Update and News on My Life

Hi there. As you can see it has been awhile, 22 months in fact, since my last blog here. Why you might wonder? Well I took my own advice from that last blog (which you can read here) and seized the day.

I have just completed my MSc in Digital Business with First Class Honours. Woohoo 🙂

The focus of my final thesis was Employee Experience. Using my learnings from that I have created a brand new website and accompanying blogs. The website is located here and my blogs are located here. I am still writing new blogs so check in often.

I would love to hear what you think of my new website and blogs so do please feel free to drop by, and leave comments and suggestions. I would appreciate you following me also please 🙂

Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you all over at my new blogs.

Elaine – follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

Now Is The Time #SeizeTheDay

nowisthetime

Here we are starting a new year – 2017.  It always amazes me how times flies by. Every year we set our New Year resolutions, and, if you are anything like me, you start strong in January, resolve fades by February and by March those resolutions are long forgotten, and before you know it another year is gone!

Robin Williams said it best in Dead Poets Society – “Carpe Diem” or “Seize The Day”. So this year I am doing it differently. Instead of setting those ill-fated resolutions I am setting myself a mantra – “Now Is The Time”. The best thing about setting this as my goal is I can do it anytime. Sounds contradictory?  Let me explain.

If I chose a path of scheduling everything I do and I miss that window then a backlog starts to creep in and the scheduling proves itself as useless. If however, I make a list of everything I aim to do then I can pick anyone and do it now because now is the time. Tomorrow I can pick another item on the list and do it then because “then” will be the time for “now is the time”.

As you may have noticed on previous posts I am a great fan of to-do lists. Identifying the items on the list as ‘critical’, ‘soon’, and ‘can wait’ allows me to prioritise. Applying this process with ‘now is the time’ and I can work my way through the list. This approach also gives me the flexibility to drop everything and work on something more urgent when the need arises.

Let’s see what 2017 brings and if this approach works! Who knows, it may be the wrong approach, but then again it could be the best thing ever! I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

seizetheday

Be True To Yourself #Work #BeTrueToYourself

Be True to Yourself – sounds easy doesn’t it?  But how honest or true to ourselves are we really? For example, if you are in a job you hate, are you making excuses as to why you haven’t left it? I know we work to pay the bills and put food on the table but there is more to life than that.

I am not suggesting you march in tomorrow and hand in your notice but instead think about each aspect of your job. Are there particular parts you do like? Is it just one particular item that turns you off the whole job?  If you have a particular passion or hobby is there a way you can bring that into your job?

Start to review your skills. Take a look at some online courses and job descriptions. What do you need to do to achieve that dream job? Identify and learn the skills you need to start realising your potential.

Put an inspirational message up on your screen or on your desk or wall. Step by step you can make a change to make YOU happier. Find your passion and you will start to be more true to yourself.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

 

 

1st Distinguished Toastmaster Award for EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum

DTM Award

What exactly is the DTM?

The Distinguished Toastmaster award is the highest award the Toastmasters International organisation bestows. The DTM recognises a superior level of achievement in both communication and leadership. Toastmasters international recognise that by receiving this award I have…” developed and sharpened effective communication and leadership skills, and applied these skills in professional and community activities to the benefit of others.”

How did I get started in Toastmasters?

My journey began in April 2012 with an invitation to a demonstration meeting of something called Toastmasters. I had never heard of this before and, once I heard was it was, I had to decide did I want to put myself under that pressure of standing up to speak in front of other people! Well I took the plunge, signed up to EMC Ireland Toastmasters and gave my first speech, also known as an “Icebreaker”, on 15 June 2012.

What has been involved in attaining DTM?

As well as completing approximately sixty speeches, and a variety of meeting  roles, I took on a number of Club Officer roles, including VP Education in 2013, President in 2014 and the Area 49 Director role in 2015. I also completed the High Performance Leadership project in 2015 and ran a workshop for fellow toastmasters in 2016.

What are some of the benefits I have found from Toastmasters?

Joining Toastmasters is one of the best things I have ever done. Toastmasters has been of huge benefit to me, not just professionally but also personally. It is a great confidence builder and taught me excellent leadership and communication skills. As well as discovering a passion for speaking, I also learnt the benefits of servant leadership and being able to share my learnings as a mentor for new toastmasters and officers means a lot.

Now that I have achieved DTM, what’s next on my Toastmasters journey?

