25 Great Ideas to Celebrate Kindness Today

25 Great Ideas to Celebrate Kindness Today

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” 

– Barbara De Angelis

 

By performing random acts of kindness, we not only brighten someone else’s day but also enrich our own life. This is the ideal day if you have been meaning to do something kind for someone but have been putting it off.

 

❤️ See below some great ways to be kind to somebody:

  1. Compliment the first three people you talk to.
  2. Write a hand-written note to your partner or child
  3. Say good morning to the person next to you in the coffee shop.
  4. Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a long time
  5. Pick up litter. Spend 10 minutes cleaning a park/beach or your neighbourhood.
  6. Place uplifting notes in library books, mirrors or on someone’s computer screen.
  7. Dedicate 24 hours to spreading positivity on social media.
  8. Surprise your neighbour/friend with some freshly cooked snacks or meal
  9. Go out of the way to make someone smile
  10. Leave a generous tip
  11. Give someone a genuine compliment.
  12. Send flowers to someone.
  13. Visit a dog or a cat in an animal shelter
  14. Donate for a good cause
  15. Write a positive review or recommendation for someone who provided good services for you
  16. Listen to someone empathetically 
  17. Set an alarm to go off three times on World Kindness Day. When the alarm sounds, stop what you’re doing a call/text/email someone simply to tell them how awesome they are
  18. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line
  19. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name.
  20. say “hello” to strangers and smile.
  21. compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is
  22. Send a gratitude email to someone who deserves more recognition
  23. Write a kind message on your mirror for yourself, your partner or a family member
  24. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too
  25. Bring a little bit more kindness in each and every day from today onwards. 

We each have the potential to improve each other’s lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit. Be kind, be kind be kind. 

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

by Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

7 Weird and Fun Ideas to Deal with Stress

Adapting to School

No Brainer Day

Retrain the Brain, Change the Habits

Retrain the Brain, Change the Habits

Have you ever wondered why habits are so hard to break, especially the bad ones?

The habits that human beings follow might have a positive impact on behaviours, but they can have a negative effect on social relations. Human habits are complex, and the significance of habits has been demonstrated in various behaviours across all domains; for example, our work or exercise routine, our morning walks, our route to work, our eating habits, our favourite restaurants and how we interact in our environment. Changing habits to retrain the brain can be challenging since our behaviours are not only hardwired in our physical activity. The repetition of these behaviours has a significant effect on our brains.

The Brain

As neuroscience is discovering, the brain’s ability is greater than the best computer invented by man. The brain is a complex piece of machinery, and the approximately eighty-six billion neurons in the brain are eager little individuals that create their little habits based on our repeated thoughts, feelings, and actions. The brain operates using chemicals, and different behaviours result in the production of the various chemicals that are released into the brain. The feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine is well known, but dopamine is also a neurotransmitter involved in reinforcement and plays a part in developing and reinforcing our habits. How we feel is a result of the chemicals in our brain. Antidepressants work through balancing neurotransmitters, the chemicals that affect mood and emotions. An individual with depression has a lower level of the serotonin neurotransmitter. Serotonin is a multifaceted and complex neurotransmitter that is known to affect mood and cognition. Our actions and environment can impact our mood because of these brain chemicals and the neurons and their synaptic connections. The synapses connect the eighty-six billion neurons in the brain throughout the nervous system to other neurons in the body.

Repeat Behaviours

The more we repeat a behaviour, the more synaptic connections we associate with that behaviour, and this affects specific parts of the brain. The repeated behaviour results in stronger synaptic connections, which gives the neurons enough ‘juice’ to create an action potential. The release of an action potential plays a crucial role in carrying messages from the brain to other parts of the body. The voltage of the action potential allows the neuron to fire from the neurons’ pre-synapse membrane to the post-synapse, with neurotransmitters being released in the space between. The neural networks become more substantial when we repeat a behaviour or thought. The behaviour or thinking develops into a habit, providing a strong stimulus to cause the cells to work together, becoming bigger and better. This explains why with repetition, new information eventually becomes memorised and long-lasting, resulting in the brain having more synaptic connections in the relevant area.

