Coaching Your Team 101

Coaching Your Team 101
Coaching has not only become a sought after skill among individuals but has grown rapidly as a career for many in the recent years. “In simple terms, coaching is an interaction between two people…and is aimed at developing the performance of the coachee in some aspect of their life.” (Stewart and Rogers, 2017 pg. 202) 

Coaching in the workplace is most likely to take place between a manager and their direct report, but can take place in any capacity such as between coworkers, or between an HR team member and an employee. 

Myles downey developed the scale of directiveness which shows us how our actions as the coach can show up on the ends of two different styles – non-directive and directive. 

Non-directive coaching actions can look like listening (to understand), reflecting, paraphrasing, summarising, asking questions (that raise awareness). However, the more you start to put your own view, expertise and advice into the process, it will start to look like more directive style coaching. These actions include, making suggestions, giving feedback, offering guidance, giving advice, instructing and telling. 

If a key purpose of coaching is to develop a coachees ability to take responsibility for their own decisions and selection of activities, then you would expect the coach to take a more non-directive approach.  

If you’re a line manager wanting to implement coaching into your 121s with your team members, it’s important to ensure there are clear boundaries with the feedback given. Coaching is not a substitute for performance management. When giving feedback, be clear on whether it’s being given in order to correct a performance issue or for performance development. 

The GROW Model was founded by Graham Alexander and gives the coach a useful process to keep the conversation flowing with the coachee in a way that is productive and useful.

Goals – what does the coachee want to achieve and why? Be specific and agree on how success will be measured. Know when the goal wants to be completed by, who else might have influence in this, and what are the consequences of not completing the goal.

Reality – what is happening now? Understand the issues that may need to be factored in, the helpful and unhelp factors, what has been tried previously and what have been the results previously. 

Options – what are the possibilities for moving forward? To stimulate new ideas, think about what the options would be if time, money, resources, energy was unlimited. Try viewing the problem as if it belonged to another person and then ask what their options are. What is possible? 

Wrap Up or Will – what are the best options and what specific action will be taken? Think about the obstacles that may be encountered and how they will be addressed. What support is going to be needed in order to stay on track?

Using the GROW model as a framework with your coachee will help you to guide the conversation, and agree on actions that will get results. 

More tips on how to be an effective coach include:

Get better at active listening. You can do this by eliminating distractions, showing your concentration physically (with your body language), avoiding interrupting, summarising and reflecting to ensure you’re understanding your coachee correctly. 

Start asking questions. Draw out the information by asking open questions. Questions like “How are things going?” or “Tell me about X.” are examples of open questions.

Ask questions to Inspire deeper thinking:

“Why did you choose that particularly?”

“Can you tell me a bit more about what X involves”.

Ask questions to clarify thinking:

“Where would that be on a scale of 1 – 10?”

Ask questions to consider different viewpoints:

“Why do you think they have responded that way?”

Ask questions to reflect back thinking:

“So, you feel they did that intentionally?”

Ask questions to challenge assumptions:

“How can you know for sure X feels that way?”

Get creative with your questions:

“Has this situation occurred before? How was it resolved then?”

“If you could do anything you wanted to do in this situation, what would you do?”

“How would (mentee, hero, person admired) deal with this?”

Ask questions to extend thinking (especially when stuck):

“Can you think of one more option?”

“If there were any other possibilities, what would they be?”

“If this didn’t work, what would be your Plan B?”

When coaching, it may be useful or necessary to provide feedback. The BOOST model will help give you the appropriate framework:

Balanced, include both strengths and development points in your feedback. 

Observe, base the feedback on what you have observed.

Objective, check for and avoid any biased, or personal agenda.

Specific, give specific examples.

Timely, give the feedback as soon as possible and is beneficial after the event has occurred. 

The coach, coachee and the organisation are all likely to benefit from an effective coaching relationship, with the benefits including an increased connection with team members, to increased confidence, motivation, engagement, and enhanced staff competence. Like any skill, it requires practice to develop, but will be well worth it. 

