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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

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You CAN Do It, IF You Do It Right: Essential Steps to Achieving Goals

Posted By Katey Collins, LCSW, Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2020

concept art of a cloud with sticky notes under it for ideasOn December 31st last year did you make a “New Year’s Resolution?” Did you have exciting ideas and ambitious dreams about making drastic changes in your life? If so, you are not alone. This time of year lures people into making such “resolutions.” Unfortunately, little success is found when tackled from this standpoint. The “New Year’s Resolution” approach often lacks a process of extensive research, planning, insight, reflection, implementation, and review.

Think about the people you admire and aspire to be like. From first glance, it may appear as though their life is easy, that they had no obstacles to achieving what they desire. The actual time-intensive, logical, extensive steps taken to get to their happy place may not be so obvious. Consider someone at work who just went back to school and is excited to be completing an internship doing the work they are drawn to. Perhaps you know a Dad who beams with excitement and happiness when he is spending time with his children. Or that friend who just completed another marathon and posted her euphoric finish photo. When you see people this happy and content, are you jealous, envious, happy for them? Do you consider or ask them what steps they took to achieve their goals?

Effective planning and goal setting methods involve ongoing, consistent, extensive processes and habits. It is no mistake that the athlete who qualified for the Olympic Trials ended up there. Some will say this dream began for them as a young child watching their sport in the Olympics on television. A key factor in an athlete's success is their ability to take consistent steps toward their goal over an extended time period. Also, an important step is measuring progress, evaluating what is and is not working, reflecting on thoughts, feelings, experiences, and trusting one’s own insight.

I have been fortunate to learn from many inspiring people who have accomplished tremendous things such as run ultra-marathons (100-200 miles), Ironman triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run), completed a Master’s or Doctorate Degree, lovingly raised children alone, created a successful business with no college degree and barely enough money to provide for their family, heal and recover from abuse and trauma, and become a caregiver for a family member.

I would like to share with you some observations I have made below. I have always been fascinated with ways people improve their outcomes, better their circumstances and create such a positive impact on others. 

Senior women meditating on grass

THINGS PEOPLE DO TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS

  • Embrace ways to challenge themselves and grow. The idea of pushing themselves outside their comfort zone is one they have come to understand will enrich their lives
  • Understand mindset will hurt or help you. A flexible, adjustable mindset is key
  • Have a detailed plan and schedule and follow through with it
  • Support and encourage others
  • Review, evaluate and adjust goals regularly
  • Daily self-care habits and routines: such as meditation, reading, exercise, visualization, mantras, prayer, journaling
  • Keep goals in a place where they are visual and frequent reminders, such as an alarm on your phone, posted on the bathroom mirror, on sticky notes on bedroom walls, etc.
  • Collaborate with others who hold them accountable
  • Understand that achieving something great is not done alone, and are willing to accept support from others
  • View other’s success as inspiring and encouraging rather than threatening
  • Expect that failure is a part of the process

There is some level of comfort in a predictable life, even if it is a miserable life. Research shows how the brain tricks us into wanting things to be the same. You see, our brains are hardwired for survival and protection (Lewis, 2016.) In order to challenge ourselves to grow, we need to do some careful examination of where our fears stem from.

After plenty of my own failings, questioning and learning from others, below are some notable pitfalls to avoid.

 

REASONS PEOPLE DO NOT ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS

  • They do not have a detailed plan in which they researched how to actually accomplish the desired outcome
  • Beliefs they have adapted from other's feedback, such as, "I do not deserve to be happy, I am not good enough," are engrained and accepted in their mind.
  • Fear of the unknown prevents them from taking a risk
  • They look to the norm and society to see if what they are after is commonplace or considered socially acceptable
  • They ignore their passion and intuition
  • They believe that reaching out for support is a sign of weakness, which prevents them from utilizing resources that would benefit them
  • Accountability is not structured into their plan
  • They start with a plan, get sidetracked and started over again and again with different ideas, strategies and methods.

Perhaps these Dos and Do Nots will help you navigate your journey forward. It is not an exhaustive list, yet hopefully enough to get you started. As a coach and therapist, I am trusted amidst people’s most vulnerable stages of life, which is something I take seriously. When supporting clients, and in my own life, I incorporate these guidelines above to foster growth and progress. The path to healing, recovery and one of creating new opportunities is an intensive process, that is well worth the contribution.

The confidence that people gain after achieving such goals leads to a domino effect of positivity in life. After each small win, confidence grows and builds, setting up for the next goal to work toward. My favorite part of coaching and being a therapist is witnessing firsthand the aha moment of achieving a goal and seeing the genuine happiness that accompanies it!


Colin BullenKatey Collins is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Her career roles are/have been Therapist, Life Coach, Executive Director, Associate Director and Founder of non-profit organizations, Swim Coach. She owns two businesses, Tri Life Coach and Bee Happy Therapy in Lake Geneva.

Katey competed through college in swimming and now enjoys endurance racing: Ironman Triathlon, Running (5k – 50K) and open water swimming, most recently a 10k in Barbados.

Tags:  goal setting  motivation  success 

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Unleashing your inner Scarlett: building resilience in turbulent times

Posted By Ruth Kelly, Thursday, March 14, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Scarlett O’Hara, the leading protagonist of Margaret Mitchells’s epic Gone with the Wind, was arguably one of the most iconic characters of American cinema. She was charming, manipulative, vain, spoiled and captivating. However, swept up in the backdrop of the American Civil War this Southern belle discovered attributes and qualities she never knew she possessed. She exhibited fortitude, ingenuity, determination, courage, tenacity, and above all resilience – the ability to bounce back and keep going in the face of adversity. Her steely spirit was epitomised in her “As God is my witness …” monologue where fist clenched she vows that life will not break her and that she will survive at any cost. The theme of resilience is central to the development of this feisty heroine and it is a concept that has gathered significant momentum in recent years as a means of learning and recovering from life’s challenges and setbacks – our mental and emotional elasticity.

 Resilient business woman holding laptop

What is Resilience?

The Harvard Business review defines resilience as “the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity” - including trauma or significant stress. Resilience is not only the ability to weather a difficulty, but also to emerge from it stronger and better prepared to face new challenges in the future. In the corporate world, resilience has gained significant impetus because business leaders increasingly recognize that resilient employees are more likely to recover quicker from an adverse situation and that resilient teams build competitive advantage and growth opportunities. At its core, resilience means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences and finding the intrinsic drive, motivation, and wherewithal to achieve your goals in turbulent times. In other words, “resilience is the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity” (Jensen and Fraser, 2005).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015) defines individual resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity and stress. In essence, resilience implies maintaining or returning to one’s original state of mental health or well-being or achieving a more mature and developed state of well-being through the employment of effective strategies and techniques. Perhaps resilience is really the capacity to weather difficulties and embrace the changes that adversity demands – a deeper wisdom forged through complex and uncertain times. As K. Neycha Herford founder and CEO of The ReMixed Life™ states “resilience is an unwavering rebelliousness to bet on the best while navigating the worst”

 

What constitutes resilience?