The Synapse

Four Major Brain Lobes

And just to refresh your memory, the four major lobes of the brain are:

The Frontal Lobe – includes the neocortex and controls voluntary movement, expressive language, and higher-level executive functions. Executive functions are cognitive skills that include planning, organising, self-monitoring and managing responses to achieve a goal.

The Parietal Lobe – is essential for sensory perception, including taste, hearing, sight, touch, and smell. It is an area that interprets input from other regions of the body.

The Occipital Lobe is for visual processing, including visuospatial processing, distance, and depth perception, determining colours, object and face recognition and memory formation.

The Temporal Lobe processes auditory information, memory encoding (learning from previous experiences) and the processing of affect/emotions, language, and some visual perceptions.

Brain Lobes retrain brain

Brain Associations – Shape our Thinking

The input of sensory impressions affects many areas of the brain, and their associations affect the neural network of our experiences. And it is not as if one experience is isolated; when we think, we often associate multiple inputs, which can affect our mood. For example, a mother may enjoy the scenery and fantastic weather walking in a park. She feels good, but then she hears a mother shouting at a child, and this causes her to remember the time she was depressed after a baby was born and how she used to yell at the older sibling. The child in the park starts crying and holding onto his mother’s skirt, apologising and looking distressed. The mother remembers a blue dress she wore one day and how her son made it dirty by holding onto it whilst sobbing and saying sorry for upsetting her. She can see her 2-year-old son’s large blue eyes staring at her with tears streaming down his cheeks. She gets angry with herself for being such a horrible mother, and she regrets her son’s upbringing and knows it is why she is estranged from him now. She feels miserable and, looking at the present scene of the mother and child, she believes she is the worst mother in the world and deserves to be lonely and alone; this is her life now.

How did this mother go from having a lovely walk in the park to feeling sad, unloved, alone and wanting to cry?

Neural Networks

We can thank our habits, episodic memory, and brain associations for this change in mood. The brain responds to input by activating a neural net to the sensory organs and triggers thoughts associated with that memory. The mind is activated and reconnects to that memory. Any event or people related to that neural net of the experience will trigger the part of the brain where those old circuits are lurking, waiting to be woken up by our episodic memory. As we remember, our consciousness will activate the cluster of neurons associated with the memory. The brain’s neurons will fire in a particular sequence and chemical combinations, and we are consciously reminded of a memory hiding in the unconscious, and our mood is affected.

How the Past affects the Present

How we respond to daily stimuli is affected by past interactions. We navigate our environment using a combination of semantic (language or logic) knowledge. The more often we use the same information, the more solid that data is hardwired into the brain. As we repeat the same thoughts daily, the same neural networks will become more potent, automatic, unconscious, familiar and habitual. We start to automatically think of ourselves in a certain habitual way. The neural networks result in an unconscious response caused by the environment and the memories it awakens. We start to operate unconsciously on an autopilot created by the chronic neural networks we have developed. Once a thought activates a particular neural circuit, it causes an automatic sequence of thought forms, and we are no longer living in the present but instead are feeling and thinking from past events. And the more we live from past habitual thinking, the more those associative neural networks will be strengthened. The power of these neural networks is why it is so hard to change behaviours or negative thoughts. We have spent a lifetime developing and maintaining these neural networks, and they are hardwired into our thought processes. When we decide to attempt change, we are strongly resisted by billions of neurons and their associated neural pathways.

How can the mother stop thinking she is the worst mother in the world?

She must change her thinking by retraining her brain to create positive networks and associations, which takes time and a lot of effort. She must also be willing to develop a different personality which may require her to change her behaviour, values, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of her environment. Some of the genetic predispositions from her parents and upbringing may need to be challenged as she chooses to form a new identity and image of herself. She may focus instead on the positive memories, even using photographs that show happier times with her son. She may repeat and use a daily strategy to focus on these positive memories, so they take precedence over the negative ones. She may decide to contact her son and ask if she may see him as she wants to apologise or discuss the past. There are many possibilities. But, it is up to her to make that change while accepting that the habits and the associated brain networks created over a lifetime will take some time to transform.

