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Minimalism at Work

We’ve all heard about the Minimalism trend and how it involves rules, such as living with less than 100 items, capsule wardrobes and stark interiors. However, there is a lot more to Minimalism and in fact, less rules than one might think. This article is about how to bring minimalism to your working life, freeing up your time to do the important things, not just the urgent.

Ways to simplify your day to day 9 to 5:

  1. Clear your desk – get rid of unnecessary paperwork, books, cups and general clutter. Keep only what you need and are actively working on, to hand. It might sound like a cliché, but a clear desk really can help bring clarity to the mind
  2. Work on one thing at a time – this draws on the ‘if a things worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’ maxim. If you are going to dedicate your working hours to a task, make sure you complete it to the best of your abilities and this can be done so much more quickly and effectively by giving it your whole focus, for the time it needs. Decide firstly how long you need to get it done and set a timer. Turn off your email notifications if you can and focus solely on that particular task
  3. Handle things once; deal with your paperwork and then either shred it or file it, don’t keep it in a pile on your desk
  4. Workwear – plan ahead and don’t overcomplicate it. There is a reason why many successful business people wear the same thing, or a variation on the same outfit every day. It simplifies things and reduces ‘decision fatigue’. Project 333 looks at downsizing your wardrobe to 33 pieces per season and mixing and matching it to create a variety of outfits. It’s not compulsory to downsize to a particular number, but it can be useful to have some fail-safe outfits for important meetings and pick out a selection of clothing that you like to wear to work and which is comfortable, smart and functional. Ditch the rest if you can! If you know you’re not going have the necessary repairs done, or you know that a particular jacket will spend most of its time in the laundry basket because you won’t take it to the drycleaners, get rid of it. By editing your workwear, you will need a lot less time to make clothing decisions in the morning.
  5. Food – by eating the same thing every day, you are reducing and simplifying another aspect of your working life, freeing up your decision making capacity to deal with the important things in your working hours. That’s not to say that you need to eat the same lunch 365 days of the year, but you can pack a weeks’ worth of lunches that you can eat and then take the time to go for a walk, or do something else you actively enjoy during your break, such as reading, catching up on calls to friends or simply sitting mindfully outside and taking that time to recharge your batteries for the second half of the day


There is a lot more to minimalism of course, but these could be an easy way to kick-start your minimalist movement and bring some of the advantages to your working life. Minimalism is not really about less, it’s about more, freeing up more time and energy, in order to use these resources in a more productive and fulfilling way.


Resilience Building – Infographic

Having the ability to be a resilient person is a fantastic asset in that it allows a person to have the ability to deal with what life throws at them. Our lives are wholly unpredictable and we simply cannot predict what will happen from one day to the next. Dealing with personal issues like grief can be extremely testing on one’s ability to cope but resilience will see them through. Furthermore, there is a natural process to grief and eventually people find themselves working through the grief and gaining the ability to move forward, however difficult it may be. We have put together this infographic below about resilience building in all its guises. Learn about its importance and also learn how one can work on building resilience in order to face life’s more tough moments. Check it out below.

Resilience Building Infographic

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Lupine Leadership


A Pack of Wolves

The 3 in front are old and sick. They walk in front to set the pace of the running group lest they get left behind. The next 5 are the strongest and best, they are tasked with protecting the front side in the event of an attack. The group in the middle are always protected from any attack. The 5 behind them are also among the strongest and best; they are tasked with protecting the rear, if there is an attack.

The last one is the Leaader. He ensures that no one is left behind. He keeps the pack unified and all on the same path. He is always ready to run in any direction to protect and serve as the ‘bodyguard’ to the entire group.

Leadership, the Lupine way!  


The Neuroscience of Trust – HBR February 2017

Trust can be a somewhat elusive concept in business; employers have long been trying to determine the causes and effects and how to increase trust amongst employees. Recently, an article published in the HBR has shed some light on the science behind trust.

Oxytocin has been found to increase trust and trustworthiness in others. This was discovered when experimenters asked participants to transfer an amount of money to a stranger, knowing it would triple in amount, but the recipient may or may not share the money with them. Therefore the recipient’s trustworthiness was measured by whether or not they shared the money. They found that the more money the recipients received, the more oxytocin they produced. The amount of oxytocin they produced also predicted how likely they were to share the money – or how trustworthy they were. This clearly shows that trust fosters trust, the more they were trusted, the more trustworthy they were.

