ACTION FOR HAPPINESS course – Swindon, September to November 2017

AFHBooking is now open: Book now

The Action for Happiness course (“Exploring What Matters“) is a unique and inspiring 8-week course to explore what matters for a happy and meaningful life.

The course is based on the latest scientific evidence and is intended for people of all backgrounds, particularly those who would like to see a more positive and caring society.

Each session has a theme, based on a ‘big question’, such as: What really matters in life?  What actually makes us happy? How should we treat others?

Each weekly session lasts for 2 hours. Each session follows the same format, which has been designed to be inspiring and interactive, including:

Tuning in: simple activities that are great for wellbeing (e.g. mindfulness exercise)

Expert view: an inspiring 15-minute TED-style video/talk from a leading expert (including Richard Layard, Ed Diener, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Karen Armstrong, Brene Brown, Shawn Achor)

Personal view: a chance for people to reflect on their own experiences

Did you know?: fascinating and surprising research findings relating to the theme

Group discussion: sharing ideas in groups and listening to each other’s perspectives

Action ideas: everybody comes away with an action they hope to take as a result

The course content has been developed and tested by Action for Happiness, but the course itself is run by local volunteers who believe in our aims and have some relevant experience.

Course value

The course is run by volunteers and valued at £90 (£10 per session and £10 for the course book). Every participant is asked to make a donation to sign up for the course, which helps to cover the venue hire and provision of materials.

The recommended donation is £90 but if people are unable to afford this they can make a donation of their choice instead. Some people choose to donate more than the recommended amount, to help to cover the costs for those who cannot afford to give so much.

 Who is behind the course?

The course has been developed by Action for Happiness, whose co-founders are Prof Richard Layard, Sir Anthony Seldon and Geoff Mulgan. Key members of the team include Vanessa King and Dr Mark Williamson. It is backed by the Dalai Lama, who is the patron of Action for Happiness.

The course starts on 14 September for 8 weeks, Thursday evenings from 7-9pm.
Booking is now open: Book now
For questions about this particular course please contact the volunteers who are running it: Peter Mayes peter@petermayes.co.ukAFH

More about Employee enlightenment

During these uncertain times it’s worth exploring how organisations can work together and maximize the contribution of everyone

employee-engagementLatest blog from bookboon about my book follows on from the February newsletter and continues to explore the engagement as a management device or as a tool for growth

Employee Engagement: Organisational Brain Washing or Enlightenment?

Change and a whole new world or not?

Change can be scary even in a turbulent world

Throughout our lives and careers we all have to cope with times of change, either of our own making or where we are pushed into it. With the changes in governments, changes in expectations of how stable or consistent the world will be. What is it that we can do, well we can all opt out, run for the hills or realize that these changes will happen and that we can influence somethings and sometimes we are unable too. I heard a radio programme the other day where they talked about a post trust age, really have we really stopped trusting

There’s no denying that change can be scary, but that’s normal.  There are several perfectly justifiable and normal stages that we go through.  The first is normally panic, followed by confusion and then a need to find out more information.  You can’t subvert those stages, but by helping people through that process and by encouraging them to do things that are positive and productive it can change their view of the situation.

This time of year is one of reflection and looking back so for me its been a different year, writing more, spending time with family especially recently arrived granddaughter, enjoying working with new people and deciding what to do next.

Worst case scenario

When career coaching, the first and the only piece of advice I would give would be to stop panicking.  Of course, that’s very easy to say and quite hard to do.

In my experience people tend to react far too quickly.  For example, if they are losing their job they will often write their CV the day after they know they are going and send off several applications straightaway. But they are still at the very beginning of a personal change process where they are learning about what they need to and how to get there.

By really taking some time to explore what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing, what the most important thing for them is about their new role and what outcome they want, is a vital process.  It provides the best possible start to know how to move forward and I’ve found that getting this key stage right saves people huge amounts of time, effort and anxiety later.  If it’s not carried out properly they’ll keep coming back to it.
It’s also often the case that things are not as bad as they seem.  So it’s a good idea for people to write down the worst case scenario.  After writing it down and thinking about what would be the worst that could happen, it usually doesn’t seem as bad and some of the anxiety disappears and it becomes more manageable.   We have a tendency to over think.

I also like to challenge people’s assumptions about what they can do and help them think things through calmly and rationally and above all to do things that are productive to help them change their view of what’s around them.  By following this process it’s possible to start that person’s own journey to where they want to go by helping them come up with the solutions themselves.

My own goals for next year are to be published again this time on employee engagement something that is very important but missed by many organisations, do more public speaking its a real buzz and the most important thing be happy and enjoy life.

What do you think of current trends on problems for companies and people?

APRIL 2016 NEWSLETTER

For organisations
Larger organisations are looking for more tailored and integrated ways of driving action. When trying to marshal large scale diverse and remote work forces the one size fits all doesn’t work. Localized, targeted and aligned programmes have a far higher chance of success.

Sometimes organisations rely on shuffling the pack to solve the organisational ills, this form of illness shows itself in dysfunctional behaviours, over competition, in fighting and empire building, which results in a lack of trust and a huge waste of resources.