To Sum Up

Associations and repeat behaviours form neural networks that create habits of thought and behaviour. But we could retrain the brain if we introduced new and more positive neural networks and their associated memories into the brain. Our synapse may be formed by genetics and what we have learned over a lifetime, but that is not the end of development. Neuroscience has shown the brain can change; the brain and the mind are not static; they are forever changing. An individual can decide on which type of circuits they want to be in action. Suppose we repeat positive behaviours and are vigilant and control negative thoughts and even transfigure them into positive thoughts and associations. The new neural networks thus created will be associated with positivity and empowerment. The more we develop these types of networks, the more these positive patterns will become our habitual way of thinking and living.

Liz McCaughey

MC, MSc 

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Adapting to School

Adapting to School

Happy September, everyone. May the new school year kick off on a positive note. Wishing calmness, strength and zen-mode to all of us (both children and parents).

Adapting to school 🙇 🏢📗📘🗓✏️🖋📝🙇‍♀️ can take a month or even more. And not only for children but also for ourselves, their parents. Here are some ideas on how to help us all get into school rhythm as painlessly as possible – learned from my personal experience, the experience of other parents and recommendations within the framework of positive discipline.

 

⭐️ Preparation for school starts in the evening

 

In the morning, it will be easier if the child knows what he is wearing and what he needs to bring with him. If you know that there will be something unusual at school the next day (doctor, meeting, photographer), it is best to talk it through and discuss it before going to bed. The younger the child, the earlier the bedtime, especially in the first weeks: due to stress from beginning classes (comparable to the stress from the birth of a new sibling). The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are already produced in large quantities and, if you add to this lack of sleep, then everything can end in a nervous breakdown. If classes are online, then it is best for your child to have a specifically allocated place to study. For example, a desk in a room, on which there is a computer and where all required supplies are easily accessible. In the evening, you can set up the computer and prepare all the necessary materials so that in the morning you just have to switch the computer on and log in.

 

⭐️ May the mornings be good

 

A good mood in the morning is the key to a good day. This is easiest to do when Mom and Dad are in a good mood and there is no mad rush. You can set the alarm 15 minutes earlier and have an early morning chat and cuddle. Exercising is another great activity to do together.

 

It is not necessary to have a bootcamp style workout; even a few minutes of stretching can be enough. You can also add a minute of meditation and visualisation of a cool day ahead. The kids love it.

 

⭐️ Morning routine

 

Even if the school is online, get up at the same time as on the days when you have to go to school. The morning programme should be repetitive day after day. As an option: exercise, teeth, breakfast, a little game, dressing up, going out. Maybe dress in school clothes before turning on the computer).

 

Another good rule is no gadgets or TV in the morning (right before the start of the online process), so that nothing distracts attention.

 

⭐️ Not wanting to go to school is normal

 

Sooner or later you will hear the phrase: “I don’t want to go to school.” Any parent should be ready for it on any day. There are a lot of reasons for reluctance: from superficial (got up on the wrong foot and it’s cold) to deep internal processes related to school fights, quarrels or even bullying. Here are several options for interaction: 🧩 Accept and mirror the child’s feelings: “I understand you so well, I also don’t want to go to work (to the store, babysit your younger brother)”. This phrase is often enough. The child sees that he has been heard and understood; 🧩 Accept and give an example from your life: “I totally understand you. I also often did not like going to school as a kid. Especially in winter. Imagine, I had to wear tights, leggings and woollen socks. Everything itched, and it felt hot at home, but so cold outside ” 🧩 Try to find out if there is a deeper reason, and offer to convey this to the teacher: “You really do not want to get changed for PE today and because of this you do not want to go to school? Maybe we will write Ms. Smith a note asking her to help you with your buttons?” To minimise the number of such days (as a preventive measure), you can also try other methods, for example: 🧩 Play school with your child on weekends with the help of toys: “Oh, look at this dolly Anabelle, she cries every morning that she doesn’t want to go to school. How can we help her?” Often, in the course of such a game, the deeper reasons would come out and you can suddenly hear something like: “She does not want to go to school because Mark pushes her against the walls all the time” or “She just does not like to have lunch at school, but they make her eat that food and that makes her sad. ” Children often automatically transfer their associations and emotions to the play situation. 🧩 Chat about the day ahead with your child on the way to school: “Who, I wonder, will be the funniest today? Will the teacher wear a red sweater or a green one?” Here, again, you can switch on your fantasy and say that it seems to you that she will be wearing an orange hat with an ostrich feather. Together you laugh at this picture, and the level of tension will subside. With an online school, there may be a similar reluctance due to lack of socialisation, screen fatigue, inability to physically move. The main thing here is to give your child a break and a change of activity. Switch his or her attention. 👆By the way, at the age of 8-9-10 years old, three hours of screen time per day is the maximum. Up to 6-7 years old the maximum is two hours.