The positive psychology movement founded by Professor Martin Seligman is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The Penn Resilience Program offered by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania includes a set of 21 empirically validated skills that build cognitive and emotional fitness and strength of character. Fundamentally, the Program identifies a number of elements that are integral to building resilience:

  1. Self-Awareness – the ability to pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physiological reactions.
  2. Self-Regulation – the ability to change one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physiology in the service of a desired outcome.
  3. Mental Agility – the ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives and to think creatively and flexibly. 
  4. Strengths of Character – the ability to use one’s top strengths to engage authentically, overcome challenges and create a life aligned with one’s values.
  5. Connection – the ability to build and maintain strong, trusting relationships.
  6. Optimism – the ability to notice and expect the positive, to focus on what you can control and to take purposeful action. 

Derek Mowbray of the Wellbeing and Performance Group UK proposes a ‘Resilient and Adaptive Person Development Framework’ with 3 spheres of personal control:

  1. Over oneself – self-awareness, self-confidence, vision and determination.
    Someone who is self-aware is more likely to empathize with others and understand what motivates them.
  2. Over responses to events – problem solving skills, organization.
    This control is rooted in the ability to negotiate effectively with others and to persuade others to consider alternate viewpoints and approaches.
  3. Over responses to people – relationships and personal interactions.
    This control is rooted in organizing oneself in chaotic situations. Someone who has the ability to organize themselves in chaotic situations also has the ability to be flexible and adaptable.

Mowbray identifies the following characteristics of resilient people:

  1. Enthusiasm for life and work.
  2. Capacity to see the future and “go for it”.
  3. Capacity to cope with threatening events and distress.
  4. Attitude towards life and work that is positive, full of energy and determination.
  5. Capacity to see the options, and to adapt effectively to meet and overcome challenges.

George A. Bonanno (professor of clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, U.S.A) in an interview in The New Yorker believes that one of the central elements of resilience is perception. In other words, it depends on whether we view an event as traumatic or as an opportunity to learn and grow. This is subjective and relative i.e. what one person might experience as overwhelming for another might be an opportunity to extend their personal boundaries and develop as an individual. 

It is agreed throughout the literature on resilience that it is a multi-dimensional concept. However, current research identifies a number of factors that are consistent with resilient people (Brown, 2010):

  1. They are resourceful and have good problem solving skills.
  2. They are more likely to seek help.
  3. They believe that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and to cope.
  4. They have social support available to them.
  5. They are connected with others, such as family and friends. 
  6. They are flexible, adapt to new and different situations and learn from experience, including mistakes and triumphs.

 

Women and Resilience

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” - Maya Angelou

Are women more resilient than men? In Gone with The Wind, Margaret Mitchell created a leading female character whose sheer tenacity and strength triumphed over unimaginable adversity. She epitomized a resilient spirit which resonated with Rhett Butler’s words to her that “hardships make or break people”. Scarlett had more than just strength of character and survival instinct though. She was strategic and not afraid to employ creativity and tactics to achieve her goals. Even though GWTW is fiction, research suggests that when the going gets tough women are in fact more resilient than men. In an article published in Nature (January 2019) researchers at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense studied seven populations that endured famine, epidemics or enslavement. The researchers found that during crises, girls and women lived longer than their male counterparts. Research by Andy Scharlach, a UC Berkeley professor of aging and director of its Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services has shown that women generally retain far more resilience as they age than men. One of the reasons, Scharlach suggests, is that women develop richer social networks than men that are not as work bound, and not as sports bound, or activity bound. 

Between 2009 and 2010 Accenture conducted a global online and telephone survey of 524 senior executives from medium to large companies in 20 countries. Women Leaders and Resilience: Perspectives from the C-Suite sought to identify the value executives give to resilience as a senior primary quality of leadership. These leaders view women as slightly more resilient than men ‒ 53% reported women are very to extremely resilient ‒ 51% reported men are very to extremely resilient. 

Another study conducted in the UK Tough at the Top: new rules of resilience for women’s leadership success (2014) found that although both women and men define resilience in similar terms, they talk about the experience of resilience at work in different ways. Women, more often than men, talk about vulnerability when they describe what it means to be resilient. Also, more women than men equate resilience with the need to suppress their emotions at work. This suggests that women look at their likely career path and assume they will have to increasingly ‘toughen up’ to get to the top. Simply acknowledging that this is happening and encouraging senior women and men to speak out about their own experiences of vulnerability in climbing the corporate ladder could go a long way to countering this view.

However, the assumption that toughness alone will propel a woman’s professional rise is erroneous. True resilience means being strategic as well as strong. It means showing ingenuity and imagination in overcoming challenges as well as demonstrating enough self-belief to look at setbacks not as failures but as opportunities to learn from the mistakes and grow. Perhaps, as many sociologists believe, women have had to fight harder for respect and equality so therefore had no alternative but to develop resilience. Also, it has been more acceptable for women to exhibit emotional vulnerability while men traditionally have had to portray a ‘stiff upper lip’. Perhaps straddling vulnerability and strength simultaneously builds empathy and compassion in women – essential building blocks of resilience. As the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou writes in her essay ‘In All Ways a Woman’ women must be ‘tough’ as well as ‘tender’ and “the woman warrior who is armed with wit and courage will be among the first to celebrate victory”

 

Building Resilience 

The good news is that the capacity for resilience is not a static trait in either men or women but rather it is a skill that can be developed and mastered. The following are suggestions for putting resilience to work for you.

