Author Archives: MamaTray

Help isn’t a four letter word

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Help isn’t a four letter word…

Well it is of course, but you get my drift.

The other day I had a conversation with a mate about marriage counselling. They felt it was something you only did when things got ‘really bad’… And you didn’t talk about it. To anyone. That really disappointed me – why are we so reluctant to get regular emotional and mental help?

We happily see the doctor, fuss about Fitbits, cycle nowhere in a gym for hours, eat organic kale and do all sorts of regular maintenance in the hopes of never letting our bodies get ‘really bad’ – why will we let our mental state go until its almost too late? Why do we let our relationships suffer, our friendships go yuck and our ambitions deteriorate by not taking our emotional wellbeing seriously?

Apparently, it’s the stigma.

A great *HuffPost article outlines 14 common misconceptions about people who go to therapy which supports this like; ‘we’re weak’, ‘we’re crazy’ ‘we’re on medication’ and ’we’re in a ‘bad place’’. You’d have to be pretty resilient to push through those judgements – no wonder people wait till the cliff edge!

But what if this changed?

What if counselling and help was like prevention, mental maintenance, going for a brain run? What if people did it regularly. If it was celebrated as a sign of mutual respect and love in a relationship. A sign of well person with a healthy self esteem looking after themselves.

In the case of marriage counselling would this prevent things getting ‘really bad’…? And now what if we applied this to career health?

How many times have you felt lost at work, totally uninspired, so much meh you’re
drowning in it?

How many times have you looked painfully at your reflection and mumbled “What am I doing with my life???”?

Maybe a regular visit to a life coach, to a career counsellor or a mentor might help keep
everything in check – keep pointing you straight in a sort-of line, so that you can see where you’re going and appreciate where you’ve been.

Simple questions like “Am I where i want to be? What/who is getting in my way? How/when can I tackle this? And the big bonza – Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Tackled together with an objective professional, regularly, it could be really powerful. It might prevent that fisticuffs with the boss that literally got you fired, or that meltdown that had you curled up mumbling in a corner when you realised everything you’d done for the last 14 years was a waste of time!

Maybe we should all try it!

We’re pretty big about it here at MT HQ – mentoring and confidante services are in our product mix and our corporate mantra is ‘We point people in the right direction’. In fact, for a limited time, we’re putting our money where our mouth is – we’re offering half price mentor sessions!

So why not start the new year really caring for yourself – or give the ultimate Christmas gift to a friend who could really do with some direction. Hit us up on: help@mamatray.com

It’ll work wonders!

*https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sahaj-kohli/misconceptions-about-therapy_b_7286204.html


These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawle
r.

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How to be a working parent – in 90 minutes…

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It takes me one and a half hours to get to work. Pfew.

Fifteen years ago I would’ve jumped off the train half-way and walked the rest just to be doing something. Now, its only just enough.

Because now I have three kids/three kids have me.

That ninety minute journey is decompression. Ninety minutes of acclimatising. Ninety minutes of recalibration.

Shorthand – desperately needed!

That’s because there’s four environmental changes my brain needs to absorb before i can mentally clock in…

Unreasonable-ness to reasonable-ness

Kids are irrational. Life is unliveable for Steo (my 4 yr old) about eight times before 9am. For toast reasons, tracksuit pant reasons, Texta reasons, iPad reasons. I see my role as diplomacy more often than not – negotiating the kids towards lunch, school, toothpaste, medicine, etc.

Unless you have a baby-boss ‘ T rump’ in charge, or clients/colleagues of a similar ilk, this skill doesn’t get a work-out at work.

So I need to reassign this energy. In 90 mins.

Inefficiency to productivity

I will not be thanked for providing a new banana to a colleague because hers broke as she peeled it. Cutting my lunch into 16 squares to make it more appetising will be what it is – a waste of time. I will only need to present that document one time, not three “because I didn’t read it in the right voice”. I’m at work now. Make stuff, do stuff, the quickest, smartest, most cost-effective way possible , please.

Come to grips. In 90 mins.

Chaos to predictability

Fright-and-flight peaks in parenting. I run a low grade cortisol level constantly – glands are at the ready to thrust in adrenaline with the next blood-curdling scream/sibling face punch/broken limb/food-or-drink spillage/broken window , etc . etc. ” The only constant is change ” is no longer a sweet meme.  ” Plan nothing” is your mantra.

Until ” Plan Everything ” is. At work.

WIPs, progress sheets, planning meetings, account managers, ‘next steps’, timing spreadsheets, base-touching. The sweet smell of predictability.

Adjust. in 90 mins.