References

Stewart, J., and Rogers, P., (2017) Studying Learning and Development Context, Practice and Measurement. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

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Growth Mindset + Friday Fails

Growth Mindset + Friday Fails

Theorist, Carole Dwek, developed the concept of a growth mindset. Since then, popular ted talks and industry thought leaders have highlighted the importance for individuals, teams, and businesses to practice and develop a “growth mindset” in order to flourish long term. 

If this is the first time you’ve heard of this concept, there are two definitions you’ll want to grasp first – that of a fixed mindset, and a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,”

While you can dive deep into the topic and find debates on when a fixed mindset may be more favourable than growth, or analyse the worrying, emerging trend of the False Growth Mindset, it’s safe to say that developing a growth mindset in yourself, and your team is a useful strategy to achieve ceaseless opportunities to develop. 

After reading and learning more about the growth mindset, I wanted to find a way to embed this more in my own team at work. I created a practice called Friday Fails:

Once per week, create a forum for your team to openly discuss a mistake they made, or something that went wrong for them throughout the week. Keep the focus on their mistakes, what they learned from it, or what they will do differently next time.
The benefits of developing this sort of practice with your team:
  • This will allow your teams to learn from each other’s mistakes (if one person has made that mistake, chances are others will too). 
  • This will encourage your teams to be open and honest with each other and management. It will discourage them to feel ashamed of getting something wrong, and will encourage them to learn from the mistakes they have made. 
  • This will allow you to pay closer attention to what is happening in your teams. Are the same mistakes being made over and over? If so, is there something that can be changed to prevent this from happening? Maybe more specific training, or a new process is needed to help prevent these problems. 
  • This will help build rapport and trust within your teams. In my experience, when we openly share our vulnerabilities with each other, it creates room for honesty, openness and a deeper connection. 

Some other useful tips you can help create a “growth mindset” culture within your team:

  • Do not reprimand your team for bringing a mistake to your attention. While performance management may still need to take place, depending on the mistake, you should always encourage your team to be honest about their mistakes vs. trying to cover them up. 
  • Start by evaluating your own mindset. You can start by answering these questions, as they may give you a bit of insight into your own attitude and mindset around mistakes, learning, and growth: How do you approach change? How do you approach learning? Do you believe people are capable of growing, adapting and changing? Do you feel comfortable admitting when you’ve done something wrong? Are you open to criticism of your methods and processes? How do you encourage your team to learn? Do you demand perfection from your team? How do you handle mistakes? 
  • Continue to reflect and develop your own self-awareness to ensure you’re not falling in the “false growth” mindset trap. Be honest about whether the progress you’re praising is getting the results that are needed. Telling your employees, for example, that they can progress into a new role is not as helpful as showing them how they can progress with honest, direct feedback, and development opportunities.

While there is still much research needed on developing this mindset within the workplace, the findings so far suggest that at a minimum, growth-mindset firms have happier employees and a more innovative, risk-taking culture. 

If you have any tips or practices for developing a growth mindset in your team, please share your ideas below.

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Coaching has not only become a sought after skill among individuals but has grown rapidly as a career for many in the recent years. “In simple terms, coaching is an interaction […]

4 Questions That Will Get You Closer To Your Team

4 Questions That Will Get You Closer To Your Team

Building relationships is one of the most important parts of leadership. It may seem obvious, but your team needs to trust you in order for you to lead them. Trust can be such a broad term, so let’s break it down. What is it that they need to trust? Is it in your character, your decisions, your abilities, or your motives? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. All of these things are vital for your team to respect you. But, let’s not start with you. Let’s start with them. They need to trust that you know and care about them. 

Your team is made up of individuals. Each individual has their own set of personal goals, their own perspective, their own strengths, weaknesses, and fears. In order to influence your team, you need to know what drives them individually. There also needs to be room for compassion and empathy. Your team members want to be understood. They want to know that you, their boss, has their back, and not because you have to, but because you believe in them and you can empathise with them. You cannot empathise with what you aren’t sure of. 