  1. Thoughts are Things - sometimes our deep held beliefs and thinking patterns can be counter-productive. Listen to your thoughts and identify the language you use with yourself when faced with a challenge. Is your self-talk supportive or critical? Is it limiting or empowering? By beginning to understand the power of your thoughts you begin to understand how they create not just your present experiences but also your future ones. 
  2. View Setbacks as Opportunities for Growth – this might sound a little Pollyanna-esque. However, by seeing the positive in our failures and setbacks, by looking at what we did incorrectly and what we might do differently in the future and by being willing to learn, grow and develop we avoid the futility of self-flagellation and instead empower ourselves to move towards the future with fresh knowledge, perspective and confidence. Patience and tolerance, especially of ourselves, is key.
  3. Social Scaffolding – surround yourself with people who support and care for you. By building strong social networks you are cocooning yourself in a web of sustenance and encouragement which will ultimately assist you in weathering life’s storms.  
  4. It’s OK not to be OK – sometimes when the going gets tough we need to be frank with ourselves about how we’re feeling, to honestly assess and appraise the situation and to work out the best strategy for moving forward. Owning and addressing our vulnerabilities is a sign of strength, not weakness. This applies to both men and women.
  5. Accountability and Responsibility – taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions is key to resilience. Blaming others for our failures or handing over our power by ‘allowing’ others to make us feel bad about ourselves in disempowering and emotionally draining. Good self-esteem and self-belief help build a certain imperviousness to the opinions, good and bad, of others.
  6. Change is inevitable - Charles Darwin said that the species most likely to survive is not the most intelligent or the strongest but ‘the one that is most adaptable to change’. By learning to be flexible and to embrace the complexities and uncertainties of life we are more inclined to ‘flow’ with the process of life. 
  7. Rest and Recharge – resilience does not equate with endurance. It might be a cliché but there is truth in the old adage ‘work, rest and play’. Get the balance right.  

 

Resilience in the Workplace

  1. Mindfulness – is gaining increasing impetus and recognition as a means of addressing a number of stress and cognitive related issues in the work place. Mindfulness has been found to boost judgement accuracy and insight related problem solving (Kiken, 2011) and enhances cognitive flexibility (Malinowski and Moore, 2009). MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” centre, the amygdala – which initiates the stress response, appears to shrink. 
  2. Response flexibility – Budgets are tight, projects get negative feedback and clients are challenging – all these things are enough to test anyone. It is important to cultivate enough self-awareness to be able to respond to rather than react to situations or people. The ability to pause, reflect, deliberate, consider possibilities and choose wisely is critical to building workplace resilience. 
  3. Innovate and set new goals – personal innovation means investing in and developing your own knowledge and talents. Continuing Personal Development courses are a productive way of expanding your knowledge base. Night classes are a creative way to develop your hobbies and personal interests and to build a social network. Always set new personal goals or milestones. 
  4. Work-Life Balance – it is critical to balance work demands with your personal life. Seeing family and friends, socialising, travelling, exercising etc. - doing the things that enrich you is essential to a happy and fulfilling life. 
  5. Good work networks – what supports are available in your workplace? Are you in a position to make positive changes in your team or organistion? Here are some ideas of what you can do:
    1. Encourage management to make a commitment to mental health and wellness initiatives to create a healthy psychological environment. 
    2. Simple ergonomics such as creating a healthy workspace i.e. lighting, suitable workstations and chairs etc. as well as taking breaks to stretch your body and fingers can all make a huge difference to wellbeing.
    3. Building good social networks at work i.e. team building days, nights out etc. Positive relationships at work boost employee engagement and productivity.
    4. Healthy eating options at work. Lunch time yoga classes or even donning the trainers and going for a walk are all positive actions to boost workplace resilience. 

 

Conclusion

In summary, resilience is a multi-modal dynamic concept which embraces physiological and psychological elements. Resilience means more than just ‘bouncing back’ – it means strategically adapting to and responding to change, adversity and uncertainty and emerging from the process with new perspective, strength and insight. One of the certainties of life is uncertainty and there will inevitably be obstacles and setbacks to challenge even the most resolute of us. However, by deliberately developing resilience we can equip ourselves with essential skills, approaches, and mindsets to navigate even the most turbulent times. The important thing is to keep going to remember that ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’. 

R – reflect on your values.
E – everybody has setbacks.
S – stay connected.
I – invest in yourself personally and professionally.
L – learn healthy and supportive habits and behaviours.
I – identify your strengths, talents and skills.
E – engage with tolerance and compassion. 
N – nurture mind, body and spirit.
C – cultivate a positive expectant mindset.
E – express gratitude. 


 

References 

Brown, B. (2010) The Gifts of Imperfection, Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life, Hazelden, Center City, Minnesota. 

Jensen, J.M. and Fraser, M.W. (2005) A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family Policy, in Social Policy for Children and Families: A Risk and Resilience Perspective, Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Kiken, L.G (2011) Mindfulness Increases Positive Judgments and Reduces Negativity Bias, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(4), 425-431.

Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, Mindfulness and Cognitive Flexibility, Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 176-186.

Strengthening Personal Resilience – a programme to improve performance Derek Mowbray July 2012 Management Advisory Service www.mas.org.uk 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015). Individual Resilience, Public Health and Medical Emergency Support for a National Prepared, Retrieved from http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/abc/Pages/individual-resilience.aspx


KellyRuth Kelly is a researcher and nutrition and wellness adviser. She holds a Ph.D in science from the University of Limerick, Ireland, as well as advanced diplomas in Nutrition and Weight Management and Emotional Freedom Techniques. She is a qualified Stress Management Coach and is currently self-employed at Essence Wellness which offers a range of services to private clients as well as the corporate sector including Corporate Wellness Programmes which cover nutrition, stress management and resilience building. She is a regular blogger to wellness websites in Ireland and is also a fully qualified Bio-energy therapist and Reiki Master.

Tags:  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  resilience  success  thriving 

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Make Yourself Marketable

Posted By Samantha Diedrich, Friday, March 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The way to make yourself more marketable is probably not what you think. Check out this short video from Emerging Wellness Professional Samantha Diedrich to find out, and sign up for our newsletter to receive EWP updates to your inbox!

Click here for information about getting becoming a Certified Wellness Practitioner.

Samantha Diedrich, MS, CWP, is a Certified Wellness Practitioner and Health Coach with Aspirus Business Health - Wellness. She is passionate about engaging business partners and clients to improve their lives through health and happiness. She is a member of the National Wellness Institute's Emerging Wellness Professional task force.

The goal of the task force is to motivate emerging wellness professionals to become active members of the organization and to support the EWP Awardee’s efforts to engage and empower the wellness leaders of tomorrow.

If you want to hear more on this topic Sam will be a breakout session presenter at the 2019 National Wellness Conference with the session titled, "Emerging Wellness Professionals: Growing your KSAs to be Marketable in a Competitive Profession" #EWP #2019NWC

Click here for more information about the Emerging Wellness Professionals task force and NWI's award for emerging wellness professionals.

Tags:  intellectual wellness  marketing  occupational wellness  professional development  success  thriving 

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A Mindful Approach to Change

Posted By Sabrina Walasek, Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Mindful Approach to Change

Some people are steady-as-they-go types. I’m prone to trying new things. And the power of making my own choices somehow made it all feel less risky—until the day it didn’t.

Twice, my husband and I left our jobs and home to spend a year traversing the globe. In 2010, we moved to Colombia and ended up spending four amazing years there. And when we returned to the States, I jumped right back into the flow, working on a creative project with awesome people. Life was good!

Then, that company suddenly closed shop. 

