Illumine Training https://www.illumine.co.uk Blog loaded with articles that discuss thinking skills to improve the performance of individuals and organisations from Illumine Training Fri, 17 Apr 2020 15:10:01 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 The Gut-Brain Connection https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/03/the-gut-brain-connection/ Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:24:36 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22970 Describing having a gut feeling about something, butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous or a gut-wrenching experience is commonplace. However, research now suggests that this isn’t just a product of our imagination. There are complex connections between the area of the body we call the gut and the brain, the seat of intellect, personality and […]

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gut brain connectionDescribing having a gut feeling about something, butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous or a gut-wrenching experience is commonplace. However, research now suggests that this isn’t just a product of our imagination. There are complex connections between the area of the body we call the gut and the brain, the seat of intellect, personality and emotions. The gut-brain connection is very real indeed. Recent discoveries even suggest that the gut has an intelligence of its own, separate entirely from that found in the brain. 

The Gut-Brain

Gut intelligence is referred to by medical professionals as the enteric nervous system (ENS) – our second brain.

Professor Michael Gershon is the author of ‘The Second Brain’. He is also the chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia University, United States. He is known in the medical world as ‘the father of neurogastroenterology’. This is due to his 30-year scientific career centred around studying the attitude and behaviour of the human gut. He states that our digestive system has its own cerebral activity and intelligence.

This revelation isn’t as surprising as it first sounds when you learn that the total number of neurons in the small intestine is around a hundred million. This is a considerably higher number of neurons than found in the spinal cord. We often think of neurons as only found in the brain. Now we know this isn’t the case at all.

The Gut-Brain and Neurotransmitters

The gut-brain is also the main system responsible for the production and storage of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin. These substances are responsible for our moods, emotions and psychological well-being. Gershon reveals 90 percent of the famous ‘happiness hormone’, serotonin is produced and stored in the intestinal walls.

Gershon’s research suggests that the communication between the brain and our ENS – the second brain – is a constant two-way system. There is evidence that not only do our moods affect our digestive process, but our digestive health also affects our moods.

This information explains why stress, tension and over-work often result in exhaustion and digestive upsets. The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. In return, a troubled intestine can send signals to the brain that cause anxiety, stress or depression.

  • An emotional upheaval, shock or intense fear can make you vomit, have diarrhoea or indigestion.

  • A low mood can influence your metabolism, appetite and the digestive process

  • Chronic unhappiness can lead to problems with food and binge/comfort eating

Care of the complex and delicate systems in your gut can have huge neurological and hormonal benefits.

Eastern Medicine and the Gut-Brain

Western medicine centres around treating symptoms. But, Eastern philosophies have long recognised the importance of this ‘second brain’ and look to treat conditions holistically.

For example, traditional Chinese Medicine recognises the gut as ‘dantian‘. Energy known as qi is stored here. The system teaches that qi is responsible for energy and has a part to play in overall mental and physical health.

The Hindu tradition of healing tells us the third of the seven chakras are located around the area of the intestines. This area is the focus of healing for self-esteem, sense of purpose, personal identity, individual will, digestion and metabolism.

The Takeaway

In light of growing knowledge about the gut-brain connection, it makes sense to consider our gut health when addressing emotional issues. Likewise, we need to consider emotional issues when dealing with digestive health.

We have the solutions to our emotional problems already inside us – a staggering thought!

At Illumine, we have various virtual courses that support personal effectiveness. From Managing from Home to Motivation and Goal-Setting For The Remote Manager, we’ve got you covered.

ALL of our training courses – skills development and management development – will shortly be available for remote/virtual delivery. Please contact us for details. We are ready to help with all of your training needs now.

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Reflections at 60 https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/03/reflections-at-60/ https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/03/reflections-at-60/#respond Sun, 29 Mar 2020 11:22:42 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=23034 I was born 30th March 1960. So I’m now 60. And I have to admit that if I had thought I’d be writing my reflections today on this particular milestone, I thought I would be writing them from somewhere else and, in all probability saying somewhat different things. Let me explain… My wife Cathy, and […]

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Clive at 60I was born 30th March 1960. So I’m now 60. And I have to admit that if I had thought I’d be writing my reflections today on this particular milestone, I thought I would be writing them from somewhere else and, in all probability saying somewhat different things. Let me explain…

My wife Cathy, and I love the mountains. So each March we take ourselves off to the French alps for a few weeks in the beautiful Haute Savoie. It’s our idea of bliss. Skiing, walking, show-shoeing, french food and wine, sometimes joined by friends and family. All in some of the world’s most stunning scenery. What’s not to love?

