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Resilience Alphabet – H is for Hopefulness

This is the start of the second week of us thinking about Personal Resilience. How do you counter so much fear, anxiety and worry in the environment right now, to ensure your own well-being whilst keeping your head out of the sand?

Over the course of the last week I’ve had a lot of contact with individuals and teams of people and it is striking that some are working full out to give all of us the best chance of staying safe; some are prepared and waiting with increased capacity; some are self-isolating or home-working with or without children; and some are living alone. To some extent all of these people are dealing with the emerging challenge.

My curiosity is roused to wonder how much Hope and Hopefulness has played a part in your mental landscape this week. And if so, what is it you hope for? For me, Hope is, and always has been under-rated. As human beings we have the ability to future focus, and imaginations to allow us to experience the full range of thoughts and emotions of some imaginary place and time, and research confirms our future imaginings are as powerful as actually having the experience.

One of the best things you can do right now to protect and enhance your resilience is learn the art of Hopefulness. We do that by focussing and giving airtime to the hopes we have for future times, even in times of challenge and when we are worried about what is happening. It is not some kind of denial of what is: it is an expectation and a state of being that accepts what is whilst at the same time creates a positive mental space of future hopes, future activities and future plans.

Take some time today with a cup of tea or coffee, and pen and paper and just dream and hope and give your brain the chance to be filled with possibility and hopefulness. What steps are you taking at the moment to give yourself space to hope? Share your strategies in the comments below, and as always stay safe.

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Resilience Alphabet – G is for Gratitude and Generosity

As we continue to focus on Personal Resilience these two words are like twins for me. Gratitude for what we have (and often take for granted) and Generosity with what we have.

Today’s personal resilience challenge is to take a pen and paper (I know that requires some action on your part) and write down in three minutes as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for right now, and you might like to write in the comments how many you managed in your three minutes. It is good for our health, our mental health, and our sense of self to remind ourselves of what is available to us even in challenging times. I sometimes ask clients to keep a Gratitude Diary as a list on their phone. If this task is too easy for you, you might like to try putting 5 things on your phone you are grateful for every day for the next 28 days, one of them about yourself if you really want a challenge. I guarantee if you do this for 28 days you will feel the shift in your mood.

Which brings me to my second word. We are surrounded by acts of generosity right now and I don’t plan to list any of them here. For some, that means they are working on the front line for us. However, for all of us there are so many ways we can be generous with our time, our resources and our selves at this time; and many of them can be done safely from your home. Generosity is good for both the giver and the person who benefits – so get creative with what you can do with your personal gifts right now and boost your own resilience whilst supporting others.

How many things are on your gratitude list? And above all, stay safe.


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Resilience Alphabet – F is for Four Minute Holiday

This picture was taken last year, and I love the expectation on the little faces looking at the beauty of the bright daffodils on a dark night. It is so symbolic of where we might be at the moment, looking for moments of brightness in times of uncertainty.

I have long been an advocate of the 10 minute holiday in a busy day, and if you are my client we may have talked about this. Many people will have cancelled, or be cancelling holidays in the next few months and so this post encourages you to be creative and write down as many things as you can think of that fits into the category of Four Minute Holidays and take one every single day.

This requires first and foremost intention and permission. Intention to loose myself for four minutes in something that brings me peace or joy, or that simply takes me out of myself and the current pressures for four minutes. And permission to disengage in order to do so. I’m going to give you some starters for 10, but hope you will populate the comments with many more ideas, which will allow us all to take a break regardless of the current demands.

Right now high levels of fear and uncertainty can ambush our imaginations. This is a positive way to reclaim our imagination if only for a short time! So here are some to get started…

1. Take four minutes to imagine the conversation of the characters in the photo
2. Seek out a visual image in your environment and simply go visit that place in your imagination
3. Sit by a window and feel the wind on your face
4. Listen to a favourite piece of music – and just be random and listen to something
5. Go and eat a piece of fruit with intention and attention to the smell, taste, texture, look and feel.
6. Draw a cartoon – no skills required!
7. Take pen and paper and just doodle
8. Take a walk round your home and look at the pictures on your wall
9. Grab a photo album and just have a look
10. Pick up a musical instrument and pretend you can play it!

GO PLAY – and let us know what you are planning to do or have done in the comments below. Really keen to hear lots of ideas on this one… stay safe.

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Resilience Alphabet – E is for Energy and Exercise

I’m curious about what energises you – and I appreciate you may not immediately think of exercise!