I have started the Competent Leadership award again, as I believe it is important to refresh skills learnt. It also means another point for the EMC Ireland Toastmasters Club. UCC (University College Cork) have asked me to return in October to speak to their Mature Students Group again about presentation skills and tips on how to overcome nerves. It is great to be able to give back what I have learnt to help others. The future is definitely bright for me and I urge anyone who wants to develop personally and professionally to join Toastmasters and discover the benefits for themselves!

 

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

 

 

To Lead Is To Serve

toleadistoserve

In service or servant leadership you need to lead both with a focus on service to those benefiting from the end result and on those who work to achieve the objectives. Service leaders are willing to place empowerment above personal power, contribution above their own ego satisfaction and the needs of the team above their own needs for credit and acclaim.

However this all means nothing unless you first know how to lead! This is where I found the High Performance Leadership (HPL) project in Toastmasters particularly useful as you learn by doing to develop your leadership skills when undertaking this project.  The project covers learning leadership skills, putting the skills in action and then receiving feedback on your performance and progress.

In June 2015 I completed my High Performance Leadership Project (HPL) in EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. This for me was one of the best leadership learnings on my journey, not only in Toastmasters but in Leadership.

The project focuses on vital leadership areas including:

  • Developing a mission and vision
  • Goal-setting and planning
  • Identifying values
  • Building a team

It is an evaluated project with feedback given on leadership skills at each of the following steps:

  • Learning About Leadership
  • Choosing Your Objective
  • Winning Commitment to Your Objective
  • Working the Plan
  • Analyzing and Presenting Results

The first step you take is to evaluate and assess your existing leadership skills, and identify your strengths and skills that need improving. These cover six focus areas of Service Leadership, namely Vision and Values, Direction, Persuasion, Support, Development and Appreciation.

Once you have completed this assessment you need to choose a project or objective that will allow you to develop these skills. You also need to organise a guidance committee that will help and guide you through strategic planning and feedback on your journey. Members of the committee should include mentors and people whose experience will help you and whose opinion you respect.

A project will only succeed if everyone knows what they are doing and why. This is where developing a vision and mission statement is crucial. With a clear vision and a clear purpose you will create a project that is organised and successful.

When you and your team have created the vision and mission, and have your committee in agreement for your project, it is time to put the plan into action. During this process you will develop skills of a team leader through delegation, planning and conflict resolution. You will help the team members develop through appreciation and empowerment.

Finally when the project is completed you review what you have learned on the journey, and re-assess your skills again in the six focus areas. You should hopefully have learned more about yourself and how to work with others. And, of course, through learning by doing, you have improved your servant leadership skills.

My key learnings include teamwork = success, delegation = empowerment, and acknowledgement of great work is invaluable!

What #ServantLeadership Means To Me

ServantLeadership

I have a great passion for Leadership, and in particular for Servant Leadership. Let me give you one reason why.

I became a Toastmaster in May 2012 when I joined EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. (My first ten speeches, from the Competent Communicator manual, are available to read on my earliest posts on this blog).

Part of being a Toastmaster is about taking roles at meetings, all which count towards the Competent Leader award. While working through these two manuals I also took on various officer roles. These included VP of Education (May 2012 to June 2014) and President of the Club (July 2014 to June 2015).

I was honoured to then be elected as Area Director for Area 49 which covers five Clubs in Cork; EMC Ireland Toastmasters, Apple Toastmasters, VMware Toastmasters, Bishopstown Toastmasters and Powdermills Toastmasters. This role runs from July 2015 to June 2015. I am also currently serving as Assistant Division Director for PR in Division A, District 71.

For me all of the roles mentioned above have their roots in Servant Leadership. Consider the Toastmasters Missions below: –

Toastmasters International Mission

We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.

District Mission

We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence.

Club Mission

We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

Key words from these missions are empower and support.

The description of Servant Leadership on Wikipedia is the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. 

You can see the similarities between the two. Why Servant Leadership appeals to me is quite simple. I want to share with others what I have learned to help them develop, and support and empower them to succeed.

Toastmasters International Values are Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence. The skills I learned, and continue to learn, through Toastmasters are transferable and will always be of help to me, and if I can share those skills and what I have learned then how great is that!

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

 

 

 

Being The President of EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum

Today it is official. I am the new President of EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. The Immediate Past President, Niamh Brady, has done a fantastic job and set the bar high for me. During her tenure the Club achieved the Presidents Distinguished Club Award. This is a brilliant achievement, especially when you consider the Club only started in 2012.

