Can’t quit that bad habit? Blame ‘secondary gain’

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a cycle of self-sabotaging behaviours? It’s soooo frustrating, isn’t it? The sensible part of you is saying ‘No! Don’t do this again’. Meanwhile, that other part of you is whispering ‘It’s easier to do it this way’ or ‘I’ll quit tomorrow’. Sigh. Why do you keep doing this?

Well, the answer is simple: you are getting a ‘secondary gain’ out of it. A secondary gain is a reward, either tangible or psychological, that you are reaping from your behaviour. This benefit can range from feeling comforted, to gaining attention or avoiding responsibilities.

Yes, it’s sad but true: self-sabotaging behaviours have hidden benefits. That’s why smart people do things they know they shouldn’t. For instance, imagine a successful team leader who works long hours. She really resents working harder than anyone else. However, she keeps coming in early and staying back late. That’s because she is hooked on the praise she gets from her manager for handing in ‘perfect’ work. The praise is her secondary gain.

Knowing this gives the team leader a way to break her workaholic cycle for good. You see, if she finds a healthier way to do high-quality work, she won’t need to overwork. She could train her team to help her out, delegate more and focus on working strategically instead of being so hands-on.

 

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You can use this approach to habit change, too. If you identify what the secondary gain of any ‘bad’ habit is, you’ll be able to get some gain without the pain! Try this technique on any of these Top 10 low confidence  habits:

  1. Over-eating
  2. Procrastinating
  3. People-pleasing
  4. Working too hard
  5. Perfectionism
  6. Saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’
  7. Arguing
  8. Being disorganised
  9. Putting yourself down
  10. Staying out of the limelight

Remember,  no one is trapped forever in their ‘bad’ habits!  You can consciously choose to see the bigger picture, and make a plan to break your habit cycle. With an understanding of secondary gain as your guide, you can take steps towards creating healthier behaviour patterns.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

Confidence is not a personality trait. You can learn it.

Are you surrounded by people who seem way more confident than you? Well, let me share a secret: many people APPEAR confident, but that doesn’t mean they’re naturally self-assured. It’s certainly not true that some people are ‘born confident’ or that confidence is part of your personality. Just like imposter syndrome, low confidence is caused by lots of factors. All of which you can overcome! Watch this week’s video for some insights into the real cause of imposter syndrome. Which is also one of the triggers for low confidence.

You see, confidence is not ‘part’ of you. It’s a mindset, which is  driven by your belief in your abilities. And those beliefs can change at any stage of  your life. In fact, brain research shows that you can rewire your brain and change your thinking habits from the cradle to the grave. And that’s great news. It means you’re never too young to be confident and… you’re never too old to be confident!

You can learn to activate confidence by mastering a few mind-management tools. I recommend using  Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to build your emotional mastery, because they are quick to learn. For example, you can use NLP to trigger a confident state just by focusing your attention the right way. Did you know that your brain can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined? That means you can change your mood just by using your imagination and your memory. Many NLP state management tools help you do this.

 

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Try this easy technique right now. Close your eyes and remember a time you WERE confident in the past. Replay that memory, paying attention to what you saw,  heard and felt during that confident experience.  Make the memory as vivid as you can.  Use all your senses as you remember how you ‘coded’ your confidence. You’ll soon notice yourself feeling more confident in real time. That’s because you’ve just activated your ‘confidence pathways’.

Thousands of people use NLP every day. And why is that? Because it’s fastest and easiest way to change your thinking and change your state. If you’d like more tips on using NLP or on building complete confidence, come along to one of my online classes. I’d love to help you master the art of confident thinking!

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

I’m a control freak… but I don’t let it control me.

Time to come clean. I’m a control freak. And I’m not the only one! In times of uncertainty many people react by trying to regain control. But that’s not a healthy way to lead yourself, your team or your business.

So, how can you tell that your ‘organised mindset’ is actually a sign that you’re in full-blown control freak mode? Here are three signs that are dead giveaways.

