I watched a pretty powerful TED talk the other day by Eduardo Briceño all about how we try our best to achieve things, whether this is in work, life or motherhood.
Essentially, he described two zones: The Learning zone and the Performance zone.
The learning zone is where we sit when we’re trying to improve ourselves, trying new things, attempting to master new techniques and making mistakes in order to learn from them. In our performance zone, the goal is to execute something we’re already good and minimise those mistakes – in fact, mistakes are seen as a failure in the performance zone as effectively, we believe we should already be good at those skills.
I’ve had a good life, I have fantastic, loving parents who gave me a multitude of opportunities and crafted my being so well they are still very much my best friends. I’ve travelled, I’ve worked my way up the career ladder to a leader with a real talent in creative marketing & run my own business. I’ve competed at a high level in sport and thrown myself off some pretty high cliffs – both physically and metaphorically! Those around me would have described me as gregarious, confident, kind and very much a driven doer, always striving for challenge.
Today I was drawn to a post on the BBC’s Facebook page about Breastfeeding. It was a deliberately provocative post asking if “Breast was really best in public” and comparing it to bottle feeding.
I am ALWAYS triggered by these posts. Not usually because of the actual content, because I expect this from the media who like to drag out the negative from people, but mainly by the commenters who – whether they mean to or not – usually end in harsh judgement of those that do not agree with their way of thinking. It can be seriously heartbreaking.
I spent another great week at university last week. Before I left on the Sunday night, I put my daughter down for a nap and did a little ‘holding my heart ritual’ that I described on Facebook. It really set me up for the week – especially as our module was on ‘Positive Relationships’.
The conductor wanders up the first class carriage, tickets are flung under his nose or left in a viewable position on the table.
One man is cleverly hiding himself behind a newspaper to avoid conversation – two others are noisily eating crisps and most other people just have their noses stuck to the screen of their phones. One man looks up to speak, the conductor smiles encouragingly – clearly wanting interaction. The man orders a coffee without a please.
Last week I had my first week back at University in almost 2 decades. That’s a long time. Boy has student life changed (That’s a whole other blog post!)
Going back to study was a huge decision for me and I’m sure one that may bite me on the bum as I have chosen to do it full time, alongside working and being a mum of a very demanding toddler. (When I write it down, it somehow seems scarier…)
Before pregnancy, I was one of those really irritating women who didn’t really suffer with the likes of PMS or the fluctuating moods that came with the expected hormonal rollercoaster that the monthly ‘joy of joys’ used to bring. The only thing that used to bother me was the dreaded ‘period pains’ when I was younger, with one particular bout hitting me at 15 when on holiday in Spain and me thinking my stomach was being eaten by aliens.
5 tips to help us flourish as Mums
Yesterday, I was invited to attend a ‘Positive Birth’ meeting in Bedford, a group to discuss all the ways you can make the birth of your child and those early months more positive. A lot of us tend to reflect on the birth of our children fondly anyway, but the experience can be pretty traumatic at the time, so helping yourself to prepare is always a benefit.
Along with the physical preparations, I think it’s useful to think beyond the birth and how you’ll cope with those tough emotional times. Below is a little handout I gave to the lovely ladies with a few tips you can practice now and exercise on a daily basis to increase those positive emotions.
How to live a more appreciative life – the power of appreciation and positive questions
I recently came back from a week in Paris studying something called ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ – it’s a lesser known method of change management within business focussing on what works well and doing more of it . (And yes, I know ‘Inquiry’ is spelt the American way, it annoys me too, but the founder insists on it). I want to look at it in a less business way here…
It all stems from the feeling of “What we focus on, grows”, so if we focus on the problem, the problem will grow – however much we try to fix it, whereas with Appreciative Inquiry, the idea is to focus on what works and what is going well – so in turn, this grows.
It sounds super simple and actually it is. Ultimately, instead of dwelling on the problem, you create an alignment of your strengths that in turn; make the weaknesses irrelevant.
From Mum to Me – creating an ‘Arrive at Me’ routine.
Let’s start with the obvious sentence, Motherhood is hard. It’s rewarding at times and the combination of love and pride has an incredible warming ability – but it’s tough. Sometimes we struggle through weeks, days and even hours without much understanding of what we’re actually doing. It can be both emotionally and physically exhausting and incredibly frustrating at times – but we’re supposed to enjoy it right? And want to spend every waking second with our beloved offspring.
How to be that little bit braver
Bravery was always a big part of my character, I loved making tough decisions and generally always took the most challenging route, plus I was a big adrenaline seeker in my younger years having trained as an outdoor pursuits instructor. The pang of excitement on choosing a risky path always kept me feeling like I was moving forward – and even if it turned out to be the wrong decision, I felt content knowing I’d given it a go.
Since having my little girl, I haven’t recognised bravery much in myself. The new feelings of requiring security for my little girl and our family seemed to conflict badly with that need for a bit of adrenaline. I wrote a blog last week about the internal character conflict new-motherhood can bring, if you’re interested.