This year, after 24 years of running the business we started together, Illumine Training, we decided to push the boat out a little. We had planned 4 weeks in the alps followed by a tour around France by car. A trip through the Jura, the Auvergne, Bordeaux and the Basque country were mapped out in great detail. A top box was going to hold the golf clubs and our bikes were going on the back of the car. Eventually we were going to head over to Italy where, in May I was going to cycle from Pisa to Rome to raise money for Myeloma with my friend Bob who has the disease which, 15 years ago, claimed my father’s life. It would have been quite a trip. And it will be quite a trip when we eventually make it.

And that’s kind of the point of this reflection. Every single one of us will have had our hopes and dreams scuppered, at least for a while, replaced by a new reality. Having steered our business through the aftermath of 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008 and the shock and uncertainty of Brexit, I thought I had faced my greatest business challenges. Apparently not! Worse was to come. Like many others, I don’t expect to have an income for many months to come. I hope that I can protect my loyal and hard-working team but they know that there are no guarantees even of that. Without a doubt, the defining time of my generation’s lifetime, is right now.

Perspective is all. We get to choose our reaction to the events in our lives. So, whilst I would love to be writing this whilst staring out of the window at my favourite mountain (Le Criou, Samoens, since you ask) I actually get to be staring out of my window in Windsor, England. But the things that make me happy and proud and grateful are not even a little bit dependent on what I can see from my window.

The journey that Cathy and I embarked on together all those years ago didn’t start with Illumine Training. It started when I was just 23 when we met. Our son was born a day after my 30th birthday, our daughter a couple of years later. And what a source of joy and pride they have been, each in their very different ways. Peter and I would love to be celebrating our respective 30th and 60th together – preferably off-piste in deep snow, but we both know that in the scheme of things it doesn’t matter. Love transcends time and distance. Peter will be 10,000 miles away. Sian is physically closer, but as a teacher with Covid 19 symptoms, she will be in isolation.

Cathy has been with me every step of the way in our business as in our life together. The ‘wind beneath my wings’ doesn’t begin to hint at the ways she has lifted and given me strength every day. Our family and our friends, our interests, hobbies, fun and successes far, far outweigh our setbacks and challenges. Whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, I am going to choose to count my blessings every day.

I’ll start that counting every time with Cathy, Peter and Sian. My wider family and fabulous friends have been and will continue to be a source of unbelievable joy. Much more than half my working life has been dominated by Illumine and the people I am lucky enough to work with every day mean so much to me. And through the business I’ve met people all over the world who inspire me and help me with their intellect and their generosity.

Isolation is going to be a big challenge for many of us, especially those of us who revel in the company of family and friends. But I will spend a little time every day being grateful. And if my mind drifts to thinking about which part of France or Italy I should be in, I’ll use that thought to look ahead to better days. And I’ll use a part of every day to finally spend time learning how to play the piano properly. And I will meditate because that helps me find that point of stillness and equilibrium deep inside me. I will work hard to continue building the company I’m so proud of. I’ll count my blessings and practice gratitude. Every day. Because I can.

Oh, and I’ll look forward to sharing a celebratory drink with each of my friends around the corner and around the world just as soon as we can!

Stay safe!

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Female Leaders – 4 Truly Great Leading Ladies https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/03/female-leaders-4-truly-great-leading-ladies/ Sun, 08 Mar 2020 08:02:41 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22860 March 8th 2020 is International Women’s Day. It’s the ideal time to reflect on 4 of the UK’s visionary female leaders. Female Leaders – Challenges Research shows that more women than ever before are receiving graduate business degrees. But, sadly, women are still struggling to be on equal footing with their male counterparts in the […]

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female leadersMarch 8th 2020 is International Women’s Day. It’s the ideal time to reflect on 4 of the UK’s visionary female leaders.

Female Leaders – Challenges

Research shows that more women than ever before are receiving graduate business degrees. But, sadly, women are still struggling to be on equal footing with their male counterparts in the corporate realm.

In June 2019, only seven percent of FTSE 100 companies had a female chief executive officer at the helm of their organisation. For FTSE 250 companies, there were even fewer female CEOs with just five companies having a woman at the head of these businesses.” – via www.statista.com

The trend in narrowing gender gaps in all areas of business is encouraging. Women considering roles in leadership should take inspiration from some of these leading ladies:

Luciana Berger – Member of Parliament

Luciana Clare Berger is a British politician. She was the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree from 2010 to 2019.

Berger’s efforts to expose institutional anti-semitism led to threats to her personal safety as well as condemnation from some of her colleagues. However, she refused to be silenced.

In February 2019, at eight months pregnant, she resigned from the Labour Party and co-founded The Independent Group, later Change UK.

Berger is outspoken and remains true to her values. She’s committed to issues like mental health services, women’s sexual health and education.

