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The rise of anxiety in our children and 3 things you can do to help them

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“According to statistics provided by beyondblue, it is estimated that in any one year, around 1 million Australian adults will experience depression, and more than 2 million will have anxiety.” (read the full article here).

This is an alarming statistic and a reason why there has been a lot of focus in the media on the rise of anxiety across society, but the rise in children in particular. The rise of mental ill health is having a huge impact upon learning outcomes, social skills and productivity, not to mention increasing suicide rates, drug use, and a whole host of other debilitating and negative outcomes.

Social media and its unrelenting, voracious appetite and attention seeking is a big contributor. Our kids are the first generation to be born into a 24/7 digital world and the constant connection it demands. Their exhausted, time-poor and distracted parents are equally attached and plugged in to the same online world. Facebook, Insta, Twitter, email, news, events, the constant stream of information is literally driving us crazy. And sadly our kids are feeling it too.

There are many things we can do to address this growing epidemic of anxiety. I’ll be talking about these in upcoming posts. But right now you’re reading this post because you have an anxious child or teen and you have no idea what you can do to reach out to them, to help.

Ideally, you need to adopt these strategies, anxiety impacted or not, as early as possible. Once your child is a teen, communication is exponentially more challenging and so introducing new strategies can be a test, but not impossible. In fact, your teen may be relieved at your attempts to reach out when they’re feeling particularly vulnerable.

If you’re a parent of an anxious child below are 3 things you can do to get you feeling a little more resourceful to help them and you address it:

1) Manage your own anxiety around your children. They model your behaviour. Do you suffer from anxiety that hasn’t been addressed? It may be that you did not even realise that you were projecting your own feelings if you are susceptible to anxiety. I have witnessed a parent who is extremely anxious about everything; their child falling over, spiders, strangers, eating hard lollies, playing with others, not playing with others, riding around the block, what they wear, the list goes on. It’s no surprise to find their child was too scared to even go to the toilet by themselves when young, but has now begun to act out as they get older, in response to their mother’s controlling and anxious behaviour. Not only is the child lacking in resilience or a strong sense of self determination and empathy, but their parent has no idea of how to communicate effectively through their own mental fragility.
Or it may be that seeing your child begin to suffer from anxiety that you’re affected, particularly if you have no idea of what to do or how you can help them. We are in a whole new, and often scary world where many of us are ill-equipped to deal with new and unprecedented challenges. You’re not alone but there are things you can do to build the resources you need for such circumstances. Understanding what you bring to the table,  how you’re going to respond, and what you’re going to project are good starting points.

2) Condition your child to think about things going well. This is more than positive thinking, it’s about using positive language. I suggest you begin to consciously clock the language you use when speaking with your children and pay extra attention to how they respond. I hear a lot of ‘be careful’, ‘stop’, ‘no’, ‘don’t’, ‘you’ll hurt yourself’, ‘what were you thinking?’, ‘calm down’. Set yourself a task to really listen to the words you’re choosing to speak to your kids with. Are you using positive, empowering language or negative, critical language? Once you’ve got a handle on how you’re communicating take the next step and begin the process of conditioning your child to think about things going well. Help them set their focus by asking things like ‘what’s the best thing that’s going to happen today, this week?’ and then at the end of the day asking them what were the 3 best things that happened that day. Get into a rhythm of your communication by focusing on the good things that are going to happen or have happened rather than all the things that aren’t going so well. Getting them to fill out a journal with the 3 things they’re grateful for and 3 things that make them feel happy/healthy begins to create new pathways for thinking as well as build more resilience when things don’t go as planned or they hit a road bump. Because let’s face it, things don’t always go as we’d like them to but those that bounce back from setbacks are those that choose how they’re going to respond when things get tough.