In order to prove that the oxytocin caused the trust, the experimenters administered a (safe) 24IU dose of synthetic oxytocin to the participants and found that those who were sending money to strangers more than doubled the amount they sent after being given the dose of oxytocin. Furthermore, not only did the participants remain cognitively intact, they also did not take any more risks during a gambling task – showing that the oxytocin did not simply reduce inhibitions – all it appeared to do was “reduce the fear of trusting a stranger”.

8 ways to foster trust in your organisation:

  1. Recognise excellence in your employees – the most powerful way to do this is to make the recognition tangible, unexpected, personal and public.
  2. Challenge stress – moderate stress releases neurochemicals oxytocin and adrenocorticotropin, the latter of which intensifies people’s focus and strengthens social connections. The task needs to be challenging yet achievable otherwise people give up.
  3. Autonomy – it has been found that almost 50% of employees would rather have greater control over their work than a 20% pay rise. An added benefit is that this also promotes innovation, allowing people to try differing approaches.
  4. Job crafting – allowing employees to choose to work on the projects that interest them most, whist ensuring that clear expectations and objectives are outlined from the outset.
  5. Sharing information – ensuring that employees are kept up to date and informed, uncertainty leads to stress and a decrease in oxytocin.
  6. Intentionally building relationships – when people build relationships in work, performance improves. This also extends to managers – those who show an interest in an employee’s goals and wellbeing outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work
  7. Facilitate whole-person growth – focus not just on the individual at work, but also on their work/life balance. Emphasis should be on the future, rather than the past – goals can be set with managers, but the employee should be given the autonomy to reach them, allowing them to develop personally as well as professionally.
  8. Showing Vulnerability – when leaders ask for help, this stimulates oxytocin in others, increasing their levels of trust. Being open about needing help shows the leader is secure in themselves and helps build credibility


The impact of trust was highlighted in this study – findings included:

  • Respondents whose companies were in the top quartile in terms of trust were 76% more engaged and 50% more productive than those in the bottom quartile
  • Those working in high trust companies enjoyed their jobs 60% more, and felt that they were 70% more aligned with their company’s goals and missions.
  • High trust employees had 11% more empathy for their co-workers and felt 66% closer to them.
  • High trust employees also experienced 40% less burnout.
  • Another interesting finding was that companies in the highest quartile of trust pay 17% more compared with those in the lowest quartile, indicating that they are able do so as the high trust company employees are likely to be more innovative and productive.

How To Build Personal Resilience

How To Build Personal Resilience – Our Informative Guide

A resilient person can not only handle a difficult experience in the moment, they can also bounce back quickly afterward. We can develop our resilience by managing our thoughts, behaviours and actions. To find out how we can build our personal resilience, let’s check out our informative guide below!

Understanding Personal Resilience

Albert Ellis created the A-B-C model of resilience which stands for:

A-B-C Model of Resilience: Understanding Personal Resilience

Resilience Exercise: How To Use The ABC Model

To put this model into practice, why not do the following exercise. Vividly recall a recent adverse event and answer the following:

A: Objectively describe the event and answer these questions: Who? What? Where? When?
B: Record your thoughts about the event. Why do you think it happened?
C: Make a note of your actions and feelings.

The Three C’s of Resilience


In the 1970s/1980s, Dr. Maddi of the University of Chicago carried out a study that discovered that the most resilient people held three key beliefs:
1. Commitment
They strived to be involved in events rather than feeling isolated.
2. Control
They tried to control outcomes, rather than lapse into powerlessness and passivity.
3. Challenge
They viewed stressful changes (whether they are positive or negative) as opportunities for new learning.