How do you get started? 

Use the questions below to start learning about your team. They were taken from Jack Canfield’s 2005 book, The Success Principles. Jack describes attending Dan Sullivan’s “Strategic Coach Program” where he was taught to use these questions as a way to establish rapport and connection with another person. (Canfield, 2005, Pg 327)

1. If we were meeting three years from today, what has to have happened during that three-year period for you to feel happy about your progress?

2. What are the biggest dangers you’ll have to face and deal with in order to achieve that progress?

3. What are the biggest opportunities that you have that you would need to focus on and capture to achieve those things?

4. What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills and resources will you need to develop that you don’t currently have in order to capture those opportunities?

These questions are powerful tools you can use to build better relationships with the people you are leading. 

Prepare for your meeting with your team member by carving out some time in your schedule, and invite them to sit down with you. This can be done over coffee, a meal, or can be somewhere quiet, but make sure you will be able to give your full attention. Make the intention to understand them, not to be understood. 

We forget how powerful giving someone our attention can be. Show you’re fully present by turning off your phone, or putting it away. Make eye contact, and listen, not just to the answers they give, but try to gain a sense of what is behind the answers.

The best kinds of questions are those that naturally emerge from being unattached to a specific outcome.

(Hall, 2019, Pg 67)

Disingenuous attempts at building trust will be caught. If your motivation is a selfish one, your team will pick up on that, and it will move you further from building a trusting relationship with them. 

See where the conversation takes you and see where you can identify with your team member. You’re likely to find common ground, and you’ll definitely uncover some truths about what motivates them. Not only will this help you, but when they see that you’re genuine about these questions, and about your interest in them, they’ll feel closer to you and feel a sense of trust that may have been lacking before.

References:

Hall, L. (2019). Coach Your Team. Nottingham: Penguin Random House.

Canefield, J. (2005). The Success Principles. US: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 2005.

Getting Clear: When Purpose Gets Foggy

Getting Clear: When Purpose Gets Foggy

You’ve done it. You’ve sent in your resume, researched the company, made it through the interviews, and landed yourself the job. You feel excited but also completely terrified. Now what? I’ve been there. It’s normal to be overwhelmed during times of change. There are probably a lot of expectations involved too. Maybe you’re not starting from scratch at a new job, but you’ve been promoted, or maybe your workload is being added to. Maybe you’re finally stepping into the leadership position you’ve hoped for, but why does it feel so scary?

Don’t worry.

You’re not alone.

What you need is to give yourself the chance to reconnect with what your purpose is in this role. We can get caught up with the nitty gritty details of our day to day that we forget to zoom out. We forget to see the big picture, and we forget to recognise it’s not just the individual pieces we pick up that makes the puzzle work, but the picture itself, as a whole – that’s what we’re working towards.

This guide was designed to remind you of the big picture.

As leaders, it’s important for us to consistently reflect on our whys. Without inspiration, purpose, and motivation, our daily intent will lack authenticity, and our effectiveness in our roles (personal and professional) will suffer.

Are you ready to get clear?

All you need is 15 – 20 minutes to answer 10 simple questions. Let the clarity begin.

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3 Practices To Help You Manage Your Emotions

3 Practices To Help You Manage Your Emotions

Do you feel like you’re constantly spending time and energy in an emotional state you don’t want to be in? Do you take the time to fight these feelings or is there a process in which you acknowledge them? 

When you’re feeling happy emotions, you probably realise that you’re able to perform better. You’re more likely to engage with others, and more likely to choose productive activities. On the other hand, a negative emotion can cause you to withdraw from your team, and lead to procrastination. 

These negative emotions are probably draining your energy, and are then causing friction in your relationships at work. Stress, unexpected demands, and challenges can cause us to slip into these negative emotions daily, sometimes multiple times. Without recognising what triggers them and how to manage our emotions, we can stay in the fight, flight, or freeze reaction for much longer than we want to or is good for us. 