3) Get specific. Remember anxiety is a fear of something that has not yet happened. If the situation they were fearing eventuates, it then becomes an emotion of anger, sadness, or guilt, all of which need to be dealt with. However when anxiety rears its head (the situation has not yet happened), ask them what specifically they are anxious about. Use questions such as ‘what are you anxious about specifically?’, ‘how does that make you feel anxious?’ and ‘suppose it worked out well would you still feel anxious?’ instead of ‘why are you feeling anxious?’. For example: your child is facing an exam. This is a real event that’s going to happen but hasn’t happened yet. Understandably they feel apprehensive. However often it escalates to feelings of anxiety leaving them unresourceful. Using ‘what about the exam are you specifically anxious about?’, ‘how does that make you feel anxious?’ and then ‘just suppose you do really well in that exam, having prepared for it, would you still feel anxiety?’ or ‘imagine after receiving the results that you deserve, having prepared for the exam, would you still have anxiety?’These lines of inquiry will uncover and ultimately unpack what is going on inside their head with respect to their feelings around the impending exam, as opposed to ‘why are they feeling anxiety’ which enables them a justification with no ability to address the underlying feelings. These slight tweaks in inquiry can reveal completely different responses enabling an empowered approach to the future event rather than being overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues that I see at my trainings. I have helped hundreds of people to equip themselves with tools and resources to overcome and help others overcome anxiety. If you’d like to learn more check out my Make Anxiety History program. Click here for more.

Mites vs Goliath : the 2nd of 3 small business coaching case studies

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  • Growing stock (beans and mites)
  • Harvesting
  • Shipping
  • Sales
  • Research and development

Problems

His problem was that large, rich multinationals had developed another 2 mite products and bundled them up into a “super bug team”; the powerful 4 bug species that can assist in the war on produce. They were in a position to discount and/or add value for the buyer by getting four species of bugs for the price of two. Very clever on their part, it’s just business, right? This has made it hard for our bug farmer as he is being priced out of the market. FYI a bug is worth .008c each and he ships in the 100,000s.

So on my recent trip up north, I randomly had the chance to get up close and personal with three small businesses.  The first was the rose farm that I wrote about in a recent post. The second was even more out there; a mite farm! This innovative horticulturist provides biological controls for some of the most common bugs that destroy produce. Yep little critters that make the need for pesticides & other harsh chemicals null and void which puts him in direct competition with some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Hence the title of this post! Interesting to say the least and certainly not one I’ve ever come across before. But despite the nature of this unique business I was still able to look at it with a small business coaching approach.

I was surprised that it too was going through very similar challenges of the rose farm and other more regular small businesses. Finding work life balance, hustling for the next customer and automating the automatable (my word) parts of the business were constant challenges and stopping this business from being able to do the necessary R & D it needed to keep on top of Big Pharma, its main competition.

So the farmer is a horticulturist who has taken advantage of a major gap in the market some 15 years ago. Bizarrely, I was Matt’s (the farmer)  SCUBA instructor many years ago. I had no idea he lived in the region and was informed about him by the rose farmers. Very small world.

Anyway, let’s take a closer look at this classic David and Goliath story.

Solutions

I think that the bleeding neck of this business (the thing that is most urgently needing attention) is sales. There needs to be a long term plan to build on the sales volume with multiple customers. This can be achieved by the mite man positioning himself as the expert in the field. As this is a one man band the only way to leverage opportunities is to be the authority in this market  and create the process of people coming to him as the expert. This will not stop the effect of the price cutting but will in turn allow customers to feel they are dealing with the expert in the field as apposed to a sales person of a multi national company peddling package deals that are not part of their core or original business.

This can be developed by having a number of case studies of customers with the positive, profitable result in switching from pesticide to organic bug control.

These case studies can be turned into white papers and reports which are then published and made into articles for industry news and magazines, with a call to action embedded into the article,. Typically these local papers and magazines are looking for easy, already prepared editorials and news stories about local farmers that they can add to their publications.