Commenting on a research study by the Alliance of Jewish Women to consult Jewish females in the UK about their role in society, their hopes and fears, she said:

“I would encourage every Jewish woman to take part in the consultation. It will make a significant difference to ensure that all the issues that matter most to female Jewry are championed… Make sure your voice is heard.”

Helen Sharman – The First British Astronaut

We can’t write about female leaders without mentioning Helen Sharman. Born in Sheffield, UK, she became the first British astronaut in 1991 and the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station.

Sharman was selected from a massive pool of 13,000 applicants at just 27 years of age. This made her the sixth youngest out of the 556 people who had visited space at that time—a female leader in our mission to explore the universe.

She’d previously been awarded a BSc and then a PhD in chemistry. She was working in that industry until she responded to a radio advert asking for volunteers to be the first British astronaut. After 18 months of intense training, Helen flew to the stars!

To this day, Helen continues working on activities related to chemistry and her legendary spaceflight. In 2015 she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the British Science Association.

Typically speaking her mind when asked in January 2020 about the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms, she said, “Aliens exist, there are no two ways about it, but it’s possible we simply can’t see them”.

Bana Gora – Director of the Muslim Women’s Council

In 2015, Bana Gora created a worldwide stir. As a true female leader, she announced the Muslim Women’s Council’s plans to build the UK’s first female-led mosque in Bradford. When completed, the mosque will welcome members of both sexes and offer advice on divorce, bereavement and legal issues.

Gora says, “When I was growing up across the Bradford district, there was never a practice of sisters going to the mosque. We prayed at the house. But why couldn’t we go to the mosque on a Friday with our brother and father? We were told, women don’t go to the mosque. Well, actually, at the time of the prophet, women did, and they had the same access as men… (The new mosque) will be a symbol of inclusion – for all women trying to carve out a path in male-dominated societies”.

Despite facing opposition, she continues to work supporting developing female leaders and campaigns for social policy changes.

Dame Stephanie Shirley

A woman who most definitely deserves to be included in any post mentioning great female leaders is Dame Stephanie Shirley – also known as ‘Steve’.

Shirley, born in 1933, is described as a business information technology pioneer, a businesswoman and a philanthropist.

But, Dame Stephanie’s contributions to the world and her inspirational life mark her out as a truly incredible achiever.

As a child refugee in WW2, she found herself living with foster parents in the Midlands. Despite these humble beginnings, she achieved excellent qualifications in mathematics. She went on to build computer systems and write code in machine language.

Sexism was prevalent in her workplace; she remembers “being fondled and being pushed against the wall”. These incidents led to Shirley becoming determined to employ mainly talented women, many of them with dependents when she started her own company.

Freelance Programmers launched in 1962. Shirley only employed three male programmers when selecting her first 300 staff.

Shirley often used the name ‘Steve’ after realising that letters bearing her real name often went answered. By all accounts, her method worked well as recipients believed she was male.

These days, Shirley donates much of her wealth to charities and has achieved countless awards and honours for her outstanding work.

Female Leaders of the Future

To ensure we have more female CEOs leading the world’s companies, we have to look at women’s roles throughout society. New generations of girls have more opportunities than ever before to fulfil their dreams. Let’s keep reminding them of those who came before them.

If you want to be part of the future generation of female leaders, we have various courses that support personal effectiveness. From learning how to be an effective leader to mastering the art of leading with passion, we’ve got you covered.

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Are You Happy? Learn How To Love Your Life https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/02/are-you-happy-learn-how-to-love-your-life/ Thu, 20 Feb 2020 08:26:16 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22577 Being happy is about being able to love yourself and appreciate the individuals and circumstances around you. Many people find it easier to celebrate the love they feel for another person than the love they feel for themselves and the life they lead. Those of us who are truly happy are healthier and live longer, […]

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being happyBeing happy is about being able to love yourself and appreciate the individuals and circumstances around you. Many people find it easier to celebrate the love they feel for another person than the love they feel for themselves and the life they lead.

Those of us who are truly happy are healthier and live longer, more productive lives.

With this important fact in mind, let’s ask the simple question:

Are you Happy?

How many of us seriously consider this? We lead busy work and home lives, rushing from place to place, task to task, person to person. We have many more material comforts than our ancestors. Entertainment is available to us at any time of the day or night. We are surrounded by gadgets, software and places that are designed to make us happy. But do they work? Or, are we looking for happiness in the wrong places?

Despite the material comforts available to us, reports of depression and low-mood are on the increase. It seems, despite the endless entertainment we have at our fingertips, many of us feel unfulfilled.

If you think your happiness may not be all it could be, it’s time to act. The truth is: being happy isn’t a passive activity. It’s a choice, and it’s up to you.

Being Happy with Other People

Countless studies show that happiness is increased by spending time with people whose company we enjoy. Being alone can become a habit. It’s easy to get in from work, stick Netflix on and become absorbed in other people’s fictional lives. However, other than staving off boredom, this sort of ‘false’ social contact has little benefit.

