‘useful’
  • You want to be more influential in impacting and developing your direct reports, and also in managing upward
  • You want to have conversations that work!

 

 

To register or find out more click HERE
4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 2 Permission

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 2 Permission

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Permission is the second of four steps to powerful conversations. (Read Part 1: Validation)

 

Always Seek Permission to Engage in Conversation

Every conversation is an emotional one. We are emotional beings, and can easily be triggered emotionally on a continuum from Fear to Excitement. When we refer to conversations that are not emotional, we are really describing conversations where emotion is effectively managed or we are in a slightly happy state.

 

In terms of thinking capability, and problem-solving capability, we are at our best when slightly above calm and acceptance, in the ‘slightly happy’ space.

 

There are many ways to support others to get into that slightly happy place of acceptance, and a powerful tool is the act of seeking permission.

 

Until I did my coach training back in 2006, I had not really had this concept brought to my attention. It’s likely that we all use it occasionally without realising because we are very polite beings, but using it deliberately takes conversations to a whole new level.

 

Asking permission in a conversation is respectful, it acknowledges the appropriate control that person has and should have within the conversation, it facilitates deeper thinking and reflection, and it is extremely effective in building trust.

 

Using permission protects you from inadvertently setting off ‘threat’ responses that we know can shut people down or limit their cognitive capability. It’s like getting the green light to proceed down a path of questioning or discussion, particularly if that path is personal or potentially challenging.

 

So how and when do you use permission. Well, firstly, more often than you think and this may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. Secondly, you don’t need to use the word ‘permission’ because that gets a bit creepy. And finally, at the beginning and end of a conversation, and at each point there you are changing focus or wandering into uncharted territory.

 

Here are some examples of using permission that might make this easier for you to experiment with.

 

  • Are you OK to have this conversation now? Do you have time?
  • Is it OK if I ask you a few questions about what you just said?
  • We’re getting into personal stuff there, are you still OK to continue?
  • I can see this is emotional for you, do you need to take a minute, or are you OK to continue?
  • I’m thinking it might be of value to explore that concept, is that OK?
  • Is it OK if I reflect back what I am hearing you say?
  • Would you like to look at what options you now have?
  • Are you comfortable leaving the conversation here? Is there anything else?
  • Would it be OK if I add a different perspective?
  • May I challenge you on that to see if we can take your thinking a bit deeper?

 

Take some time this week to add permission and validation to your conversations. The more you try, the more comfortable it will feel.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Michelle

 

I’d love to hear of your experiences or answer any questions on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

The Neuroscience of Leadership – UPDATE

 

Are you ABSOLUTELY up-to-date with the LATEST research and discoveries relating to Neuroleadership?

 

We have learned more about the human brain in the last 25 years than in all of history before, and this new science is changing the way we think about leadership.

 

Neuroleadership is a field of study that takes the latest discoveries from social cognitive neuroscience and applies them in conceptual, practical and useful ways to the way in which we self-lead and lead, influence, engage and motivate others.

 

In this Neuroscience of Leadership UPDATE session, Michelle Loch will unpack some of the recent findings from the Neuroleadership Summit held in New York in November 2016 and facilitate a discussion on how these findings can benefit leadership teams.

 

 

What’s included?

 

The workshop ($199+GST) includes:

  • 3-hour interesting and interactive workshop
  • Access to one of Australia’s leading experts in the neuroscience of leadership, human motivation, self-leadership and powerful conversation

 

 

Find out more and register HERE
4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 1 Validation

4 Steps to Powerful Conversations: Part 1 Validation

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This is the first installment of a 4-part series dealing with how to rewire your thinking to conduct more Powerful Conversations. Part 1 deals with the importance of Validation. Part 2 will be about Permission. Part 3 discusses Curiosity and Part 4 will be about Challenge. All four topics are essential components to having much more useful, effective conversations.

 

Validation Comes First in Powerful Conversation

My husband is a problem-solver, as are many of my friends and colleagues. Humans love to be problem-solvers because when we solve a problem for someone (or think we have) we get a reward in the brain (a hit of dopamine – often referred to as the pleasure hormone) which is terribly addictive.

 

Not only that, being able to dish out advice from our technical expertise or from our experience gives us a sense of importance (also vital to the healthy functioning of our brain) and feeds our sense of self-worth as we have been hardwired to believe that our value is defined by what we know and the formal positions we hold (titles and pay rates).

 

There are a number of issues with this, but the most notable being that I don’t feel heard, or more specifically, I don’t feel validated, and so my sense of self-worth is challenged.

 

Regardless of the great advice I’m given, or the useful questions I’m asked, until I feel heard and validated, my brain won’t move forward. And the problem with that is that the person on the other end of the conversation is reluctant to validate a perspective or emotion they feel is incorrect or needs to shift.

 

But validate you must, because all experience is truth. My truth will always be different to your truth, but it will always be my truth. It’s a bit like when your toddler brings home their amazing painting of beautiful mummy, and mummy is unrecognisable, and you comment – Wow, isn’t Mummy beautiful!

 

Being able to accept and validate the perspectives and emotions in conversations is a critical Step 1 to helping people think better and to develop great solutions to their challenges.

 

We can loosely categorise validation into three types: Subjective, Protective or Objective.

 

Subjective: “There is no need to feel upset about this.”

Not particularly useful as I AM feeling upset and I have good reason! Get ready for me to shut down and not engage with you any further.

 

Protective: “OMG, did they make you feel upset? That is SOOO BAD!”

Also not very useful, as it feeds my ‘upsetness’ and makes it OK to dwell there. Get ready for another 45 minutes of upset.

 

Objective: “I can see that you are upset.”

Extremely useful. Yes I am upset and I am grateful that you have noticed without making a big deal. I feel heard. (There is more to this around the value of labeling emotion, but that’s for another blog!)

 

Spend this week noticing if you validate others in your conversations, and if you do, which kind of validation do you favour. Notice also the usefulness of the response you get.

 

And remember, this also applies to your own self-talk.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Michelle

 

I’d love to hear of your experiences or answer any questions on my Rewired Conversations Facebook group.

 

Rewired Conversations: Brain-Based Coaching & Conversation Skills Intensive

 

If you’re interested and committed to learning how to have truly Powerful Conversations, I am offering a 4-day Rewired Conversations intensive next May-June 2017 at a cost of $3,950 plus GST.

 

What’s included:

 

  • 4 day intensive workshop delivered by a highly experienced and qualified Professional Certified Coach (accredited under the International Coach Federation – ICF), and the program is accredited under the ICF
  • An online PRISM Brain Map ($399)
  • 10-week 10-module online My Brain Academy education program ($499)
  • Copies of Michelle Loch’s books – 52 Weeks of Awesome Leadership and Your Brain is Your Business ($70)

 

Package cost:  $3,950 plus GST  

 

 

Why this program?

 

You will be interested in this program if…

 

  • You want the people in your team – colleagues and direct reports – to do better thinking and have better conversations
  • You want things to start happening (increase performance, engagement or productivity) in your team or organisation
  • You are having the same conversations over and over again
  • You want to feel more in control in your conversations and meetings
  • You want to stop wasting time and energy and get into ‘useful’
  • You want to be more influential in impacting and developing your direct reports, and also in managing upward
  • You want to have conversations that work!

 

 

To register or find out more click HERE