Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Archive for the ‘Mentoring & Coaching’ Category

I’ll be happy when….

2013-06-09 14.46.39How often do we hear people say “I’ll be happy when……” Time to change our point of view!
Let’s all be happy now!

People are as happy as they make up their minds to be” Abraham Lincoln

I have been inspired by the work of Professor Martin Sellingman and Kathryn McEwen about happiness and resilience.

So what makes us happy? It’s all about attitude and importantly an ability to be present and enjoy “the now”.

Positive emotions – we have more control over our emotions than most of us believe we do. We can chose how we look at situations and how we might respond. The simple “gratitude” task, of identifying three things we are grateful for each day will make us focus on what has worked well, rather than what hasn’t, and make us feel happier with our lives.
When you go to bed tonight… go to sleep thinking tomorrow will be a great day – it’s amazing how changing our thought patterns can affect how we see the world.

Engagement – doing activities where we work in “flow” – the time simply disappears. What are the activities that you love to do, the ones that bring enjoyment and fulfilment? Understanding your strengths can help to identify this. Visit Martin Selligman’s website and do the VIA Strengths questionnaire to find out your signature strengths.

Relationships – I like to surround myself with positive people. People who give out energy, who enjoy life, are optimistic and fun to be with.
Having people in our lives we can rely on, we can off load on, to celebrate with and to cry with is important for our general well being and happiness.

Meaning – this is a sense of purpose – a connection to something bigger than ourselves and that we are making a contribution. This includes the application of your unique strengths and the development of virtues towards a larger end than yourself.

Achievement – Martin Selligman talks about Grit – the determination to work hard at something and to see it through. This sense of achievement of completing a task makes us happy. Our greatest motivator is a sense of progress and some recognition for this progress.

Martin Selligman has written several books about the art of happiness – Authentic happiness, Florish and Learned Optimism. I was very fortunate to hear him speak in Adelaide last year.

“The very good news is there are quite a number of internal circumstances, under your voluntary control, – if you decide to change them, your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly – Selligman 

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Plenty for everyone

2012-05-09 16.40.24I’m a great believer in Adundance mentality – there are plenty of opportunities out there for all of us.

When I was writing this  I was sitting in bed with a cup of tea looking out at Wellington Harbour after facilitating in beautiful surroundings in rural NZ with groups of amazing rural women. The workshops are about women reaching ther potential, identifying their passion and purpose and developing goals. (First Steps – Agri-Women’s Development Trust)

I reflect on my own journey and the opportunity to attend a similar workshop in Australia over 12 years ago where I was introduced to the concept of abundance mentality and a simple quote from a mentor “We get what we focus on so be careful what you focus on”.

Since taking on this philosophy in my life I have met so many wonderful people and opened my eyes to the opportunities in front of me. As my facilitation and coaching skills have grown  I have had the opportunity to share these with others and in turn grow their skills.

How can we become more abundant in our approach to life?

  • Focus on abundance – not scarcity
  • Appreciate what you have in your life – one easy way to do this is to record 3 things each say you are grateful for each day.
  • Surround yourself with positive people with an abundant outlook on life – it can be catching!
  • Share – give out.  Be generous with your time, gifts and skills. Robyn Henderson refers to this as the “law of reciprocity” what you give out is what you get back . She also highlights the importance of” Giving without expectation”.
  • Look for the opportunities in challenging times – what can be learnt or gained?
  • Look for the win-win
  • Appreciate those around you – acknowledge others

The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car … a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result get little.” Ben Sweetland.

Well thanks for your time and you can thank me for mine

20130328-173225.jpgThanks for your time and you can thank me for mine .. and then after that’s said …. Forget it” –  Opening line from Rodriguez song ‘Forget it’ from his Cold Facts Album.

Following my last blog on Rodriguez you won’t believe what happened at Adelaide Airport last week.  I returned from NZ on Saturday and Bill was there to collect me. We headed down to get our bags and who should we meet at the baggage collection … Rodriguez!!

Being a shy person by nature I looked on as Bill introduced himself and had a discussion about his music and the influence it had on him. He told him he had been playing his favourite songs (Establishment Blues, Sugar Man, I Wonder and Rich Folks Hoax) on the guitar from the Cold Facts album just before he left to pick me up. He thanked him for his great music and the enjoyment it had provided over the years.

He told Rodriguez we were travelling to the blues fest at Byron Bay specifically to see him the following week and the he was the reason for our attendance at the festival. For a popular muso, he still seemed genuinely delighted that strangers approached him to tell him he was appreciated. Bill introduced me to his new friend (!!!) and this intriguing musician made a point of remembering our names and said ” make it a date” at Byron.

Bill was on a high for the rest of the week, having met someone he had admired for years and who had impact on his life.

Bill told the story of Rodriguez to an audience of 70 volunteer farm industry champions who work in farming systems across SA at a function on Tuesday. “Searching for sugar man” the story of Rodriguez highlights the importance of saying thank you and acknowledging people’s efforts for the work they do.

Motivational speaker, Mark McKeon had delivered a similar message to the group the evening before, suggesting the way to keep people in your business or organisation was to give three parts acknowledgement, one part challenge.