Steps To Becoming More Resilient


  1. Develop supportive and caring relationships at home, among friends and colleagues.
  1. Accept help and support and help others when they need it.
  1. Receiving & appreciating kindness from others may be just as important as offering it up.
  1. This is because gratitude is an important part of resiliency.
  1. Remember that some crises are beyond your control.
  1. You cannot change events however you can change the way you interpret and react to them.
  1. It’s important that you try to accept this and look ahead.
  1. Accept that change is part of life and that you will have to adapt to changing circumstances.
  1. Set some realistic goals and take regular small steps towards achieving them.
  1. Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I can accomplish today?” rather than focusing on the overarching goal.
  1. Be decisive – do as much as you can rather than avoiding problems and hoping they will go away.
  1. Try to understand your own experiences of dealing with loss, hardship or emotional problems.
  1. Appreciate what you have learned from these difficult issues.
  1. Develop a positive view about yourself and be confident in your strengths and abilities.
  1. Try to take a longer-term perspective and don’t blow the significance of the event out of proportion.
  1. Stay hopeful and optimistic.
  1. Visualise what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
  1. Look after yourself – your health, fitness and need for relaxation and peace.
  1. Looking after yourself will give you the strength and balance to deal with difficult situations.


Developing Resilience: Active Thinking


Active thinking leads to action which massively helps to build our personal resilience. To get yourself out of a negative situation you need to act. To shift into active thinking, ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • How can I contain the problem so that it does not get worse?
  • What can I do to limit the scope / the duration of this issue?
  • How can I reduce the possible downside of this troubling event?
  • How can I increase the possible upside of this event?
  • What aspects can I control?
  • How can I best respond?


Developing Resilience: How To Immunise Yourself Against Stress

 Personal resilience: How to protect yourself from stress

Protecting yourself against stress works the same way as medical immunisation. A doctor inoculates his/her patient against disease by introducing tiny amounts of a virus into their bloodstream. This stimulates the body’s natural immune responses.

You immunise yourself against stress by purposely exposing yourself to different stressors. For the most part, stressors are anything that are outside of your comfort zone. Some ideas include:

  • Learning something new.
  • Going for a meal by yourself.
  • Doing something that scares you.


How To Build Personal Resilience At Work

How To Build Personal Resilience At Work

  • Appreciate social support and interaction with your workmates.
  • Treat every problem as a learning process. By developing the habit of using challenges as opportunities, you will develop a strong sense of achievement.
  • Avoid making a big drama out of a crisis. Stress and change are a huge, unavoidable part of life – how we understand and respond to crisis situations has a massive impact on how stressful we find them.
  • Make sure you celebrate your successes at work. By taking the time to appreciate what went well for you during the day will train your mind into looking for successes instead of dwelling on negativity.
  • Develop realistic work goals so you will have a sense of purpose.
  • Doing something positive in the face of adversity brings a sense of control to your life, even if it does not eliminate the difficulty.
  • Cultivate a positive view of yourself. By building confidence in your ability to fix problems as well as trusting your instincts, will help you to build resiliency.


This TED talk outlines exactly what it means to build resilience in our lives.

If you’d like more information on to build your personal resilience, why not attend one of our resilience workshops? Contact us today!

Focus and Open Awareness – the battle of the left and the right brain

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”


Albert Einstein[/quote]

Albert Einstein’s above statement may in fact be more fitting in today’s society than ever before. Due to the excessively high volume of information we process on a day to day basis, it is important to recognise the balance between the information quality and quantity. In neurological terms, the left side of the brain is analytical and detail-oriented and it produces the continuous brain chatter, jumping from one thought to another, where the right brain thinks intuitively and holistically, and learns through the senses. However, we tend to live in a left-brained world and utilising our intuitive minds is commonly neglected as it is seen as a distraction to our rational thoughts – waste of our practical brainpower.

Image result for intuitive brainOur brains are at a constant go and the flow of serendipitous and novel thoughts and insights is – often deliberately – avoided, for we are told that the ultimate key to success is to focus; focusing your mind, focusing your thoughts and keeping your eye on the target. One of the scientific reasons behind the left- brain taking over our thoughts is the fact that it not only rationalises, but also justifies whereas the right-side responds to any negative consequences or feedback with intuition rather than justification. So in order to protect ourselves, we rationalise and justify our behaviour. But when we are over-utilising our left-brain, intensely focused on the facts, how are we able to simultaneously remain curious and creative? Although remaining focused can of course bring us success, this focus can also be counter-productive in many ways; shaping into a narrow-minded approach, a ‘tunnel vision’, and in result we are losing awareness of what is happening around us. So the question is: how can we find a degree of balance for our thoughts and ideas, fluctuating somewhere between a state of unimaginativeness and a scatterbrain?