So you would run a public relationship campaign with the intention of having a launch style product release. For example people could go to a link that is listed in the article to have a cost saving analysis report on biological vs chemical control sent to them. This is basically a link to a survey finding out how much they are currently spending on pesticides (for example) the type of bugs they are combating, size of farm and crop. Having a preformatted report that our farmer fills in the gaps to work out the cost saving with a trial option or setting up a call for a consultation on the phone enables you to collect contact details for follow up. This would use the farmer’s strength of selling on the phone.

From here you would leverage the 1 to many model through established farmer associations. You would offer your product to association members with a value add. For example a long term or bulk order discount. The intention is to build the relationship with the customer, position yourself as an expert as you develop your product to directly compete with the bug bundle pricing model.

Then making the most of the information you have collected from your case study start an online marketing campaign that is highly targeted to address the client’s problem that you know you have the solution to. This can be fully automated leaving more time for the follow up and expert building stuff.

Building on your position as the expert, you can then bring in the story of the “underdog”; how you are competing against the cheaper alternatives from apathetic, large corporates. This is only established once you have captured a good part of the market and once you have a steady flow of new client inquiries. Many people can relate to the underdog and want to support you.

Outcome

  • Learn as much as you can about the real problem that your clients have, on an intimate level;
  • Publish as much branded content both online and offline as you can – of you and your product or brand overcoming the major problems that your clients are facing;
  • Use this to position yourself and your brand as the expert in the field;
  • This in turn has people coming to you for advice, your product solves their problem;
  • This builds on your price value and market share;
  • This then builds your database, gives you to the ability to do further business development as sales have increased;
  • By being the individual brand you will relate better to the farmers then a multi national brand;
  • You can even have the value add that the client can meet their bugs as they are being grown to build on the relationship as an online gimmick!

Many small businesses underestimate the value of being personal, small and approachable. This really builds rapport and trust.

What was your biggest take away from this small business coaching case study, or what would you add? Feel free to share via the comments below.

My girls and roses

Stop and smell the roses: the 1st of 3 small business coaching case studies

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On a recent trip to the north coast of NSW for a little break I had the chance to get up close and personal with three small businesses.  It was great to look at these business with a small business coaching approach.  All three are in a rural area and are based on primary production (you grow something!). Despite bumping into them quite randomly, I was surprised they were all going through very similar challenges, many of which could be overcome by adopting some new technologies to assist with improving inefficiencies to free up time to expand or improve their work/life balance, which is often non-existent for small business owners.
I found a range of learnings that I thought might be interesting and worth sharing in 3 different case studies. The first case study was a rose farm. This is a very well established business run with 2 full time people and 1 part time. Like most producing properties it had its challenges some of which include:
  • Inconsistent stock control, you can only sell what you have grown;
  • Labor of picking & packing;
  • Selling the product to end users;
  • No succession plan;
  • Very limited marketing, and what existed was very old school;
  • Zero use of technology including customer relationship management,  to make life easier.
What was clear from the outset was the limited investment going back into the business on a regular basis. The owners have bought a job, doing the hard work and handing the product themselves, from managing the plants to making customers happy.
The business had four components:
  1. Growing and maintenance
  2. Picking
  3. Packing
  4. Selling
Basically the owners are doing everything to save money and keep the profit for themselves. Now there is nothing wrong with this approach. However from a risk point of view, and a business point of view this is not sustainable in the long term. It also reduces the net worth of the business because if you take the owners out of the equation there is no business. The business needs to be able to work without the owners being in the business.
Now it is easy for me to say that having not worked in that particular business, however I was able to identify some easy to implement solutions to begin systemising and automating parts of their business. Like most business owners, I’m pretty certain they never really look at the value of working on the business vs working in the business. By getting a birds eye view on the way they do their business, I could begin to see how they could make life so much easier for themselves, with a potential to expand their business by anywhere from 5 – 10%, easily.