At this time we may be feeling the pressure of the work we do if it is on the front line, or the lack of work we currently have to do, or a sense of our freedom being curtailed, or our struggle with getting no ‘me’ time, or indeed our struggle with working in isolation and feeling the loss of colleagues that brings. So this post recognises the differences between us.

In the same way we will be energised by different things. This picture is one of my favourite views – just looking at it takes me right there even if it is off limits just now. Perhaps the best thing you can do to sustain your energy levels is pay attention to what energises any human body… and also what energises You!

This could be a great time to start your Couch to 5K whilst the guidance is for exercise once a day. Just think where you could be by the end of 12 weeks. There is strong evidence for the benefits of physical exercise in enhancing mental health and re-firing the brain with good chemistry.

Or if friends energise you join Zoom or GotoMeeting or some other online networking service and have Online Lunch Times, Tea and Cake breaks, or a Family Quiz night as one of my clients has just told me they did last night.

We are also energised by quality sleep – so go all out during this time to establish the best sleep routine possible to get maximum benefit from the hours you are off duty. There’s a lot written about the habit of sleep and the benefits of sleeping well.

So take a moment and write down 3 things that you know energise you and make it a priority to find space to act on these every day this week. You could have an Energy List up on your kitchen wall, and I’d love to hear your favourite energisers in the comments below. Meanwhile, Stay Safe.

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Resilience Alphabet – D is for Downtime

I spoke with a client last Monday morning who was onto her 14th Day in a row at work. I imagine given the role she has that if I were to speak to her tomorrow that number may well have gone up to 21. This post is dedicated to those like her for whom a day off right now would feel that an opportunity to get ahead of the wave for all of us had been missed.

At the same time, for many people staying safe means spending much more time at home, and potentially with much more time to do things we would only have dreamed of two weeks ago.

For me downtime is being engaged in an activity where I am so absorbed in what I am doing that normal thought is suspended. There is a lot of evidence to confirm that doing something that gets us into that state of flow has exponential benefits for our health, well-being, brain, emotional health, the list goes on. For me that can be getting lost in a book, playing piano, counted cross-stitch, being in the garden and getting my hands into earth! The paints have not come out yet… but they might!

If you know me well, you will know I am a planner! I have a white board in my kitchen right now that I’m populating with little things that I could do in a short period where I want to change focus from the ‘big stuff of life’ and engage in a period of downtime. I also have a personal list of things I have decided I will do every day to create a sense of routine during this period when normal routines have been suspended.

So I am encouraging you to sit down and write a list of the things that you know take you to that place of downtime – when you are completely absorbed and focussed on what you are doing. This is the opportunity to take a break from all that surrounds us in terms of visual and mental stimulus right now; to shut out the noise; to suspend fear and simply be absorbed in your own form of downtime. No matter how busy you are – be intentional about engaging in one of your downtime activities every day. The picture was taken in a walk in Angus earlier this year.

I invite you to share in the comments what you have done today that has helped you to have a mental holiday or a dose of downtime… and stay safe!

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Resilience Alphabet – C is for Choice and Connection

Personal resilience is intrinsically linked with the choices we make and the degree of care for others and self-care we engage in. Being mindful of our personal resilience is not a selfish act, and rather a preservation of our health and well-being in a way we can continue to support and care for others.

I’m curious about the Choices you have made today. At the end of yesterday my last contact with someone whose work centres around the current situation said quietly “It’s not a problem how late it comes through, I’ll be logging in tomorrow anyway”. This was one of the quiet unseen army who are working on our behalf right now, who made a choice that today would be partly about support to others although it is not normally a working day. I made a different choice this morning: to leave this Blog until later in the day, so I could take a break from the busyness of the last two days. So this is an invitation to you to be intentional about the choices you are making right now to balance effort with recovery time. We need both activity and recovery time in order to sustain our efforts.

Which takes me to the second work in my Resilience Alphabet: Connection. I cannot imagine how it feels for people who live alone during these times of staying home. However, I am certain there are many ways in which we can continue to connect with each other through the plethora of electronic means, but also by telephone. Some of you will know that I do a lot of work around Conversational Intelligence®. One of the foundational skills of C-IQ is Listening to Connect. That is not listening to speak, not listening to tell, not listening to ask…. Just listening to make human connection. So I’d like to challenge you to make a point during these weeks to give space to those you connect with to let them be heard and particularly for those who live alone, to give them the chance to express what they are feeling and thinking during the connections we have with them. And don’t forget to connect with yourself – for some of us this will be through reflection, journaling, writing poetry or just taking time to breathe.

So ensure you choose to create enough recovery time, and seek out meaningful connections with others… and yourself. Stay safe – and be kind to you too.