Human beings are wired to spend time in social groups.

If you live alone, make time to meet people. Even visiting a coffee shop daily soon ensures you are a familiar face.

Of course, it’s possible to feel alone even when there is family or a partner at home. If you find yourself in this situation, think of ways of increasing your social circle. There are many groups, charities, sports clubs and social activities available in communities. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and contribute something worthwhile to the planet.

On the same note, some people can make us feel unhappy. If you spend time with people who negatively affect your mood, it’s fine to limit or eliminate their company entirely.

Toxic relationships drain your happiness. Take an honest look at the people you socialise with and make plans to break away from those who upset you regularly.

Being Happy with Creativity

Expressing yourself creatively makes you feel happy. Creativity has also been shown to reduce the risk of illness, both physically and mentally.

A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that art and creativity help reduce stress and anxiety while increasing positive emotions.

Try creative writing. It doesn’t have to be a novel you write. Poetry or simple descriptive paragraphs are just as satisfying as a craft. You could also try journaling.

If you feel adventurous, why not take up art or a craft? You’ll likely find many local groups in your area, which include tuition. If a group isn’t available, treat yourself to an online course or ‘How To’ manual.

Being Happy Outdoors

Sunlight is needed by our bodies to create vitamin D. A lack of this vitamin is linked with feelings of sadness and depression.

Make sure you spend time outdoors each day.

Take time for a walk in a local park, take up gardening or simply sit on a bench in a pleasant area. Being outdoors is incredibly relaxing, and it’s also a great place to try meditation. We spend so much of our lives under electric lights – enjoy some time outdoors, whatever the weather, and reap the emotional rewards!

Gratitude

Studies show that people who consciously practise gratitude actually feel happier with their lives than those who don’t. To put this useful tool into action, make a list of three or more things that you are grateful for every day. This may include your partner, the sunshine, a smile from a stranger or even the food you enjoy. When we begin to notice the good things in our lives, our minds focus less on the negative, and we feel happier.

The Takeaway

Being happy is down to you. We all have unpleasant things to deal with in life, but most of us experience good times too. The key to being happy isn’t in the hands of your family, your friends or your partner. It isn’t down to the amount of money you have in the bank or the job that you do – it’s a state of mind.

Choose to actively practice the art of happiness and learn to love yourself and your life again!

At Illumine, we have various courses that support personal effectiveness. From energy and well-being to work-life balance and time management for personal effectiveness training, we’ve got you covered.

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Personality Clashes at Work? A Real Challenge for New Leaders https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/02/personality-clashes-at-work/ Fri, 07 Feb 2020 14:46:50 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22461 As a new leader, personality clashes and conflicts are not uncommon. They may be something you find you have to deal with frequently. Disputes between team members create a toxic work environment. Leading a team of people involves being able to observe how they interact and work together. If personalities are pleasant, the results are […]

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personality clashesAs a new leader, personality clashes and conflicts are not uncommon. They may be something you find you have to deal with frequently. Disputes between team members create a toxic work environment. Leading a team of people involves being able to observe how they interact and work together. If personalities are pleasant, the results are usually good. But, when personality clashes occur, they must be addressed before they negatively impact other members of the team.

Unique Personalities Create Personality Clashes

Your personality is unique to you alone. Moulded by your experiences and shaped by your interactions with those around you, you have a distinct set of behaviours. Some of these behaviours are beneficial, and some sabotage your best efforts. As human beings, we are all made up of a mixture of both positive and negative traits. It’s more straightforward to build rapport and mutual understanding with people who are like ourselves. It’s equally as easy to blame the other party for the negative impact they have on our own state of mind.

Your relationships are affected by your unique personality just as much as the personality of the people you interact with. Sometimes it feels natural to relate to someone and understand their motivations and behaviours. Sometimes personality clashes and conflicts occur more. The dynamics of relationships are like a soup you make by throwing in all the ingredients from your cupboard. Sometimes the result is great, but sometimes the ingredients don’t work together. Then the result is less enjoyable!

If you notice sparks flying between individual members of your new team regularly, it’s time to take action. You may feel uncomfortable dealing with these conflicts initially, but remind yourself that leadership is not a popularity contest. To be a great leader, you must take serious responsibility for developing and guiding the full potential of the individuals you manage.

If you’re new to dealing with these issues, try our tips to help resolve personality conflicts in the workplace.

Resolving Personality Clashes

Engage

It’s almost impossible to identify personality clashes if you’re never in the same room as your team. If you can, spend time observing how your staff work together. If you suspect conflict, try to identify behavioural tendencies that appear to provoke negativity in others or affect overall morale. 

