In May and June, we discussed how to take more control over your own mind in order to achieve a more positive outlook. When I have helped business owners through the course on the previously discussed Positive Intelligence system, they often ask me whether this is a useful exercise for teams to do together? The answer is, of course, yes.

As a young and inexperienced manager, I remember getting caught up trying to chase sales to make up lost ground after a few weeks of reduced retail activity. I now realise that this was a mistake because I put undue pressure on the team, moving their focus from looking after the patient to trying to increase dispensing revenue.

I soon began to understand that my role as manager was to reduce the team’s stress and take away the barriers so the team could focus their full attention on helping patients and understand the products and services we could provide for them. Part of this learning process was getting to know how teams operate and how different members of the team have different motivations, outlooks and ways of working.

Often, when a team is not as effective as it could be, it is because they are experiencing conflict, friction, and stress. It is likely, in an underperforming team, that individual members are unknowingly (or much worse knowingly), sabotaging their own and their team’s performance and wellbeing. One way to help improve team performance is through coaching. This helps build trust and form better relationships, two key aspects of a winning team.

Below is one way to look at how you can help your team through positive coaching:

1. Self-awareness

As you will know if you have ever flown in an aircraft, the advice is always to ‘put on your own oxygen mask before helping others’. Unless you are aware of your own self, such as your skillset, attributes, strengths and weaknesses, it is unlikely you will have the awareness to understand your colleagues. Giving your team the tools to help them understand themselves is the first step and builds self-confidence.

2. Self-management

As our relationship with ourselves becomes stronger, self-compassion and empathy for ourselves and others increases. Rather than beating ourselves up we learn to positively reframe our thoughts in more helpful ways. Our ability to respond, rather than react, means we have more control and command over our automatic thoughts.

3. Social awareness

As we improve self-management, we understand more that every one of us is ‘perfectly imperfect’. Our tolerance of others increases as does our

appreciation of the skills and strengths of others around us. Perhaps we even become kinder and are less inclined to jump to negative conclusions without looking for evidence first.

4. Relationship management

By working on your own positivity, you can improve many aspects of your life, such as control, focus, anticipation, memory, concentration and time management. All of this has a positive impact on you and on your relationships with others.

In recent years, the importance of mental health and mental fitness has really come to the forefront of our thinking. There are many ways to keep your brain healthy and active. Each person is an individual and what works for one may not work for another. As a start, here are my top three ways to exercise your brain:

1. Get fit(ter)

I used to run to keep fit and, although I sometimes would try to find all the excuses in the world for giving it a miss, I rarely did. Thinking back now I don’t recall ever regretting going for a run, even in the worst weather conditions. I realise now that running relaxed my mind, relieved stress and gave me a sense of achievement.

2. Eat and drink well

I recently returned from a holiday trip to the Southern USA, where beer, ribs, chicken and burgers were the staple, with mac’n’cheese as the vegetarian option. By the end of the trip, I have to say I felt sluggish and irritable. After just a few days of healthy eating and drinking more water after returning, I felt bright and positive again. Staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy fruit and vegetable intake is a sure-fire way to ensure the brain is functioning at optimal levels.

3. Savour

Back in a career phase that meant I was doing a lot of travelling, I was fortunate enough to go to some great places near and far. I recall driving from Reading to the Northumberland coast, sitting in a two-day meeting and returning home immediately. Years later, I revisited the area and could not believe that I had travelled all that way and not spent some time enjoying the wonderful coastline. I recalled not following the wise advice of ‘making sure you stop to smell the roses along the way’. Now, it turns out that ‘savouring’ is a common intervention, linked to mindfulness, which involves slowing down during certain moments. This could be staying an extra few days after Mido to enjoy the sights of Milan or simply sitting down to enjoy a morning cup of coffee for five minutes between patients.

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