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B is for Behaviour and Balance

The thing about behaviour is that by its nature it is largely visible – it is the part of us that others see. Behaviour can be observed at many levels. Last night we saw country-wide behaviour. Thousands of people standing at their windows or doors clapping their hands to applaud the people who are working tirelessly for us all on the front line. If someone had landed from another planet at 8pm last night I wonder what they would have made of this community and its behaviour!

Today I want to think more about a smaller dimension of behaviour – Yours. If I had been videoing you all week what would be the behaviours I would have observed with regard to your interactions with others, and what would I had made of them? Perhaps I would have noticed behaviours driven by compassion, helplessness, joy, fear, frustration, humour, anger, love. Are there others you would add? If you think about it most of our outward behaviours are driven by our feelings or our values.

In these times of high demand for your behaviours to be focussed and impactful, it is also important to think about the focus and impact of your behaviour with regard to your own well-being. It is hard right now to get the balance right between what we need to deliver for others; and what we need to preserve in, and for, ourselves in order to serve others well at this time. So I encourage you to do at least one thing today – even if it is for a very short time – which will ensure you remain resilient for all you plan to do throughout the rest of the day, or which will re-energise depleted reserves so you can continue to make impact tomorrow. Perhaps you can encourage others by sharing what that one things will be.

Stay safe – and be kind to you too

With thanks to David Simpson Photography(c) for permission to use this image

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A is for Acceptance and Adaptability

Welcome to the first Resilience Alphabet Blog!

Most of my clients work in the public sector which means that many of them are at the heart of keeping us safe. For that reason I am focussing all Blog, FB and other Social Media channels on Tips and Thoughts on Team and Personal Resilience. You are giving so much at this time in striving to keep all of us safe and well. The Daily Blogs over the next 6 weeks will be dedicated to helping you keep safe too. We are whole people and that means we need to pay attention to our health at many levels, the most obvious being physical, mental and emotional. We also need to pay attention to our social and spiritual well-being which will mean different things to different people.

The hashtags I will be using are #resiliencealphabet #staysafe #fourminuteholiday and #bekindtoyoutoo .

So A is for Acceptance and Adaptability.

Let’s start with Acceptance. One of the quotes I had on my wall for a long time and I still think about is Control the Controllables. My spellcheck won’t let me have ‘controllables’ but part of being resilient in challenging times is working out what I can control and what I can’t. With a limited amount of energy at our disposable it is best we use it focussed on what we can control. Tantrums about what we can’t control can be left to another day. It is more important right now to simply be accepting of this and focus all of our energy on what will make a difference. Take a quick check on anything you are wasting energy on that you have no control over today. Pop it on the shelf and leave it there for now, and refocus.

That requires Adaptability. A flexible thinking style will be a huge help right now as we navigate uncharted and uncertain waters. We know that in terms of Emotional Intelligence, Adaptability of thinking and managing our emotional state helps us to manage stressful situations better. Some of us are naturally better at this than others. You will know yourself as someone who lets go of things really quickly…. Or someone who hangs onto stuff and ruminates over and over!! Adaptability is a learnable skill – so practise being adaptable and flexible in your thinking. There’s more than on way to do most things and more than one way to win.

Stay safe… and be kind to you too.

#resiliencealphabet  #fourminuteholiday  #staysafe  #bekindtoyoutoo

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The value of trust

ball logoWhat is the value of trust?  Who you can trust? How do you know? What happens when you loose it?

Harvey McMillan is proud to say that it has a strong value base as a company.  As the business owner that means that the values are close to my core personal values – you would expect nothing less.  One of our core values is trust.  So we work towards building trust with all our stakeholders:  clients, associates who work with us, employees, colleagues we network with, other fellow businesses, and even suppliers.

Our values in Harvey McMillan are:

  • Trust – high levels of trust and openness
  • Integrity – at every stage of our partnership
  • Quality – in every area of our delivery and relationships
  • Respect – for difference, culture and the needs and rights of each person we have contact with
  • Creativity – designed for you
  • Innovation – new thinking new tools
  • Yarak – alert and ready to respond
  • Making a Difference – clear measurable outcomes

The value of trust cannot be under-estimated nor can the ease with which it can be lost.  Trust and integrity are the building blocks on which all our other values stand, and our whole value proposition leads to our global value of making a difference!

So what trust value do you have in your organisation, with your staff, your partners, your clients and customers?  How do you know?  What are you doing day by day to build and strengthen trust?

Are you a leader that people trust?  Create high trust in your team and in your organisation and you will be amazed at the outcomes, rewards and the value of Trust.


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