Limiting Assumptions – Are You Sabotaging Yourself???

As a workshop facilitator I am always interested to attend workshops given by other industry leaders. On 22 February I was privileged to attend a workshop on limiting assumptions given by Canadian success mindset mentor, Jayne Blumenthal

Very few of us are aware of our limiting assumptions, let alone how those limiting assumptions impact on our behaviour. I was startled to realize how much of my behaviour is determined by the opinions of others – I mean, I knew that I was very aware of what others thought of me, but had not realized quite how much of my behaviour was governed by that and the degree to which it impacts on how I act and how I react.

More importantly, I was not aware of how often that belief stopped me from pushing forward with my plans and goals – I’d always just thought I had a bit of a problem with procrastination… but I’m now being forced to test the truth of my belief.

What are the limiting assumptions that are guiding your actions… and lack of actions? Are those limiting assumptions stopping you from achieving the success you are working towards?

Are you actually sabotaging yourself?

Overcoming Challenges – Tips to Help You Move Forward 03

Continuing the series about what it took for me to overcome the challenge of becoming blind, here are a few thoughts on the role played by positive attitude.

Attitude refers to a default tendency or orientation of the mind. It manifests by influencing the way we react to things that happen to us, usually either in a positive or a negative way.

If my default attitude had been negative, I probably would have responded to the news of my blindness by going home and giving up, being angry, bitter, dependent and depressed for much of my life. If my default attitude had been negative, I would have seen first those things that I cannot do and limited my possibilities accordingly.

But, because my attitude is generally positive, I was able to see beyond the devastating experience that had occurred, to pick up the pieces of my life and continue moving forward.

How do you respond when facing a challenge? Do you react with a negative attitude, and see first the problems and the difficulties you need to fight through? Or do you have a positive attitude and seek for whatever good may come out of that challenge, focussing on what you can do rather than what you cannot?

Testimonial: Hope Cape Town NGO

Below is a testimonial from the event organiser of the Tygerberg Hospital workshop I presented.

Lois Strachan addressed our community health workers at Tygerberg Hospital last week, and all of us were captivated by what she had to say. Not only is her story inspiring and deeply challenging, but she is also a humorous and eloquent public speaker. As a medical doctor I have listened to numerous speakers and lecturers, but I know that someone has made an impact when I retell their entire story to my husband and children, and when I am still thinking about what was said a week later! Lois really encouraged our community workers, who themselves face numerous and varied challenges on a daily basis. She reminded us to be grateful for what we do have, and also that nothing is impossible if your attitude is right. It is a real privilege to listen to Lois, and if you can get her to sing… you are in for a treat!

Dr Susan Purchase, HOPE Cape Town

If you’d like Lois to present at your conference or event, please contact her through her website for more information.

I May Be Blind… but At Least My Legs Work!

Last week I was asked to facilitate a workshop on what it is like living without sight in a visual world at Tygerberg Hospital. When the event organiser and I arrived at the hospital we walked to the nearest bank of lifts, only to discover that they were not working.
No problem – we just went to the next bank of lifts… and they were also not working.
Finally, after walking around the hospital building for around 15 minutes checking each lift we passed without success, we eventually found what felt to us like the only working lift in the entire (huge) hospital.

I know many of you will be asking why we didn’t just take the stairs… Well, my workshop was on the 11th floor.

Enough of my story – why am I telling you this?

The fact is that as we were rushing from one lift to another I could not escape the thought of what this must mean for a hospital, where people often need to be moved by wheelchair or in hospital beds, where people may be on crutches, are aged, or simply do not have the same degree of mobility as I do. Not to mention the vast number of visitors, staff, doctors, nurses who need to navigate the 11floors of the building.

How on earth was that possible with so many lifts out of service? What implications resulted from those lifts being out? And how many unnecessary problems arose because people could not freely move around the hospital? That was when I came to realize that, though I may be blind, at least I have the gift of mobility and though I would not have enjoyed climbing the stairs to get to the 11th floor; at least I had the capacity to do so.

Overcoming Challenges – Tips to Help You Move Forward 02

In my speaking, I tell the story of what happened in the aftermath of being told by the doctors that I would be blind for the rest of my life. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had a choice – to go home and give up, and be angry, bitter, dependent and depressed for the rest of my life… Or to go out there and see what life still had to offer me. Obviously, I chose the latter option.

Often I have been asked how that decision was so simple for me – why I felt it was the only decision that was possible for me to make.

I believe there were 3 main factors that influenced that decision.

  1. A naturally positive attitude that fuelled my desire to keep moving forward
  2. My refusal to let the blindness dictate my options, and to take back control of my life.
  3. My belief that my skills, strengths and resources would help me to deal with the inevitable day to day challenges of being blind.

In the next few articles on this thread, I will look at each of these in turn – starting with my positive attitude.

Overcoming Challenges – Tips to Help You Move Forward 01

It’s a little over 14 years since I was declared blind. In that time many people have asked me how I coped when it happened, and how I continue to cope as a blind person living in a predominantly sighted world.

Looking back over the years I can’t recall much of what I was thinking at the time, but I do recall feeling overwhelmed and confused because I didn’t even know how to start building the skills and knowledge I knew I would need in my new life – or where to turn to find that information.
A speaking colleague, Aletta Rochat, said recently in a workshop (and yes, I’m paraphrasing) that feeling overwhelmed is not a sign that we do not know what to do, it is rather a sign that we do not know what to do next.