Are you working on your business or in your business? Complete this very short questionaire to find out

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The mid-north coast of NSW has high unemployment rates and a multitude of government programs and incentives to improve employment outcomes in regional areas, so labor is plentiful. Finding good quality labour is the ongoing challenge.
One solution to improve productivity and get the owners out from under the business would be to break down the picking part of the business and develop a training program. Picking the roses, although an important part of the process, is very repetitive and relatively easy to learn. By developing a fairly simple, automated training system, the owners could begin to step back from some of the most time consuming yet labour intensive parts of the business in order to reclaim some time for other aspects. The systemisation and training aspects could even be funded via government employment training schemes and internships. Effectively you are getting paid to create the training program for getting people employed.
Once the first picking recruits are competent you can hire another couple of trainee pickers as contingencies. You are going to have staff turnover so you use that to your advantage with a consistent hiring system that is fully automated. Using technology like web based learning and video you can create offsite training programs as the induction/ interview tools. Online tests can be used to funnel applicants. Spending a bit of time to develop the recruitment and training videos with accompanying documents for systems and procedures will save significant time and provide consistency each time the owners need to recruit new employees.
If there are new additions to processes or procedures, or for any gaps in training they just do another video and add to it.
In order to retain staff once they’ve been recruited there’s opportunity to implement a promotion plan. As employment is on a casual basis to start off, and as there is only really 36 weeks a year of good productivity, the goal take the best of the casuals and make them full time, after their 6 month mark. They then become the full time supervisor of the pickers. This gives them access to  further education on the maintenance of the property and potentially do continued education, again funded by the government.
During the off time the full timer continues to  pick the limited number of stock available as well as general farm maintenance.
This process can be repeated for the packing part of the business. With this model the training can be automated  (with some hands on at the outset) and completely scaleable, running 1 to 5 days a week. These processes can then free up the owners to work on the business. The best part of this concept is that once the business is showing consistency in the picking and packing, the business can be expanded and sales can be increased. This is the area that the owners should be concentrating on.
Can you believe the owners actually told me that they say no to orders because they cannot keep up or want to work that hard!
Best of all the farm is now a business that does not rely on the owners doing the job. It is producing income without the owners and having employees doing the picking and packing, the most labor intensive part of the business.
I’m sure that the owners would have fear and objections to these concepts and would themselves need to change their thinking about how they do their business and adopting new technology. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Having someone help you open up your thinking to new ideas and concepts can make a very big difference. So often as a small business owner, you’re so caught up in the day to day running of your businesses you never have the time to look at what you’re doing to identify where you can replace yourself and free some some time and space to work on the business or give yourself some much needed freedom.

Are you working on or in your business? Complete this very short questionaire to find out

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If you have a business that you would like to have a case study completed then please contact us by clicking on the button above.
Alternatively make a comment below on what you would do based on the information you have to improve the business.

Overcoming anxiety – can a medical doctor do it naturally?

By | Improving Performance, Overcoming Anxiety | One Comment

Anxiety has hit epidemic levels within Western societies, and it’s indiscriminate in who succumbs to its effects. Young, old, male, female, CEO, secretary, teacher, doctor. For a number of reasons our world is full with more stuff to do and things to keep us extremely busy. Not to mention that our own expectations that we set are often high enough to make us feel less self worth than we need to do. On a day by day basis, more than ever before, we are in need of tools to enable us to overcome anxiety. No wonder so many people are looking for techniques for overcoming anxiety.

Over the last few months I have been privileged to work with a few really great clients that had come to me with anxiety as their major issue. Each of these clients had different symptoms and each was very different in how they reacted to it. But the common thread was that if left unchecked, the impacts of their anxiety was on track to ruining their lives.

Over the next 3 weeks I am going to go over the sessions that I completed with them and give you some insight into how we achieved the results we did.

