“A Goal Is A Dream With A Deadline” – Napoleon Hill.

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“People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. - Maya Angelou

This quote is so pertinent to our lives, especially in the Western world. As entrepreneurs, we tend to rush around trying to accomplish everything on our never-ending “to do” list, only to wake up the next day and do the same thing all over again. Is this living? The joy of interacting with others fills you with knowledge, kindness, understanding, laughter and many other emotions.  Interacting with others in a mindful and meaningful way shows deep and well-mastered skills of Emotional Intelligence.  Maya Angelou hits the nail right on the head with her words that tie in so aptly with the theme of Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is something that I learnt through working for most of my life in other cultures. Placing myself out of my comfort zone, away from everything that was familiar to me to start again in an environment that was different from my own, almost forces the development of Emotional Intelligence. That, I believe, was the foundation of my success in each case. It is so easy to use phrases such as “In England, we do it this way,” or “That won’t work because…. ” and so on. In a new environment, you are the minority. If you are aware and sensitive, it forces you, in the nicest possible way, to expand your thinking, look for the positives and identify ways to achieve the goal that is acceptable to your colleagues, despite being different to what they are accustomed to and possibly also different to what you are accustomed to.  

In any business, whether banking, hotel, retail or construction, Emotional Intelligence is essential to communicating and dealing with clients and customers as well as for working in and leading teams. Without it, because they can, customers will go somewhere else sooner or later. Employees will either do the same or their morale, willingness and performance will drastically decrease, leaving management bewildered and trying to work out what is wrong through surveys and interviews.  With a good level of Emotional Intelligence, you are aware of your own behaviour, can regulate it through your social skills, generate self-motivation to influence, and inspire others positively to want to work with you simply because they respect and trust you.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence was initially labelled by Daniel Goleman back in the mid-1990s, which he adapted from the Salovey and Mayer definition. In Goleman’s words, it refers to “the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others. For motivating ourselves in our relationships. It describes the abilities distinct from but complementary to, academic intelligence, the purely cognitive capacities measured by IQ”. Often referred to as EQ, as opposed to IQ, his adaptation includes five basic emotional competencies. They each have their own definition, making it easy to measure that are divided into “Personal Competence” and “Social Competence”. 

Personal Competence includes:

• Self-Awareness

• Self-Regulation 

• Motivation 

And Social Competence includes:

• Empathy 

• Social Skills

Emotional Intelligence is the foundation to getting on in this world. It is that simple!  Every day, we all interact with people, and as leaders inspire many of them.  Lacking Emotional Intelligence may possibly mean that the person lacks the self-confidence to pass the time of day, to express their ideas and thoughts around solving a problem or to stand in their own power. It might also present itself as getting upset and taking things personally, simply because your suggestion or solution was not accepted.  We normally have hundreds of interactions every day - face to face, on the phone and through email. A lack of Emotional Intelligence will affect how others react to you as well as how you react to others, often making or breaking relations.

To have a deeper understanding of EQ, it is worth understanding the competencies of self-awareness and self-regulation. Self-awareness is when using these skills in the business world, you can “feel” what is happening in the now when communicating with others. You consequently use gleaned information to guide decision making with a realistic understanding of your own abilities and a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.  

Self-regulation means that you are able to handle your emotions in a way that allows facilitation and openness in seeking solutions, discussing personal issues and feelings of both your own and others. It means you do not interfere or perhaps even block any forward direction, be it solutions, changes in processes or personal relations. Self-regulation is also the ability to recover quickly and to bounce back from emotional distress that might have been caused by your own actions or actions of others in a particular situation.

Self-regulation and self-awareness are particularly relevant in managing mental ill-health, as it firstly helps us to be aware of our emotions and then to recover quickly and well from emotional setbacks. Self-motivation helps to go inward and remind ourselves when in the overhang of an emotional situation what our deepest needs and preferences are, and consequently in the face of a major glitch, to persevere to achieve our goal. It helps us to regulate our response both to others and to ourselves putting everything into context to avoid becoming overwhelmed, internalising feelings that then de-stabilise our mental and emotional health.  Being self-aware and able to self-regulate results in greater resilience to manage setbacks and life’s curve-balls.

 Five Actions to Build Emotional Intelligence

1. Listen attentively and empathetically through tone of voice, gestures and words when you see that someone is emotional or having a different opinion to your own.  This helps to respond by mirroring to show you recognise how they are feeling and only then addressing the actual reason for the conversation.

