Beyond The Comfort Zone

BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

Beyond The Comfort Zone

BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

By Craig Johns

A comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there.

Successful people have the unique ability to perform under high levels of pressure. Pressure comes from internal and external expectations, and as the stakes rise, fear grows. Being able to deal with fear and the uncomfortable feelings that are associated, you have to be better prepared to control your state of mind.

Why do we feel uncomfortable? That uncomfortable feeling comes from going into a place where you have never been before. You are making a change and disrupting the way your mind and body are used to doing something. It might be doing something for the first time or doing something you haven’t done for a while. It could be doing something you are used to, but the conditions or parameters have changed.

When you first experience a struggle and you feel uncomfortable, you start to second-guess yourself. Remember nothing in life comes easy and the greatest satisfaction is the result of overcoming something that takes us out of our comfort zone and takes us to a whole new level. You need a mindset of being comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is the price of progression.

“If you want something in life that you have never had, you will have to do something that you have never done.

Here are some ways to take you beyond the comfort zone:

SHOW UP

You will feel most uncomfortable when you take the first step and make a decision to start. That commitment to get off the start-line means the battle is half done. Most great ideas never get started, but once you have taken the first step, the real work begins. You made a choice, a commitment, and now you need to show up.

ONE STEP IN FRONT OF THE OTHER

Sometimes your actions don’t go to plan. You may not be seeing results, the progress is slow, and you are being told that it won’t work or self-doubt is kicking in. This is the point where everyone considers giving up and start asking themselves, “why am I doing this?”. At this point you have to be brave and be ready to answer honestly. Your purpose needs to be crystal clear, because this is when the true battle begins and it is the time to shine.

FAKE IT WHILE YOU MAKE IT

Fear kills more dreams than failure, so you have to control the controllable’s and brainwash yourself with lots of positive affirmations and thoughts. Pretend to be confident and visualize how it will look. Preparation and belief are your best friends.

EMBRACE ‘THE SUCK’

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Deal with the adversity, the challenge, the pain, or the uncomfortable feeling by welcoming it with open arms. Make it your friend, as ‘the suck’ is the reason that is going to make you better. You are building your mental and physical toughness, which leads to greater levels of resilience.

SURROUND YOURSELF

Create a team and environment that supports the challenge. An environment that is positive and provides you with the feedback required to deal with the positive and negative thoughts, and perceived obstacles to achieve your goal.

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

To continually extend the boundaries of what you thought was possible, you need to understand how you overcome uncomfortable experiences in the past. Use your understandings to build your confidence. Start to notice the patterns of your thoughts and record them. Record the characteristics of your fears, such as when does it appear, where does your mind wander, how do you cope with it and how you construct your intentions to deal with it. Create an internal culture of reveling in achievement and understanding how you deal with situations.

REPETITION

Your mind and body are comfortable with familiarity. The more you perform in an uncomfortable state, the more confidence you will develop. It is a mindset you have to develop, so you can allow your thoughts and emotions to adapt and grow.

TAKE ACTION

What rituals and behaviors can you create, so that each day you feel more comfortable with the uncomfortable? Once you have developed these actions, you need to be patient and be prepared for the long-game, as it will take some to become an automatic part of your life. Over time you will feel more confident, empowered and prepared to face the uncomfortable more often. The result of this process is a life of growth, excitement and success.

Are you ready to go beyond the comfort zone?

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Healthy Habits in the Workplace

4 HEALTHY BREAK HABITS WHILE WORKING REMOTELY

By Craig Johns

How often have you found yourself so focused on work while working remotely that you forget to take healthy breaks? In the previous article “Undisputed Benefits of Taking a Smoko Break” we looked at the benefits of taking regular, short and frequent breaks, and the importance of detachment from something we are focused on. This article bring you some useful strategies and habits you can form to improve your performance and productivity while working remotely.

