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April 30, 2020 - No Comments!

Emotional Mastery

According to Daniel Pink in his book “Drive”, there are three rules of mastery: 1) it is a mindset; 2) it is a pain; and 3) it is something that is never attained.  It is a journey, rather than a destination.

I embarked on a journey of achieving Emotional Mastery 7 years ago, when my son was diagnosed with autism. A journey of developing a growth mindset, a journey of pain and joy. I have learnt that the best way for my son to learn how to manage his negative emotions is to spend time with a living, breathing model of effective behaviour.  My raison d'etre for becoming a Master of emotions!

And today I delivered the first of 11 monthly webinars to the everywoman network, uncovering the art and the science of Emotional Intelligence.  Talking passionately about the one skill that differentiates a leader from a boss and a struggling parent from one who enjoys a satisfying family life. The one skill that enables you to have relationships with even the most difficult people.    

As Daniel Goleman taught us 25 years ago, it’s about being smart with feelings. And feelings are just data. The art lies in learning to interpret that data accurately. That’s not easy, when only c.30% of us can accurately identify or “label” the emotions, as they occur.

Why is labelling your emotions so important? Because your emotional brain is infinitely more powerful than your rational brain.  And your emotional brain instructs the body to produce chemicals, which you experience as emotions. The first step in mastering your emotions, is to understand the signals that those emotions are sending you. Being unable to identify your own emotions is like making decisions based on the wrong data. This can lead to irrational choices and counterproductive actions, which are more common than not.

All negative emotions are just a signal, a message to the brain that what you are doing right now is not working and you need to change it.  If you ignore the message or emotional signal, that signal does not go away. It intensifies.  You feel even more stressed, even more angry.  It intensifies until you realize you need to change something. Your expectations, the way you look at things, the way you communicate or the way you behave.

Appreciate that message. Respect that emotion. Don’t deny it.

I have learnt to appreciate this again and again, as my son is currently struggling with the stress and pressure of the imminent GCSEs exams. His neuro-diverse brain finds it much more difficult to control the chemical signals, which he experiences as a full cocktail of negative emotions.  Frustration, fear, anger, dis-engagement and the reactions and over-reactions that accompany them.

But he has learnt to label his emotions, as they occur and try to distance himself from them, by finding practical solutions, such as breathing and counting.  It gives him the power to take charge of his emotional brain and drive the very thoughts, feelings and actions that determine results. Learning to go from bad thinking to good thinking and from bad habits to good habits. From knowledge, to experience, to mastery. And that’s not easy. As my dad would say “if it were easy, everybody would do it!”. And that’s why mastery remains a journey and not a destination.

And for that I am very grateful.

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

ADA, February 2020

April 30, 2020 - No Comments!

How confident are you?

At our everywomanNetwork EQ webinar in February 2020, we posed a question – Which one of the EQ competencies do you think has the lowest score for you?  The highest proportion of the 150 women in attendance, believed Self-Confidence was their lowest EQ muscle

The results are consistent with my findings from having analysed and interpreted hundreds of EQ ECR reports in the last few years. Confidence is still a strong force holding women back at the beginning of the new decade and as we approach International Women’s Day.

In their 2014 article entitled “The Confidence Gap”, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman argued that in order to succeed, confidence mattered as much as competence. Since then, thousands of articles have been written on the topic. So why do women continue to suffer from an acute lack of confidence?

The elusive nature of confidence has intrigued many.  In RocheMartin’s Emotional Capital Report (ECR) psychometric that I chose to use with all my clients, Self-Confidence is one the 10 x EQ competencies that differentiate a great leader from an average one. And self-competence is one of the 3 emotional components of Confidence. The other 2 are self-liking and self-assurance. And all these 3 components can be flexed up to help you gain confidence.

Confidence is essentially the ability to accept and respect yourself and like the person you are. Most people think confidence is a prerequisite of success. The truth is, confidence is a consequence of success.  It is the consequence of having the courage to try and fail and try again, until you succeed.  