This week I am going to talk about a doctor, that had finally finished all his training to be a qualified surgeon, only to be overcome with a strong level of anxiety. His anxiety was to the point that he had physical effects of dizziness and shaking. Imagine if your surgeon had shaking hands? He would find it hard to eat breakfast in the morning and would have to deal with high levels of anxiety as he was driving to work. This in turn was affecting other areas of his life. His wife was worried about him and his father could see that he was on a path that was not anywhere close to what he had planned.

At this point the doctor began to doubt his ability to be a great surgeon. In contrast once he started operating he did a great job, with no anxiety, and was fine. After the day of operations he was reflective and wondered what the fuss was all about, only to do the same behavior the following day. One particular day of the week was the worst; the one with the greatest number of operations booked.

Once he decided to come and see me for a breakthrough session we started working on his pre-session tasking. Here he was able to reduce his anxiety from an 8 or 9 out of 10 with physical symptoms, to a 2 or 3 with no physical symptoms. He had completed 30 days of tasking before he got on a flight to Sydney to see me over two days.

My first mission was to find the trigger and look for any secondary gain. For example, he felt he was made to be a doctor by his family, (they are all doctors),  and now that he has achieved that is he looking for a way to not be a doctor? Or was there a traumatic event that had happened that has left him with anxiety? Or was it just that he had been studying for over 15 years and now that he is qualified and does not have the expectation and plan for the future being his study, that he has an idle mind and is just bored and thinking about what can go wrong more than what can go right?

What I found is that he did like being a surgeon and he was very happy to be qualified. I did find his strategy of how he did the anxiety; I was able to map it out. I was able to find the connections of emotions and how they worked with the anxiety.

What was good about this particular client was that we were able to pinpoint the exact time that the anxiety started. This was a breakthrough in the session as I had content to work with that would enable me to remove the fear on this event and in turn dial down the anxiety in the future.

His first job as a newly certified doctor/surgeon was to go and visit all the medical doctors in the area to promote his services. This was a massive thing to do. Effectively it was like doing door to door sales selling his services. As you can appreciate that is not something medical school would cover – “ OK in this class we’re going to cover the 5 step sales process to selling yourself”. I would imagine that would not be a lesson at med school! Surely you do all those years to become a surgeon so when you finish you go and be a surgeon. The business side of things was not a consideration and not his strong point, understandably.

It was during this time that he spent a lot of time in the car driving around talking to doctors that were not overly welcoming. Some were but many doctors had built their own relationships with specialist surgeons and gave, what he felt, a cold reception.

It was in the car on the way home he had his first anxiety attack. Bingo we had a significant emotional to deal with.

Once I had this we set up our outcomes from the session. We had two:

One was to think of a long operating list and be free of anxiety;

The other was to be able to have breakfast and a coffee in the morning as he had his appetite back. These two outcomes would be our evidence procedure.

At this stage I elicited his values in the context of career and we worked out if his values are motivated by away from what he wants, or towards what he wants. As predicted he was mostly motivated away from what he wants.

This is also my guide in the process to see if I had made the necessary changes, as we would compare this at the end of the session.

Once this was all completed we started the intervention starting with removing the negative emotions from anger through to guilt. Funnily enough fear was the emotion I was expecting to be the big game changer but it turned out to be guilt.

Considering he was a doctor I was thinking that I may have a hard time getting the concept of active imagination and the mind body connection and how a process taking 10 – 15min could complexly change his life and his thinking. Quite the contrary; he was super good at it! As with anything having investment in the process makes a key difference.

Over two days we put all his goals in a positive towards fashion, built up some resilience to the old triggers, and I even completed some hypnosis with him to tie everything up. He was very impressed and shocked by how powerful hypnosis was.

He achieved his results as per the evidence procedure. As we tested it he was unable to feel anything except excitement and confidence as he thought about his future operating lists.

We then gave him some tasking and sent him home to achieve some goals. He, by his own measure, was 98% better but still had some reservation that the anxiety would come back. I reminded him to focus on what he wants and to keep on task with his goals.