 

⭐️ Teacher authority

 

At school, the teacher takes the position of a “significant adult”, which means that the child needs to establish a connection with this person. The focus should automatically be shifted to the teacher and their authority. Usually within 2-3 weeks it becomes clear whether the connection has been established. If the teacher was able to correctly communicate her authority and is being respected by the kids , then he or she becomes a source of instructions and rules: “No, Mom, Mr. Jones said that it has to be a green folder, not a red one.”

 

If this does not happen and the child cannot adjust to school even after a long period of time, it is best to contact the teacher and discuss what you can do together (an experienced teacher in such a situation will contact the parents).

 

⭐️ Everyone needs friends

 

Kids go to school for many reasons and, of course, socialisation is one of the main ones. It is very important for the kids to have friends. At least one or two. The sooner such person(s) appear(s), the better and easier the child’s school life will be.

Often this just sort of happens itself and you start hearing the name of a certain student more and more: “Jake brought markers, Jake gave me a carrot. Jake and I ran.” If the schooling is online and you do not have a strict quarantine, then it is probably worth organising playdates and other out-of-school activities with peers a few times a week.

 

⭐️ Promise you will be back to pick them up

 

Usually, this is dealt with in pre-school or nursery, where you establish with your kids that you will definitely be there straight after lunch or sleep or walk. But if your child did not go to kindergarten and is only just experiencing this big new life for the first time, the separation is scary, and it is better to discuss everything in advance.

Even if a child is eager to go to school and outwardly remains calm, remember that inside he can be tense and anxious. After all, it’s not difficult to discuss school hours and the end of the school day: “Look, it’s 8:30 now, I promise – at exactly 3 pm I’ll be waiting for you at the entrance.” At first, you can even leave a little memory of yourself (a little squishy toy or photo or key chain to instil positive feelings and your presence when the child is in school). And it is best to be in school at exactly 3 pm as those 5 minutes of lonely waiting when the rest of the kids have already gone, can seem like an eternity in childhood.

 

⭐️ Let off steam after school

 

Sometimes, when they start school, some other things can happen – like nightmares, nail biting or sleeve sucking. Kids get all sorts of colds and viruses. They might have upset stomachs and all sorts of other emotional and somatic reactions. This is all normal and will pass quickly if caused solely by adaptation to starting school.

Therefore, I suggest we parents be patient, get some herbal teas (or a couple of bottles of wine) and try to get through the first weeks as calmly as possible. The beginning of the new school year is a difficult time, but it is wonderful nevertheless. Children are discovering a new world for themselves, and in many ways, the mindset of the parents determines their long-term relationship with the school.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

by Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

7 Weird and Fun Ideas to Deal with Stress

The Brain is not Hardwired

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Talking About Eating Disorders

Talking About Eating Disorders

 

What is an Eating Disorder? 

Eating disorders (ED) can be expressed in a myriad of ways including extreme restrictions on one’s food intake, binge eating, purging attempts, mental distortions of body image, and extreme exercise. An excessive obsession with food, weight, and body shape are potentially all alarming signs of an eating disorder. Despite this, not everyone with such thoughts and behaviours may be suffering from such a disorder. A professional diagnosis utilising the criteria from the newly updated 5th edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is required to conclusively identify whether an individual may have an eating disorder. 

The DSM-5’s criteria have been deemed highly reputable in its encapsulation of what constitutes a certain mental disorder. For example, in Anorexia Nervosa (AN), the DSM included the following as its criteria: reduction in energy intake, low body weight, intense fear of weight gain, denial of current low body weight, and mental distortions of body image. 

There are various types of ED, as follows: 

  1. Anorexia Nervosa (AN) 
  2. Bulimia Nervosa (BN) 
  3. Binge Eating 
  4. Pica 
  5. Rumination Disorder 
  6. Avoidance/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). 
  7. Other Specified Feeding or eating disorders (OSFED). 

Among various types of EDs, AN and BN are the most common ones treated as an outpatient. AN was addressed in abundant research due to its increasing prevalence in adolescents throughout the decade. It has since become the third most common chronic disease in adolescents, next to asthma and obesity. 

Furthermore, in contrast to males, females have higher prevalence rates in most types of eating disorders. For AN, the research concluded that around 0.9~2.0% of females had developed this disorder, a percentage that is approximately sevenfold that of a male. Here we will discuss this mental health condition through research findings regarding ED among female adolescents, and young adults. 

Risk Factors 

There are several etiological and risk factors that contribute to the development of ED: 

  1. Genetic factors 

Among various studies, evidence indicated that females are significantly more likely to develop ED if a biological family member had ED prior. Both the inherited traits of personality and temperament may explain the influence. In addition, the environment in which one grew up is associated with genetic factors that may result in the development of an ED. 

  1. Neurobiological factors 

Neuropsychological functioning plays the role of mediating between underlying neurobiological abnormalities and psychological functioning in eating disorders. Nonetheless, the relationship is bidirectional. While neurobiological abnormalities can contribute to the development of ED, consequences following ED, such as constant low weight and underconsumption of nutrition, also lead to the poor neurobiological wellbeing of the individual. Emphasising the severity of an ED due to such a cycle. 

  1. Psychological factors 

EDs are highly related to underlying psychological distress. Grief, low self-esteem, trauma, or other mental disorders can be associated with its development. Family, especially parents, were often found to be responsible for such conditions. Literature indicated that restrictiveness of the authoritarian parenting style is highly at fault for lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression in their children, two main psychological distresses identified in an early ED pathology. 

According to the research of the risk factors contributing to EDs, mothers who are highly critical and overbearing were found to have caused the development of an eating disorder attitude towards their daughters. The study “Family Interactions and Disordered Eating Attitudes: The Mediating Roles of Social Competence and Psychological Distress” conducted an investigation with a sample group of 286 families in the University of Arizona. Dr. Analisa concluded that young females tend to have poorer social and relationship skills if the individual’s mother frequently communicates with overt criticism, which is a rather unhealthy pattern to be subjected to at such a young age. In these emotional obstacles, the individual experiences are known to cause higher levels of psychological distress and a disordered eating attitude in their daughters. 

The research revealed that the negative form of family communication between mother and daughter impacted the sense of self and social skills of the young female significantly in this developmental stage. This was linked to their struggles over control and self-enhancement. Consequently, disordered eating is developed to deal with negative emotions or compensate for their incompetence in social life. 

These risk factors, along with the developmental changes of young females, are not only associated with the development of an ED but also the maintenance of thoughts and behaviours with such conditions. Clinically, we need a holistic assessment of these aspects of a client’s life to deduce and proceed with the most effective strategy for support. 

Protective factors 

ED can manifest at any age, but the most common age of onset is adolescence. As a result, families are at the front line in preventing, identifying, and supporting their young family members with ED. Adolescents are experiencing tremendous changes in their psychosocial development, including an increased sense of autonomy, a shift in focus from family to peers, and the emergence of abstract thinking. Therefore, self-image awareness and confusion in identity evolving in this stage deeply affects the young adolescent’s social life and overall well-being. 

According to the attachment theory, a secure attachment can create a crucial buffer for young adolescents when facing psychological challenges. In the present, families must have open and transparent communication with the younger generation. By conveying messages clearly and listening carefully, parents can help enforce an environment in which proper guidance is provided in terms of well-respecting the children’s volition. 