How many times are you willing to fail?  In Project Kairos, my community of extraordinary coaches, we celebrate the power of the “1000s Nos”, as defined by Byron Katie in her books (one of which is “A thousand names for joy”).  Becoming fearless in the face of failure and rejection.  If you are willing to hear 1000s Nos, you will get an extraordinary Yes at the end of it.

And so I ask my clients to substitute Confidence with Courage.  Do you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone?  To stay in the stretching zone where you learn and grow? That’s how you gain confidence along the way.

You will usually act on the outside consistently with the picture you have of yourself on the inside. And the more you like yourself, the higher the standards you set for yourself. The higher the standards, the longer you will persist in achieving them.

It usually starts with recognizing and accepting your feelings. Feelings are the most important way of understanding your emotional experience. Managing your negative self-talk. Do you find yourself saying things like: “People like me can't do that”, “I’ve never been good at...”, “I don’t deserve it”? You need to learn to suspend judgement of yourself. Let go of the idea you need the approval of others to be accepted. And finally, you must develop an attitude of gratitude towards yourself and your unique qualities.

Today is my daughter’s 13th birthday. When I asked her how confident she feels she is, she replied 7/10.  Higher than average. I was proud and curious to find out what’s missing.

If you are curious about your actual score in each of the 10 EQ muscles, including Self-Confidence please get in touch with us at: office@adaptaa.co.uk. Our Self-Confidence webinar is on 7 July 20.

And if you want to build courage, join us at our Courageous Leaders Retreat on 1-4 October 2020: https://www.extramileretreats.com/

ADA, 5 March 2020

November 24, 2019 - No Comments!

Loss, Love and Rollercoasters

All in one week!

Deep loss

I have just lost a dear friend, Aveen, to cancer. She was 57, beautiful inside and outside. She left behind a “feisty” 16 year old daughter, a “hero” husband (in her own words) and  many heartbroken friends. She left in style, planning her departure to the last detail. Bamboo coffin. Leopard skin car. Bob Dylan music. And she even wrote her own eulogy!  “You have no choice on what time does to you. You have a choice on how you spend your time.  Choose to spend it well.”

There were hundreds of people turning up to her funeral this week. Nowhere to sit or stand...Moving words from some of her longest-standing friends. Same words: Courageous, Tenacious and Loyal. And Kind, Kind, Kind. Every single one remembered acts of kindness and what they meant to them. A great trait to be remembered for!

Aveen had a tough young life, but a beautiful whole life. That’s what made her strong and kind. And a fighter till the end. She would have been a true role model to any of my Courageous Women retreats.

I felt privileged to have known her and her kind spirit. And get to witness her deep love and commitment to her family.

Deep love

They say one of the happiest things in life is to see your parents growing old together.

I feel very lucky to have experienced my parents 50th golden wedding anniversary a week ago. It was a big and happy celebration, surrounded by dear friends and family members.

What a privilege to feel the love and commitment that my parents gave each other over such a long period.  And choosing to stand by and for each other through their life roller coasters. And through their children’s and grandchildren rollercoasters too!

Rollercoasters

As an executive coach I help people reach highs they never thought possible.

And I celebrate my own success, alongside my clients’ highs.  Individual clients achieving their dreams, teams making small changes for big shifts, courageous women learning self-compassion, workshops teaching key Emotional Intelligence and leadership skills.

And I teach my clients that success does not lead to happiness. It’s the happiness that leads to success.

At the moment, my son is not happy. The GCSE exam pressure is too much. And when he is not happy, he stops functioning. And the whole ecosystem around him is disrupted. We all suffer. No sleep. No energy. Burnout. The low and negative energy zone.

So it’s time to try to get him happy again. So we are all happy. And the whole ecosystem can go back to the high performance zone of high and positive energy.

Riding the life’s rollercoaster is constantly moving between the high/low and positive/negative energy zones.  My son’s rollercoasters just happen to be 10x higher, enrolling his loved ones in deeper highs and lows.

It’s time to slow down to be able to speed up again for the next ride!

With lots of love from the low and positive energy zone of self-renewal.

Alina

ADA, Nov 2019

July 30, 2019 - No Comments!

