Tuesday, 18 November 2008

ConfidenceIt’s all in the mind

When referring to the current economic challenges, Niall Ferguson, the journalist and prolific author who specializes in financial and economic history tells us that “Fifty percent of the problem is confidence.” When I heard him say that on the BBC, I decided to further investigate by interviewing a couple of City Fund Managers and analysts. Each of the individuals I spoke to concurred with Mr. Ferguson’s take. In fact, some of them believe that it's much higher than 50%!

So, I thought to myself, if what Ferguson and other economic experts are saying about confidence is accurate, we can fix that… can’t we? A healthy self-confidence is pivotal when making any important decision. It enables us to be passionate, resolute and focused. So what happens when our confidence becomes weakened, or eroded? Or more importantly, what do we need to do when we’re able to recognise those debilitating feelings?

A lack of self-confidence is often brought on by unhelpful thoughts, thoughts that often are not verifiable. Contemporary psychologists call that kind of thinking, catastrophizing. So, if we can better manage our emotions, can we better manage ourselves in business? The answer is an unequivocal yes, of course we can. Daniel Goleman’s books on EQ (Emotional Intelligence) are perfect foils for those of you who are feeling a little less steady on your feet. Having used EQ in my personal life and my coaching practice since its inception about 20 years ago, I can attest to the positive effect it has on people. It teaches us how to manage our emotions, in effect, to transcend them. EQ is one of the most helpful ways we can prevent ourselves being at the mercy of those negative feelings.

As Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of business magazine Forbes and former U.S Presidential candidate said in a recent BBC interview - “Emotion is your enemy.”

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Whose Blog Is It Anyway?

Only after I completed the blog I was going to post next, did I realise that I wouldn’t be posting it. I must have read and re-read it a half a dozen times. My wife, Kate, read it at least three times; clearly this was a message to quit. However, I’m not a quitter, so I decided to write this instead:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of doom and gloom from the media. Okay, I’m not suggesting that we should be in denial… fat chance. What I am saying is that we need to keep a healthy perspective, really. Ruby Wax told Andrew Marr on his BBC Sunday show that the terrible situation in Congo should be at the top of everyone’s minds, not the Ross, Brand BBC thingy. I agree with Ruby. However, I don’t know about you, but my mind is so full of information and to-do stuff that I don’t have enough space for much more. Particularly if it’s the kind of ‘more’ that I feel deserves thoughtful attention from me, which the Congo clearly does.

So, I’ve decided to give more attention to me! Yes, the person I usually put at the end of my to-do list. I figure that if I spend quality time keeping fit, healthy and positive, I’ll feel better about me. And if I feel good about me, I’ll be able to do my job better, and maybe take on more ‘stuff.’ That’s because my self esteem will become buoyed, and my outlook on life will be that much brighter. In short, my default will be to see the glass as half-full more of the time.

Remember this – you are your greatest asset, ensure that you invest… in you! When we begin to realise that, it gives us the opportunity take another look at how we treat ourselves. Treat yourself as you would someone you care about. In these challenging times, we’re all we’ve got. Take care of you so you can take care of those close to you. Consider it your responsibility to ensure you stay healthy emotionally and physically. Even if you go for a long walk three times a week, eat healthier food or send a small amount of money to help people in the Congo. In fact, that’s it – I’ll donate some money to the Congo… now that’s one thing less to do on my to-do list!