Cook kneeding dough

How Mindfulness Builds Confidence

Whatever the outcome, our confidence grows from taking risks. 

That sounds nice, and it may have benefited people like Elisabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France, who spoke about this in her interview.

But is it true for ME and YOU?  How can I find out…safely?

For Your Action

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin

Many of us take in insights with the “FYI, For Your Information” mindset.

It’s like reading a cooking recipe.  And stopping there.

Moreno invites us to go further.  “For Your Action” and “For You to Transmit.” 

That’s like rolling up your sleeves, getting fingers in the dough, and kneading…and kneading some more.

In a work setting it’s about sharing the passion for excellence, the engagement that comes from connecting with another person, and the pride in a job well done.

This process of learning to transmit is (somewhat) straightforward with hard skills.  Take cooking: Turn the heat to 180° and bake for 30 minutes.  (Although, in France, I discovered recipes which instruct “Cook until done.” Huh?!)

What about with soft skills like risk-taking and confidence-building?  The steps-to-success for getting out of one’s comfort zone vary from individual to individual.

Mindfulness Makes Confidence-Building Easier

That’s why it’s helpful to be mindful of our specific behaviors and attitudes which help us grow.

We pause.

Breathe.

Bring back into our memory a past risk that worked out well.  Revisit it through a benevolent lens.  What worked?  What did I learn?

Then recall a risk that did not turn out as desired.  What did I learn about myself?  About others?

Step back again.

What did I gain from this reflection?

Confidence-Building Worksheet

Try this worksheet to guide you through the process.

Here’s an example of ways I have grown through professional challenges.

Confidence-Building-Worksheet-Pro

Click here to download the pdf.

Confidence-Building in Personal Life

You and I take risks at work and in life.  Here’s an example from my situation as a wife and mother of teens.

Confidence-Building-Worksheet-Personal

Click here to download the pdf.

For Your Action

It’s your turn!

Click here to download a blank worksheet for YOU.

Share this worksheet with a friend, family member, or colleague.  It’s a powerful discussion starter!

playmobile crushed by sneaker

5 Ways to Avoid Being Crushed by Power Struggles at Home or at Work

Do you feel like the world is crushing down and it’s out of your control?  Your boss imposes too long working hours?  The sound of bickering children is more than you can bear?.

How to get unstuck?

Step out of the Power Struggle.

What does you feel in your body when your soul feels under pressure?

Here is an activity from Positive Discipline workshops that makes that connection.

One person (let’s call him Andy) sits on a chair.  His job is to get out of the chair.  Two people (we’ll name them Beatrice and Clark) stand on either side of Andy with their hands on his shoulders.  Their job is to make sure that Andy stays in the chair.  Ready. Set. GO!

How EVERYONE struggles!  Andy tries to get up.  Beatrice and Clark push down harder.  This resistance gets Andy annoyed and determined.  He struggles even harder.  Beatrice and Clark reposition themselves to glue Andy into. That. Chair. No. Matter. What…

This activity generates loads of laughter. Everyone looks ridiculous.

All agree on the verdict: control begets control.  Power struggles, by definition, escalate.

So, how does one step out of a power struggle without appearing to “lose the battle”?  Can one “win” power-struggle free?

1. Decide which Battle to Fight

Boxing girl by Frank deKleineWhat’s your goal?  How will you define “winning”?

Your and my time and energy are finite.  Consider them as treasures to invest, not commodities to spend.

As a young employee, I did speak up when my male colleagues cracked sexual jokes.  One-to-one with my boss I mentioned that I felt uncomfortable with that kind of humor and wondered if our meetings were the appropriate place for it.  I got so much flack for that!  Yes, they stopped those jokes within my earshot…instead I became the laughing matter.  “Sh!! Denise’s sensitive ears are around.”

I may have “won” one battle but it turned into another conflict zone, and a more personal one.  I will not spend my energy on that battle again. Now, if someone gossips or speaks disrespectfully, I simply get up and leave the room.

Which battles do you want to fight at work or at home?

Here’s another common area of differing opinions:  the family dinner.  My idea of a great dinner is when we all converse and find out about each other’s day.  My French husband insists on table manners.  Conversations, if you can call them that, can go like this:

Me to son: “Honey, tell us something interesting about your day.”