Sometimes it’s simply not an option to spend a great deal of time with your team. Then you can use performance reviews or private chats with individuals. Ask their opinion on team dynamics and how they feel about working with their colleagues. 

Coach

Arrange coaching sessions if you identify personality clashes. It’s vital not to add fuel to the fire, so ensure you don’t point the finger at either individual involved. Both parties bear some responsibility for genuine personality clashes. 

Either talk to the individuals involved or introduce coaching for your entire team on dealing with workplace conflicts. Conflict resolution is an opportunity to inspire personal development for all those involved.

Re-organise

If coaching fails to work, it’s your responsibility to make sure the conflict doesn’t affect the rest of your team. However, sometimes it’s almost impossible to persuade certain people to make a real effort to get along with someone they clash with.

It may be possible to re-organise teams or suggest departmental re-shuffles. Look at the strengths of the people involved and decide if you need to make changes to your team structure.

Personality clashes are widespread in the workplace, but their negative impact can’t be underestimated. It’s never easy to deal with people who are emotionally involved in a stressful situation. However, it’s vital to the success of your team and the future of your organisation that you do so.

At Illumine, we have multiple courses that support effective leadership. From ourBuilding High Performing Teamscourse to learning and applying skills that enable you to initiate, execute and manage change effectively as a leader, we’ve got you covered.

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Using Creative Visualisation for Success in Business https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/01/using-creative-visualisation-for-success-in-business/ Thu, 30 Jan 2020 08:00:41 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22418 What is Creative Visualisation? Your imagination is a powerful tool that you can use to help you achieve your goals. Every concept, product and technique began as a thought, imagined in the mind of its creator. One of the reasons the human race is developing so quickly is our ability to visualise new things and […]

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testWhat is Creative Visualisation?

Your imagination is a powerful tool that you can use to help you achieve your goals. Every concept, product and technique began as a thought, imagined in the mind of its creator. One of the reasons the human race is developing so quickly is our ability to visualise new things and imagine entirely new concepts. Creative visualisation is the act of imagining the future and mentally rehearsing the steps it takes to get to that point in linear time. Using creative visualisation involves setting a goal and creating an imagined ‘pathway’ to achieve that aim.

Many of the world’s most successful people regularly use creative visualisation to set their internal compass towards their desired goals. Using the technique outlined below may help you set a new benchmark and drive effortlessly towards whatever you want to achieve.

Who Uses Creative Visualisation?

It’s well-known that sportsmen and women use creative visualisation techniques. Mentally rehearsing an event enables them to focus, feel less anxious and boost confidence. Some of the most successful competitors have described using the process, including champion heavy-weight boxer, Muhammad Ali.

Champion kayaker, Brian Nielsson, reports using creative visualisation in preparation for competition. He describes how he relaxes and imagines precisely how he will tackle the course. He imagines how each part of the run will feel and, finally, his winning of the event. Explaining how the tool helped him win a 500-metre K1 race, he says, “At the start of the race, I wasn’t even nervous. The race played out exactly as I’d seen it in my head.”

Creative visualisation is also widely used in hypnotherapy and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). It’s reported to help people overcome problematic issues and unwanted habits.

Increasingly, this powerful mental tool is used by people in business to help them improve their performance and achieve their goals.

So, how can you use creative visualisation in business? Try this simple technique:

How to Use the Technique in Business

Firstly, it’s essential to relax. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Allow your body to release muscle tension. Quiet your mind as much as possible. Don’t allow any thoughts of problems or potential obstacles distract you. 

Now, create a detailed vision in your mind of what you want to achieve. Imagine how it will feel. Imagine what you will see and hear. It’s important to envision the entire process, not just the end result. Mentally rehearse each step, what you intend to say and do, and how those involved will react. If you find this part difficult, it’s sometimes helpful to imagine the ‘end product’ first and then work the scenario backwards. For example, a salesperson may first imagine the intense feelings of winning a big deal. He/she can then work back through the steps it takes to get to that point.

When you have a clear vision of the process in your mind, take a few more deep breaths and move into action. 

Creative visualisation in business is all about changing your self-belief. As author Gregg Braden says, “To transform reality, we must alter the one thing that is not fixed: the programs themselves. For our universe, these are what we call ‘beliefs’. So in this way of thinking of things, belief becomes the software that programs reality.” 

At Illumine, we have various courses that support creative visualisation. From an introduction to creative thinking to using creative thinking at work, we’ve got you covered.

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Powerful Words that Create Action https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/01/powerful-words-that-create-action/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 13:20:28 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22330 Powerful Words Change Lives Words are incredibly powerful, both in our work and personal lives. While it’s true that actions speak louder than words, words are the seeds of those actions. They also present who we are, how we think, and what our intentions are to the world around us. How we speak and the words […]

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Powerful Words Change Lives

Words are incredibly powerful, both in our work and personal lives. While it’s true that actions speak louder than words, words are the seeds of those actions. They also present who we are, how we think, and what our intentions are to the world around us.