You can’t be in control of what you do not know. This is why becoming aware of your emotions is the first step in managing them. Whether it’s overwhelm, anger, or self- pity, we can spend precious time and energy fighting these emotions, and allowing them to become bigger. Without the ability to recognise our emotional states and how it affects others, we lose the chance to recognise them coming in the future, and change our habitual reactions to them. 

Another reason to be aware of your emotional reactions, and managing them effectively is because of emotional contagion – it’s the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. This is why it’s hard to be in a good mood if you’re talking to someone who is going through a rough time. It’s also why we’re more likely to get impatient at a bus stop if other people are acting impatiently. If you’re stressed, and aren’t able to recognise, and adapt your attitude quickly, you can “pass” this feeling to your team and co-workers. 

Below are some practical ways you can start to recognise, and manage your emotions.

Deep Abdominal Breathing 

Simple, and effective. The fastest way to signal your brain to turn off the fight or flight response is to take a few deep breaths. The next time you recognise a negative emotion come on, take five minutes to breathe. Inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds. It’s free, it’s quick and it’s powerful. 

Fuel Positive Emotions

Another way to push out the negative emotions is to fill our heads up with the positive ones. You can do this multiple ways: a gratitude practice, reciting affirmations, speaking to loved ones, or even exercise are all great ways to conjure up positive emotions. The trick is to choose this practice. It may be easy for us to retreat into fight or flight (biologically, it is our default when feeling threatened), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a choice. Practice doing the opposite and see how quickly you bounce back. 

Track and Reflect

Keeping a journal and reflecting often on what it was the made us feel reactive is a great way to build awareness of our emotions. Take five minutes before bed to note down the following:

  • What negative emotion did you feel?
  • What brought it on?
  • How long did it last?
  • What effect did it have on others?

The last question may be one of the most important. As managers, or even co-workers, we must realize the impact we have on each other. Most professionals spend more time during the week with their co-workers than they do with their families, and if we want to add value to the workplace, looking at how we manage our emotions is a great place to start. 

10 Things You Are Doing That Your Team Will Hate You For

10 Things You Are Doing That Your Team Will Hate You For

1. Complaining about your job, workload or company

Who wants to listen to their boss complain about their workload? NO ONE. 

There is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings, however, if you do feel the need to vent about work, vent to someone who is on the same level as you, or better yet – someone who isn’t involved in the company. If you are constantly bringing down the company you work for or complaining about your workload, you are subconsciously telling your team that A. it’s okay to complain and negative attitudes are acceptable and B. your workload is unmanageable and the company you work for is responsible for this. 

Another reason not to complain to your team is you may spark some resentments without intending to. You never know who secretly is wishing they had your job and the perks that come with it. You may look ungrateful to your team, and leave a bad taste in their mouth.

According to this survey, one of the top traits of a great manager was “having a positive attitude”. Don’t forget that negativity is contagious, and the easiest way to avoid it is to pay attention and adjust your own thoughts, words, and actions.

2. Micromanaging

There’s nothing worse than your boss delegating something to you, but not really letting you own it. Instead of trying to control everything your team does on a project, set clear boundaries and expectations of what success in this project looks like. After that’s done, let them get on with it. If a boundary is broken or they aren’t delivering on the expectations, you can then sit down and figure out how to help.

Harvard Business Review wrote a great piece on why we micromanage. It says that managers want to be more connected to their team, and want to stay in familiar territory, so they stay close and control things they don’t need to. The good news is, once you are aware of it, you can work to do the opposite. 

3. Asking loaded questions

A loaded question can also be described as a trick question. It’s when your assumption of the answer is alluded to in the question. You are basically setting the person on the receiving end up for the answer that you have assumed to be true. It’s a form of manipulation and can put people on the defence really quickly. Loaded questions in the workplace may look like:

“Did you understand the task I gave you last week?”