2. Change your response pattern by identifying your triggers. Increasing self-awareness of how you feel and respond to a particular statement, comment, person or attitude goes a long way to identifying triggers, giving the opportunity to put steps in place to change your response pattern and increase your EQ.

3. Show empathy by putting yourself in another person’s shoes. This helps them see that you care, you truly understand and are not passing any judgement.  When responding verbally, use expressions that transmit your empathy for them and how they are feeling, without getting sucked into the situation.  Convey the message through phrases such as, “I would be so upset right now if that was me in your situation.” “I really feel for you right now.” 

4. Focus the conversation on the other person. Increase your social skills and train yourself to first connect on a human level by taking a “reading” of how the other person you are interacting with is feeling in the moment by using so-called “small talk”. Show respect and be mindful to truly listen to their answer, observing gestures, tone of voice and words. Only after this, carry on with the main reason for calling/reaching out to the person. In doing this you build rapport, respect and trust with others.

5. Look for the positives in everything - whether person, idea, situation, or experience, before criticizing and focusing on the negatives. Positivity generates positivity, in other words like attracts like.  If you want others to treat you with respect, then be positive in how you communicate. This does not mean ignoring behaviour that is unacceptable, it simply means being balanced in your feedback, comments, and overall manner of communication.

Living an emotionally intelligent life is the greatest gift you will ever give to yourself.  There will be times when you get it wrong, but having the self-awareness and ability to evaluate, as well as social skills to receive feedback will help self-regulate your approach for next time.  

Written by Rachel Shackleton - Green Key Personal Development

Rest and recovery are essential for your health – and that of your business

There is a popular perception that being exhausted is a badge of honour that marks you out as a successful business owner. 

This is closely associated with the romanticised image of a solo figure working late into the night, by the light of a single bulb, to complete a day’s work - prior to a few hours’ sleep before starting over again early the next morning.

Embracing such a lifestyle and promoting such an image sends a message to the world that you are hugely in demand, and thus clearly very good at what you do. 

However, it simply isn’t healthy.

When you are mentally and physically exhausted, it takes a significant toll on your health. It also compromises your ability to work efficiently and raises the likelihood that you will make errors in the materials you provide to clients.

Rest and recovery should be written into every business plan. They should also be an important part of your calendar on a daily, weekly and yearly basis.

This is not always easy to achieve. With huge numbers of the UK workforce operating from home because of the restrictions imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the boundaries between work and leisure time have become ominously blurred. 

It’s all too easy to sit at your desk from dawn till dusk, dipping into work in the moments when you should be resting your mind.

So build in times when you are resting your mind and body. Take a mid-morning and mid-afternoon tea break, as well as a lunch break, and go into a different room. Sit down, relax your body and take your mind away from the travails of the working day.

Similarly, make sure you walk away from your desk at a particular time each evening - and don’t be tempted to pop back to it. 

Carve out time at weekends when you are awake but resting. Watch TV, read a book, spend mealtimes with your family.

Work out how many hours of sleep you need each night – it increases as you get older – and make sure you get to bed at a time that means you wake up feeling fresh and ready for another day.

On a wider scale, identify weeks in the calendar when you will step away from work completely. This could coincide with Christmas, Easter, half-terms and summer.

We are not machines. We cannot be programmed to be switched on to business 24/7. 

Take time to rest and refresh your body and mind and you will be a more efficient business owner - as well as a healthier person. 

Written by Martin Booth - LEBOO MEDIA

For those of you, who are mid-lifers and have found themselves fallen foul of furlough or a similar situation meaning, this is for you… let’s action plan together - you need to assess where you are and take action, quickly.

My story began back in 2008 and the rather large recession that took place that year. I was made redundant and consequently, my world came tumbling down. I was 48 and did not have a clue as to how the recruitment network worked. 

I initially engaged with a pity party, blamed everyone else then realised that the only person who was going to sort this was that bloke who stared back at me from the bathroom mirror. So, what to do? Well, first I decided that I was going to treat finding a job as a job in itself and got up early, got dressed as I would to go into an office and start using what I had available to me that was free. 

Straight away you have Google which is a great resource and an excellent starting point. I decided to join as many job boards, head-hunter sites etc to get my name in front as many people as possible. I rewrote my CV having looked for free resources online and constructed a generic cover letter. I uploaded to 15+ sites and set up alarms to have jobs sent to me daily.

The reality, however, was just playing a numbers game where the odds weren’t that great. A new tactic was required and through Google, I found a local Executive Job Club, joined and attended. It was charity based and gave you an overview of the skills required to find those elusive opportunities. The two pointers that seemed to matter most then, and I know now, were to go networking and to use LinkedIn.

What was this ‘networking’? It had two main threads; making all family and acquaintances know what you are looking for - your personal network, and the second, more powerful version – business networking. What was this? Well in short to attend meetings run for business people in venues, where they may have speakers but nearly all have “Networking time” which allows you to speak to others and let them know what you are looking for. Now I will be very honest and say that this is very scary initially, but you MUST persist as the more people know what it is that you are looking for, the more likely it is that you will find the holy grail.

LinkedIn was something I had been on for 2 years but was I using it? No not really… so I got some training and a combination of networking and LinkedIn got me a very large network leading to a job. Which shows… it works!

If I can do this at 48, then so can you. But you must be resilient. There will be some bad days, but with persistence it does work. 10 years after my original date I launched my own company and 2 ¾ years later, it is doing very well, and how was this possible? Yup, you guessed it… networking, and using LinkedIn.

You can be older, you can be feeling down but you can most certainly achieve. Look at me, a council estate kid with a comprehensive education, who was a senior account director at 47. Redundancy changed my path, I bounced back and now am in a position where I am happier in my business life than I have ever been, so where is that opportunity for you? Keep your eyes open and keep looking, then you might have the same success. You need persistence and the right mindset – have you got what it takes?

Written by Tony K Silver - Solid Silver Solutions

What’s Wellbeing got to do with business?

Writing a business plan at the start of each year is highly advisable. The simple act of putting your ambitions for the 12 months ahead in black and white adds considerably to the extent to which they become embedded in your thinking. 

Such a plan also acts as a useful reference point as you check it regularly while the weeks and months roll by. It’s hugely encouraging to be aware when you pass a particular target, and valuable when you are reminded how far there is to go to reach others. 

However, a business plan should include more than visions, values, goals and specific financial milestones to be attained in the coming year. 

Few business owners who had to navigate the choppy commercial waters of 2020 will ever forget the experience. 

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the measures taken to combat its spread, ensured that the year was exceptionally challenging. 

It is only fair to point out that when you run a business, every single year represents an examination of your agility, resilience and self-esteem, as well as the viability of your organisation.

Rarely, though, have entrepreneurs been subjected to such a stiff set of questions as in 2020. The difficult economic circumstances, and the heroic efforts to combat them, meant that the passing months took a serious toll on the mental wellbeing of UK business owners. 

This phenomenon highlighted, among many other things, the advisability of including wellbeing considerations among your business planning. 

To put it simply, ensuring you are in the best of health will make a significant contribution to the overall wellbeing of your company. 

If you are stressed to your limit, so anxious that you have trouble sleeping, and physically exhausted beyond what you believed were the limits of your endurance, your commercial performance is likely to suffer. 

So take control. Write into your business plan some health-related strategies that you know will make you feel better - and perform better as a business leader. 

These could include:

● Establishing a time when you finish work each day. Working late into the evening may be an occasional necessity, but burning the midnight oil every evening will take its toll. 

● Carving out days when you take a complete break from work. Ideally, this should be the whole weekend. If you really are too busy to walk away on both Saturday and Sunday, at least make sure one of those days is yours and yours alone.

● Setting your bedtime early enough so that you get the hours of sleep you need. Few things are more demoralising than getting up in the morning feeling shattered.

● Building time into your schedule to take regular exercise. Even if it’s just a 30-minute walk to the shops and back, you will feel the benefit. 

● Take breaks during your working day. Stretch your legs, have a cup of tea or a snack and come back to your work with a refreshed mind.

● Read. Whether it’s business books or subject matters completely unrelated to work, it’s always good to broaden your mind. And every now and then you might learn something useful. 

● Ensure you eat and drink healthily. 

Every business owner will have different priorities as a result of being more stressed in one area or another. But if you take care of yourself and feel better as a person, you will perform better as a business leader. 

Writing your wellbeing priorities into your business plan at the start of each year is a way of ensuring they resonate with you as you settle into the rhythm of a new, healthier working life.

Written by Martin Booth - LEBOO MEDIA


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