Now this is an intelligent man, he should be in charge of his thinking but what he did was allow that 2% to reach 10% and that 10% to reach 30%. We had a few calls on the phone and further confirmed that he was much, much better than before, but he was still putting himself into a negative state.

You see ultimately it’s up to the client to follow the instructions (that they’ve had input into to) and if he chooses not to then he gets the results he gets. Once this was made clear we had another few phone calls and did some short coaching and set up a task that he will do to enable him to focus on what he wants in the context of being a great surgeon. This task was to document every surgery operation process that he does in a way that makes it go well. And every time he performs that surgery to go over his notes and improve them.

The good news is that he did have an incident during surgery with a patient and something did go wrong as is expected in this kind of surgery. He was able to be cool, calm and calculated in his response to the issue, and solved it without it becoming a life threatening issue for the client. Given his track record of anxiety if he had not have been able to be in charge of his thinking I am sure the outcome would have been different.

What tools have you used to overcome anxiety? Does someone close to you suffer from anxiety and you don’t know how you can help? I’m keen to hear your experiences so feel free to express them in the comments section below.

How to improve your time management

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Are you feeling overwhelmed with your never ending ‘to do’ list? Do you feel as though you’re not achieving anything meaningful or significant? You’re definitely not alone.

Life is busier than it’s ever been and it seems, just when you can’t fit another thing in, you do. This can lead to a feeling of fatigue, or frustration, particularly when your list of things to do just seems to get longer, and you’re not ticking much of.

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, ‘How do you eat an elephant? “One bite at a time”. Well, the same thing applies with time management.

There’s a plethora of time management apps and tools that are available these days. Yet they may not be that helpful if you’re not approaching your project planning effectively.

If you have a large overwhelming task that you’re putting off, and let’s face it, many of us are, the first step to get you make into motivation and productive mode is to have a look at the big picture and then break the task down into smaller more manageable tasks, so that firstly, it’s not so overwhelming and secondly it’s easier to ‘chip away’ at making you feel as though you are maintaining momentum, feeling productive and keeping you moving forward.

Once you’ve broken down a task into its multiple parts, you can take on the parts one step at a time. This may mean you can slot in parts of the tasks into smaller time frames, fitting in to an already full schedule but ensuring that you’re keeping on top of what you need to do to get your job done.

Often when approaching a big project or task (such as a research paper or developing a new business) you may not be able to see the full path or what the end destination looks like. It’s important in any project that you set the big picture goal of what you hope to achieve, after all why are you doing the project/task in the first place. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed, particularly when you are balancing many other tasks or projects as well as having a crack at that thing called ‘work/life’ balance! That’s why at the start of any project planning or strategising it’s important to spend some time on chunking down, breaking the project/task down into bite sized, management pieces that can then be scheduled in.

As you are breaking the tasks down, you can also assess whether there are tasks within the greater plan that can be outsourced for efficiency purposes. Spending time on your area of expertise and outsourcing those areas that are not may be the difference to a productive and efficiently carried out task or project, and one that loses steam, sucks up resources and may or may not get completed. Tim Ferriss’s ‘4 Hour Work Week’ thrust time management into the stratosphere with respect to new ways of doing things to be more efficient and productive to get the best possible outcomes. Outsourcing is a very common approach to project management these days; by creating tasks into discrete projects and tendering them to the market, you can potentially reduce costs to the project and achieve your outcomes much more efficiently. Outsourcing websites are sprouting faster than you can say ‘help’. ODesk and Elance are some of the biggies.

In any case, despite all the technology that exists to help you with time mangement, the key is to have a clear plan based on some specific goals and then chunking down to create the map of how you’re going to get to your destination. You can then budget for each mini-task to determine whether outsourcing or slogging it out yourself is more cost efficient for you. Either way, consistently completing small tasks that form part of a bigger project is invaluable in keeping up motivation to momentum.