“Why have you been so short lately?” 

“Did you not get my email?”

“When did you start regularly leaving work early?”

You may be asking loaded questions without even realising it. This is why it’s important to prepare for your 1-2-1 meetings ahead of time. Think about what you’re going to say before you speak to a team member about their performance. Ensure you’re not assuming anything, and when in doubt, adopt an attitude of openness, honesty and curiosity. 

4. Giving passive aggressive answers

Passive-aggressive behaviours are those that involve acting indirectly aggressive rather than directly aggressive. This could include avoiding direct communication, withholding important information, or withdrawal and sulking. Psychology today says “The goal of a passive aggressive person is to cause others to feel frustrated and act out the anger that the passive-aggressive person is harbouring internally.”

Again, adopting an attitude of openness, and honesty with your team is your best bet. If you find yourself feeling angry towards a co-worker, but afraid to communicate it, check in with yourself and ensure you’re not acting in a passive-aggressive way. Once you have identified your feelings, you can practice communicating your needs openly. 

5. Telling them how they should feel

As leaders, it’s important we are listening to our team and doing what we can to support them. This could mean listening to a team member tell you something you don’t want to hear. Maybe they’re unhappy with the amount of work they have. Maybe they’re having trouble bonding with the team. Maybe they’re feeling down about something non work related. Their feelings might be all over the place, but your job as their manager and leader, is to listen and to accept what they say as true. When you tell them how they feel, you’re interfering with a chance for them to open up to you. 

We need to remember that our feelings and thoughts are the result of a million different factors, including genetics and unique experiences over time. Your team member may not see things the same way you do, which means they won’t feel the same way you do either. By telling them how they feel, as opposed to asking and listening, you’re taking away the opportunity for them to express themselves freely.

6. Not giving them your full attention 

In your regular 1-2-1 meetings with your team members, how do you signal to them that you are present? Do you put your phone away or do you leave it on the table, checking it occasionally? Do you make eye contact, or bury your head in the report? Do you notice their body language and name what you see, or do you ignore it? 

If you are distracted or only giving half attention, your team will sense it. To show up for your team means to give them your full attention when they are speaking. This sends your team the message that what they have to say is important. Feeling important helps a worker to be more accountable, and more productive as a result. 

7. Leaving out the explanations 

Giving good direction to your team is necessary for clarity and productivity in your workplace. If you have to give your team a task, ensure they know why they’re doing it. Frustration will quickly follow aimless tasks, and your team will either disengage immediately or resent you for “making” them do it. Your team wants to be informed so they can be better at their jobs. The better they feel, the better they will do. While clear, concise communication is key when giving any “orders”, the same can be said for your tone. Make sure you’re checking in with how you’re communicating with others. 

8. Not involving them in decisions that affect them

Just like not knowing why they have to do something would frustrate any worker, so will feeling left out of important decisions that affect them or their department. For you to get the best out of your team, they need to feel like their opinions matter. If decisions are being made about something that they know more about than you, the best thing you can do is get them involved. This helps take the pressure off of you, empowers them, and is ultimately better for the company if decisions are being made by those who are the most experienced in that area. Even if their desired outcome isn’t possible due to bigger picture views, they will feel trusted by you and are likely to take the news of the change easier knowing they were involved in the decision making process. 

9. Taking your frustration out on them

How well do you manage your emotions in front of your team? Can they easily tell when you’re frustrated, sad, or stressed out? Is that because you make your emotions known through your actions, words or tone? We’ve all done it. You snap at someone who just asked you a question, because you’re stressed out. You blame someone else for something going wrong, because you’re embarrassed to admit that you forgot about it. You punish the whole team for something one person did, because you don’t want to admit you didn’t train them properly. 

These things are usually obvious to the people around you, and won’t win you any fans. To be able to manage our emotions so they do not affect the people around us benefits our relationships, and your reputation. 