TMI to politics

“I’m going to do a poo, can you wipe my bottom? ” is not something I will hear in my working day. Neither is “I’ll rip your guts open if you don’t give me back that transformer/apple/ texta/etc”. “I hate you mummy”; “What are these? ” *pointing to tampons/pads/breasts* ; are all thankfully home-chat. ‘Face-value’ is turbo-charged – ‘in-your-face-value’.

No ditto at work.

Double-meanings are everywhere. What does that stiff email from the client mean?

W ho is the ’right person’ to approve that change? Did you make sure everyone on that project had a say , and signed off that document? Understanding agendas, hierarch ie s, and role expectations , is all par for  the course.

Prepare yourself. In 90 mins.

So , I say again, praise the long journey to work…

And praise the gifted employer – like mine – who understands these shifts, allows for them , and facilitates them.

They will profit from them.

They’ll have a workforce of elastic brains: responsive; flexible ; and ready. Undemanding, grounded and pragmatic.

People who, when shit hits the fan , are:

1) ready to clean it off ; 2) know what stuff to use to clean it off ; 3) will find out patiently and fairly sewho  shit it is, and how it go t  there ;  4) smooth everything over with ice creams so it doesn’t happen again.

These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.

Finding your ‘why’

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How sustainable is the ‘Do what you love’ mantra?

Miya Tokumitsu, author of ‘Do What You Love And Other Lies About Success and Happiness’, says, in an interview with The Altantic, she feels there’s a sort of dark hedonism in the pursuit of this ideal – like an addiction, where one is relentlessly seeking those “good feelings.”

Is this another way of saying that the ‘too much of a good thing’ principle can apply to a career based only on ‘love’?

Case in point – I worked in a café for 6 months surrounded by delicious food (my ‘happy place’) and ended up 10kgs heavier and very unfulfilled!

So, I think better advice is to find what ‘we care about’.

We are constantly telling organisations to find and commit to their ‘why’ and communicate this through a meaningful brand, but we don’t necessarily put the same pressures on ourselves.

I think a lot of the reason is that it’s easier said than done for most of us.

There’s mortgages to pay, bills to deal with, kids to raise, cars to fix – wistfully pursuing a noble vocation that usually translates to little $$ might be a bit pie-in-the-sky.

So how on earth do those of us stuck in a ‘what’ get some ‘why’ in our lives? How do we fish out the ‘vocation’ in our ‘profession’?

We might find some answers in the endless advice on ‘careers’ and ‘callings’ littered through
the internet.

Here’s two phrases I came across, for instance, that resonate with me…

‘Consider your epitaph, not your resume’

What do you really want to be remembered for? Read out your eulogy in your head – are you happy with what’s being said? What change can you make in your next career move that carves out more of your epitaph and less of your resume?

‘Find a problem to solve‘

How can I make my professional skill work to help fix a societal problem? Is there something I can do after hours, something I could suggest as an extra-curricular activity at work that makes a difference in a way I know will be fulfilling?

It’s not easy, but getting little bit of ‘why’ in our everyday work lives might go a long way.

Incidentally, I’ve now found my ‘why’ here at MamaTray where I now eat a lot less sandwiches and use my strategy smarts to help other organisations find their ‘why’. Ha!

These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.

Shut up and listen

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So, a couple of weeks ago I spent two days learning how to listen…

This sounds like spending two days learning how to tie your shoe laces but at the end I was still only maxing out around a level 2 listener (depending whose theories you’re good with, you can make it all the way to a level 5!) – pretty pathetic!

That’s because listening – not just hearing, but engaged, empathetic attentiveness – is H-A-R-D!!! It’s hard, because the key to real listening is to resist (and in fact actively reject) advising.
My father in law often mumbles, “The world is full of people wishing to act in an advisory
capacity” – you can taste the disdain.

But, amen…

I can’t remember one conversation where I’ve resisted dropping two cents in – asked
for or otherwise. Maybe it’s because we attach a value to an answer (a dollar value often in fact). Its quantifiable, in a way that simply listening isn’t. There’s nothing, for instance that shines a light on your dispensability at work, than sitting through a meeting without saying anything…thumb twiddler have an opinion!!!

But what if listening was more productive than advising? What if we took the view that we all have our own answers locked away inside our own private neurosis and it just takes a listener to allow us to vocally untangle it all and let the neurones connect things correctly to each other.

Here’s a challenge.

In the next conversation you have with a mate where they’re describing a pickle they’re in, let them do the bulk of the talking, if not all of it. If you must talk, say only things like; “how does that make you feel” (yes it’s lame, but it’s not advice); “what are your options”; “how could you go forward”. Importantly, resist saying “I think”; “I feel”; “I would”; “I did”.

