How healthy are your relationships?

If you have been on a journey with us during this season, you will be familiar by now with the 5 Gears and what they stand for.  Here is a reminder:

If you need a quick ten-minute summary, please find it here.

In this episode, we concentrate on Gears 2&3 – the connect and social modes.  These are the relational gears, a strength and a gain for some; a struggle and a drain for others.  A wise investment for us all!

Failure to invest in our relationships is not only relationally damaging, but it is a false economy – an extremely inefficient way to roll, which can all too often lead to unwanted consequences such as neighbourly feuds, underlying stress and relational breakdown.

Setting aside time for a G&T over the garden fence with Tim next door, some cheese and wine with your other half, and a heart-to-heart with a close friend, are all excellent investments.

So grab a pen, journal and quiet space and spend some time thinking about Your Relationships.

Wishing you to flourish in this season,

P.S. Please let us know how you get on!

Gears 2&3: Connect & Social Mode

How healthy are your relationships?

This season has been a strange one for our relationships.  We have spent magnified amounts of time with a small, few family-members, whilst our time with people who we were used to seeing on a daily basis, sharing a car or a meal, or an office, has been shrunk to near-nothingness.

How is this shift in relational balance affecting you? Whether you are hankering after more time with others, or whether the lockdown has provided a welcome break from the cacophony of social engagements, it is worth exploring whether your social gears are healthy.

Gear 2 – Connect Mode

I recently re-read the Diary of Anne Frank and was once again cheered and encouraged by her resilience, ruthless honesty and maturity of ideas, language and outlook.  It appeared to me that despite being surrounded by a tight bunch of people, united by blood or circumstances, she was very lonely, and her recurring lament was that she didn’t have a friend who really knew her.  She longed to be truly seen and understood.

If I could give that household one recommendation it would have been to invest in some Gear 2 time.  Two of the most precious memories of the Lockdown season for me so far have been 1:1s with my kids.  With my youngest, it has been playing games.  Whether Connect 4, Uno, or Exploding Kittens, we have giggled and chatted whilst he stealthily looks at my cards in the reflection of my sunglasses, cheeky monkey!  With my eldest, it’s been roller-blading.  Holding his hand whilst he slides and wobbles around the neighbourhood, following the sunset together have made him feel that I am in his world, and I care about the things he cares about. 

In addition to our immediate family we should all, (depending on our capacity), have 2-5 really close friends with whom we can practise active listening, and really share ourselves and our struggles. It’s not fair to look to our other half, if we have one, to solely provide that sort of support.

Personal Response

  1. How healthy is your 2nd Gear?  Is your tendency to over-use it? – Trying to get into Gear 2 at every opportunity, including inappropriate times? Or is our tendency to under-use it? – Spreading yourself really thinly, or not at all – in order to avoid real relationship? Why do you think you behave like this? 
  • When engaging in Gear 2 time, how good are you at understanding before being understood?  Do you meet others where they are at, or do you expect others to join you in your world?
  • What Gear 2 opportunities have you lost or gained during this season?  How can you make the most of your home, the outdoors, the phone or social media to engage in it?
  • Make a list of your key people – immediate family and 2-5 friends with whom you want to share life.  Now schedule some Gear 2 time with them.

Gear 3 – Social Mode

One of the things I (James) have missed the most during lockdown has been social interactions with colleagues or friends. Whether that is catching up for an impromptu cup of tea and a chat about who might make the next Lions tour, or discussing the Last Dance on Netflix. A recent highlight was a socially distant beer with two neighbours, while one of them was painting their garden fence. It reminded me of the scene on the prison roof from one of my favourite films The Shawshank Redemption.  Not that our homes resemble prisons but you get the picture! But these social gear times have been few and far between, and hard to replicate on Zoom. Gear 3 is really important, and one that we need to keep working at during this season. I really like this gear because it is one that builds trust with others, and leads to all sorts of opportunities, such as friendship, leisure, and work connections.  Don’t be tempted to see it as a waste of time – it is the transition gear for all the gears, and reminds us we are communal beings who were made to swim together!

Personal Response

  1. How healthy is your Third Gear? Do you value it? Or are you quietly relieved that you don’t have to make as much small talk as before? How can you make sure you have the energy you need to invest in Gear 3 time?
  • Do you spend too long in Third Gear and not enough time in the other gears?  Consider for example, investing in a few close friendships rather than just the herd, or Gear 1 time rather than relying on social time to recharge you.
  • Have you been missing Third Gear in this season?  What can you do to make sure these opportunities happen? 