Be Bold, Authentic and Kind

When I started my blog 2 years ago on the theme of “What have I Learnt today”, I underestimated the commitment needed to make it a consistent and regular practice.

Putting myself on the line was a bold statement at the time and the beginning of an extraordinary journey of learning and discovery.  

I chose to write my blog only when I felt inspired by insights that shifted my perspective.  And so, my latest insight builds on the kindness theme from my previous blog, after experiencing the true power created when boldness and authenticity are added to the mix!

Authentic 

I’ve just completed the Landmark Forum course; an unusual, yet powerful experience.  Amongst many insights, the one that stood out for me was the choice to live an authentic life. 

And the definition of being authentic?  Is to take responsibility for when you have been inauthentic which happens to us all much more often than we dare admit!

It means making a clear distinction between facts, and our interpretation of those facts, which we build into stories that adjust reality and shape our lives, rarely for the better.  It means being real about when you feel upset, disappointed, betrayed or angry and let people we care about, know about it.  This is a huge ask given that most people choose to live an inauthentic life mostly without ever being aware of it.

Bold

And once you become aware, being authentic about being inauthentic takes a lot of courage!  Is what Brené Brown would call being vulnerable; the other side of the same coin called Courage.  And it’s where true magic happens. 

I resisted committing myself to this intensive course for 5 years finding all sorts of excuses.  If you want to do something, you will find a way and if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.  One of my excuses was that I knew it all already! 

How little did I know! My excuse faded away when someone I trusted suggested it would make a huge, positive impact on my son’s life.  For him to do it, I had to do it first. Suddenly, 3 full, intensive days were no longer a huge commitment but a necessary step to make a difference for him. 

And in that process, I re-defined boldness.  It is having the courage to ask for what you want in an authentic way.  As Oprah said “in life you get what you have the courage to ask for”.

As an executive coach, I work with people to improve their performance to levels they never thought possible.  Giving them the courage (or what some call confidence) to speak up, to get a dream job, a dream promotion, to get better connected with their team or make some difficult choices to achieve that elusive work-life balance. 

As my own coach would say, it is “helping people dare more” to achieve extraordinary results. 

Kind

“It is nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”   Not easy when kindness is seen as a weakness in the corporate world.  But it’s by far one of the most important investments you’ll ever make and one that will pay off multiple times in the long term.

What do you want to be known for? “Being kind” is what my kids would say! 

By any definition, my son is extra bold! He doesn’t have a social filter and sees life in pure black and white terms.  He has the courage to say what he sees and what he hears.  It’s called honesty in his world.  In the “real world”, it’s called cute at 5 and embarrassing and insensitive at 15.  He has the courage to ask for what he wants and persevere until he gets it!  

But being bold, honest and persistent (the positive side of having OCD) is a paradox not always understood by the world around him.

Explaining that bold honesty is not always perceived as kind is not an easy task!  Explaining that HOW you say it matters just as much as WHAT you say is a work in progress in my son’s understanding of the value of “social kindness”.  And that authenticity is all about YOUR behaviour and never about the other person.

The work I do with my son is the biggest testimony of what is possible and what can be achieved, when choosing to shape your Emotional Intelligence.  And once he, and anyone else, can master the skill of being bold, authentic and kind, all at the same time, the possibilities become endless!

If you want to practice mastering that skill, join us at our Courageous Women leadership retreat on 26-29 September 2019. Get in touch via www.extramileretreats.com to register your interest. 

Be bold, authentic and kind!

ADA, July 2019

All at the same time!

March 26, 2019 - No Comments!

A random act of kindness

What drives someone to perform a random act of kindness beyond “normal boundaries”? Here is a recent true story that blew my mind off.

My dear friend Bob has just returned to Edinburgh, when he discovered he forgot his car keys, in a hotel in Dublin. As he got on the airport bus, he called the hotel to ensure that the keys were in a safe place. What happened next was truly unexpected.

The bus driver overheard the conversation with the hotel and offered him the keys to her car parked at the airport, for him to go home and collect his spare car keys. Just like that! Didn’t know who he was or what he did. What made her trust him with such an act of kindness? He gracefully took the keys and returned them later, while she was still on her shift.  And left a gift for her in the car.