10. Saying one thing but doing another

In a post by Fast Company, Art Markman writes, “A leader who talks about the importance of treating everyone equally before retreating to the executive lunchroom is undermining the belief that the workplace is fair. The leader who talks about the importance of hard work but promotes only people in his or her inner circle is causing employees to question their workplace’s fairness.”

Actions speak louder than words, they say, but when actions and words are consistent, that’s when the real trust can begin with your team.

Creativity at Work

Creativity at Work

Before you read through, use the questions below to gage your current relationship with Creativity. You may want to write down your answers, or just allow yourself some time to think through your answers.

When you hear the word creativity, what comes to mind?

How often do you have creative ideas?

Do you make time for creativity?

Is creativity praised in your workplace?

Who is the most creative person you know? What makes them creative? 

Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something. Why should you care about creativity? Well, studies show that people are more likely to feel happy or active if they’re doing something creative. Creativity has also been shown to reduce stress, improve problem solving skills, as well as pave the path to authenticity and self-awareness. 

Most people will tell you they either are or are not creative as if it was definitive, but creativity is actually a skill, and the wonderful thing about any skill is that it can be taught, learned, and practiced. 

Creativity was broken down into four steps by British Psychologist, Graham Wallis. 

  1. Preparation

In the first step, you will gather materials, resources or insights on what you’re trying to achieve or sources of inspiration for your upcoming project. 

  1. Incubation

Now, you will let your ideas marinate in your mind and allow yourself to brainstorm freely. 

  1. Illumination

This is when the idea you’ve been looking for presents itself to you. The “light-bulb moment”, which may come out of no-where, is what most people want to jump to without going through the first two steps.

  1. Verification 

Your idea has now come to life. You make the plan, write the story or get paint on paper. You can then hone and refine your idea as you continue to work on it. 

Looking at the creative process this way can help us see creativity more clearly, and show us that there’s more organised action required than we may have realised.

How can you bring creativity into your workplace? 

Do more writing, drawing or colouring. 

So much of our worlds are seen or processed through a screen, especially when working. When our attention is constantly pulled towards a notification, email or message on our digital devices, our brains don’t get a chance to day dream which is proven in this study to help boost creativity.

Three ways to do it:

  1. Planning out your day / week / month in a paper diary.
  2. Free writing for five minutes at the start or end of your work week.
  3. Invite your team members to present their ideas at your next meeting via markers and flip – chart rather than PowerPoint presentation.
Recognise and reward creativity in problem solving. 

To “think outside the box” when coming across a challenge in an organisation can be challenging, especially if there are no examples of it happening already. Keep creativity at the top of your team’s mind by recognising those who are utilising it to solve problems. Expect innovation and seek out cases of this in your and other companies to keep your team inspired. 

Three ways to do it:

  1. Invite your team to share examples of creativity they noticed from other team members at your next meeting. Make this a routine, and your team will be more likely to recognise creativity when it’s happening, and also try it out for themselves. 
  2. Try the “20 ideas” challenge with your team. The next time you have a problem, challenge your team to come up with 20 possible solutions. Even if 99% of these solutions aren’t realistic, allow your team to work together to brainstorm and get creative. More than likely you will find the answer you need, and at the very least will have a great bonding session using creativity as the link.
  3. Encourage your team to share their ideas. Someone in your team may already have the answer your company needs, or has the ability to create it. Encourage your team to keep talking, brainstorming, and collaborating with each other. 
Change your environment.

Getting caught up in the same conversations with the same people, and having the same thoughts can limit our perspective. Why not try to inspire something different? In order to spark new insights, sometimes we need a new surrounding. Keeping our environment “fresh” can help us to gain a new outlook. 

Three ways to do it:

  1. Rearrange your office or desk. If you can’t rearrange because of space limitations, then add more décor or do some clearing of items you no longer use. 
  2. Hold your monthly meeting in a different location, or go for a walk with your colleague instead of catching up in the office. 
  3. Take a different route to work, or try a different place for lunch. Do this with the intent to observe your surroundings, and see what comes up for you. You may be surprised.