Internationally renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman introduced a term open awareness, meaning a form of attentiveness and a source of creativity, characterised by being utterly receptive of whatever floats into one’s mind. This allows our minds to be open to imagination and open to surprise. However, achieving the state of open awareness is not necessarily a simple or speedy process. When you think about it, for many of us it can be a somewhat uncommon experience in our modern society to be in complete solitude, in the company of nobody else but ourselves. This is to not only be alone in our thoughts but also digitally away from everyone else – no gadgets, no smartphones, no alerts or messages. This is the type of solitude and awareness that can allow our minds to wander.

Neurological studies suggest that half of our thoughts are in fact daydreams – drifting thoughts that switch from personal problems to unresolved dilemmas. However, this is often when novel connections are made and creative insight happens. All of us can relate to a time when the problem we should have been focusing our thoughts on can seem too intimidating or challenging to consciously process or think about, and then, out of the blue, we experience an ‘a-ha’ moment in the midst of our wondering thoughts. Our minds have unconsciously, or unthinkingly, done the thinking for us.

In addition to generating new ideas, Goleman suggests that other benefits for this mind-wandering are self-reflection and the navigation of social situations. Whilst self-reflection increases our awareness of ourselves, the reflection of social situations increases our awareness of others.  However, perhaps crucially, another benefit is simply giving the brain a restoring break. Our brain can be like an overworked muscle if we stay intensely focused for too long — it gets tired when we push to the point of cognitive exhaustion. But taking a break can help regain focus and make you more productive. We all need time and space to reflect and let our thoughts run free and letting the mind wander is important for attention restoration. For an effective restoration that will truly revive your brainpower, we should avoid the kind of activity that puts a demand on our attention. Such activities as meditation or walking through a park or a forest, or generally being part of the nature can trigger bottom-up attention in our brain and thus giving the higher level – top-down – circuits a break, which effects in general improvement in one’s cognition. By increasing the right-brain we increase not only our awareness of the differences of the left and the right brain, but also the balance and productivity of our thoughts and actions.

In conclusion, we must remember that not all information is necessarily power and sometimes we may need to take a break. We need to go beyond the facts and tap into our right brain; letting the open awareness of our intuition and imagination take over the excessive flow of information to reach our ‘a-ha’ –moment.

Mindful Meetings

Meetings are often seen either a good opportunity to catch up with colleagues, or a time-consuming interruption to the working day as opposed to productive pockets of time for all involved. They mostly seem to be viewed in a similar light to fire drills, a necessary evil, but undeniably a significant drain on company time and resources. The main problem is often that they lack any clear structure or objectives. Certain guidelines can help establish best practice when it comes to meetings, for organisers and attendees alike.

Don’t engage in “death by PowerPoint”. If a meeting is going to consist of a staff member reading a set of slides aloud, then simply circulate the slide set and/ or any other relevant material to all those who will be attending the meeting. If the meeting is still necessary, decide what the agenda is and work from there – not from a deck of slides that others are perfectly capable of reading in their own time.

Time is money, if a meeting is attended by eight people and lasts for one hour, this represents one working day in terms of company time. Similarly a meeting with 6 people that starts 10 minutes late represents an hour of company time lost. Keep this in mind when organising meetings and ensure that they start on time for maximum efficiency in terms of use of company time. The same goes for finishing on time, don’t let a meeting run over, stay within the timelines as much as possible.

Finish a meeting early if nothing is being accomplished, or indeed if the objectives have been accomplished. Don’t let it drag out to the allocated time simply because it has been scheduled for a certain period. Also, try to keep it within an hour, an hour and a half maximum to ensure that people remain focused and engaged.

Be the most present person at the meeting by paying attention to what is happening there and then. Put aside your phone – if a meeting is important enough to attend, it should be important enough to receive your undivided attention. Multi-tasking is a myth, if you are splitting your attention in two directions, you are not giving either your full attention and as such will miss elements of each. Show you are engaged by asking questions and engaging in the discussion.

Do sum up what has been discussed and agreed at the end of the meeting. It can also be helpful to create a memo outlining these points and circulate it to all attendees, ensuring clarity on what has been agreed upon and making people accountable for what they have agreed to do.

If you have to leave a meeting early, make sure the speaker/organiser is aware in advance and do so with as little disruption to others as possible.

