Category Archives: Sunday Wisdom

The counter-cyclical utility of mood

When it comes to our professional performance, our mood doesn’t always help.

After a good day, or a run of good days, our mood can become so high that it tends towards giddiness, which can lead to delusion and over-extension.

At the other end of the spectrum, when results are going against us, it can be hard to shake off of the negative emotions that ultimately impair our performance.

The key here is to realise that our mood is often most useful when it runs counter-cyclical to the rhythm of our performances.

It turns out the time we most need to “feel good” is when the challenge seems greatest, and maybe the best time to be more level and reasoned is when the metaphorical champagne corks are popping (not in a joy-sucking way, mind).

Armed with this wisdom, we can help ourselves by preparing for the inevitable ups and downs by building the means to tap into a certain mood when we most require it. Knowing who to involve or what to do, or what to not do, to stimulate the most useful mood is the kind of intelligence worth investing in.

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

The practice of being yourself

The biggest shift in opinion that I’ve noticed in my eleven years of executive coaching practice is our attitudes to the concept of mental health.

Back in the day, most of the non-useful attitudes and judgements fell into two main categories: weirdness and weakness.

The diversity movement has encouraged us to celebrate that which is different, but we’re still prone to harshness when noticing a struggle in one of our colleagues (and we’re absolutely our own harshest critic when we’re struggling ourselves).

So, despite significant progress, we’re not there yet. As an example, in my work, and this is also true of many of my colleagues, I tend to refer to mental fitness and mental strength rather than mental health. This is for a variety of reasons, mostly to lower our resistance to self-examination and to making progress without unhelpful judgement.

My favourite mental fitness/strength/health quote is from Canadian author Mark Freeman:

Mental health is the practice of being yourself.

Of course, the key word here is practice. Acting in alignment with who we are and who we want to be is useful in the moment and allows us to build strength in different arenas.

The opposite is also true: acting out of alignment with who we are creates greater suffering for ourselves and others.

Mark’s book is called You Are Not A Rock and I’ve given this to many clients, and recommended it in talks, since it came out.

It’s far more useful for us to realise that all of us are on a continuum of mental health, just like physical health. So, rather than wasting time creating judgements about good or bad, strong or weak, we shouldn’t lose sight of our ability to improve our mental fitness through our own choices and actions.

Go practice being yourself. ❤️

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. This extract is part of a summer series sharing great quotes from great books. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

If selected

If you ever listen to sports people with a humble disposition, they’ll often qualify a preview of a forthcoming contest with the words, “if selected”.

Not everyone can be picked on the team. There are only so many spots. So, all dreams are contingent on being selected.

But you and I don’t have that dilemma. We can select ourselves. We can stand up, and enter the arena.

We can choose our own path, we can pick our sport, we can change our team. The full expression of who we are requires us to select ourselves.

It might feel more comfortable to hide and tell yourself that the rules of the game mean you have first to be selected to play.

Do you want to be the person who looks back and says, “I coulda been somebody, if selected”?

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

 

On giving up

“Never Give Up” was the slogan of the week in the football world recently.

It turns out, though, that giving up is often a wise strategy.

Sometimes we realise that we should have given up sooner. Think of dysfunctional projects that dragged on too long, jobs that didn’t fit, toxic relationships, habits that suited a younger version of ourselves (the list is longer than you think) – for all of these we clung on a bit too tight. Shoulda given up.

Here’s the twist: never give up on yourself.

By all means, let go of activities and beliefs and involvements that are past their ‘Best Before’ date, but never give up on the project that is you.

You deserve your own backing. You deserve the best chance you can give yourself. You deserve your own compassion when it might be in short supply elsewhere.

When it comes to being the best version of you, never, ever give up.

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This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.