I decided to pursue a personal passion instead. I tried several strategies to gain entry into my desired industry, but I was met with obstacles each time. My previously sure-footed faith failed me. Life didn’t flow; it wobbled. I became tentative, questioning every decision I made. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic experiencing big changes or too many within a brief time period can create a perception that we are not in control of important events. This perception contributes to low self-esteem and even the development of anxiety or depression.

When a single change throws us off kilter, it often doesn’t take us long to regain “control.” But when we’re knocked off our foundation, it takes patience and self-compassion to truly right ourselves. 

Balance can be restored. Here are the steps I took.

 

Changing Thoughts Changes Reality

First, I paid attention to my thoughts and words. Yep, I was brooding on my “failed” career pivot and being really hard on myself. There is a saying, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” I was succumbing to negativity and dismissing the greatness in my life. 

I noticed one word in particular was warping my reality: “should.” The negative power of that word was subversively affecting my sense of self:

  • I should be making more money (I’m a loser). 
  • I should have a larger network (I’m unimportant). 
  • I should be more dedicated (I’m lazy).
  • I should be more skilled (I’m irrelevant).
  • I should stick to what I know (I’m foolish).

According to Psychology Today, the word “should” undermines our ability to do what we want to do and causes a host of negative feelings: blame, guilt, anxiety, stress. 

  • Using “should” with ourselves is disempowering. 
  • Using “should” toward others provokes anger and resentment. 

Once I realized all this, I vowed to stop using the word “should” — which was harder than I thought. It’s surprising how often “should” is used in conversation. 

To break this “bad” habit, I started replacing “should” with “could” or “want to.” For example, “I should network more” feels obligatory. If I don’t, I fail. (Plus, it goads me into rebellion.) Changing to, “I could network more” means it’s my choice. This small adjustment helped me realize I was in control of much of my daily experience. 

Notice how often you use “should.” What reaction does it conjure? Would it feel different if you tried “could” or “want to” instead?

 

Get Curious

Another strategy was to stop taking things personally and instead get curious. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I took the time to sit with my life’s roadblocks to gain perspective. I got quiet, took deep breaths, and asked myself: “What if this struggle is critical to my journey and my personal growth?” 

To be less judgmental and more curious, I contemplate these questions:

  • What would my compassionate self say to my critical self? 
  • Could any positives develop from this experience?
  • How does the struggle make me a better person?

Struggles are essential. They provide us with new perspective. Often, that “wrong turn” steers us to new and positive possibilities. Obstacles remind us to let go of the urge to control everything.

The next time you find yourself in a tug-o-war with life, stop and consider the underlying gift. Be kind to yourself and see if you can identify the value the experience may bring, even if it’s simply how to avoid something similar in the future.

 

Six Dimensions of Wellness

Six Dimensions of WellnessLastly, instead of obsessing on my profession pathos, my course reset involved taking on a well-rounded approach to assessing my life. I selected The Six Dimensions of Wellness, developed by Dr. Bill Hettler of the National Wellness Institute. The six dimensions of life examined in this tool are:

  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
  • Emotional

In my assessment, I acknowledged the positives I experience in each area. Turns out, I am flourishing in many dimensions of life. Who knew?

Discovering this has helped me build energy and motivation to take on the areas of my life that score lower. It helped me see how I can weave my passion into the different dimensions of wellness. I realized I could enjoy life until the universe is ready to open the right door for me, which it did about a week after I “let go.” Out of the blue, a paid opportunity came to me with more ease than I could have imagined.

When we dwell on negativity, everything in and around us is impacted. By looking for the positives, we embody more balance and strength. We are able to see how rich and multi-dimensional our lives are. Seeing these bountiful parts helps to offset the struggling parts. 

Review the six dimensions and list all the positives that make up your reality. Embrace the abundance. If you feel there is an area that could use a boost to keep life more balanced, explore steps you “could” take to fill in gaps. 

 

Find Your Flow

Through awareness, mindful speech (to ourselves and others), contemplation, and self-compassion, we can steady ourselves when the unexpected hits. The “bad” stuff will always still happen — but when we get clear, curious, and positive, we keep on flowing. 


Sabrina WalesekSabrina Walasek is a long-time educator and lover of exploration and learning. She has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing humanity and nurturing her sense of curiosity. She facilitates a monthly mindful women's circle and is a contributor to Whole Life Challenge's blog. Her website is www.mindfulspaces.org


Tags:  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  mindfulness  resilience  success 

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Locus of Control as a Bridge Between Mindfulness and Basic Health Education

Posted By Rich Morris, Thursday, January 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My academic background is in exercise physiology, and I have taught Health continuously at the college level since 1979 at four different institutions. My primary title during those years, however, was NCAA swimming coach. Coaching swimming is an extremely technical endeavor. Biomechanical analysis of technique, combined with a thorough understanding of anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology help a coach prepare athletes for amazing feats. But no matter how well trained an athlete is, the mind can help or hurt their performance. One of the all-time great coaches, Dr. James Councilman, said:

“Give similar top swimmers to three different coaches. One, an expert in the physiology of training, another in the biomechanics of stroke, and the last one an expert in sport psychology, the third coach’s athlete will win every time.”

And so, coaches such as myself schooled in the physical, studied even harder how to motivate and sustain an athlete’s spirit. What kept me in the sport for so long was the ever-changing science of performance. Years ago, we all learned that yoga and mindfulness can help an athlete. Some coaches ignored the studies, some embraced them, but most of us tried to work it into our schedule like so much weight lifting.

Swim team practicing yoga and mindfulness before practice.Here is a picture of my team practicing yoga and mindfulness techniques before practice. The yoga instructor was thrilled by the response, all the athletes seemed to love it. But let’s dig into that a bit. Some of the athletes loved the fact that yoga was taking away pool time. Others appreciated the opportunity to center themselves and relieve the day’s stress. Out of the nearly 40 athletes, maybe 3 or 4 actually improved as an athlete by really using the skills they were learning.

And so my journey continued. From a physiologist’s standpoint, I understood clearly how increasing circulation cleared the stress hormones and benefited any training. From a fledgling psychological standpoint, I could see and feel the benefits of self-monitoring emotions and accepting them, moving into seeking alternative perspectives without judgment, allowing for changing attitudes. But I couldn’t teach it by sticking to the curriculum or practice schedule, there seemed to be a big piece missing.