How we speak and the words we choose have a significant effect on how others perceive us and also how they react to us.

Many things in business aren’t merely about following orders, the ‘bottom line’, or just doing the job we are employed to do. Often, what sets a genuinely successful business above others is the dynamics in play between the people involved.

Whether that means directions and guidance given by managers or interactions between colleagues, effective personal relationships are vital. Our personal relationships are based mostly on the communications we share.

Being aware of the power of the words we use and adapting to positive language can be beneficial. We translate words into emotions, and our emotions play a large part in how we act and how we respond.

If you’re a manager looking to motivate your team or inspire higher productivity levels, using positive, powerful words in your communications may get you the results you’re looking for in the coming year.

Let’s take a look at three examples:

Acknowledge, Appreciate, Ask

Practice the Powerful Words Three A’s technique next time you want to ask someone to help out or take on a new task or challenge.

Feeling unappreciated is a leading cause of employee job dissatisfaction. People also feel less motivated if they don’t feel their efforts are noticed.

Firstly, acknowledge their current work and recent achievements. Explain how their efforts have changed or improved the ‘bigger picture’. In organisations where there are many processes involved, it’s often motivational for employees to understand how their input builds overall success.

Secondly, take time to express gratitude and appreciation. It’s well-known that we all respond better and feel more motivated if we feel appreciated. Take time to thank employees for their efforts.

Finally, ask them to take on the new challenge or task. Using this technique creates better rapport, inspires higher motivation and, therefore, improved productivity.

Saying the Word ‘You’ More than ‘I’

Using the word ‘you’ more than ‘I’ is an incredibly persuasive language technique because it makes the conversation directly relatable to the listener. It answers the audience’s unspoken question: “What’s in it for me?” Their own gain from any task motivates even the best team players.

As human beings, our brains are finely tuned machines that operate on a reward-based system. Achievements provide us with a chemical reward in the form of dopamine. This system is highly effective in motivating us to achieve more and work towards our goals.

Related to this technique is the use of someone’s name throughout the conversation. Our names have an emotional effect on us. We respond better to someone who uses our name than someone who doesn’t.

Cause and Effect Powerful Words

Crafting your communications using ’cause and effect’ words is highly persuasive. Using this technique enables your audience to follow your reasoning, adopt your way of thinking and understand your motivations.

Using ’cause and effect’ words may help you ‘sell’ an unpopular but necessary change to your employees. For example, cutting overtime hours for a period of time is better explained to employees who are used to the financial benefit of that extra worked time by clearly defining the reasons for the cut and implications of not doing so.

Consider these two phrases:

“There won’t be any paid overtime available for a while.”

or

“Demand for our products is at an expected seasonal low. So, to keep jobs secure, we’ve decided to cut overtime hours temporarily.”

According to Rudyard Kipling, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Awareness of language changes our relationship with those around us and the actions of those we communicate with.

If you are interested in learning more about how to communicate powerfully and effectively, we offer various courses that cover both communication skills and active engagement. Start developing yourself today. 

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Your Business New Year Resolutions https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/01/your-business-new-year-resolutions/ https://www.illumine.co.uk/2020/01/your-business-new-year-resolutions/#respond Thu, 02 Jan 2020 08:45:08 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22292 Now that 2019 has finished, it may be time to take stock of what you have achieved. Perhaps you hit your sales goals or you’ve achieved moderate success while keeping marketing costs down. You finally moved into a bigger office, launched your company website and upgraded your business management software. Whatever your achievements, big or […]

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Business new year resolutionsNow that 2019 has finished, it may be time to take stock of what you have achieved. Perhaps you hit your sales goals or you’ve achieved moderate success while keeping marketing costs down. You finally moved into a bigger office, launched your company website and upgraded your business management software. Whatever your achievements, big or small, make sure you celebrate them.

For 2020, some of your goals may essentially be the same: grow your business, network, get investors, come up with new products and ramp up sales. However, business success is not always about the bottom line, numbers and sales. So, in coming up with your business New Year resolutions for 2020, consider the following, and watch your business grow anyway.

1. A Business New Year Resolution to Delegate and Take Time Off

Start with something small. Ask someone in your team to take care of carrying out a task while you’re away. If they do well in this particular assignment, keep delegating more important or complicated tasks until you build this person’s confidence. You can even do this with several prospective leaders you are eyeing to promote to roles with greater responsibilities. Let them take turns.

In implementing this Business New Year Resolution, you’ll be better able to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of each person. You’ll know who complements whom and who would best fit certain roles. You can also use delegation as an opportunity for training needs analysis as it allows you to assess what types of staff development programs and training would be the most beneficial to your team.