Healthy Break Habits

Don’t tell your boss, but taking a power nap has a major impact on your alertness and cognitive function. It can alleviate sleep deficits; improve creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual, object and statistical learning, logical reasoning, reaction times and symbol recognition; and improve our mood, fatigue and feeling of sleepiness. They should last between 10 to 30minutes long. If you nap any longer you risk developing ‘sleep inertia’, which is the unpleasant groggy feeling that can take some time to shake off.

Quite often we get caught up in ‘the grind’ or the finer details of what we are doing. Having a break allows you to step back and taking a birds-eye-view of the task or work you are focused on. It allows to you see the big picture and stay mindful of your objectives.

Enjoyment is the number one retention tool in the world. Completing a fun activity by yourself or with your friends and colleagues produces positive emotions. These emotions reverse negative effects of work tasks and increase blood flow to the areas in the brain that we use to focus.

Daydreaming allows us to release and switch on our creative modes. Our brains have a focused mode (learning, writing, working) and a diffuse mode (relaxed, day-dreaming). Our brain activity increases when our mind wanders. We sometimes solve some of our toughest puzzles or problems while daydreaming.

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets…It is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

TIM KREIDER

The 4 healthy break habits while working remotely:

  1. Power nap
  2. Birds-eye-view
  3. Fun activity
  4. Day dreaming

PRODUCTIVITY-BOOSTING ACTIVITIES FOR YOUR BREAK

Let’s take a look at some more healthy break habits activities that you can use to boost your productivity while working remotely:

  • Take a walk – 20min walk can increase blood-flow to the brain, which can boost creative thought, enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat age-related declines in brain function, and improve memory and cognitive performance
  • Daydreaming – leads to creativity. Creative activities teach us agency, the ability to change the world, mould it to our liking and to have a positive effect on our environment
  • Eat – replenish the brain with productivity nourishing foods
  • Read – a non-work book. Reading fiction books can lead to better understanding other people, emphasize with them and see the world from their perspective
  • Coffee – morning and afternoon break time is the perfect time for coffee
  • Aesthetically pleasing photos – photos that spark positive emotions like babies, baby animals and funny cartoons
  • Listen to music – can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills
  • Nap it out – 10-30min naps can improve cognitive function, decreases sleepiness and fatigue, improves reaction time.
  • Exercise – makes you happier, increase energy and helps gain focus. Less than 10minutes is all you need.
  • Have a chat – with co-workers or friends
  • Meditate – your brain’s beta waves can be dramatically reduced during meditation. It lowers stress levels, improves overall health and enhances creativity
  • Make it fun – plan a future trip or vacation. The anticipation of a trip can make people happier that the actual trip itself
  • See the nature – Spending time in nature is good for your immune system, improve focus and relieve stress
  • 20min Eye Exercise Rule – 20-20-20 rule – Every 20min, take at least a 20sec break, looking at objects 20 feet away.
  • Goofing Around online – the distractive nature of checking text messages and surfing social media can assist with refreshing the brain

“To maximize gains from long-term practice,” Dr. Ericsson concluded, “individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

Professor K. ANDERS ERICSSON

BREAK METHODS

Here are a few methods that can help you implement a successful healthy break habits strategy in your day.

  1. Pomodoro Method – alternate 25mins on, 5mins off. After 4 cycles take a 30min break. Helps you get rid of distractions and focus more intently. Finite beginning and end of small chunks increases urgency in finishing tasks quickly and making decisions faster
  2. 90minute work blocks – works with our body’s natural rhythm (ultradian rhythm) of 90minutes of activity and 20minutes of rest. We do this during sleep and during the day. When Professor K. Anders Ericsson studied elite performers like violinists, athletes, actors and chess players, he found that the best performers practiced in focused sessions of no more than 90 minutes.
  3. 52-17 method – split between the Pomodoro Method and 90min Blocks. Research suggests that it could be the most productive schedule. Working with purpose.
  4. 2x 15min breaks per day – a good starting point for those who have less flexibility in their work day or mentally cant get their heads around taking breaks.