I look forward to Niamhs guidance and support as I take on this role for the 2014-2015 Toastmasters Year. I am confident the Club will go from strength to strength in the coming year and I look forward to the exciting challenges ahead of me.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

Music Makes Work Easier – Do You Agree?

Whenever I find myself with a task to do I put on some music and suddenly find myself more focused. Of course you have to be aware of your surroundings at the same time. While listening to music on headphones works well, tapping your foot to the beat of a favourite tune or nodding your head can draw some stares, Not to mention the irritation to others if you start to hum along to the song! Nonetheless, I am a great advocate for listening to music while I work. It drowns out surrounding conversations allowing me to focus on the task at hand. This made me wonder then why does music help?

I came across a great article in the New York Times online explaining that “in biological terms, melodious sounds help encourage the release of dopamine in the reward area of the brain”. The article, by Amisha Padnani, expounded “It breaks you out of just thinking one way,” said Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami. Dr. Lesiuk’s research focuses on how music affects workplace performance. In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.  “When you’re stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention,” she said. “When you’re in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options.” You can read the full article here.

I have to agree with these findings. Music definitely relaxes and de-stresses me, allowing me to finish each job quicker and more accurately. It also makes work feel less like work! So why not try it and see what you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on twitter @elainebeare

We are all born to do great things – Just Believe!

I had a moment of clarity this weekend, dare I even say an epiphany. I realised that I have been born for greatness. I don’t know yet what that greatness will be, I just know it will come. Why do I know this? Because I believe. And that is the key! I believe. I believe I will achieve greatness in my lifetime. Not necessarily fame or fortune, but something I will do will make a difference in someone’s life. I may not know who that person is but I will have changed their life. And that will make me great. This is my belief.

We steer our lives around a set of beliefs we have in ourselves, in others and in the world around us. These beliefs shape our decisions, thoughts and ultimately our actions as a result whether we know it or not.  It is beliefs that also shape us into the individuals we are and it is these very beliefs that limit or allow us to change and grow in our lives as well.  We all have them, we all have a unique set of beliefs even if many overlap, and we often don’t examine our beliefs enough to truly understand ourselves. Personal development is highly related to these beliefs and without taking time to understand them, we can never achieve the maximum personal growth we desire.

Whitney Houston’s song “The Greatest Love of All” starts with the lines “I believe that Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” There is great truth in this as we share our beliefs with future generations. The beliefs we learn from our parents shape us and our way of thinking and how we go through life.

Sometimes if you believe you can’t do something then you will not succeed. When I was around 14 a new P.E. teacher started at school. She decided to introduce gymnastics to improve our fitness. All our class was assembled in the hall and the springboard and horse were set up.

The task was quite simple – run fast towards the springboard, jump with both feet on the springboard and vault over the horse – sounds simple doesn’t it? I weighed up the options, the height of the horse, practically up to my shoulder and made up my mind there and then that I was not going to be able to do this. I told the PE teacher this but she insisted I give it a try. I worked up the speed but faltered as I reached the springboard and crashed into the horse. Undeterred the teacher persisted and told me try again, despite my protestations! I took another run at the board, faltered again and this time landed on the horse. Finally she accepted that I was not going to achieve the jump. Because I believed I would not succeed I didn’t.

George Bernard Shaw said “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.

As children we believed in Santa Claus. Our proof was the magical appearance of presents under the tree when we awoke on Christmas morning, and we had no reason to doubt his existence. As we grew older we discover the truth that indeed Santa does not exist, but we keep these happy memories as we go through life and we perpetuate the myth to keep future children believing. For if they do not have something to believe in when they are young what have they to look forward to? The time will come soon enough when they too will change their minds and forge their own beliefs.

During Nelson Mandelas incarceration on Robben Island, he used to quote the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley.  The last two lines of this poem are: – “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

We all have beliefs, things we believe we can do and things we believe we can’t. The fact is – what you believe, tends to happen – so it is far more productive to believe you can – and then just do it!

Near the end of the recent Muppet Movie, Walter is afraid to go out and perform in case people don’t like him. His brother tells him “Sooner or later you have to believe in yourself because that’s what growing up is”.

That is why I think it is worth taking the time to explore your beliefs. They can trap you or they can free you! While I still believe I cannot get over the vaulting horse, I believe I can achieve a lot of other positive things in my lifetime, for without belief I have nothing. If I had to give you one takeaway it would be: –

“If you believe in nothing else then at the very least believe in yourself! That is how you will achieve greatness.”

Elaine Beare
Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare