Following on from last month's post, I've started to notice more success stories - it's unsurprising because certain things tend to jump out when they're already on your mind.
One story that has really got my attention is that of Patricia Bright, beauty blogger and YouTube sensation - I'm sure everybody under the age of 25 knows of her, but I only heard about her very recently thanks to an article I was reading! It's easy to scoff at people like this because it seems too easy and almost unbelievable that entire careers can be built in such a way... one assumes they came from wealthy backgrounds already or have special 'connections'.
It's not the case with Patricia at all. In fact, she's a first-generation Brit of immigrant parents and spent much of her childhood watching (and helping) her Mother toil away because her Father was deported. Although it was tough, she didn't resent her parents for not being able to fund her. She began earning money for herself aged 13, as a playground hair stylist. When she was 14, she spent an entire summer door knocking and earning commission delivering catalogues and taking orders. The income was tiny, but by the end of it she'd saved £200 and was truly proud. The work experience she'd built up easily gained her a 'real' job and by 16 she was working part-time in retail whilst studying. It wasn't all enjoyable, but she knew she had to work hard if she wanted to make something of herself. Here's a recent quote of hers (from Twitter):
Patricia is now a huge success although she admits it hasn't been easy along the way. It clearly takes a lot of time, grit and determination, but she is proof that anybody can make something of themselves. Our past doesn't have to define our future and often the biggest limitation is our own mind. Patricia has a new book out next year called "Heart & Hustle: What it Takes to Make it to the Top." If you know of somebody who needs inspiring, perhaps it will be a good buy? Either way, her experience certainly inspires me and I hope that more people learn of stories like this.
As always, if you'd like some inspirational training delivered on your site - give us a shout.
When people think back to their own childhood and compare it with how childhood seems today, there is a growing concern that children are becoming softer – essentially, lacking in perseverance and tenacity. Evidently this is a general feeling that's shared among Teaching Staff, parents and indeed most adults across the UK.
Despite the positive aspects of modern technology, it is no doubt partly to blame for the noticeable changes we have seen in recent years. Children relying less on their own creativity when bored, spending less time outdoors, exercising less, and becoming addicted to screens - not to mention the impact of social media. You could also add to that increased Health & Safety hype, leading to a somewhat ‘cotton wool’ effect on today’s younger generation. Let's not be too gloomy though...
We think there is a lot to be said for passion and perseverance. So - what about you? How long do you stick with a task that’s not going your way, before you conclude "I can’t do this"? What about your children, students, colleagues?
A critical factor that many of us need more of, is Grit! Angela Duckworth famously came up with her theory of ‘Grit’ as a predictor of success. She found that IQ was not the only factor that separated successful students and those that struggled, with the same principle applying to any discipline. There are many talented individuals out there who simply do not follow through on their commitments. Motivation and psychology are a huge factor behind how well people do, and we believe this is something that needs much more attention!
So, what are the 5 characteristics of Grit? Angela Duckworth defines them as:
Perhaps you would add more in there, but it's certainly a great start! We have a brilliant workshop focussing on ‘Growth Mindset’, which is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed – it can change with your effort. So with that in mind, we need to be 'Gritty' about helping others become 'Grittier'.
Whether you’re a school, organisation or business, we want to work with you to help you improve your outcomes. We’ve got a superb presenter who regularly receives outstanding feedback. He is open for short sessions and talks as well as full day workshops. Contact us today!
As average statistics go, there are just over 6,000 suicides in the UK each year. When you start to think about how many individuals that is per day, it's a sobering thought. Most of us have known of somebody somewhere, who has sadly ended their life. Regardless of how or why it happens, it is an incredibly shocking and devastating thing... perhaps the worst part being that it's rarely inevitable.
But what can we do?
It is hard understand if one has never contemplated it, but for the people that do contemplate it, you have to assume they must be experiencing unimaginable pain. Perhaps they've been suffering from mental ill-health, maybe their self-esteem is at rock bottom or it could be that they've got themselves into seemingly inescapable difficulties. Whatever the root of it, too many people feel ashamed and this often one of the biggest things that prevents them from asking for help.