Looking for a magic bullet has long since been a recipe for failure, so what is driving the lack of progress within organisations?
The same old gets the same old
Being covert instead of explicit
Following a process blindly without full examination of the risks; being a robot not a human. Allowing senior people to work by cliques and head / horns approaches; everyone must be like my own image, speak the same jargon and not be a threat to me in any way.

Organisations need to regenerate a sense of belonging and re-establish trust and integrity levels. Having open and clear conversations has an enormous pay off. Collaborative and collective forms of leadership are the key a common message in a common way with personalized emphasis

To use a football metaphor, when the team doesn’t perform there’s always another manager with a great reputation ready to step in and save the day. The boss stays for a shorter time, the MD is on the line, too, and their time may be short. Some organisations are becoming skeletal in nature; too thin to survive. Therefore, there is no room to anticipate or deal with any fluctuation of the plan.

Risks and experimentation are at a minimum. Innovation is marginalized and the same old gets the same old. Change is not getting any slower and shortages exist at all key levels, so perhaps getting the best from people is not such a costly idea and practice after all. The world is small and big at the same time; speed and flexibility are the key.

So how can these patterns be avoided? Clarity and trust are the keys; clarity about what the organisation is about and trust of the people to be involved, engaged and a part of the organisation.

For individuals
Resilience is the key. Keep learning, take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Look for the good in what’s happening and have realistic expectations. Enjoy the now.

Many of these approaches sound simple to do, but often the complexity and pressure of organisational life means that we are distracted and unable to focus because of fears, real or imagined, and in this position of weakness people are expected to give of their best? Really?

Be self reliant, self motivated and self developmental, because in some strange way this is what the organisation wants from you, and it’s what you want for yourself.

Learning is the key. Keep being open to new and different things; give the brain something to work with.

The more we express our concerns and see the reality of them, and the more we develop our dreams, the more they turn into reality.

Time is finite, most other things can be adjusted.

Let me know what other problems are holding your organisation back from within.

Five Top Tips
1. Encourage your staff to voice their opinions and thoughts.

2. Reward creativity, even if at first it seems like a mad idea.

3. When reaching consensus give time to overcome obstacles or you will only come back to them later.

4. Recognize that learning takes place every day and encourage everyone to share what they have learned this week or month.

5. Start with trusting yourself and finish with trusting the team and the organisation.

Can personal and professional change or transition be separated?

Well, it depends on how extreme either is. Even the most motivated, driven and/or successful person has a tipping point.

So, what do people do to get in their own way?
Sometimes it’s about making connections when there are none
Sometimes it’s about failing to make connection
Sometimes it’s about thinking without feeling, not drawing upon all the information you have.
Recognising closeness to the tipping point:
Being stressed. By this I mean seeing the stress negatively or not listening to yourself
Withdrawing becoming hyper self critical.
Stop panicking
Throughout our lives and careers we all have to cope with times of change, either of our own making or where we are pushed into it.

There’s no denying that change can be scary, but that’s normal. There are several perfectly justifiable and normal stages that we go through. The first is normally panic, followed by confusion and then a need to find out more information. You can’t subvert those stages, but by helping people through that process and by encouraging them to do things that are positive and productive it can change their view of the situation.

When career coaching, the first and the only piece of advice I would give would be to stop panicking. Of course, that’s very easy to say and quite hard to do. In my experience people tend to react far too quickly. For example, if they are losing their job they will often write their CV the day after they know they are going and send off several applications straightaway. But they are still at the very beginning of a personal change process where they are learning about what they need to and how to get there.

By really taking some time to explore what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing, what the most important thing for them is about their new role and what outcome they want, is a vital process. It provides the best possible start to know how to move forward and I’ve found that getting this key stage right saves people huge amounts of time, effort and anxiety later. If it’s not carried out properly they’ll keep coming back to it.

It’s also often the case that things are not as bad as they seem. So it’s a good idea for people to write down the worst case scenario. After writing it down and thinking about what would be the worst that could happen, it usually doesn’t seem as bad and some of the anxiety disappears and it becomes more manageable. We have a tendency to over think.

I also like to challenge people’s assumptions about what they can do and help them think things through calmly and rationally and above all to do things that are productive to help them change their view of what’s around them. By following this process it’s possible to start that person’s own journey to where they want to go by helping them come up with the solutions themselves.

My 5 top tips for transition and resilience

1. Establish goals, both small and large
Crisis situations are daunting. They may even seem insurmountable. Resilient people are able to view these situations in a realistic way, and then set reasonable goals to deal with the problem. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, take a step back to simply assess what is before you. Brainstorm possible solutions, and then break them down into manageable steps.

2. Keep working on your skills, everyone is a work in progress
Resilience does not involve any specific set of behaviours or actions, but can vary dramatically from one person to the next. Focus on practicing some of the common characteristics of resilient people, but also remember to build upon your existing strengths.

3. Embrace change and look for what you are learning
Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis. Do something different every week!

4. Build positive beliefs in your abilities
Research has demonstrated that self-esteem plays an important role in coping with stress and recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.

5. Invest in and look after yourself
When you’re stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercising and not getting enough sleep are all common reactions to a crisis situation.