For over twenty years I have given a clinical survey on Locus of Control as a pre-test to all of my classes. Julian Rotter’s research into how we perceive the control in our lives, be it external such as fate, divine intervention or luck, vs internal through mindful choices, understanding and accepting the consequences before deciding, intrigued me, so I studied it further. The fascinating thing about this was no matter where you fall in the continuum, you truly accept that as reality. If you are worried about a test or project next week, there can be a huge paradigm change caused by a very subtle shift in perception. A more external person gives the test power and control over their life. The date of the test, the professor’s demeanor, the amount of material covered, all are cause for concern. The more internal person sees the test as a thing and is more concerned with their own attitude towards that thing. Studying the material, of course, is paramount, but the truly internal person has been studying all along, talking to the professor after class when clarification was needed, doing the readings and participating in class. For them, the control comes from personal preparation. Not just the material covered, but also eating correctly, taking study breaks to clear their mind, getting rest and exercise to keep circulation going, a holistic approach to success.

From a physiological perspective, stress is the release of hormones causing predictable changes in the body as a result of reacting to a stressor. For the more external person, the test is stress. It causes the release of the hormones, therefore the reaction is predictable. To the more internal person, mindful of alternative perspectives, the test is a stressor. Assess the difficulty, plan your response, control the level of hormones released. Take time and effort to clear the hormones as you prepare. As Viktor Frankl wrote,

“Between stimulus and response, there lies a space. In that space is a choice. In that choice lies our growth and our freedom.”

Does the test represent stress or a stressor to you? That, to me, is where mindfulness training has to start. Behavioral psychology has always reinforced the behavior after the action. And the fact is it works, people can be manipulated by reinforcing desired behavior. In my classes, I try to get students to experience that moment of clarity brought on by a mindful decision. Take that extra beat before reacting, breath, seek alternatives without judgment. Then make a decision understanding the reinforcement will come as a result of your choice; not luck, chance or powerful others. You chose the consequence. Subtle, but so powerful.


Richard MorrisRichard Morris has a degree in Exercise Physiology from UCF and a Masters from UTC in health and Physical Education. Richard has served as a floor exercise leader and adult fitness director at private clubs. In 1990 he served as Orange County, Florida's first wellness coordinator and developed "Wellworks" wellness programming for over 7,000 employees. He currently serves as Director of Health Education at Rollins College, where he has taught and coached for nearly 30 years. He and his wife Lisa have two children and three grandchildren.

Tags:  emotional wellness  mindfulness  physical wellness  success  thriving 

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NWI Member Spotlight - January 2019

Posted By NWI, Friday, January 4, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Nicole AkparewaNicole Akparewa, RN, MPH, MSN

Creative Director of “Transform Nursing”

John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

John Hopkins University, School of Nursing

My mission is to train nurses globally with the tools they need to confidently address health policy, patient advocacy, and patient engagement in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Transformative nursing means that every nurse in every country has the knowledge, the training, and the ability to be effective leaders who will combat health disparities through empowerment, awareness, and education. I am a nurse entrepreneur and coach who teaches online courses for nurses to delve deeply into health and social challenges, and empower the global community of nurses to take the lead on health system change.

The way I have created social impact, which is the effect I want to have on the well-being of the communities I serve, is through blogging and podcasting to build awareness of social justice. I use Facebook Live to speak to the issues that nurses are facing. I also have a course that is focused on social justice and influential leadership called the “Nurse's Influential Leadership Lab” that is all about creating nurse leaders in inclusive practices.  

I lead with passion, bold enthusiasm, and most importantly by example. When it comes to approaching uncomfortable topics in nursing, I don’t ask my students do something that I don’t have the courage to do. I share my stories about nursing, even the times where I felt slighted or shamed, or just fell flat on my face. My relationship with nursing has endured many iterations from infatuation, to bittersweet, to verging on resignation because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out about issues that made me or my patients unsafe. I finally realized that I have a distinct purpose in nursing — to create a safe space for nurses to have a deeper awareness of how their individual practice can improve the lives of their patients beyond the hospital room, and transcend into their lives and communities.

What makes me who I am is my dedication to my purpose and the atmosphere of support that I provide the students in my courses. I am often termed the “eternal cheerleader” because I champion for nurses to take the lead on health policy and education while being involved in civic engagement. I help nurses make subtle shifts that can bring profound changes, and reflections that yield those “aha” moments as they awaken to new insights. It’s really quite special to watch. My authentic desire is to co-create, collaborate, and build strength in the nursing community through a transformative process that will help you find yet undiscovered joys and new challenges in your profession.

I am originally from Seattle, WA. I graduated from the University of Washington School of Nursing with a BSN and then the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing with a dual Masters in Nursing and Public Health. I knew nursing was my passion when I met a Native American nursing student who worked with pregnant teenagers in her tribe. Until then I never knew that nurses worked in the community.

When I’m not working I like to spend time with my little boy Gabriel, read books, and watch the Golden Girls.

To learn more about Nicole and her work contact her at:

Phone: 443.388.6345
E-mail: transformnursing@gmail.com
Website: TransformNursing.com

Tags:  clinical practice  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  multicultural competency  Nicole Akparewa  Nikki Akparewa  nursing  occupational wellness  racial equity  success  thriving  Transform Nursing 

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A Thriving Organizational Culture Drives Employee Engagement

Posted By Dr Dicky Els and Jene’ Palmer, Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dr Dicky Els and Jene’ Palmer (South Africa) 


Culture shapes the wellness of individuals, businesses, communities and nations.  Although it is not static and can change, it generally manifests itself in the behaviour of a group of people at any given point in time.  Culture is a collective identity that is based on a set of unspoken rules that underpin personal values and interpersonal relationships.  It distinguishes the members of one group from those of another, and typically informs society’s behaviour.  Culture is best described as a set of values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are shared by individuals and sub-groups.  It is a strong hidden force that positively or negatively affects individuals, businesses, communities and, indeed, South Africa as a nation.  Just as a person who is healthy may not necessarily be flourishing as an individual, similarly an organisation (or a nation) could be functioning adequately, but not necessarily thriving as a business (or a country).

With heightened racial tension still very prevalent in South Africa, South Africans are realising that the virtuous intent, moral goodness, social betterment and ethical leadership that was envisioned for the “New South Africa”, appears beyond our current grasp.  Since 1994 the “Rainbow Nation” has been tested by various socio-political and relentless economic challenges, and the recent Bell Pottinger scandal has only made these matters much worse.  To this end, social issues such as inequality, infighting, bribery, corruption, cruelty, crime and poverty often come to mind for most individuals when asked to describe the existing national culture. Sadly, negative and often traumatic experiences are slowly eroding our hope, optimism, resilience, pride and patriotism.  More than ever, individuals need to bounce back from adversities while at the same time rethink their expenditures, emotional responses, interpersonal relationships and lifestyle choices.  Once again, as individuals and as a nation, we are being forced to learn, adapt, endure and change. 

“Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness.  You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2008

Moreover, the degree to which the current socio-political and economic climate fosters the needs, desires, values and conduct of an autonomous group of individuals over those of the nation, is also affecting South African businesses.  Organisations are expected to implement ‘radical economic transformation’ strategies while at the same time managing social, environmental, legal and even political risks.  The by-gone era when organisations would only focus on maximising profit, at the expense of ignoring the needs of its people and the environment, are long forgotten.  Fortunately, business philosophies are changing and organisations are increasingly adopting a more sustainable stakeholder-inclusive approach to creating value.  This approach is supported by international governance best practice guidelines such as those contained in the King IV™ Report* and those issued by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).  These guidelines advocate a holistic and integrated approach to business and recognise the connectivity and interdependencies between the economy, society and the environment.  In line with this ethos, organisations are expected to balance “the legitimate and reasonable needs, interests and expectations” of all material stakeholders in the best interests of the organisation over the long term.   

 

Organisational culture change 

If organisations want to transform their business operations to be in line with the above-mentioned business ethos, they need to start by changing their leadership and organisational culture.  According to a recent Harvard Business Review, the failure rate for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is between 70% and 90%.  One of the most common reasons for these failures is the inability to transform and merge organisational cultures.  M&A’s frequently result in high levels of uncertainty and stress amongst employees which in turn germinate a resistance to change and a decrease in productivity.  This negative behaviour is unintentionally reinforced by leaders wanting to “take charge” and control and manage the organisational culture.  Whilst the introduction of rules, policies, and processes may be effective in communicating boundaries and providing guidelines on acceptable behaviour, they often inadvertently restrict employee engagement.  Such a rules based approach to organisational culture assumes that successful change management can only be achieved by anticipating and resolving problems and criticisms.  There is often little to no involvement of the employees in establishing the desired organisational culture and instead, a strong emphasis is placed on analysing, designing and controlling employee behaviour with varying degrees of success.  In these circumstances, it makes more sense for leaders to let go of the illusion of control, and rather focus on the positive aspects of organisational change which promote enhancement and growth by developing a shared set of beliefs, values, norms and strengths.  

A values-based approach to organisational change encourages employees to align their personal values with those of the organisation.  Indeed, a values-based approach, addresses and challenges the belief systems within the organisation and at same time recognises that employees need to be equipped with positive coping skills to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.  Whilst a unified message sent from the ‘top’ and a transparent project plan gives direction to employees, it is capacity development and change enablement that must take centre stage during the merger or change process. Positive transformational leaders develop purpose and meaning, translate strategic objectives into daily operations and develop interpersonal relationships that add value to the human and social capital of the organisation.  They understand that there is no substitute for high-quality connections.  Through supportive collaboration and alliance building, positive leaders work directly with employees to develop new belief systems, behavioural norms and the desired organisational culture.  They enable change through conversations, dialogue and coaching interactions that inspire employees.  As more employees engage in the process, so the impetus towards positive change becomes stronger. 

 

Thriving organisational culture 

High-performing organisations invest considerable resources in fostering their core organisational values, purpose and desired culture.  In fact, high-performing organisations consider a thriving organisational culture as a strong competitive advantage.  These organisations intentionally develop individual and group strengths through collaboration, collective efforts, effective communication and cohesive interpersonal relationships at multiple levels, and in different contexts.   

A thriving organisational culture manifests in the individual expressions, language, teamwork, relationships and positive experiences of employees which in turn translates into improved innovation and productivity.  In addition, thriving organisational cultures are characterised by predictable behaviour requirements, the ability to develop and respond to change effectively as well as an environment where employees can meaningfully engage on an individual and a collective level.  In these environments, relationships are built on trust and positive feedback is provided in the spirit of personal and professional growth and development.  Essentially, employees in these positive circumstances generally tend to value their quality of life, and contribute positively to those around them. 

Similarly, high performing organisations with thriving organisational cultures are further distinguished by the existence of truly cohesive executive leadership teams.  The vision and mission of the organisation is clearly articulated and the organisational values are translated into practical behavioural norms (personal conduct).  High organisational commitment and job satisfaction, low incidence of sickness and employee absenteeism, positive industrial relations and fewer strikes, are the main attributes of thriving organisations.  These organisations adopt a strength-based approach, and assign tangible value to high quality relationships and a collective identity that engages employees and develops its human and social capital.  

Employees working in a thriving organisational culture are generally less insular, and they are more able to give and receive support from others.  These employees tend to work in ways that excite, absorb and engage them.  Generally, they tend to be more self-directed and autonomous, while at the same time they also feel more committed to the organisation.  These employees spontaneously create social networks and form positive interpersonal relationships that enable the collective organisation to set goals, work with vigour, and solve problems with resilience.  Not surprisingly, these interconnected employees enjoy authentic relationships and communicate openly and across multiple reporting structures.  On a daily basis, employees experience personal autonomy, self-efficacy, meaningful work, self-actualisation and social acceptance that entices them to contribute with excellence. 

Considering the racial strife and political undertones many South Africans are experiencing at this point in time -- particularly in the workplace -- more organisations and their leadership should pay greater attention to nurturing their organisational culture.  In doing so, the organisation may become an important catalyst for a far greater change that is not limited to the workplace itself; the positive effects may well also affect the organisation’s social responsibility, extended supply chains and South Africa as a whole.  This being said, the ripple effect of embracing culture and its diversity requires ethical and authentic leaders to drive this change, and this is possibly one of South Africa’s greatest challenges in present times.  

* King IV™ Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016 (The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa) (“King IV™”). 


Dr. Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is a Lead Independent Consultant in CGF Research Institute.  He specialises in Workplace Wellness and focuses predominantly on strategy development, programme design and evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes.  CGF is a Proudly South African company that specialises in conducting desktop research on Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) related topics. dicky@bewell.org.za

Jene' PalmerJene’ Palmer is the Chief Financial Officer at CGF Research Institute, and a Chartered Accountant (SA) who has garnered a wealth of experience over the last two decades in the corporate environment including leading a JSE-listed ICT company as its CEO and returning the company to profitability. She geared the company for an acquisition in order to achieve the goal of turning it into a Billion Rand organisation. Jenè’s passion is rooted in assisting companies to reach their full potential and overcome the challenges posed by an economic downturn, weak strategic direction, operational inefficiencies or financial distress. jpalmer@cgf.co.za

Tags:  Dr Dicky Els  International Wellness  Jene’ Palmer  occupational wellness  resilience  South Africa  success  thriving 

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Servant Leadership and Coaching as Transformation Tools of Country’s Culture

Posted By Cecilia Negrini, Friday, February 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cecilia Negrini
Founder and CEO of the company Cecilia Negrini - Consulting and Advice for the Health Area (Brazil)

For the first time in Brazilian history, on January 24, 2018, the former President of Brazil, José Inácio Lula da Silva, was convicted of passive corruption and money laundering. It is possible to lodge appeals against the judicial sentence and perhaps something in the sentence may change due to this process. But this action is already a small step forward for a change of the culture of Brazil. The conviction of a former President is a good example of justice being possible, whether the wrongdoer is a President of the Republic or a common citizen. 