Finally, consider whether a meeting is in fact required or, whether a group email to all the relevant people would suffice? Equally, a lot of time and effort can be saved by having a meeting as opposed to a lengthy email discussion on a subject. Consider what the objective of the meeting is and establish how this would be best achieved.

Six Top Tips for Managing Workplace Stress – from the Sunday Business Post 9th October 2016

Workplace stress can be challenging to manage. But learning how to deal with it is vital, both in terms of how you feel about your work and how you are perceived by others. It is important to learn how to manage it in order to maintain your own health as well as protecting your personal brand.

Deep breaths – simply taking the time to focus on your breathing can be helpful in managing stress, breathing in through your nose to the count of five and breathing out through your mouth, also to a count of five can help alleviate feelings of stress.

Practice saying no. every time you say yes to a request, you are effectively saying no to something else. Your time is a valuable resource – treat it as such. It’s important that you are in control of your schedule and tasks – to an extent of course. Don’t feel as though you have to volunteer or agree to everything that comes up. Take control of your time and use it to work towards your objectives and your team’s objectives.

Organisation – plan ahead – but expect changes. Organisation is key to managing stress in the workplace. By planning ahead and thinking about what could go wrong, you give yourself the opportunity to put measures in place to deal with such events, should they occur. Not only will this reduce your stress over worrying about what could happen, it will also help alleviate stress if it does happen.

Get out – if you usually eat a rushed lunch over your desk, take the time to get out – even if it’s only for 20 minutes of fresh air. The combination of fresh air and exercise will help relax you and clear your mind for the latter part of the day – helping avoid that 3pm slump. An additional benefit to exercise is that it can help you sleep. Adequate amounts of sleep are crucial for dealing with stress and unfortunately stress can have a negative impact on sleep quality, so use exercise to help you get your required amount of sleep in order to reduce those stress levels.

Ask for help – don’t be afraid to delegate – many people find themselves under stress in work because they are trying to do everything themselves, either because they don’t want to burden others or because they think that they are the only ones capable of completing certain tasks properly. By delegating to others, you will not only relieve your own stress, but you will be giving someone else the opportunity to learn. Furthermore, this display of trust will help build your working relationships, which in itself can lead to a reduction in stress.

Finally, take a break! How long has it been since your last holiday? No matter what your job, you should be able to find time to take a break. Taking a holiday not only allows you to recharge your batteries, it can also increase your levels of creativity. If possible take a complete break from work, but if this isn’t possible and you need to put in some work time while away, then do it – just try and keep it to a certain time of the day as opposed to being on call 24-7.

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Four Things You Probably Didn’t Know About High Potential Employees – Forbes Oct 19th 2016

We’ve been making telling our clients these points for over a decade!




Making the most of your One-On-Ones

One-on-one meetings are a great way of keeping up with employees and team members, but how best to make the most out of this time? When schedules become busier, it can be easy to let these slip by the way side or only make a token effort to invest in them. Here are some tips for making your one-on-ones more collaborative and productive.

While email and phone calls may at times be more convenient, nothing can substitute a face-to-face meeting. Not only do they help build rapport but they show the individual that you value them enough to carve proper time out of your schedule and focus solely on them

  • Timing – book regular meetings, show up on time and don’t cancel!


  • Prepare – know what you want to discuss going into the meeting. If you don’t have time to discuss this with your employee before the meeting, ask him or her to jot down a couple of bullet points and you can do the same, giving the meeting a focus and helping to keep it on track. If you want to talk to them about their professional development, let them know ahead of time to give them time to prepare


  • Be flexible about the agenda – while you may have tentatively outlined what you are going to cover during the meeting, things change and your colleague may have something more pressing to discuss than they thought when creating the agenda


  • Use open-ended questions – these are helpful for getting the conversation going and for getting a more complete, thought out answer


  • Be present – focus on your colleague and make sure you are actively listening to what they are saying, not just ticking off a box on your to do list. Turn off any digital distractions


  • Being the meeting by sharing a win – if possible, this will create a positive vibe for the meeting. Similarly, try to end the meeting on a positive note by thanking them for their time, their work, their ideas, whatever seems appropriate. This of course only works if it is genuine, but it goes a long way towards building good working relationships


Adapted from Harvard Business Review (August 2016)