My son opens his mouth to speak.

Husband to son: “Chew with your mouth closed.”

Silence.

Agggggh!

2. Reframe Issues to Create Multiple Winners

reframing with for win-win solution

Previously, I had felt hampered by my husband’s interruptions which put a dead halt to conversation.  I chose to focus on the larger and more appealing issue for all of us: to connect with each other at least once a day.  Mealtime still remains the most convenient time for that.

We worked together to set ground rules. 

“What do we need to do so that dinner time is enjoyable for everyone?”  Everyone contributed ideas which we summarized into the following

  • The dinner table is a place for pleasant conversation AND good manners.
  • Good manners include good listening AND table manners.
  • No snacking after 5:30 pm so that we are hungry for dinner at 7:30.

3. Use Humor Instead of Fighting

Funny glasses

Ah! Then, unwittingly, I used these collaboratively build rules to control my kids!

One son explicitly recounted a swear-word exchange during school recess.  I reprimanded, “The table is a place for pleasant conversation and good manners!” Another child complained that he never gets enough pasta and reaches for his brother’s plate to serve himself.  “Darlings! The table is a place for pleasant conversation and good manners!”

One evening a friend visited from out of town and joined our family meal.  When the kids went off to sleep, she turned to me with a twinkle in her eye and exclaimed, “THE TABLE IS A PLACE FOR PLEASANT CONVERSATION AND GOOD MANNERS.”

How embarrassing!  And how liberating!  Through humor she showed me how I had been putting pressure on the kids.  Yikes.  I was the crusher!!!

Humor can be delicate since many people experience it in different ways.  The process my friend used is simple and helpful: to mention the obvious with a smile. Several times.

Maybe you feel like your boss treats you paternalistically when he insists on correct spelling.  You are an adult and yet he tells you how to do your work in minor detail!!! Be a step ahead of him with a smile.

“Oh! And maybe I should check the spelling on the Power Points before sending them over…What do you think of the utility of going through spell check on the documents?… I wonder if someone thought of proof-reading.”  Smile.  Wink.  Smile.

Humor can remove a burden from oneself without crushing others.

4. Acknowledge that You Cannot Force Someone Else to Change

Have you tried to diet?  Or start an exercise program?  Or stop watching Netflix series?  Changing is TOUGH.  That’s why there is an $11 billion self-improvement market in the US and it’s growing 5.5% annually.

We cannot force change on others.  By adding pressure, we can affect change…until we stop pushing. Disengagement results.  Over time, we apply increasing pressure which render poorer results.

Why not admit our inability and transform a command into a request.

“I can’t force you to brush your teeth.  I’m asking you because I love you and because I don’t want you to be hurt by having cavities. Sweetheart, they are YOUR teeth.”

5. Choose How You Will Act and Do It

I love this story shared by a professor at INSEAD Business School.  How to balance the pressure to be present at work considering a one hour commute which doubles during rush hour?

As a Parisian mother of a school aged child, this professor wanted to respect her work commitments AND enjoy time with her kid.  She investigated among her other commuting colleagues how they managed the schedule.

“Do you come early and leave early?  Come late and leave late? Or do you come early and leave late?”

One colleague suggested she follow the example of the man in the group. “Come late and leave early.”

“He does?!!”

He strategically scheduled his classes and meetings and consistently performed well at work.  And, he kept a low profile about this schedule, reorienting discussions towards the work to be done.  He just did it.

What does “Choosing what I do and doing it” look like at home?

Many parents idealize about having a regular family dinner…and yet it rarely occurs especially when one spouse has unpredictable work hours.  Will they be home for the meal?  Or for the kids’ bedtime?  Or will the arrive in time for your night out to recharge?

Uncertainty can be a burden; it restricts the options for decision-making.

The parents who navigate with the most peace of mind the pressure of reconciling career and raising young children are those who decide on their own schedule and organize accordingly.

Dinner will be at 7:00 pm.  Food will be left aside for the late arriver.  The babysitter comes on Thursday evenings (zumba class) regardless.

Decide what you will do…and do it.  You can choose your actions.  And they speak louder than words.

Girl enthralled by candles

Spend a Moment in Wonder

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

A Candle for Relaxation and Well-Being
from (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

Une parenthese bougie
Today’s gift. A scented candle for relaxation and well-being from (Une Parenthèse Bougie)

Candle Wonder

There is something wonder-full about candlelight.  For kids of all ages!

Is it the hypnotic way the flame flickers?

Or the association of candles with memory-filled events

  • Birthdays
  • Fancy meals, like at a restaurant or with the “grown up plates”
  • Visits to churches where candls flicker and light strwons through the color-filled stained-glass windows
  • And Christmas or Hanukah!

And it might be with the way adults treat fire with such care.  “Darling, CAREFUL. Your can get burned.” Literally.

Love flickers like flames too.  A spark enflames and warms or burns. Figuratively.

Candle magic for children

 

Children’s Questions – What do they wonder about?

Children have questions about fire and love.  They have been hurt or seen others in pain.  Why? How come?

How to answer their queries…when we hardly have answers ourselves.

What if activities with candles could help shed light on your children’s searching for answers about loving others and about being loved.

Questions like

  • “Do you love me more than _______?”
  • “Does love stop?”
  • “So many bad things happen.  I’m so small.  Can just a tiny bit of good make a difference?”

“Why be good when there is so much bad?”

Children sure do have a knack for asking Some. Tough. Questions.

Do you or I even have the answer to this one?  If we did, could we express such complex responses in words that our children can understand?

Candle Activity

Here is an activity that conveys the power of hope in the face of just a tiny bit of light.

How to:

  1. Take your children into a totally dark room.
    Sometimes the only place is a windowless bathroom.  One friend spoke of taking the children into their WC (in France there is a room with just the toilet seat).  What unique memories they cherish!
  2. Bring along one candle and a match or lighter.
  3. Notice the blackness without making it scary.
    “I can’t see anything!”
    “How many fingers am I holding up?”
    “Let me try and find your nose…oh is that your ear instead?!”
  4. Ask the kids how they feel…and how this makes them want to act.
    “I feel alone so I want to talk and have you talk to me so that I know I’m not alone.”
    “I feel lost so I’m scared to move. I don’t want to hurt myself.”
  5. Light the candle.
  6. Notice that it is one-small-flame in One. Whole. Room.
  7. Now ask how they feel and how this makes them want to act.
    “I see just enough to move and not hurt myself. I can move.”
    “I see you and I know I am not alone.  I can find your hand and we can be together.”

The children just EXPERIENCED the answer to their philosophical quandary.  One small light makes a HUGE difference. “Be a light, darling.  Be kind even if others are being mean.”

Child holding candle

“Does Love Stop?”

What happens when grandfather dies?  Or when couples separate? Or when friends move to another city?  Does love stop?!

This question surely benefits from answers in layers.  A few words one day.  A different approach a next day.  Reading a book together about the subject.  And possibly this activity with a candle.

Candle Activity

What you need:

It works best with a candle, something to light it, a cup to turn upside down over the flame.  A transparent cup or glass makes this even more dramatic.

How to:

  1. Gather the children around the lighted candle on the table.
    Admire the flames and it’s lively flicker.
  2. Notice together how this candle is like love, burning and warm.
  3. Cover the candle with the cup turn upside down over the flame. Allow a bit of smoke to gather inside the cup before smothering out the flame.
  4. Remove the cup and notice how the smoke is visible and rises from the still glowing wick. It rises in a clear ribbon of smoke and then diffuses into the air and throughout the room.
  5. Notice how we even breathe in tiny bits of the rest of the flame and carry it in our bodies!

In a similar way, the love for the child remains when someone dies or distance separates.  Love takes on a different form, one that can travel far.

Even when we do not see the flame or feel its warmth as we did before, the love is still there.

“Do you love me more?”

We do this activity in our Positive Discipline classes.  We”ll discover it together in person.  Ask about upcoming classes here.

 

Wishing you peace AND growth as we all struggle through understanding and living out Love.

Contact (Une Parenthèse Bougie)