To date, this series of columns has described the what, why and how of stress:
What stress is (positive and negative);
Why different stressors (situations, events etc.) affect people differently; and
How stress affects us physiologically – ie what it is doing to every major system in our bodies and why we should be concerned!
We explored a technique to help identify major stressors in your life and then started to talk practicalities in terms of managing those stressors and building your personal resilience. Self-development on any level – be it a skill, knowledge or health issue – starts with self-awareness. If you have followed these columns to date you should now have a greater self-awareness of how excess negative stress is manifesting itself with you physically, cognitively, emotionally and behaviourally. If you are ‘in the green’ – that’s great!
However, if you are in the majority who have been surprised (shocked even) of how negatively stress is impacting your wellness, read on as we delve back into the stress management toolkit and extract a few more tools.
Sleep à we described why sleep is so critical in a previous column, indeed, latest research coming out of the USA has medical insurers paying for their members to visit sleep specialists to learn how to sleep better, in much the same way as we would visit a nutritionist to learn how to eat more healthily.
- Your bedroom needs to be cool, dark and quiet. Light activates certain hormones in our bodies that aid falling asleep and waking up (namely melatonin and serotonin). We also form strong unconscious associations with places – make sure you associate your bedroom with sleep (and not working on the monthly sales report on your laptop!).
- Routine – go to bed and get up at the same time. This helps reinforce the sleep-wake cycle.
- Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep. If you are still awake after 20 minutes of tossing and turning, get up and do something mundane like fold your t-shirts or pair your socks up. Then try again.
- Log off. You are used to shutting down your computer and in some ways we need the same ‘logging off’ process. Do not engage in mentally stimulating activity at least an hour before bed. Meditate, pray or just sit quietly reading some popcorn literature.
Diet à We are essentially made up of squishy pink bits and chemicals (no, I didn’t take biology in High School) so what we add to our bodies has a direct impact on how we operate and feel. Certain foods/chemicals are known to aid a good night’s sleep and others are known to hinder it:
- Alcohol may well help you fall asleep, but it has been proven to interrupt one of the stages of sleep we need to go through to have good quality sleep.
- Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan are known to aid the serotonin – melatonin production cycle (hence promoting the sleep-wake cycle as well as the production of what is arguably the key hormone responsible for positive mood – serotonin). Tryptophan is an essential amino acid – i.e. the body cannot synthesize it and it therefore needs to form part of our diets. Foods high in tryptophan: baked potatoes (with skin), cheese, bananas, eggs, fish, pumpkin seeds, turkey, tofu and yoghurt. NOTE: this is not an exhaustive list and you should always consult with your medical professional before making any radical changes to your diet.
Small, sometimes simple changes can add up to make a significant positive difference. Try one or two of the listed suggestions, feel the benefits, celebrate them and then try a few more.
**The next column will offer some more practical tips and techniques to assist with stress management and your personal resilience-building **
Why Your Professional Persona Matters
You don’t have to become a different person to succeed in business.
For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona.
Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally.
How do I develop a professional persona?
It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.
Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.
Create a self fulfilling prophecy
Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.
But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.
Focus on what’s important
When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.
Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.
Make yourself indispensable
One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognisable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.
For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.
Be taken more seriously
A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.
Remember: You get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.
You’ll get more followers
More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.
When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognisable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.
Develop a thicker skin
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.
Your professional persona can help give you some personal armour. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalise in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset
What does a winning mindset mean to you? It’s what has separated the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather from fellow professional athletes. Adopting a similar approach could help you achieve massive success in 2019 and beyond.
A winning mindset is the trait that allows you to persist even when defeat looks like the most probable outcome. People with a winning mindset are much clearer about the process to attain their goals. They are not afraid of failure as long as they believe that they’re doing the right thing. That’s the difference between winners and losers.
1. Persist and understand that you must put in the work before you see results
The most successful people embody the principle of a winning mindset, because very few people in the world, be it in sports or business, can succeed without having to overcome obstacles. It’s seldom that talent is all one needs to succeed in any endeavour, otherwise most people would be successful.
A good way to understand this principle is to observe professional athletes before and during tournaments. Anybody competing in professional sports, such as the Olympics, has the talent but not all professional athletes are winners. A number of their memorable victories were achieved when they came from behind, when it looked like they were losing.
2. Press the reset button for the new year
The new year is notorious for long lists of resolutions that are not honoured and ultimately remain wishes. That said, the dawn of a new year tends to bring with it positive energy and a commitment to do things differently.
Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.
3. Take small incremental steps
The first step is to be clear about the goal and to write it down where you can see it every day. The second thing is to map the process of how you will get there, broken into small steps. From there onwards, focus on the process and not the goal as this allows one to achieve small but important victories. This needs to be backed up by an appropriate support system, associating with like-minded people.
4. Don’t stop upskilling yourself
Success in business is about creating shared value and solving real-world challenges that customers grapple with. Skills are therefore necessary to achieve success, so upskilling oneself is never a bad investment. It’s good to know something about everything, but ultimately one needs to know everything about something.
Some skills will be brought in through hiring staff, others through outsourcing and in some cases through strategic alliances.
5. Remember that no goal is static
One of the most important things to always remember is the goal, and that the goal is dynamic; it will have to be adjusted along the way. Business leaders can therefore celebrate the small victories fully aware that there is more work to be done. Achieving temporary success is easy, especially with all the tenders around, but building a sustainable business and staying on top requires persistence and hard work.
6. Your top tool is in your head
It’s all in the mind, backed by passion and a strong desire to succeed. If anything, business leaders need to train themselves to be uncomfortable with the status quo, not to get too comfortable with the present.
Why Not Consider The Acca Qualification For 2019?
ACCA professionals are more than accountants. They think holistically, consider challenges in the context of business and have strong strategic and leadership skills. Visit www.accaglobal.com for more information.
Taking Care Of Mental Health Is Powerful, Not Weak
Charlamagne Tha God talks success, anxiety and mental health.
It’s time to open up. No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone.
There is nothing shameful about having anxiety. Think about this acronym for FEAR – you either Fear Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The more you confront the things in your past you don’t want to do with, the more you’ll be able to move forward. So, are you going to run from your fear, or face it?
On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about anxiety and PTSD with a man who has become an unofficial mental health advocate: Charlamagne Tha God.
New York Times bestselling author Charlamagne Tha God is best known for being co-host of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartRadio program “The Breakfast Club.” He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World; and co-host of the popular podcast Brilliant Idiots.
Charlamagne says that refining his life’s mission and examining his past helped him take control of his anxiety.
Don’t allow anxiety or depression to cause you to keep suffering. Learn about Charlamagne Tha God’s mental health struggles and what he did to restart his life on Episode 721.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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