“The reason the most productive 10% of our users are able to get the most done during the comparatively short periods of working time is that their working times are treated as sprints. They make the most of those 52 minutes by working with intense purpose, but then rest up to be ready for the next burst. In other words, they work with purpose.”

COURTNEY SEITER

What are the healthy break habits strategies you are going to choose?

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Are You Seeing The big Picture Craig Johns

ARE YOU SEEING THE BIG PICTURE?

Do you know what helps you navigate the clutter, complexity and commotion on a daily basis that allows you to take a birds eye view and see the big picture?

It is a challenge when you have your head down, in the zone and focused on the task at hand to understand where you are at and even sometimes to clarify what the big picture really is. The big picture is about:

  • Knowing not just how and what to do, but knowing why
  • Viewing the whole and not just its parts
  • Seeing a vision, a sense of the bigger picture
  • Having the ability to see significance in work, beyond the obvious
  • Understanding that a legacy will live on, whether in the bricks and morter or in the impact made on other people

You have to know what naturally helps you to clear the mind and find the space to step outside your body and mind so you can focus on what is really important. For me, it is going for a long ride by myself or running on a trail. I find it’s my form of meditation and reality check.

Some people find travel helps them to find a clearer perspective, as 10,000 feet up provides a pretty good birds eye view of situations. Another common time is when listening to podcasts that challenge our ways of thinking, leadership strategies or are industry related.

Sometimes we find it difficult to see the big picture by ourselves. You may find it easier through conversations with a friend, colleague or even a group of like-minded people in a “circle of trust’ monthly catch-up over a coffee.

When it comes to financial analysis, you may find manually writing out your budget or financial reviews with pen and paper allows you think of the numbers in a different way than on a computer screen where formulas are producing numbers for you.

A lot of people will work continuously without breaks during a day. Research shows that our ability to perform tasks diminishes after approximately 90minutes of concerted effort and focus. It is important to take a 5-15min break every 90minutes allowing your mind a chance to recharge and your body a chance to move around rather than sitting in one place.

Going long periods of time without a break may also result in you heading down a rabbit hole of time-consuming focus on the unimportant things, without realizing you are on a path of less value.

Organising a dedicated brainstorm or review session with team members of what you are currently doing and where you can go, while ensuring that everything is aligned to the overall mission, strategies and goals is crucial. You will find it invaluable as not only does it provide a big picture check for you, but it also enables the team to develop greater cohesion in what the big picture looks like to everyone.

I have witnessed a few people using apps, such as rescue time, to monitor and track their use of time. It allows them to see how much time is spent on each daily activity and most importantly on the tasks that are making forward progress.

We are often caught up in our own assumptions, ways of thinking and complexity. Try challenge some of your assumptions to see what would happen if you removed one or more of them. Remember complexity is the enemy, so sometimes the most simple and obvious thing maybe blurred or hidden from our ability to see the big picture.

Identify whether you team have a connection to the big picture. Share the big picture regularly by providing the details first and then the context later. Ask them what they see and make sure that you connect the big picture to their work. Most importantly connect the big picture to meaning as people want to know that their working has a purpose.

Make sure that you include the activities that allow you to see clarity from a big picture point-of-view, in your daily or weekly routines. It is crucial that you are on the right road and haven’t taken the wrong left turn. To take it to the next level, it is even more valuable to ensure that you have time following your big picture activities, to find time to analyse and translate your insights into specific actions.

Life is all about choice. We may feel we are snowed under, constrained by deadlines and under the pump from either your boss or a client, but remember you are the one in control. Prioritise what is important, what you need to gain clarity and disregard the meaningless activities that halt your progress. What you do is only as good as the clarity of your big picture.

READ MORE ARTICLES

It’s All About Trust Link
Have We Got The Hiring Process Totally Wrong? Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link
It’s Your Story Link
Be A Rookie Link

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