In my previous International Connection article published in the October 2017 NWI newsletter, we talked about how the coaching methodology, associated with the principles of servant leadership, can bring benefits to people who want to achieve better personal and professional lives, by enhancing the wellness of the person and everybody who lives with them. The aforementioned process has been implemented in hospitals, clinics and medical centers which are clients of our company. I stated that in a future article I would explain the results of the present program.

In this article then, I explain how the political and social contextualization of the results of the applied techniques of that program can increase the effectiveness of coaching and promote positive cultural changes in the Brazilian population.

In our daily practice, we observed that many coaches know what they want, are able to set goals and are determined to achieve them. But they have difficulties in developing the actions necessary to achieve their goals. The Coaching methodology G.R.O.W. (Goals - Reality - Options - Will) was developed by John Withmore. In applying this, we observed that most of the coaches can achieve a clear goal. But at the moment of contextualizing the present social and political moment of ‘reality’ they begin to victimize, so positioning themself as a passive agent of the environment into which they are inserted. For that reason they cannot generate options to obtain their goals. In this way, the G.R.O.W. model is compromised at the ‘Will’ step. The coach's maladaptive beliefs will make them refute many of the options investigated during the coaching sessions. Utilizing focussed questioning and certain techniques the coach can work with the coachee to overcome this. 

At this point, concepts such as Servant Leadership can help the to broaden their vision of how ‘serving’ people (as opposed to ‘receiving’ when in the role of victim) can generate positive actions. Within the concept of ‘serve’ it is accepted that the most respected leaders are those exhibit seriousness, honesty, generosity, commitment, spirituality, and possess strong ethical and moral values. Serving the community, clients, family, friends and employees is the best way to be respected and to be an example, so leveraging your results in an ethical and consistent way. 

Dr. Camila Ramos, a Brazilian dentist who made small changes in the way she looked at client situations explains how this has generated results not only in several areas of her life, but also for those who live with her: 

"The development of the coaching job helped me understand each client's culture, that the mistakes or wrong postures they had with me were not something personal, but because they were that way with everyone. This understanding has made me better able to organize appointments with patients who do not meet the schedule, those who break the orthodontic appliance, those who are always in a hurry or those who like to talk. I have learned that if I am in their service, I must organize myself in the best way to serve them in their needs. This better organization of the necessary time is made available to each patient, knowing a little of their habits. This has made me able to work on schedule, without delays and getting more satisfied customers. This little change has created a sequence of wellness. My schedule organized according to how I like to work, does not leave me stressed and so I can better serve my clients from the beginning to the end of the consultations. My employees have also joined the system and these benefits are enhanced. My next client will have your schedule respected and so you will not have to change your schedule. My gym teacher will have my presence at the stipulated time. My mother will have the schedules kept, since I was not late for lunch and until my dog gets into that gain because his ride will be maintained. Finally, the expansion of my vision so that each individual is unique and should be treated as such, including during the monthly schedule of his orthodontic treatment, which lasts an average of two years, brought changes in the way he worked out the consultation time and with that positive changes in my behavior and benefits to all who live with me." 

Examples like this create a solid foundation for growth, based on moral values admired all over the world. Those who achieve these good results will inspire others to follow their example, thus becoming examples for others. Such examples will favor the progress of sustainable development of the country. Continual small changes will ultimately cause major changes to happen. 

However, as quoted above, many still do not know how to do this. They do not know what options they have to increase their actions and improve results. In our practice, we have verified that some factors can contribute to clarify and increase the chances of achieving goals. Here are a few: 

  1.  Friends - Seek to relate to people who possess the qualities that you would like to have. Living with them will make you learn to behave differently. We must live with people who motivate us and encourage us to be better, who recognize our qualities and who are committed to punctuate our points of improvement. Always look for friends you admire for the qualities you want to have. 
  2. Required resources - investing in courses, training, books, can bring the knowledge you need and even increase your networking with people who have the same interests as yours. However, many claim not to be able to invest in this sector for financial reasons. So, there is a need to make these resources more affordable and accessible which will enable you to prioritize purchasing those that will led you to more personal and professional development.
  3. Losses - Whoever wants change will have to deal with the losses. There is a natural tendency to want to keep what already exists and only add the things we want. In practice, we find that we often lose, or rather, replace beliefs, time, money, comfort, fun, work, study, and interaction with people who seek things and have values similar to ours.
  4. Know-How - If you do not know how to get what you want, look for people who know. This will provide you with options and also create tools to develop your creativity. Many people have already done something the same or similar to what you want, save time and save money by absorbing their experience and knowledge either through socializing, courses or books.
  5. Go up steps - Whenever you start something, finish it. In practice we observed that if most people had finished everything they started, the results they were harvesting would be different from what they are getting. Do not look for shortcuts, take small steps continuously. By starting and ending everything you attempt you will see that small results will accelerate the achievement of future goals.
  6. Take up your new position - Be like the person you want to become. Be honest, ethical, responsible, organized, engaged, generous, sympathetic and faithful. Doing and acting differently will bring positive results and they will inspire you to cope with everything to become the person you want to be. A real behavior change takes more time than an attitude change. But you can speed up this process by doing it right and the results will be evidence that you are on the right path.

We note that there is nothing context changing or unique in the factors listed above. But it is important to understand that countries in economic, political and social crisis, such as Brazil, simple advice and information on how to change negative beliefs and values, is unavailable, not recognized or ignored due to the country’s existing negative culture around the benefits of personal development. 

Dr. Juliana Fraga, is an example of how, as necessary, we need to seek knowledge and help to broaden our vision and thereby change our attitudes. She explains:

"I graduated in 2012, but only in 2016 did I get positive results with the help of a health consultancy that was instrumental in my financial organization, digital marketing and personal learning, partnerships and through that I can now generate employment for my assistant dentist and I am concluding my second specialization”.

 Small changes will produce the results to generate positive reinforcement of these actions, motivating the confrontation of the obstacles and continuation of the actions. A person's positive results by changing his or her life for the better through straightforwardness of character, good moral and ethical values, commitment and engagement with society will serve as an example to undo the mistaken belief that it is only possible to develop financially through advantages even if they are illegal. And so, gradually we will have real wellness examples to be followed within society, inspiring other people to change behavior and attitude favoring the individual, their social and professional environment. And so, little by little we will change the culture and transform the whole country. There is a much better future for us! I believe it!