See where the conversation goes, see if your mate arrives at a solution, see ‘how they feel’ about talking to you at the end of it and see how you feel having not said a word or at the very least given no advice.

You might start a very useful habit.

(And yes, I’m very aware that this whole blog has been a form of advice. 🙄)

These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.

The Importance of Being Earnest

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Let’s do a little exercise…

Swap your LinkedIn profile pic for your Facebook profile pic for a day – or maybe even a week – and see what happens. My bet is you’ll get question-marks, a lotta likes, heaps of giggle emojis and a few job offers from places you didn’t think existed! If you’re anything like me, the two are pretty different.

That’s the backside of my first born when he was 8 months (he’s 6 now but not much has changed!) on my Facebook profile pic (I’ve two more little bottoms to add to that now!) – can’t see that bringing in too many job offers on LI!

The thing is though, it says more about me than my actual LinkedIn pic. Only a touch more mind you, because my LinkedIn profile pic is a bit of a giggle too – two haircuts for the price of one! Anyway… Try this experiment with all your mates!

Have a look at their LinkedIn profile pics and then their Facebook ones. Which is closer to
the person you know and love? I’m guessing the Facebook one. So why do we put on our
Sunday best Maclean smiles and good angles for LinkedIn and save the bedheads and craycray’s for Facey?

What version of ourselves are we presenting to future employers? The version we have
the energy to maintain around the office 1, 3 or 5 years into the future? That’s a lot of
whitening toothpaste!!

Instead, why not find a happy medium? Ask yourself – does the person in that pic look like it could be me from 5 – 9, not just ‘9 to 5’? If yes, upload! Now, I don’t mean legs over head,
Bacardi Breezer all over dress, blowing a vuvuzela at a hen’s do, but someone you can deliver easily, comfortably and honestly everyday – that doesn’t require you to have ‘work clothes’ and ‘rest-of-life clothes’!

If you’re having trouble deciding on the perfect shot, you’ve got a ready made panel of judges in your mates!

These wise words come from the brain of Mandy Lawler.

Humming to The Same Tune

I needed to quit my job.

I decided that it was an essential part of my personal and professional development. Even though I loved the people I worked with, I slowly started to become more and more aware of things that just weren’t working and NEEDED to change, to account for this new agile business era that we’ve moved into. Things, that those much loved people I worked with, just didn’t want to, or know how to, change. (Even with my persistence.) Unfortunately, resistance to change is the ultimate creativity and innovation killer.

So, I started searching for more, and I found MamaTray. Or maybe, MamaTray found me. Either way – the transition has been more eye-opening than I could have expected.
These are my (10) starters for 10 (a phrase I’ve learnt from working here) –

  • Choosing music is a collaborative process. Everyone has a say. And if they don’t, they should! This sets the atmosphere for the day’s work.
  • Colour, colour, colour!!! It helps stimulate creativity, boost your mood, and keep everyday, monotonous things interesting.
  • Don’t blame it on the stationery. You CAN have fun, sparkly, multi-coloured, jarring patterned stationery and still be professional. Remember Legally Blonde?.. Haters gonna hate.
  • Regular check-ins. Managers neeed to, I repeat, neeeeeed to check in with their employees As. Much. As. Possible. Without being micro managers and without holding up efficiency. Having regular chats mean that things stay on track, everyone feels heard and problems can be nipped in the bud.
  • Team hang-outs are a must. We work together more hours than not, so we should really be trying to bond. Create, for yourself, a work family.
  • Gift a puppy. (By puppy, I mean, an awesome project.) Let someone take care of it, nurture it, and see it to fruition. There’s no better compliment than that.
  • A little chin-wag never hurt no body. We’re all human here, and we love to tell stories. (Stay tuned…)
  • Be nice to yourself. Eat that cupcake if you need to. Take a breather if you need to. Play with Freddie if you need to. (MT’s super cute, Wirehaired German Pointer.) In the long term, it’ll make a huge difference.
  • Say hello to change! Yes, and welcome it with open arms. This is what will keep you and the business afloat.
  • Finally, show us how it’s done. This is probably the most important of all. Don’t give resentment any room to grow, and lead by example. Positivity breeds positivity, and the same can be said for hard work.

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Here at MamaTray, we know what great internal culture looks like. And, we want to share this with our clients and everyone we know. If all your employees can ‘hum along to the same tune’ (even if in different harmonies) – you’re doing it right. Your brand and your business will reap many rewards.

Happy humming!

These wise words come from the brain of Angie Caro, Junior Strategist at MamaTray.