What an astonishing story of unconditional human kindness. Just hearing it filled my heart with joy. Experiencing it must have been a treat!

I have just spent 3 amazing days with 12 extraordinary human beings at Rich Litvin’s Deep Dive in London. The participants travelled from as far as Australia, the Middle East, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Scotland. It was an experience that reignited my belief in human kindness and connection  and its amazing power.

The energy in the room was palpable, heavy and uplifting throughout the 3 days. A space for kind challenge to grow exponentially, to be brave and vulnerable at the same time and to learn mastery from the Master himself. Rich spent hours and hours challenging our thinking. You see, Rich coaches Kings.  And we all felt like Kings and Queens at the end of the 3 days and beyond.

Those 3 days have shifted my perspective in a way that surprised me. I knew Rich would create a magic experience, I never expected it to be that magical. We coached each other, stretched each other, supported each other, laughed and cried with each other. We all shared our gifts and got a lot more gifts in return. It was kindness at its best!

Experiencing the kind humanity in that room felt electrifying well beyond those 3 days. It was the way Rich managed to access it.  As an eternal optimist, I’ve always got up and marched on during some of the most adverse and difficult moments. Even in the moments when my belief in the benefits of human kindness have been tested hard.

I still often ask my kids - “What is the most important thing in the world? To be kind. What is the second most important one? To be kind. And the third one? To be kind!”  Kindness is our mantra.

It doesn’t cost anything and is a choice. Some would say an impossible choice when you have experienced human unkindness and ugliness in its raw form. But using kindness as your weapon of choice can pay off exponentially in the long term.

“Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible.” Dalai Lama

Who will you choose to be kind to today?

ADA, March 2019

October 16, 2018 - No Comments!

An Extraordinary Commitment

Making the impossible more possible was the purpose of our retreat in Iseo Lago (Italy) at the end of September. And creating a community of extra-ordinary women who would support each other on this journey.

I spent 3 extra-ordinary days with 12 extra-ordinary women, facilitating the retreat with the amazing well-being coach and dear friend Silvia Imperadori, without whom, none of this would have been possible.

We had women from different corners of the world, at different stages of their life and career and representing the very different worlds of finance and creative industries. Everybody bonded, felt safe to share dreams and limiting beliefs and encouraged themselves to stretch out of their comfort zone and take action. Our extra-ordinary women committed themselves to transform an impossible dream into a possible plan. It felt like an extra-ordinary commitment.

“The difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary is that little extra”.

Everybody committed to that little extra during this retreat. They all committed to hold each other accountable. And they all committed to meeting up again in 12 month time. Some committed to continue to break the impossible dream into possible actions over the next 6 months together.

18 month ago I wrote my first blog “What have I learnt today? That all great things start with Trust and Love!” Exploring how emotions influence what we think and what we do. And how we all aspire to experience the ultimate emotions of joy, trust and love. A lot of my work in the Emotional Intelligence space and how we can flex it to improve performance and happiness does just that.

And when you bring together a group of extra-ordinary women who are all remarkably different and remarkably similar at the same time, sharing Curiosity as the common strength, magic just happens. Laughing and crying together, questioning, reflecting and being grateful and thankful to each other for holding the space to be vulnerable and grow in the process.

During those 3 days I went on a rollercoaster of emotions, torn between the commitment I made to these extra-ordinary women 6 months ago to facilitate and hold the space for them and the huge commitment to my son who was extremely unwell, when I left London a few days earlier. Positively re-framing my “worry” for his wellbeing into “trust” that he was in safe hands and surrounded by love from his dad and family, kept me going. He was still unwell when I arrived back home. And so, the rollercoaster of emotions went on for a few more weeks.

And then, something else extra-ordinary happened. My son is slowly getting better. His neuro diverse brain feels everything 10x more intensely than a neuro-typical brain, whether it’s good or bad! And when it’s good, the 10x intensity will make it an extra-ordinary achievement! We are almost there!

“It always seems impossible until is done.” (Mandela)

ADA, October 2018