Cecilia Negrini is business Consultant, businesswoman, coach and speaker. She is founder and owner of the company Cecilia Negrini – Consulting and Advice for the Health Area.  She has more than 10 years of experience in assisting health professionals. A personal coach by SLAC – Sociedade Latino Americana  de Coaching  and she is affiliated in Institute of Coaching by Harvard and affiliated in National Welness Institute – USA. She is specialist in Linguistics from UNESP – Universidade  Estadual Paulista and she did MBA in Marketing for Health and MBA in Business Management from FGV – Fundação Getúlio Vargas. She works as a facilitator in training about servant leadership by Fórmula Treinamentos and James Hunter – author of the book The Servant and others. cecilia@cecilianegrini.com

Tags:  Brazil  Cecilia Negrini  International Wellness  leadership  success 

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Transformational Leadership

Posted By Alex Lobo, Thursday, January 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Alex Lobo MBA
Founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention
Member NWI International Standing Committee 


One of the biggest issues in the management of human talent, the achievement of strategic objectives, and the execution of priorities and needs of the organization, is that people do what they have to do to succeed. 

The issue of leadership has been addressed in many ways; most research being around the need to train people, motivate them, and empower them. The main problem is that each human being has different needs, values, beliefs, talents, resources, abilities, and ways of looking at life. Also, the people who lead do so in different ways through different leadership styles and employ different techniques to have their teams achieve their results. From this perspective, change by itself is not enough to achieve goals and results, especially in medium- and long-term strategy issues in companies. It is not enough to provide methodologies, motivation, and tools. It is necessary to accomplish a change from the operational level, to transform at the level of identity; which generates alignment with respect to values and strategy.

Today, work teams need to self-manage, and for this we need a new way of looking at the leadership issue. Not only the change that the leader asks of his teams, but from the process of accompaniment towards an integral transformation of the person. Today more than ever, leaders have the opportunity to become mentors, coaches, cheerleaders, and sergeants of their teams. Always starting from their own example, from their own resources. But above all, the leadership that is required nowadays has to do with the identity of the leader and the identity of the work teams.

The basis of transformational leadership is self discovery. Who should I be to achieve the objectives? Who do I have to convert? What are the features of my personality that I would have to exalt? What to improve? How should my own resources grow? How am I a generator of that process of change in operability, of transformation in identity? 

Affects Of Transformational Leadership On Work Teams

Transformational leadership positively affects work teams from the level of behavior change —new tasks, assignments, skills to be developed — through to the transformation of beliefs and attitudes, regarding the task itself and team members' own abilities. It is also important to influence the habits and discipline of each member, to explore what are the values and moral and intellectual priorities of each one, as well as their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which gives a better understanding of what is relevant for each work team. 

The three concrete actions of the transformational leader are: understanding the fears and obstacles through which each work team passes; understanding the context and current situation of the individual and their resources and immediate needs, and facilitate the process of transformation, starting from what is apparently a simple task to what becomes a new identity.

Transformational leadership involves those steps leaders have to take to manage themselves. To be able to increase their influence on others, understand the motivations, limitations, and fears of their work team, and help them to expand an instrumentalist vision of accomplishing tasks and achieving results to a functional vision of capacity expansion and strengthening of human identity.

There are specific characteristics of the transformational leader and specific motivations and ambitions of all human beings. The contemporary leader understands these elements and uses them in favor of results, growth, and the generation of future value. Thus adding competitive advantage through four characteristics for the development of transformational leadership: 

  1. Social-emotional skills:  these are the concepts of self-care, self-knowledge of emotional intelligence, social intelligence, the motivations and unique situations of each individual, decision-making, and always thinking about this concept of "better decisions" and that of resilience, concept, and concrete development goals, how to grow in each of these areas with specific indications, individually and at a corporate level.
  2. Virtues: the transformational leader is someone who is regulated in the moral and spiritual from the cardinal virtues. The need to develop strength as a central element of consistency, ability to face obstacles and not bend to situations that are in the way. Temperance, which is the virtue that regulates one's appetites, passions, and vices that we generate consciously or unconsciously and that obviously distract us, de-motivate us, and generate physical, psychological, and profitability consequences. Prudence, which is having the clarity of doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time with the right people, and being able to understand and have a broader vision of the different systems, actors, and forces that exist in the business environment — the number one feature of the trans-formational leader. Development of maturity as the core competence, understood as the ability to self-regulate, self-manage, and to achieve what is proposed.
  3. Persuasion: everything that social influence implies, and how to raise one’s levels of influence to have others do it. Evidently here the key piece has to do with the motivation both at the intrinsic and extrinsic personal level. 
  4. The competition vs. the experience: every transformational leader must have worked, documented their personal learning, their success stories and failures. The leader must understand the specific lessons to work with their teams in specific situations and understand that the main task is to inspire and instruct.

Every one of these characteristics is necessary to increase the chances of success in achieving objectives. In addition to these competencies there are five specific habits that transformational leaders have to master: 

  1. Self-management and self-government: eat well, sleep well, exercise, and lead a harmonious, healthy, and well existence.
  2. Continuous learning: the leader is the first apprentice. Lead from learning and not from knowledge; the knowledge leader gives a chair, the leader in learning accompanies the discovery or transformation process.
  3. Listening: it must be active, with an interest and with a fair amount of curiosity towards people and their points of view.
  4. Discipline: there is no obstacle that can resist perseverance and for this it is important to stay focused, not be distracted, and be a bit stubborn through tenacity.
  5. Celebration: the transformational leader knows how to recognize the effort and knows how to reward the results. Understand that the basis of happiness is progress and that it requires taking time to recognize, reward, and give back. 

Although these habits are not generated from one day to the next, if you start immediately, you achieve your domain through repetition. It is also useful to propose a plan of action and individual improvement for the achievement of goals. This is undoubtedly a recipe or proven formula for accomplishing the transformation of work teams and individuals. Conceptually it makes a lot of sense, however the emphasis must be on the execution and implementation of these concepts.



Alex LoboAlejandro (Alex) Lobo is founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention, writer, researcher, lecturer, educator, consultant, Wellness Coach, Life & BusinessPerformance Coach. The Mexican Institute of Comprehensive Prevention, is an association Alex founded after extensive experience working in the design, management and implementation of “Comprehensive Prevention” Models in educational institutions, public and private sector and governmental organizations. He has studied administration, international trade, and has obtained a Master degree in the Mexican Business School (IPADE). Furthermore, he has worked in consulting, teaching and research in various institutions in Mexico, the United States, and South America. “Comprehensive Prevention” ensures full personal development and freeing the inner potential. It humanizes relationships and leads to a state of consciousness, well-being and fulfillment.

Tags:  Alex Lobo  International Wellness  leadership  Mexico  occupational wellness  success  thriving  wellness coach 

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