1. You’re stressing out about people knowing you’re stressing out

Yep, you’re not the only one who does this! It’s a surprisingly common way of thinking among people with imposter syndrome, a distorted, unhelpful form of ‘metacognition’.

2. You believe you are 100 percent responsible for your own success

You give yourself no leeway. If something goes wrong, you scold yourself. Then you start working on making it go right again. You say things like “failure isn’t an option” and there’s no such thing as good enough.” You over-schedule, over-commit and over-work. And still, you want to achieve more

No. It’s not ambition or a good work ethic. It’s a sign your confidence very likely needs a reboot.

3. You self-compassion battery is totally flat.

Self-compassion is a form of support and nurturing you give yourself when you make mistakes, face embarrassing situations, or encounter adversity. It’s like a battery; when it’s low, you don’t have the energy to enjoy your life. But t it can be recharged – and there are good reasons to keep it fully charged.

Paul Gilbert is a research scientist who studies the neuroscience of self-compassion. He claims that three brain systems work together to help you handle adversity and survive in chaotic times. Your ‘mammalian care-giving system’ is one of these systems. When it’s outward-facing, it enables you to feel, and show, compassion for those around you. But it can also be inward-facing. In this case, your care-giving system promotes a sense of self-security and stability.

 

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4 self-care habits that damage your confidence

Self-care is often touted as the guaranteed cure for low confidence and the antidote to imposter syndrome.  But guess what? This isn’t true. Just like it’s foolish to take antibiotics for every little ache and pain, it’s silly  to apply generic self-care practices as a cure for low confidence. How I’m not saying self-care is a bad thing. However, some self-care practices are more likely to damage your confidence than build it. Four of these are very common

Habit 1: Using minimising language

Some words unconsciously minimise your message and destroy your credibility. But many people (especially women) use these words in a vain attempt to fit in. For example, imagine a conference speaker who starts her presentation with the words “This isn’t really my area of expertise”. She certainly doesn’t sound confident and I bet she doesn’t feel confident, either.

Habit 2: staying in your comfort zone

I get it. You’ve been told that looking after yourself means reducing stress and saying ‘no’ to overloading yourself. Unfortunately, if you have low confidence this is the worst advice you can take, because it stops you learning. Believe it or not, confidence increases as your  willingness to learn builds. So, start challenging your assumptions about what’s possible and move into the learning zone.

Habit 3: Critiquing yourself all the time

Okay. Critiquing your own performance can be a great way to build your motivation to do better.  But when done excessively, self-critique turns into self-criticism. It quickly erodes your self-confidence. Plus, it turns into a habit which can be challenging to break. Resist the temptation to look for what you ‘should’ be doing better. Instead, focus on putting your strengths and passions to good use as a leader. Work with a coach or mentor if you need help doing this.

 

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Habit 4: Making contingency plans for everything

Yes, it does make sense to have backup plans for important parts of your life and work.  But having ‘just in case’ plans for everything is a clear sign that your need for control is …out of control. Remember that confidence doesn’t come from being in control. It is stronger when you believe in your own coping skills. Build those and suddenly confidence will be your default state.

Of course, self-care is important. However, it is important to make sure you’re practicing the right kind of self-care. Poor self-care habits can damage your confidence and stop you from building the skills you need to be successful.  It’s time to break these habits and become a confident leader. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

4 sure-fire signs you’re overworking

Ironically, I wrote this at 2 a.m. However, it is still an important point for you take on. If you believe successful managers and business owners are constantly busy, think again. Yes, many people feel they should work 24/7 and they must be constantly focused on success. There’s a name for this feeling: “imposter syndrome” and it is the biggest cause of overwork in managers and business owners today. High-impact leaders DO NOT MAKE OVERWORKING A HABIT. Instead, they use three core habits to stay focused on making a difference.

It’s time to get real. Being busy is NOT a sign you’re successful. In fact, it’s a sign you’re ineffective. High-impact leaders don’t have mile-long to do lists or fully booked diaries. Instead, they have strategic plans and  to- notch teams. You can’t have either of those things if you’re overworking. But how can you tell if you ARE overworking? Here are the top  4 signs I advise  my clients to watch out for.

