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Clarity in focus

Its been a few months since we attended Clarity, meaning its well worth taking a look back at the session.



I took a few things away from the session, and started to form 'actions' that I committed to performing when some of the things we discussed in the seminar happened.

Below I've summarised a couple of things I've discussed with Brokers off the back of Clarity...take a look:

Stress Shouldn't be Motivation

I hear people say that stress is a great motivator, of that their motivation comes from stress (Eg: I get up and go to work otherwise ill go hungry).

What we're referring to when we say this is really better described as stimulation and engagement. Take the example of goal-setting. We set goals because they give us something to aim for and keep us feeling engaged.

Stimulation and engagement are good.But that's not stress.

Stress is the negative whirlwind of emotions that gets imposed on top of our stimulation and engagement. It leads to poorer decision-making, reduced creativity, mental exhaustion, and physical burnout.

In other words, stress motivates us, but in a number of harmful ways.

Without the stress, we have more energy to get things done and more fun doing it. We need stimulation and engagement. We all enjoy pushing ourselves to accomplish our objectives. But we don't need stress to get there.

If you're successful and stressed out, you're succeeding in spite of your stress, not because of it.

This equating of stress with motivation is also a great excuse not to take action and address core emotions.

Effort must be made

When looking at high performers 'states' (the emotions or moods they most commonly felt at work), similar phrases were used:

- Calm

- Happy

- Energised

Whilst if you talk to people who felt bunt out or were performing at less than their potential, you'd hear:

- Frustrated

- Tired

- Anxious

What I took form this when I looked at these 'states' is that it requires effort to attain a 'high performance' state. Eg: Its not easy to be calm automatically, action(s) need to be taken.

However its also true that you don't fall out of bed into a 'low performance' state and remain there for the whole day. You get yourself there with your own actions. Yes, its easier to do than a 'high' performance state, but there is still effort expended.

Think about it. In all honesty I don't believe you can wake up frustrated. You can wake up, start to think about something, get frustrated, and then carry that around all day....but from sleep to frustrated in seconds? Nah.

Therefore if its currently easier to get into a 'low performing' state, and that's why we end up there, you need to work on making it easier to get into a 'high performing' state. You need to make it so easy it feels like cheating.

Its like exercise. If there's a routine that gives you the results you want, and hurts less and requires less time and effort to do that your current work out, you'd do it without a seconds thought.

Ill use 'Calm' as an example. You want to be calm at work rather than 'Frustrated' so you need something that is quick and easy to do to make yourself feel that way.

So are you meditating? Of course not.

We don't do it because its a change, because its effort, because its scary.

But you don't want to be 'frustrated', and meditation will help, doesn't take long, and is easy to do.

If you want to attain a high-performance state, action must be taken:

- Identify the mood or feeling you wish to change

- Find the technique or process that will address this

- Actually give the damn thing a go, for an a mount of time that's reasonable

Try Headspace (makers of the video above), for tiny bitesize videos that will help...then take action.

be the right sort of contagious

All of the above performance states, high and low, have one thing in common...they're contagious.

You can 'pooh pooh' this if you like but the mood you bring to work unequivocally does affect those around you.

Bad moods are unpleasant, they can reduce the quality of your performance, and they undermine your relationships with others. 

Cognitive restructuring helps you to change the negative or distorted thinking that often lies behind these moods. 

As such, it helps you approach situations in a more positive frame of mind. Try the method for yourself:

1 - Calm Down

If you're still upset or stressed by the thoughts you want to explore, you may find it hard to concentrate on using the tool. 

Use a deep breathing technique to calm yourself down if you feel particularly stressed or upset.

2 - Identify the 'Situation'

Start by describing the situation that triggered your negative mood, and write this down.

Be sure to be clear and objective, an account of the event or events is what we're after here.

3 - Analyse your Mood

Next, write down the mood, or moods, that you felt during the situation. 

For example,"He trashed my suggestion in front of my co-workers" would be a thought, while the associated moods might be humiliation, frustration, anger, or insecurity.

4 - Identify 'Automatic Thoughts'

Now, write down the natural reactions, or "automatic thoughts," you experienced when you felt the mood. 

In the example above, your thoughts might be:

"Maybe my analysis skills aren't good enough."

"Have I failed to consider these things?"

5 - Find Objective Supporting evidence

Identify the evidence that objectively supports your automatic thoughts. In our example, you might write the following:

"The meeting moved on and decisions were made, but my suggestion was ignored.“

"He identified a flaw in one of my arguments."

Your goal is to look objectively at what happened, and then to write down specific events or comments that led to your automatic thoughts.

6 - Find Objective contradictory evidence

Next, identify and write down evidence that contradicts the automatic thought. In our example, this might be:

"The flaw was minor and did not alter the conclusions."

"The analysis was objectively sound, and my suggestion was realistic and well-founded."

As you can see, these statements are fairer and more rational than the reactive thoughts.

7 - identify fair and balanced thoughts

By this stage, you've looked at both sides of the situation. You should now have the information you need to take a fair, balanced view of what happened.

If you still feel uncertain, discuss the situation with other people, or test the question in some other way.

When you come to a balanced view, write these thoughts down. The balanced thoughts in this example might now include:

"I am good at this sort of analysis. Other people respect my abilities."

"My analysis was reasonable, but not perfect."

8 - Monitor your Present Mood

You should now have a clearer view of the situation, and you're likely to find that your mood has improved. Write down how you feel.

Next, reflect on what you could do about the situation.

By taking a balanced view, the situation may cease to be important, and you might decide that you don't need to take action.

For this to work (again) you must take action...and actually try this.

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