Monthly Archives

February 2017

Coaching in the pocket: Episode 2 – REWARDS

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The error of “if – then”

We should definitely avoid saying explicitly to a child that IF he does (or he does not) do something, THEN he will receive a reward.

“If you gather your toys, then you will have a lollipop“

The pattern “if-then” can push the child do something right away, yet it seldom inspires him to real effort or to do it again. (Dr. Haim G. Ginott – “Between parent and child”)

We might have to do with intentional negative behaviors that obligate to be rewarded in order to be transformed into common sense ones.

We can find the same system working at adults, announcing a reward at the beginning of the project – and offering it under condition – will focus the person to obtain the reward rather than find the best solution for the project. (Daniel Pink – “Drive”)


The surprise of “Now that”

Announcing the reward after the task has been successfully fulfilled can bring much more satisfaction.

Rewards are more useful and better received when they come unexpectedly. They really represent recognition and appreciation that stimulates long term effort.

Coaching in the pocket: Episode 1 – Temptation

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The studies show that people, who are simultaneously challenged by a cognitive task and a temptation, will, most probably, give in to temptation.

If you are working at a difficult report, focusing on the figures, and your colleagues will ask you to choose between shawarma or a small salad for lunch, most probably you will choose the first one, if you generally like it.

“Emotional system (the 1st system) puts a high pressure on the behavior when the rational one (the 2nd one) is busy” – D. Kahneman “Thinking, Fast and Slow”

Mindset for Success

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You have a job that you really like; a lot of people might say you are a lucky person. You are rushing up to get to the office, at 9.00 you have your mid-year review meeting with your boss. He gets in and makes out a sandwich of feedback or, how it is called, a feedback sandwich as taught in last year training. He does not say much, yet he seems prepared, finally he tells you are „in line”. He does not mention your efforts, yet he focuses on results talking a lot about them).

You feel like talking about this and you ask your friend, in the office next to you, to come out for a cigarette. She is interested about the topic, yet much more willing to speak about her last night experience in Mall. Obviously, you are not her priority in this moment.

You are going back home, at 7 p.m., as usual. You get home and you parking lot is taken. You spin around the block about 3 times and then, eventually you can enter. Immediately a joyful voice is heard: „Hey, daddy, welcome, lets’ play as actors do”

What about this day? How do you find it? Are you disappointed? Would it be difficult for you to play?

We are living everything at maximum speed, we can only see things in black or white and we permanently pull out from ourselves too strong emotions. Even when we know about it pretty well, we are tempted to slide to fixed mindset, as Carol Dweck, psychology professor at Stanford, calls it. She has noticed that success often depends on the mindset we are treating different aspects of our lives. We really miss being recognized as superheroes, we are bothered that we are not the first in each person’s preferences. We simply forget that our friends have their own priorities we are not part of. We forget that we cannot control everything, even if we pay our taxes for the parking lots we have. We cannot tolerate mistakes, as if it has never happened to us. We live our tiredness stronger than our happiness of being a parent and we are overcome by the awful disappointment that we are not as extraordinary as we would like to be.

Finally the assessment was just a mid-year one, to be in line is not bad at all. Your manager is just a normal human being who, most probably, cannot cover everything, even if he/she wants to. Your friend has his/her right to much more interesting experiences than you can live, and the parking lot is not the only one in town. Still it is how difficult to accept, isn’t it?

Carol Dweck says that the ones who cannot see the details mentioned about tend to have a fixed mindset. The ones who can perceive them, even if sad sometimes, they do not put a negative stamp on themselves, they do not blame the others, they focus on how they can improve things depending on them so that the results may be better.

People with fixed mindset think that their basic features, intelligence and other gifts, cannot be changed, that’s why they concentrate on proving (to themselves and to the other people) how good they are, instead of moving the focus on how they can develop the abilities they have. They are mostly worried about the way people judge them, having an internal monologue focused on “This means I’m a loser”, “My boss is really bad”, “I am an awful father”

People with growth mindset are aware about their abilities, without permanently being focused on proving them, and insist on their development. They are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. They are also sensitive to positive and negative things around them, but they are focused on learning and constructive actions. They want to be better each day considering it necessary for their personal development.

The good news is that growth mindset can be learned. I think it really worth’s making all the efforts to get it. We can simply start by exercising what Carol Dweck advices us in her book “Mindset. The New Psychology of Success”

About adaptation and its rules

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I find it amazing what happens to each of us in our daily life: we want something/somebody so badly, we find it (either by inertia or with some help from the others), we are really happy, we consume our happiness and, out of a sudden, we integrate it as we don’t even know that it is still with us. It disappears or, even worse, it gets in our way. The exuberance of our passion is not time resistant, it simply flows into normal.

This model is applicable in our families, at school, in sport, in love and in the job. We adapt, meaning we cannot keep happiness forever and even our grief cannot be as strong as it used to be at the beginning.

Let’s imagine that you have a complicated report to be done. You don’t like it at all. You feel like going to smoke more often than usual and each time when you get back to your excel sheet (because, we like it or not, we need to Excel in our work) it seems even more complicated and it is harder and harder to get it finished. Why all this?

Often we choose to break our hard experiences as they seem unbearable for a longer period. At the same time we do want our pleasant experiences to be permanent without knowing that, no matter how nice it can be, we will lose contact with our happiness. Thinking about our joyful moments we cannot feel a greater happiness, at the same time if we remember our pain we still can feel it.

It would be great to finish our task without too many smoking breaks (think how difficult it is to start again).

We should take a break within the things that we love, just to feel again the joy of doing it.

Let surprise get into our lives, so that our satisfaction level can get higher. It is a scientifically proven fact, as D. Ariely mentions in “The Upside of Irrationality”. Why? Because predictability kills pleasure, while surprise can load it with attention, joy and progress.

This is why it is better to work in projects and teams that can challenge you. Try new things that can take you to the next step of your development. Don’t accept routine, it is the road to disappointment and failure.

Keep also in mind that our fulfillment has a reference in our perspective over the other people status and our happiness depends on our ability to keep at least equal to them.

Recommendation for managers and HR professionals:

Support your people to get rid of routine, imagine „surprises” that can change boring job scenarios.

Design together with your good potential people suitable formula for their careers and make sure that they are permanently exposed to challenges that keep them open to learn.

Be careful to internal and external equity! Make effort to build healthy references for people so that they may feel fulfilled!

And one more: Always apply these first to you!