The to-do list that never ends

This is a sure sign you’re working reactively. You see, effective leaders don’t ever use To Do Llists. They use plans. What’s the difference? To Do  lists are made up on the fly. Plans are well thought out and developed in advance.

Staying switched on 24/7

The second sign you’re overworking is struggling to wind down after work. This is really common problem for high-achieving people. However, it is not a badge of honour! If you’re constantly thinking about work. it’s a sign you’re overworking. You need to stop now. Go back to your hobbies, your family or your friends. Believe me, you can still succeed even when you are human! All it takes is confidence and assertiveness!

 

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Feeling resentful and put-out

Yep. It is  less obvious, but it is still a sign you’re overworking. For example, it might seem like you’re the only person who is committed to doing a good job. If you’re feeling this way, you’re probably taking too much on and working excessive hours. Sound familiar?

Knowing you’re overworking

The fourth sign you’re overworked in  bleeding obvious: you know you’re overworked. Sadly, many talented managers and professionals e keep going despite this realisation. Eeek! I can tell you this a guaranteed way to burn yourself out.

So, how do you slow down and stop overworking? Learn to drive your own brain. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP is a great tool for doing this).  With NLP, you can manage your own thinking and emotional states. You can quit handling everything yourself and stop feeling like an imposter. So, if the 4 symptoms of overwork resonate for you, act now. Learn some NLP and focus on having an impact instead of being busy 24/7.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

Tame your inner perfectionist without compromising professionalism

­­­­­­­­­­­­­You probably think having high standards is a sign you’re a dedicated professional. Sadly, it might be ruining your reputation. Sure, you’ve  been told that successful people have high standards. But here’s what you haven’t realised. Perfectionist thinking is just one sign of self-sabotage – and you’ll never shine professionally if you make it a habit.

What causes perfectionism?

Two thinking patterns cause you to get stuck in perfectionist mode. On one hand, you hold extremely HIGH expectations about the quality of work you should produce. On the other hand, you have unrealistically LOW expectations regarding the time you’ll need needed to complete tasks.  This creates a mindset that gradually destroys your confidence and distorts your self-concept.

When this happens, you get trapped in a cycle of starting early and leaving late. Why? Because you’re trying so hard to meet deadlines and deliver ‘above and beyond’. You tell yourself this won’t last forever, but that busy patch just drags on. This exhausts you and shuts down the executive functions of your brain. It becomes impossible to make decisions, trust your own judgement or solve problems effectively.

Here’s how to break free

You can break free of perfectionism by reprograming your beliefs. I recommend using Neuro Linguistic Programming tools to do this, because they work so quickly. I explain exactly how they work in my free e-book, Beat Imposter Syndrome.

 

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Step 1:  understand your brain

Stop focusing on getting everything right and start focusing on being in a peak performance state. You can’t deliver great results if you’re worn out  all the time. Exhaustion is a sign  you’re pushing against your brain’s natural rest and activity cycles. So, learn to flow with them. Remember that your brain works in cycles of around 90 minutes. Each cycle starts with a period of fast brainwave activity (when you feel alert and focused). This is followed by a phase  of slower brainwaves (which cause you to daydream or feel tired). Capitalise on this by making the most of

Step 2: enhance your Uptime states

Uptime is when your energy is high. It’s the best time to do things like complex thinking, problem-solving and writing. You can use NLP tools to trigger Uptime states. For example, anchoring (one of NLP’s best-known tools) is a simple way to access energetic states on demand. It’s one of the ten inspiring tools I cover in the Beat Imposter Syndrome e-book, in addition to all my NLP courses.

Step 3: make the most of your Downtime phases (don’t fight them)

You might find this counterintuitive, because our culture emphasises the importance of being ‘switched on’ all the time. In fact, it’s during your Downtime that you have access to the intelligence of your unconscious mind. That intelligence can help you beat perfectionism, so don’t feel guilty or lazy because you’re not working hard all the time.