And while you’re at it, take a load off and relax. This may mean enjoying a whole weekend switched off from work or taking a few weeks of holiday. Overwork can only get you so far and burn you out eventually. So, take a break, recharge, and spend some time with the most important people in your life. When you do this, you’ll come back to work fresh, creative and renewed, ready to tackle new challenges.

2. Focus on engaging your people

Countless studies have already been done about how important employee engagement is and the role it plays in business growth. Engaged employees are happy, loyal, productive, responsible, deliver quality service, have good attendance rates and can be counted on even during crises.

If you want to ensure or improve engagement, have an open dialogue with your people. They may not directly answer you if you ask them if they feel engaged, so you can check indirectly. Ask them what changes they think are needed at work to make them excited and happy with their jobs. Keep an open door for everyone and make your employees feel that they have a say, they matter and are empowered. Be honest about what improvements can be implemented right away and what will take time. Being forthright is one of the best ways to earn their trust and confidence too.

3. Work on reducing your office carbon footprint

You may also want to do your part in reducing your company’s carbon footprint by initiating changes that’ll benefit you in the long term. Aside from using green equipment, practising water and energy conservation, you can start implementing small changes that can make a big difference through the years. Use your Business New Year Resolutions to make a difference!

  • Create a sustainability team to spearhead green initiatives in your company.

  • Periodically come up with green challenges such as not using disposable eating and drinking utensils.

  • Go paperless and always use the blank side of one-side printed paper for intra-office reports, correspondence etc.

  • Ask employees to bring a desk plant and add more fresh greenery to your office to detoxify the air.

  • Take the lead in green commuting: take the tube, bike or walk to work.

Of course, there are probably a lot of other things you want to accomplish this coming year. However, with the above three Business New Year Resolutions, you’re off to a great start.

At Illumine, we have various courses that support personal effectiveness. From energy and well-being to work-life balance and time management for personal effectiveness training, we’ve got you covered.

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Beat Christmas Stress https://www.illumine.co.uk/2019/12/beat-christmas-stress/ Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:07:47 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22202 Christmas is supposed to be jolly. But in reality, studies show it’s actually the most stressful time of the year. Follow our tips to make it through the festive season stress-free, both at work and at home this year: Sources of Christmas Stress Festive stress and anxiety stems from: Money worries and overspending Pressure to […]

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beat christmas stressChristmas is supposed to be jolly. But in reality, studies show it’s actually the most stressful time of the year. Follow our tips to make it through the festive season stress-free, both at work and at home this year:

Sources of Christmas Stress

Festive stress and anxiety stems from:

  • Money worries and overspending

  • Pressure to ‘wrap things up’ at work before Christmas holidays

  • The feeling there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done

  • Loneliness, which is often intensified at this time of year

  • Spending time with family members who you don’t always get on with

What can you do to reduce Christmas stress? Since you spend a good portion of your time at work, and your job doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas, let’s start with the office:

Tips for Reducing Christmas Stress in the Office

Surveys show that over 54% of employees feel extra pressure and stress at Christmas. This stress may come from balancing work with private life, and it’s never harder to strike this balance than now. Here are some tips for surviving the next few weeks:

Be Considerate

Not everyone enjoys the festive period, and we never know what’s worrying other people. If someone seems to be a ‘Grinch’ don’t let their low mood affect you. Be aware that it’s a difficult time of year for many people. Don’t let frustrations and fraying tempers get you down. Let’s be honest, there’s already enough to worry about at Christmas!

Prioritise your Time

Decide what can and can’t wait until after Christmas to complete. Identify some major goals and work towards them. Review these goals each week and change them if necessary.

Keeping an end goal in sight gives you a clear target to achieve before taking time off ‘guilt-free’ to spend with family or relaxing alone.

Declutter your Environment

Now is a great time to clear out your desk drawers or delete messages cluttering up your inbox. Creating a tidy, efficient environment around you will automatically reduce your stress levels. Make clearing up the clutter part of your annual festivities.

Stay Positive

Think about how many positive things you achieved at work this year, and how many times you handled stress well. Reviewing your past achievements prompts your brain to release Dopamine – one of the happy hormones. You’ve already survived 100% of these challenging experiences – don’t worry, you can get through the next few weeks!

Remember, if you’re really drowning at work this Christmas, ask your boss or your colleagues for help. If you really need help, make asking for that help your Christmas gift to yourself. It could take the sting completely out of the Christmas stress you’re feeling.

Reduce Christmas Stress at Home

The office isn’t the only source of stress at this time of year. Chances are, you’re already fretting about buying gifts for fussy relatives and making sure that cooking Christmas dinner goes without a hitch. Here are some tips for managing stress and anxiety over the festive period at home:

Leave Work where it Belongs

Once you leave the office, leave work stress behind. Don’t let it spill over into your home life. Learning to separate work and home is a great way of managing stress at any time of year.