Great acknowledgements not only make the recipient feel good, it makes you feel good as well!

So I encourage you … Next time you see one of your personal heroes, mentors or someone you admired take the chance and recognise the impact they had on your life.

Hope you all have a great Easter
See you in the front row at the Rodriguez gig on Friday.

Sugar man


One of my mentors – my husband Bill

Wow! what a story. Last night, Bill and I watched “Sugar man” the story about songwriter Rodriguez who released two albums in US in the early 70’s which didn’t even make ripple on the US music front. The same albums created a cult following during the depth of apartheid in South Africa selling over 500 000 copies.

Australia was the only other country in the world showing interest in the man they said was better than Bob Dylan.

The amazing thing was he didn’t know. He was still unknown in America and working his backside off as a labourer, struggling to raising his family and living in  26 different homes during this time.  While royalties were paid to his record company, not a cent was passed on so he didn’t have a clue about the impact he was having in South Africa at the time. (and on husband Bill and a few of his mates!)

Over 25 years later he was tracked down by a South African fan, who believed him to be dead, and he discovered the impact of his music in that country. Visiting South Africa in 1998 he performed to 6 sold out concerts … and then returned to being a labourer in US.

If only someone had contacted him!

His story blew me away… and took me back to my heroes and mentors. It made me think about  many of the people who had influenced my life  that I hadn’t taken the time to actually acknowledge for the impact they had on me.

In a country like Australia where we “knock the tall poppy” and berate success, we are not good at acknowledging. Imagine how powerful it could be if we had the courage to tell people genuinely what they had done and the impact they really had on our lives.

And I don’t mean a “thanks mate” or a “you did a great job”. I mean an acknowledgement with some “punch” behind it.

In our coaching and mentoring workshops we talk about acknowledgement as being authentic – from the heart. It focuses on the “who”  – the qualities demonstrated – what it really meant for you.

One of my mentors was my mother in law – a wonderful woman who demonstrated to me the importance of pursuing your passion in your career (amongst many other things). Sadly we lost her to cancer in 2000 and I never had the opportunity to tell her of the impact she had in my life.

Real acknowledgements are extremely powerful.

We can’t all have the impact of Rodriguez – such an impact on a country – but we can acknowledge the people who have an impact on us.

I leave you with the challenge to acknowledge your heroes and informal mentors … and I look forward to hearing the impacts!

PS – I also recommend watching the Rodriguez documentary – Sugar Man. An amazing story. (Bill and I are looking forward to seeing a 70 year old Rodriguez perform during Easter at the Byron Bay Blues Festival.)

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The power of mentoring

2013-01-03 20.35.24We have all had a hero – a role model we have admired and shaped ourselves on.

One of mine was Meredith – Meredith was the chair of the SA Women’s Advisory Council – my first role outside of my local district.  I admired Meredith’s skills as a chair – she was warm, inclusive and kept us on track. Meredith was my informal mentor.

Imagine how powerful the relationship could have been if I had had the courage to ask Meredith to be my mentor – instead of watching and learning from afar I could have discussed with her what she was thinking, how she planned those meetings – and fast tracked my learning.

How many of you have had an informal mentor someone like Meredith you admired from afar?  What about a formal mentor?

What is mentoring?

“The mentor knows how to answer many great questions asked by the mentee and pass on their experience.”  The Forton Group.

The key for me in the definition is “questioning” The mentor is a guide who walks with the mentee – they have some of the  knowledge to answer the great questions however we don’t have to know everything to be a great mentor It’s more about sharing and developing of the skills of our mentee,  sharing our networks and questioning the mentee to assist them to develop their own skills and knowledge.  Creating possibility.

We have formal and informal mentors and it the formalising of the process that makes it powerful. We should encourage people to approach us to formalise the process and approach mentors ourselves. We are never too old to have a mentor, its not about age.

I will share of couple of personal mentoring examples …

1. Last year I was a volunteer mentor for APEN (Australasia-Pacific Extension Network) where I mentored a young woman for 8 months. I enjoyed working with her enormously – the benefits for me were fantastic – the sharing of her achievements and watching her grow in confidence.

“I had what I thought were a lot of professional difficulties but through mentoring my mountains became molehills and  I  learnt a variety of new skills to deal with my work. I gained work life balance which was practically non existent – my mentor taught me skills for life.”

2.   Over a year ago I approached a young woman who had transferred into South Australia in an agricultural role and offered myself as a mentor – the gremlin in my head was busy telling me “what did I have to offer” however I stuck my neck out and offered anyway – the young woman took up my offer and we continue to work together regularly.

In Ag Consulting Co we often work with young people who have chosen agriculture as a career and build mentoring into our training programs. These young people tell me regularly about the need for more people with mentoring skills in the industry

Mentoring is a skill underpinned by coaching and understanding the role of a coach greatly enhances the skills of a mentor. Training in the art of mentoring makes the relationship even more effective – the next blog will be about coaching.

It would be great to hear about some of your mentoring experiences… I look forward to some comments.

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