Instead, make the most of your relaxed, dreamy states using Ericksonian hypnosis – otherwise known as trance induction.  This age-old practice is an effective and rapid way to access your unconscious mind, so you can create inner change quickly

Most importantly, remember that YOU are in charge of what you think. To beat perfectionism,  challenge yourself to be excellent, but not perfect. Focus on creating a balanced mindset that recognises the importance of rest and downtime as well as hard work.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

 

 

 

Yes. Confident people have ‘negative thoughts’, too.

Do you believe that positive thoughts and confidence go together? Wrong! A study has found that confident people have just as many moments of pessimism and negative thoughts as the rest of us. So, negative thoughts don’t harm your self-assurance. It’s what you do next that makes the difference.

Unconfident people do nothing. Confident people take action. Why? Because confident people believe that their actions can lead to positive results. They have high levels of personal power (psychologists call this self-efficacy).

Combining self-efficacy with emotion regulation and another ‘secret ingredient’ creates a solid foundation for authentic confidence. Combining self-efficacy with emotion regulation and another ‘secret ingredient’ creates a solid foundation for authentic confidence. Watch the video below to learn how this works.

 

 

Of course, I’m not the first coach to point out that confidence is NOT a one-dimensional state. All personal change modalities, spiritual systems and models of the human mind frame confidence as a complex ecosystem. Simply put, a confident mind consists of many parts.

 

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One of my favourite models comes from the family therapist, Virginia Satir. She said this about being human.
There are five freedoms:
The freedom to see and hear what is;
The freedom to say what you feel and think;
The freedom to feel what you actually feel;
The freedom to ask for what you want;
The freedom to take risks on your own behalf.

Virginia Satir wasn’t just a therapist, she was also a poet. In my blog, you’ll find a recent post about Satir’s model of self-esteem. To me, Satir’s five freedoms provide a solid foundation for confidence. I hope you’ll extend them to others and claim them for yourself.

Being in control is bad for your career

Being fully in control of your day might seem like the best way to shine at work. But in fact, it decreases your flexibility and increases your stress. Sure, many successful professionals believe that planning and being ‘across everything’ will increase their impact because it means  they’re ‘in control’ of their day. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. I’ve been working with leaders and high achievers for over 20 years. Time after time I’ve heard clients – especially female managers – describe a devastating cycle of stress and overwork caused by what I call the ‘myth of being in control’. Along with two other myths (the competence myth and the high standards myth) this misconception holds savvy professionals back in droves.

Signs the ‘control myth’ might be holding you back

Here’s what happens. A gifted professional gets promoted. Up until that point, her dedication to being across every detail has led to praise and rewards. But now she’s a team leader. It’s impossible for her to be across everything.  However, she still craves control. She keeps trying to predict and pre-empt things that MIGHT go wrong. This just adds to her workload, without helping at all.  Soon she has WAAAY too much to do and feels totally out of control.

 

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Do those signs seem familiar?

If so, you are not to blame for believing the control myth. You have been socialised to think control gives you an edge. Plus you’re human. The desire for 120% control is such a common distorted thinking pattern, psychologists have given it a name: the control fallacy. This is a thinking bias. It causes you to misjudge how much influence you have over events. Either you assume you have NO control over your life. Or you believe you’re responsible for everything. Both of these thinking patterns trigger brutal, self-imposed feelings of overwhelm, shame and stress.

Here’s how to break free

Savvy professionals don’t believe the control myth. They notice and challenge their own distorted thinking patterns – including the control myth. This is very simple to do, once you master the art of self-regulation. I recommend using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)  tools to do this. For example, you can use Meta Model questions to bust the beliefs that drive your need for control. Or you can reprogram the unconscious ‘anchors’ that trigger your desire to be across everything, all the time. What I love about these techniques is that once you’ve learned them, you can use them all by yourself. You don’t need ongoing coaching or years of therapy. NLP is fast, fun and easy to learn.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

Let’s stop blaming managers for the quiet quitting trend

Every day, we see another headline about Quiet Quitting: people  resigning, retiring and changing careers in droves. Much of the conversation centers around managers being at fault for this trend, but this simply isn’t helpful. Really, it has more to do with post-pandemic weariness than anything else. This is a delayed reaction to three years of global turbulence, loss and chaos. I don’t think this is really ‘burnout’ in the true sense of the word. A far  better label would be ‘exhaustion’. It’s a state caused by being stuck in a limbo zone between stress and success.