Big Magic Author, Elizabeth Gilbert said “It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.” 

In order to challenge, engage, and improve your team or yourself, try incorporating creativity today. 

Keep It Simple. Keep It Selfless.

Keep It Simple. Keep It Selfless.

It’s Sunday night and I’ve got my eye on the clock. In ten hours, I’ll be walking back into work. Dread and anxiety used to follow a realisation like this. I love my job, but the pressure and expectations can become heavy, and the weight can feel impossible to ignore. The resentment and fear would get big, and usually there wouldn’t be a clear explanation of where it was coming from. I can recognize now that this is when I’m usually tip toeing around the “ME” trap, and the best way I’ve found to avoid this is to reframe my thoughts and zoom out. 

So, what am I going to do in ten hours when I walk into work? Instead of focusing on the meetings I have, tasks I need to get done, or problems that don’t have solutions yet, I keep it simple and break it down. Tomorrow, I’m going to go to work and help people. The complicated details about what makes the Sunday Scaries seem so real – the endless who, what, where, when, whys – all fall into place when I can focus on a bigger picture. Obviously, I’m still going to be in the meetings, get the tasks done, and try to solve the problems, but if I reframe this all in a way that’s less about me, and more about others, it feels easier. It feels simple.

However, if you’re stuck in the “ME” trap, it might not feel so simple.

The “ME” trap might sound like: “What is going to serve me?” “How does this task make me feel?” “I’m going to have so much to do tomorrow, how could I possibly have time to help anyone else.” “Why can’t everyone else think like me?” “I’m going to be so busy tomorrow.” “I don’t have time for this.” “But, who is helping me?” 

Sound familiar? The “ME” trap is deep and can leave you feeling resentful, stressed, and overwhelmed. Paradoxically, when looking from this point of view, your needs will never be met, and you will never be fulfilled. The trap is governed by your ego, and your ego can never get enough. Your ego’s job is to keep you separated, and as long as you stay in the “ME” trap, you’ll feel slighted, ungrateful, and you’ll forever be wondering when it will get better. 

To escape the “ME” trap, you need to turn your focus towards Selfless Support. That might sound like: “How can I help my team?” “What support does my coworker need right now?” “How does my colleague feel about this?” “What does my boss need from me today?” “What would make this customer’s day better?” 

Thinking of others, and acting on those thoughts, builds connection. When we are connected, we feel positive, and we feel useful, which will help to build self-esteem and improve relationships. 

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between Selfless Support and People Pleasing. There should be a solid understanding of what you’re capable of doing for others without taking on too much. Boundaries need to be in place, and it’s also important that you’re not doing work which steals an opportunity for challenge, growth, or empowerment for someone else. If a coworker asks for support, and you don’t feel like realistically you could help, be honest, and ask if there’s anything else you might be able to support with. 

Selfless support means supporting others without expecting anything in return. You are taking the self (or the ME) out of it, so keep an eye out for your ego when offering help, or looking for opportunities to support. If you notice any deeper expectations for a thank you, credit, or recognition, the act is not entirely selfless, and you may be dancing around the “ME” trap again which will leave you feeling disappointed. 

What about in your role? Are you not sure how to do that? Try to show up and see what happens. Make helping other people your main focus, and see what opportunities present themselves. 

Is it easy? No! But practicing Selfless Support daily has brought me closer to my team, my coworkers, and brought me more clarity, emotional intelligence, connection, and self esteem. I find that the less I think about myself, the better I feel. So, make it your mission to find ways that you can be useful. Look for opportunities to help others. You’ll sidestep the “ME” trap and walk straight into Selfless Support. 

Three things to try this week:

  1. Speak to others with kindness (regardless of the situation).
  2. Ask a co-worker how you can help support them this week. 
  3. Keep track of the “ME” thoughts you have. When you notice them, try to direct your thinking to supporting others and see if you notice a difference.