In essence, parents are role models to children, emphasising the importance of demonstrating how grown-ups maintain a healthy relationship with food, appearance, identity, and social interactions. In addition to the family, the community, like schools and peers are also vital in the prevention and recovery of young people with ED. 

Early treatment is the key 

ED, especially AN is highly related to risks of potential morbidity and mortality. Despite such statistics, nearly 45% of people with ED do not receive professional treatment for their eating disorders. It is beyond crucial to seek help earlier before it further affects the health of both the client and the family. 

Eating disorders can indeed be treated, but preparations for adverse situations like negative reactions and relapses, are quintessential. It is an emotional and delicate journey for not only the individual who succumbed to it but the family who also walks alongside the young adolescent through such disorder. If you are aware of someone undergoing these conditions, please reach out to your GP or qualified healthcare provider for a professional assessment and support as soon as possible.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how Megan or AMindset can support you, please contact us.

 

References:

1. Common Types of Eating Disorders (and Their Symptoms)

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-eating-disorders

2. Over-bearing mothers can produce daughters with poor social skills and disordered eating attitudes

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130918090208.htm

3. Bryant-Waugh R. and Lask, B. (2013) Overview of eating disorders in childhood and adolescence.

In: Bryant-Waugh, R. and Lask, B. (eds) Eating Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence, 4th edn. Hove: Routledge, pp. 33-49.

4. Teens Visiting ER for Eating Disorders Doubled During Pandemic

https://www.google.com.hk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=newssearch&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjgkPfx-oL6AhWMp1YBHWy-Ar0QxfQBKAB6BAgSEAE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.healthline.com%2Fhealth-news%2Fnumber-teen-girls-in-the-er-for-eating-disorders-doubled-in-pandemic&usg=AOvVaw2eUiRaYrDLJHweAGt31jvV

5. Stice E & Bohon C. (2012). Eating Disorders. In Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 2nd Edition, Theodore Beauchaine & Stephen Linshaw, eds. New York: Wiley.

6. Analisa Arroyo, Chris Segrin. Family Interactions and Disordered Eating Attitudes: The Mediating Roles of Social Competence and Psychological DistressCommunication Monographs, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2013.828158

7. Bohrer BK, Carroll IA, Forbush KT, Chen PY. Treatment seeking for eating disorders:

Results from a nationally representative study. Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Dec;50(12):1341-1349. doi: 10.1002/eat.22785. Epub 2017 Sep 30. PMID: 28963793.

8. Nicholls, D. (2013). Aetiology. In B. Lask & R. Bryant-Waugh (Eds.), Eating disorders in childhood and adolescence (p. 50–76). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

9. Fonagy, P., Gergely, G., Jurist, E.L. and Target, M. (2004) Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self. London: Karnac Books.

10. Enten R.S., Golan, M. (2009) Parenting styles and eating disorder pathology, Appetite,Volume 52, Issue 3, Pages 784-787, ISSN 0195-6663,

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2009.02.013.

“Doing” Leadership

“Doing” Leadership

“DOING” LEADERSHIP by KELLY HUTCHISON

As a long-time leader of teams, I often get asked for my thoughts on how to “do” leadership.  Just recently, I was talking with a bright, early-career entrepreneur who said, “My business is growing like crazy and I’m starting to hire people.  I don’t know how to manage and lead others.  What training course would you recommend? Or are there some books I can read?”

These questions are more common than I’d like them to be.  While they are well-intended, and it’s great that people who seek leadership responsibility actually want to do it well, the assumption (or perhaps hope) beneath the question is that if you read the right books, and/or take the right training course, you will be able to lead.

The question I asked this poor soul in return was, “regardless of the training course or the books – how will you know when you can manage and lead other people?  Does reading the books and attending the training mean you’re done?  Tick, you’re a good leader? Cross it off the list of things to do?”

The truth (like it or not) is that managing and leading others is not a destination.  It’s a practice.  Kind of like yoga.  In fact, yoga can teach us a lot about leadership.  No matter how good you get at yoga, there’s always something more to learn.  There’s more to practice.  You never FINISH working at yoga.  And if you’ve practiced yoga, you’ll know that some days are great – you nail the pose, you go deeper, you balance longer.  Some days are terrible.  You fall over, or you can’t hold even the most basic version of the pose you held for 10 minutes yesterday.  It requires focus, getting back into the pose even when you’ve fallen out of it six times already, and tuning in to your thoughts and feelings. Perhaps most importantly, it requires a willingness to push beyond your comfort zone – taking your pose just a bit further, without a guarantee that you’ll nail it the first time (knowing, in fact, that you’ll probably fall over).