I think that can be adapted to be a useful strategy when you are facing a challenge – you don’t need to find a solution to the entire problem… you simply need to figure out what you need to do next – and take it one step at a time.

Remember the old adage of how you eat an elephant? You do so one spoon at a time. Well, I believe that overcoming challenges is a bit like that.

So that’s the approach I took to overcoming the challenge of learning to live without sight– I didn’t try to figure out my entire life, what I was going to do, how I was going to do it, how I was going to solve the day-to-day problems that arose. Rather, I sat down and tried to figure out what my first steps needed to be… and just focussed on taking those very first steps.

Next time you’re facing a challenge and feeling overwhelmed by it, remember that you don’t need to figure out what to do… it’s that you need to figure out what to do next… and take it one step at a time!

Book review: Keynote Mastery – The Personal Journey of a Professional Speaker

The Personal Journey of a Professional Speaker
by Patrick Schwerdtfeger

As a relatively inexperienced professional speaker, I was interested to read Patrick Schwerdtfeger’s latest book, Keynote Mastery.

As the author indicates clearly, the book is primarily a memoir of his own journey, and he discusses both his successes and his failures in a candid and human manner.

I found the book very readable. The style is conversational and relatively informal, and makes use of anecdotes and personal stories to bring home the tips that the author shares with his readers.

At times I felt the author shared a little more of his family history than was necessary, but it did not detract too significantly from my overall engagement with the book.

I found the details of the way the speaking industry operates in the USA interesting, but felt that this might be confusing for inexperienced speakers from other countries where the industry may be set up in a slightly different way. Nonetheless, the inclusion of this type of detail serves to demonstrate the importance of understanding the industry, wherever one is based.

Overall, I found the insights and helpful tips for aspiring speakers very valuable and particularly enjoyed the way the author used his personal stories and experiences to reinforce the value of each lesson. Also useful were the 16 worksheets on the author’s website that are further aids to assist aspiring speakers on their journey.

(review copy provided by Netgalley)

Sooo Close Now…

I spent much of last weekend working on the final touches so I could submit my book for the final edit. For some strange reason, this time round the final items included deciding on the title and chapter headings. I had a lot of fun playing around with various ideas, and here is what I landed up with

Title: A Different Way Of Seeing Sub-title: My Life Without Sight

  • Chapter 01: Who, How And Why (my basic story)
  • Chapter 02: Covering The Basics
  • Chapter 03: At Home
  • Chapter 04: Putting Myself Together (clothing, make-up, etc)
  • Chapter 05: Bits, Bytes And Snarls (using technology)
  • Chapter 06: Earning My Keep
  • Chapter 07: …And In My Leisure Time???
  • Chapter 08: Supercanines Are Go! (about my guide dogs)
  • Chapter 09: Out And About
  • Chapter 10: Seeing the World… Or Not??? (travel)
  • Chapter 11: From The Outside In (chapter written by my husband, Craig)

The title and chapter headings are not set in stone, so they may change before I finally publish the book, but that’s what they are for now. In the next two or three weeks, while the book is being edited, I need to complete the cover and investigate printing. Sooo close now…

Seeing the Whole Picture

Last weekend a visually impaired friend of mine went to Gold Reef City to ride the rollercoasters. Imagine her amazement when she was told that she could not ride because she as blind. When she posted about the experience on Facebook it turned out that this had happened to other visually impaired people over the past year or so – that it was policy.

I am very aware that I do not have all the facts beyond a very brief explanation given by my friend on Facebook, and that there are always two sides to a story, but still, I find myself in something of a quandary.

In principle, I agree wholeheartedly with the outraged comments from other visually impaired people at the apparent discrimination of this policy. But I want to know more details before I add my voice – I admit that I cannot think of a good reason why a visually impaired person should not be able to go on the rides, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. And if there is a valid reason for the policy, then our outrage might be inappropriate.

I think it is important to get all the facts… to see the whole picture… so that we can be sure we act on the correct conclusions. Responding when we have only part of the information can be inadvisable at best, and dangerous at worst.

As an addendum: my friend has just reported that Gold Reef City are willing to meet and discuss the policy, so perhaps this will have a happy ending after all.

The Frustration of an Update

It takes me a long time to start using a new application on my iPhone or computer. I had a Facebook profile for years with nothing on it, before I sat down and worked out how to find my way round the basic features. LinkedIn was no different –I had a very basic profile set up, but just never seemed to get round to learning how to use it.

My main reason for procrastinating about technology is that there is simply no way for me to quickly scan the application to figure out how it operates. I have no choice but to read every single word of every single line so I can see what options are available to me, and that takes time. As a result, often I just don’t bother.

In August 2015 I attended a workshop on LinkedIn for Speakers run by Charlotte Kemp and that gave me the skills… and the courage… to start working on my profile. And I (cautiously) started using LinkedIn.

About a month ago LinkedIn updated the iPhone application and suddenly it all became unfamiliar once more. I can honestly say that I no longer know where to find anything and that once more it is too much of a bother to try and figure it out… at least for now. I still haven’t gathered up the courage to open LinkedIn on my computer in case that has changed too.

I know I will get round to it at some stage soon, and I know that updates are necessary and are often beneficial… but unfortunately knowing that by no means diminishes the frustration I experience when having to start from scratch and relearn an application after an update.

Email updates

Lois shares updates on her book, speaking and the reality of living with blindness. Find out what Lois is up to – subscribe here.