Sadly, while large numbers of  employees are feeling this deep  exhaustion, their managers aren’t too far behind. It’s easy to point fingers and assign blame during chaotic times, but this does nothing more than add to the mental overload already being felt by supervisors, managers and leaders. The truth is that people at all levels are realigning themselves after three years of stress. That’s one hundred percent predictable and normal.

So, instead of blaming managers for the Quiet Quitting trend let’s focus on supporting everyone. We all need a sense of support and respect during tough times. Managers also need to know that the invisible ‘toxic handling’ burden they carry is recognised. After all, people leaders have been carrying huge responsibility for enabling both businesses and teams to keep going over the past three years. Now we need to help them to reset, regain their energy and reconnect with their purpose and vision. Here are three practical ways to do this.

 

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Express thanks

Recognise what managers have been through during the pandemic and thank them for their efforts. Their resilience, hard work and dedication shouldn’t go unnoticed. Point out that they’ve supported the business and team through unprecedented challenges.

Stop sending them to resilience training!

The time for resilience training is over. Focus your development programs on helping managers to reflect and renew. Create a dynamic, positive space for them to reconnect with their own vision and purpose – as well as the organisation’s vision.

Offer flexible working

Flexibility helps everyone to reset and recover from burnout. Allow managers the option of reduced hours, secondments, jobsharing or even career breaks if they need them. A change is better than a resignation, after all.

The key takeway here is that  instead of blaming managers for the Quiet Quitting trend, we should focus on supporting everyone. We all need a sense of support and respect during tough times. And managers should be included in our efforts to make the future brighter.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders. 

 

 

 

Something big is coming in 2023

Phew. It’s been a tough few years. At times I was tempted to retire, but thanks to my brilliant team, I’m entering 2023 with a new sense of passion and purpose. I hope you’re treading a similar path. My prediction is that 2023 will see a rise in retreats, one to one coaching and face-to-face training as we all process our experiences from the last 15-24 months. And I’m thrilled to announce that I have some exciting new sessions launching in 2023. These will help you step up your game and reach greater heights of success. Here’s what ‘s in store.

Bali retreats are back!

Finally we’re back on track with my  Bali retreats for leaders, trainers and HR practitioners. These are opportunities to dive deep into Positive Psychology and learn how to use it to create dynamic teams. Yes! The Bali retreats are designed to provide inspiring guidance, revitalising activities and new wisdom. You’ll create lasting connections with like-minded professionals and be equipped with powerful tools that you can immediately use at work.

Mojo reboot is launching soon

The Mojo Reboot online coaching lab is launching again. It’s an incredible 21 day journey created specifically for busy professionals who want to reboot their ambition, optimism and career focus. Watch out for the early bird deals. They’ll be coming soon.

 

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New coaching lab: Rise of the High Impact Leader

Finally, if you feel unheard or invisible at work then my NEW Rise of the High Impact Leader program is designed just for you! I’ve  been hard on this course, which will equip you with the skills needed to make a real difference at work and rise through the ranks of leadership.

Complete confidence goes self-paced

Sometimes it’s hard to make all the dates in an online program. So I’ve got you covered. This year, Complete Confidence with NLP will be launching in self-paced format. All the lessons will be available in recorded format. PLUS you’ll have access to drop in coaching labs. Thanks to everyone who suggested this. It’s an exciting evolution of the Complete Confidence program!

I  hope you’re as excited about 2023 as I am! I’m looking forward to helping you reach new heights of success this year. Wishing you a joyous start to a new year filled with successful endeavours!

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders.