EQ for Busy People

EQ for Busy People

9 Tips to create a calming zone for yourself at Work, Home and Play

Nowadays most of us have to adapt to multiple changes at work and home.

Increases in work pressure mixed with constant change and uncertainty can become very stressful.

Hillary Scarlet says “ “Navigating change requires more energy than our normal activities at work.”

Emotions are contagious. Even if we are mentally strong, we will pick up other people’s responses to stress, including their anxiety, anger, nervousness and even friction with others.

Your will power is a limited resource and is easily used up.

So What?

Constant change and pressure to produce more makes it difficult for most people to stay calm, productive and be a good team player.

If you work in an open plan workspace it is even more difficult to de-stress as there is no privacy and people around you are more aware of your moods, relationships with others and work productivity.

Stressful situations at work can stay unresolved in your mind for too long and has a tendency to take a toll at home.

For example…

Stress at work prevents you from fully relaxing when you’re at home.

It often reduces the quality of your sleep as you replay scenes or fret about issues.

You have less energy to focus on personal administration (which starts falling behind).

Less time to simply have fun.

It has a negative impact on family relationships.

You also start neglecting your physical health.

Nine simple practices to create a calming zone for yourself

Victor Frankl said:

“Between a stimulus and a response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Use and share these 9 simple, tried-and-tested emotional intelligence practices to create a calming zone for yourself at work (and home).

They will help you manage your responses to stress in a way that you:

Regain composure;

Become more open to other ideas;

Make better decisions;

Deal better with tricky situations;

Repair and maintain positive relationships at work and home; and

Stay productive.

You can also download the series to have it handy on your phone.

Ten Design Lessons from Ikebana

Ten Design Lessons from Ikebana


  1. Space is as important as positive elements. Learn to see space.
  2. Space allows other elements to “breathe” and connect.
  3. Empty space is a powerful amplifier, helping to create a whole that is more engaging than the mere sum of the individual parts.
  4. Suggestion and subtlety in design engages the viewer, allowing them to complete the uncompleted.
  5. Arrangements (designs) should stimulate the imagination of the viewer.
  6. In formality there exists creativity and freedom of expression. No structure, no freedom.
  7. In simplicity there exists clarity, beauty and meaning.
  8. Asymmetrical balance is natural, dynamic, and engaging.
  9. For the designer (or artist), focus, calm, gentleness and vision are more important qualities than raw enthusiasm. Slow down your busy mind.
  10. Careful arrangement of the elements based on solid principles creates beauty and engagement without decoration.

(From the book: Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations, by Garr Reynolds)

The value of positivity at work

The value of positivity at work

(Origininally written for Deloitte Wellness Newsletter – 2014)

All human beings want to be happy, healthy and live a good life. The pursuit of happiness has been studied and written about by philosophers and poets since time immemorial. Today great companies such as Zappos, view happiness as one of the major pathways to successful business, and even created a movement called “Delivering Happiness”. Google’s Chief Happiness Officer Chade-Meng Tan  wrote a book called “Search inside yourself” in support of living a happier life.

Some more “traditional” organizations and experts are including happiness as a major source of positive outcomes at work. Forbes Magazine published an article about the 10 Steps to Happiness at Work while Harvard Mentor hasformal training material on how to cultivate happiness in companies. Renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, wrote a book “Stumbling on Happiness”.

The importance of happiness at work

Although it is intuitive, study after study shows that, when you are happy at work, you are more engaged in your job, you provide better customer service, you bounce back quicker from set-backs, you are a better team player and a better leader than those who do not experience happiness.

What then is happiness?

“Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy”. (Wikipedia, June 16th 2014)

Happiness is not just one feeling – it is overall sense of positive emotions, such as joy, clarity, comfort. Together these create a feeling of being happy. The ultimate outcome of a state of happiness is vitality – a dynamic sense of wellbeing.According to Martin Seligman, humans seems the happiest and experience living the good life when they have

  1. Pleasure (tasty food, warm baths, etc.),
  2. Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity),
  3. Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
  4. Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
  5. Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).

The good news: Experts tell us we can practice happiness and they recommend we do – even at work

Some people believe that happiness is something that you should not “manufacture” or “create” because it would not be “authentic happiness”. Other people believe that you have a certain level of happiness, and that it cannot be changed.

The evidence is clear: Happiness does not “just happen”. Like other qualities such as confidence and grit, it can be cultivated. Happiness, like riding a bicycle, is something we can practice to improve on.

Of course, to be happy we need to have our basic needs met, in particular have sufficient funds to support ourselves and our families, have good health and live in a safe and secure environment.

“Happiness is not a spectator sport.” Chris Peterson



Agile Teamwork for Everyone! Facilitation Tips for Team Coaching

Agile Teamwork for Everyone! Facilitation Tips for Team Coaching

“Agile is a set of values and principles from the Agile Manifesto.

A team becomes agile by making their decisions based on agile principles and values. (In other words) the decision-making process is the way a team becomes agile.

The agile values and principles are flexible to allow teams in a wide variety of organizations to develop software in the way that works best for their particular situation while providing enough direction to help a team continually move forward toward their full potential.” Mark Shead

Team coaching and facilitation tips

  1. Run an online survey with team members evaluating the team’s performance against the Agile values and principles. Include comments and make the survey anonymous. Make sure to provide simple guidelines for completion of content to ensure positive, respectful contributions. (For example, not using people’s names.)
  2. Share outcomes of the survey with all the team members without editing out content. This will create confidence in the process.
  3. Facilitate a solutions focused team coaching workshop where the team creates a common understanding of “why” the team exists, “how” this teams achieves it, and “what” the team does. Watch Simon Sinek’s 5 minute Ted Talk clip “Start with Why” for inspiration.
  4. Provide an introduction to the agile manifesto and short information on what Agile is (and is not — e g methods). The video “What is Agile? by Mark Shead is a good example.
  5. Explore the potential for the team to adopt all or parts of the Agile manifesto to achieve it’s key objective and results: Identify areas where the team is already applying these, as per the results of the team survey. Describe a “day in the life” of the team to determine how this would like for the team on their project. Draw it on a white board.
  6. Identify three agile practices that the team will prototype and test to achieve the next important project milestone. Agile practices include, for example, using a sprint approach for product development, prototyping and user-experience testing, and cross-team collaboration software such as ZenHub, agile project management within GitHub.
  7. Agree on a date and time for the team to review progress and make changes to their work practices.