I believe that we shouldn't let this subject be a taboo. As the #talkingsuicide campaign suggests, "Talking about suicide doesn't make suicide more likely to happen - but not talking about it does."
If you're on Twitter, you can tweet your support using that hashtag, or follow journalist Bryony Gordon (@bryony_gordon) who is a fantastic supporter of all things mental health.
So as one of the main keys for making a difference is listening to people, I want to encourage you to do that because it could save a life. The Samaritans are a FANTASTIC charity and if you want to grab a few ideas for listening well, check out their tips! It's always worth raising awareness about The Samaritans or supporting them in any way you can. A free 24 hour helpline is available for anybody who needs to talk - whether it's the sufferer themselves, or if you are worried about someone else. Another great charity for suicide prevention is CLASP (Counselling Life Advice Suicide Prevention). You can view the website here.
Finally, if you'd like any staff training in your organisation about suicide prevention or related topics, you know where we are.
Thanks for reading!
We've had a wonderful year running training events around the UK. Several of them have been in-house sessions (held on client sites) and others have been public events designed for individuals to attend. As ever our presenters have excelled themselves and shared a great deal of inspiration... Our favourite part of all was meeting and hearing from the wonderful variety of people who chose to attend. These our some of our best bits!
Sometimes it's useful to be reminded that as simple as it sounds, talking can be incredibly helpful and therapeutic for all of us. Open communication builds trust and it's essential for healthy relationships whether that's with colleagues, family, friends or partners. Not only that - it's brilliant for mental health too!
Recently we heard an experience from somebody who had struggled with addiction in their past. Coping alone was the worst thing about it; resulting in insomnia, increased shame and anxious thoughts among other things. When they finally opened up and told somebody they trusted, the sense of freedom was greater than they could have imagined... Talking about it was that crucial first step to recovery.
For most people who suffer with a mental health condition, talking is an essential element to recovery. For some people, being able to talk about their experiences almost becomes the cure itself... So, talk to the people around you! There might be somebody suffering with a mental health condition, a bereavement or perhaps going through a low patch in their life. BE that person who is willing to give them the time of day; help them talk, and then listen.
Sometimes you need to be intentional with the kind of questions you ask. In particular, open questions cause a responder to reflect and reveal a bit more about themselves. Whatever your reason for starting a conversation, here are some handy openers that you could try:
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
So next time you think of it - put down your newspaper, turn off your TV or gadget... and start a conversation. Who knows what may come of it.
So.. what's new? We recently ran a practical training workshop in London; 'Building Resilience in Young People.'
It was a fantastic day together and - as ever - it was wonderful to meet such a dedicated collective of teaching staff and school nurses. Apart from the obvious benefits of gaining knowledge and training, it was a great opportunity for encouragement and replenishment.
Anybody working in a school will know how much effort and sacrifice it takes to persevere, especially in increasingly tough conditions... Many staff choose to continue in the profession out of genuine care for children and young people - and this isn't something that should be overlooked! It's so important to be valued and appreciated, and for many reasons that we could list, this just isn't happening enough.
For those of you that can, make it a priority to take a day out and attend some quality training. Let us look after you, enjoy networking with like-minded colleagues and feel enthused as you return equipped with new ideas.
Strategies for building resilience can be applied to people of all ages. We'd like to share a couple of useful tips from the training workshop which you can implement as part of your practice:
If you notice that yourself or the person you're working with has an intrusive/ distressing thought, is reacting to an image/ memory or trigger, try STOPP.
S = STOP
T = Take a breath
O = Observe - describe the feelings, sensations, thoughts etc
P = Pull back or Perspective - what's the bigger picture? Is this fact/ opinion? Is there another way of viewing this?
P = Practice what works - what is the best thing to do right now? For me, others, the situation
Our Building Resilience training workshop is also available as an in-house event. Get in touch if you'd like to know more!
The 14th - 20th May 2018 is National Mental Health Awareness week.
Even for those of us who can only spare a few moments of time, this week provides is a great opportunity to raise awareness about mental health. Whether you choose to do this via social media or through daily conversations with those around you, it's something everybody can make an effort to do (however small)!
In this article we'd specifically like to draw attention to our young people, who are facing a notoriously stressful and pressured time of year. Examinations season isn't easy, and this in turn increases the demand on both parents and staff to provide adequate support. Our expert Zoe is on hand to offer some helpful strategies...
As always, remember to take care of yourself too! It's good to talk.
If you didn’t already know, April is Stress Awareness Month and it’s actually been taking place since 1992. We see this as a great opportunity for raising awareness as well as considering what triggers it and what steps can be taken to relieve it.
Most people will experience stress at some point in their life, however if it’s continuous or severe, the effects can be detrimental for both the mind and body. Stress can be caused by a sudden traumatic event or even just the expectations of daily life. We speak to one of our expert trainers and psychotherapists, Esther and here’s what she had to say...
"April is stress awareness month, although my view is that we should be kind enough to ourselves all year! Being kind to ourselves means beginning to train our minds to notice the signs that tell us that stress is on the horizon, so we can take action to manage it before it engulfs us. Below I offer a couple of tips that can help.
Easier said than done I know, especially during a busy working day! However, it’s important to periodically pause and check in with yourself. I have a discreet noise on my phone that can randomly sound (with a gentle bell every couple of hours) to encourage me to stop, breathe and take stock of how I am doing and whether my thoughts are taking me away from what actually is going on. This need only take a nanosecond and can get me back on track.
What is that (I think I hear you saying...)?! It is an incredibly useful acronym that can be used in the classroom, office, in staff meetings, out loud or as your inner voice. It stands for Feet On Floor Bottom On Chair. When my thoughts take me away from what it is I’m supposed to be doing (which is often down an unhelpful path), just feeling the ground beneath my feet and the solidity of the chair beneath my bottom grounds me and brings my mind back. Clients and patients of mine have been helped tremendously by using this acronym. Successful examples include during exams, interviews, tricky meetings and social occasions when anxiety looms.
And finally, a word about a positive side of stress. Some stress is not only necessary but can be useful – it can show that we care about something and can propel us forward. However, we need to be in control of it rather than the other way around."
If you'd like a session on Stress Management delivered to your staff, let us know!
Check out this quote by writer Anne Lamott... Personally, I find it amusing and also surprisingly true!
There is more of a buzz around self-care lately and it's something I've been thinking about for quite a few months now. When I first heard about it, I thought that the phrase sounded rather self-centred and narcissistic. After all, surely we should be outward looking rather than inward looking?
Upon reflection, I changed my mind. When I look back on recent years and my previous job, I was pretty stressed for a long time. Feeling stressed for a significant amount of time completely de-sensitised me and it just became a way of life. The pressures of targets, expectations and responsibility all weighed down on me and I found it difficult to let go. I smiled less, laughed less and I'm not ashamed to say my family and friends noticed it as well.
Sometimes it's worth a complete change of direction, however not everybody can escape their circumstances. This is where self-care and resilience become so vitally important. Take steps to preserve your wellbeing; whether that's exercise, planning a break, taking a bath, fun with your family... It's ok to prioritise time for your own refreshment. In fact, it's necessary! From my experience, it's difficult to make a positive impact on the world or in other people's lives if you're not in a good or healthy place. If you look after yourself, you're likely to be more productive too... that's win-win!
Several of our experts regularly promote self-care and we've even got a lovely workshop full of practical techniques which will help you and your staff. If you are planning your next INSET day, or you've got some time where you can gather staff together - give us a shout! I promise you it will be worth it.
I'm Jemima, founder of Olive Branch Consultancy and passionate about delivering excellence with sensitivity and care.