Don’t Overspend

With sales everywhere, it’s tempting to spend money you don’t have. Avoid sleepless nights and money woes by setting a budget and sticking to it. If you are really struggling to buy loved-ones gifts, why not get creative and give vouchers for your time? You could cook parents a dinner, decorate someone’s bedroom or take them on a picnic.

Unwind

Don’t forget to carve out some ‘me’ time, especially if you’re already under pressure at work. Go for a walk or take a nice hot bath and forget your stresses for a while. Taking some ‘downtime’ means you’ll return to work firing on all cylinders and ready to start the new year with a boom!

Manage your Expectations

Christmas should be fun, but the holidays are never perfect and interpersonal relationships are never more tested. Keep your expectations realistic and you’ll enjoy the season a lot more. Ensuring your Christmas stress levels are as low as possible will help you get the most out of the festive break.

At Illumine, we have various courses that support beating stress. From energy and well-being to work-life balance and emotional intelligence training, we’ve got you covered.

Have a lovely Christmas from all at Illumine Training! And in the interests of inclusiveness, if you are not celebrating Christmas – for whatever reason – enjoy the holiday season, the end of the year and all the very best for 2020.

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5 Tips to Boost Your Memory https://www.illumine.co.uk/2019/11/5-tips-to-boost-your-memory/ Tue, 26 Nov 2019 07:51:05 +0000 https://www.illumine.co.uk/?p=22154 We all need to remember things and some of us have a better memory than others! Whether you struggle to recall where you put your car keys, forget the name of someone you just met or can’t remember what you wanted to get in the supermarket, you’re not alone. Of course, storing knowledge for an […]

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We all need to remember things and some of us have a better memory than others! Whether you struggle to recall where you put your car keys, forget the name of someone you just met or can’t remember what you wanted to get in the supermarket, you’re not alone. Of course, storing knowledge for an exam is different to remembering that you need teabags when you go shopping. But either way, there are numerous tips and tricks you can try out to boost your memory until you find the ones that work best for you.

Memory Tip 1

Keep Your Brain in Good Health

As the old saying goes ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’. If you sleep well, take regular exercise and eat healthily, then your brain responds better too.

If you struggle to get to sleep, try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, watching TV or using interactive devices for at least an hour before bedtime. Exercising gently, perhaps once or twice a day, stimulates your brain by increasing oxygen flow and reducing stress-related hormones. Eating less processed food and consuming more brain-boosting ingredients like vegetables, fruits, fish, turmeric and dark chocolate increases mental alertness and aids memory retention.

Memory Tip 2

Routine, Routine, Routine

Being organised and tidy really helps to improve your memory. If you’re not continually stressing over lost items and worrying about forgetting things, your brain has a much better chance of retaining important information.

Always keep essential items, like your keys, in the same place and put them back there every time you use them. Make a note of anything relevant as soon as you think of it, the simple act of writing something down triggers your brain to remember it and you may find you don’t even need the note!

Memory Tip 3

Don’t Multitask: Chunk instead

It’s an unfortunate fact that the modern world gives us too much to think about at once. It’s natural for your brain to discard information from short-term memory before storing ‘relevant’ information in long-term memory. With too much input at the same time, the wrong data may get discarded.

Try not to multitask, learn to break down tasks into chunks and keep them separate from each other. That way, your brain gets the chance to process them individually. This helps you to remember the essential parts of each chunk, rather than retaining a jumble of irrelevant information.

Memory Tip 4

Use Your Brain

Your brain is just the same as the rest of your body. To coin another old phrase: ‘Use it, or lose it’. If you don’t use muscles, they waste and it’s precisely the same with your memory. You need to actively work on boosting your memory.

In an ideal world, learning a new skill is one of the best workouts for your brain, especially if it’s something that you enjoy doing. Realistically, it’s not always possible to maintain that level of commitment to continual learning. Aim to do at least one activity every day that provides a mental challenge: jigsaws, crosswords and even video games all get your brain working.

Finally, Tip 5

Making Up Stories

Your brain enjoys funny things and is often stimulated by them. You may find you retain amusing memories for a long time – like a joke you heard years ago. So, using humorous stories to remember facts can also work a treat. This is a great way to boost your memory.

For example, if you tend to forget names, next time you meet someone new, try this. Find something notable or amusing about the new person and link it with a funny story, mental image, or even a little rhyme. You may find you remember the amusement easier than the person themselves and the memory will prompt you to recall the name!

At Illumine, we have various courses that support boosting your memory. From developing a super memory to practical idea generation and mind mapping, we’ve got you covered.

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