The same is true for leadership.  This is because leadership exists within a human system.  One set of leadership behaviours which works perfectly well with one group of people may completely backfire with another.  Or a style of leadership that works when times are good, fails when times are difficult.  Some days are great – the team is humming, people are happy.  Others stink – business is underperforming, there’s tension between people, tough decisions to be made, and politics to manage.  Pesky human beings – they are so unpredictable.  

So what is this achievement-oriented entrepreneur to do, as the company grows and leadership becomes a necessity and requirement?  While I do not endorse the concept of a “checklist for good leadership”, in the spirit of helping these shooting stars along the journey, I offer the below as a non-linear process.

First: understand the baseline.  Look for clues.  Do you lose people from recruitment processes after they interview with you?  What’s your voluntary employee turnover rate?  If you use an employee engagement survey, what does the data tell you about how people feel about their manager and/or senior leaders?  You should also look inward.  Who’s been your favorite or most respected leader over the course of your career and why?  Who do you emulate as a leader?  

Second: ask your people what they need from you  – what motivates them to perform at their best.  Again, these pesky human beings are all slightly different.  But one thing remains consistent – people join great companies and leave bad managers..  The trick is to find out what “bad manager” means to your people – and practice behaving differently.

On the note of PRACTICE…this is a critical third (and ongoing) step. Just as you don’t become a star tennis player on day 1, and you can’t learn to play the piano with one lesson, leadership is a practice.  Remember that feeling of trying something new when you were a kid?  It’s frustrating and uncomfortable.  Get used to this feeling – in fact, seek it out in your workplace.  It means you’re learning – and learning is supposed to feel uncomfortable.  Try new behaviours.  Refine.  Try again.  Try again.  

Fourth – ask your people how you’re doing.  And “your people” should include those below you, above you, and beside you.  If you’re heading a start-up, maybe there’s no one technically above you.  Whose opinion do you respect and admire?  Do you have a board of directors? An investor or business partner?  Importantly, consider this guide for soliciting feedback (and ignore it at your peril).

Fifth (and arguably the most important element to include in your practice): Reflect on the feedback and use it as a source of data to improve your practice.  Extending the “learning to play the piano” analogy, consider how listening to a recording of your practice can shine a light on areas where you need more practice.  You listen, you think about what you want to work on, and then you work on it.  The same is true in leadership.  What can you learn from the feedback you received?  What should you try differently?

What can you learn?  What can you try?  

Sixth (or maybe first!) – ask for help. What professional athlete does not have a coach? What opera singer doesn’t study under another professional?  It can be very lonely at the top.  Cultivate your network, join leadership forums or communities, and consider a psychotherapist, counsellor or performance coach to help you reflect, learn, and grow.  As someone who has been practicing leadership for decades and advising others who are doing the same, I firmly subscribe to the view that every leader needs a therapist and coach.  

Finally – Repeat steps 1-6.  Often, and for as long as you hold a leadership role.  In doing so, you will exceed your own expectations and you will make a difference to your team, your company and potentially by extension, the world around you.  

After all – isn’t this why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

Kelly Hutchison

Kelly Hutchison is a psychotherapist, counsellor and executive coach with aMindset, based in Hong Kong. 

To book an individual consultation or discuss mental health & wellness initiatives for your organization, contact Kelly on +852 9179 4454 or kellyamindset@gmail.com 

Other Articles by Kelly:

Find out more about Kelly here

Qualifications:

  • Master of Counselling, Monash University, Australia
  • Master of Applied Science (Innovation & Organisation Dynamics), RMIT University, Australia
  • Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Arts/Music), Florida State University, USA
  • Executive Coaching – Level Two Coach, Institute of Executive Coaching & Leadership, Australia
  • Member, Hong Kong Society of Counselling & Psychology
  • Member, Australian Counselling Association
  • Member, Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how Kelly or AMindset can support you, please contact us.

 



How to Help Your Kids Make Friends

How to Help Your Kids Make Friends

One of the crucial components of friendly relations between people is attachment, to which the famous psychologist J. Bowlby devoted his theory. Affection is a basic human need. We all need a person by our side from whom we can receive support, recognition, care. In early childhood, the need for attachment is satisfied by the parents, later each of us looks for a close friend, and in adulthood, attachment transcribes into a loving relationship.

You can’t “teach” your children to be friends in the literal sense of the word, but here are a few tips to help mom and dad help the child feel confident in building friendships.

 

1. Beware of the age

 

Before 3

Family matters the most, a child needs secure attachments, and adult attention is crucially important. Playing alongside is preferred to playing with someone.

 

 

3-6 years old

At three years old, the child begins to share his toys for the first time and may try to help other children at the playground. At the same time, the first conflicts arise due to the inability to share appropriately, take turns or play together calmly.

6-9 years old

Friendships are usually based on shared interests, but they also start recognising that friends may not share the same interests. 6-9 children begin to understand that they need to include reciprocity to maintain friendships. Girls usually find “best friends,” and boys tend to stick to mini-groups. Friends fulfil practical needs, are helpful, and can be relied upon for assistance.

9-13 years old

At the age of 10, the need for empathy comes to the fore. A friend is someone with whom you are not afraid to share a secret, someone you can safely trust. Friendships are mainly gender split and based on similarity, shared experiences, and emotional support. Children recognise the thoughts and feelings of others and learn the importance of effective conflict management.

Adolescence

That’s the time when more time is spent with friends rather than family. Without an external adult mentor, the peer group can significantly influence decisions and the definition of personal identity. Friends differentiate – different friends for different purposes, and friendship arises between boys and girls, which becomes a kind of preparation for a romantic relationship.

 

 
 

2. Create opportunities

To make friends, you need to socialise and play with other children. Parents should specifically think about where the child can find a group of peers – this can be any place where children can freely play or do something fun or educational together in a safe space.

3. Talk about friendship

  • When talking with children, it is essential to touch on the topic of friendships. For example, it will be exciting for children to hear a story about parental childhood friends:

  • How and where you met.

  • What you loved to play.

  • What exciting adventures happened to you.

  • How you had arguments and made peace afterward.

 

Such stories by their example allow you to show your child how great and important it is to have friends! It is also beneficial to discuss friendship while reading children’s books, listening to songs, and watching cartoons.

4. Be a role model

Children copy their parents in many life aspects. Therefore, the only way we can teach our children to be friends is to be good friends to someone ourselves. Adults can show by their example how to treat friends, the ways to resolve conflicts, how important it is to compromise, and that it is not at all scary to be the first to start a conversation and get to know someone you like. In addition, several personal factors underlie friendship between children of different ages – the main ones among them, perhaps, are the child’s communication style and temperament.

 

 
 

5. Let them choose their friends

Of course, I want my child to be friends only with nice, polite, intelligent, and positive children. But life doesn’t always go the way we expect. Also, children’s logic is very different from that of an adult, and the parents’ expectations may not coincide at all with the wishes of the child. In this case, parents are better off keeping their distance, not giving unnecessary advice or criticising the child’s environment. Just make sure your child knows that they can, in any situation, turn to them and discuss the experience of his relationship, even if this experience is negative.

6. Be realistic about your expectations

Childhood friendships are full of ups and downs and the ins and outs. So, if your child is having some issues with his friends, try not to be too worried. Remember, making friends and being a good friend are skills that need to be learned. So, focus on helping your children build and practice their friendship skills. Eventually, everything will fall into place.

Also, be sure to keep the lines of communication open. Talking about how to be a good friend is just as important as learning how to make friends.

For more inspiration on how to become a more effective parent, please take a look at my other blog posts, or follow me on Instagram. I’m also available for personalised parent coaching, just use the contact form on my website if you’d like to know more.


If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

The Brain is not Hardwired

Five Elements for a Happier and Healthier You

What is PTSD