When you recognise a tendency, and put actions in place to change your habits, you are being intentional.  Cultivating a new habit requires accountability and sustained effort, so make sure you talk to someone about your resolutions in the area of relationships, and set a reminder on your phone or in your diary to review them.  Giving time to think through the health of your relationships is a wise investment.  It will not only bless those around you, but it will make you more productive, peaceful and healthy.

Congratulations!  You have completed a nice session of self-reflection. We hope you enjoyed it, and found out something about yourself.  Please do let us know your thoughts and insights via facebook or email… and we will be in touch again soon!

For more on the 5 Gears you could read Steve and Jeremie’s brilliant book or find more training resources at Giant TV

The Perfect Message for Perfectionists

Anyone struggle with perfectionist tendancies?

There is a lot that’s not perfect at the moment… How well our technology is working, our summer plans awry, the state of the house… And if I go deeper, there’s my assessment of myself as a friend (needs improvement), and whether my kids will be harmed long-term by my demanding home-learning methods (they will probably be OK). And no matter how well the day or the conversation or the meal went, I will always manage to find something in myself that could be improved.

Lately, however, I have felt liberated by this quote: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good” (John Steinbeck) I had forgotten that perfection is unreachable. I have found it a huge relief that I am not aiming for perfection. Good is good enough.

Infact there is an argument that you can’t actually BE good until you quit trying to be perfect. (Is that what Steinbeck meant?)

Years ago I was appraising the lesson of an NQT. The lesson had some great components, but it was all the wrong way around. When I fed this back to him, he showed me his original lesson plan, with everything in an order which flowed seamlessly from one idea to the next. What happened?

He over-thought it. He over-worked it. For some of us, the lesson we need to hear is: “It’s good enough”. Or to coin the phrase of leadership coach Craig Groeschel; it’s “GETMO” – Good Enough To Move On.

They say that doing something you are not very good at, just because you like doing it, is good for perfectionists. So I watched a video called ‘Calligraphy for beginners’, and wrote out the quote. Appropriate, don’t you think? It hangs in my downstairs cloakroom: To remind me who I am, and what I am not, and don’t need to be.

From now on, I will try to leave perfection to God.

How are your energy levels?

We hope you enjoyed our last video all about the 5 Gears in lockdown.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please find it here. 

In this week’s episode, we concentrate on Gear 1 – the rest and recharge gear. 

How are your energy levels?   

Adapting to the social restrictions we are experiencing also means finding new ways to recharge, so we are not feeling cranky, drained or overwhelmed.  As always, this involves intentionality.   

Will you invest 20-30 minutes in considering how you can charge up your energy levels, so you can be more productive and a nicer person to be around? We think it’s a really good investment! 

So grab a pen, journal and quiet space and spend some time on you. 

Wishing you to flourish in this season

P.S. Please let us know how you get on! 

Gear 1: Re-charge Mode 

Every one of us recharges differently.  This gear is all about operating in the areas that refuel us, often when we are spending time on our own.  It could be reading, going for a run or walk, playing the piano or just spending time meditating or contemplating.  If you can understand how you recharge you will have more energy, be more productive, and a nicer person to be around! 

Click on the link to hear us talking about the what, why and how of Gear 1 in lockdown. 

First Gear in Lockdown (10-minute video) 

Personal Response 

  1. Make a list of all the ways that you can re-charge in this season.  Use the list below if you need some ideas, ticking or starring the ones that apply to you. 
Activity Activity 
Go for a run
Have a bath with candles 
Read a chapter of a book 
Drink a cup of coffee in the sunshine and listen to the birds 
Call a friend who refreshes you and be vulnerable with them about how you are feeling 
Listen to, or watch some comedy 
Organise a remote quiz, concert or game of bingo 
Help someone out (buy shopping, draw them a pavement chalk picture, cook a meal for the family) 
Listen to a favourite book on audible 
Do a pilates, yoga or hit class on-line 
Learn to play chess or backgammon 
Listen to a podcast  
Waste 30 minutes sitting around, seeing what happens 
Play basketball on messenger with your younger cousin, nephew or niece (can you beat 503?)  
Bake a cake or some biscuits or ice some cupcakes 
Paint a picture, some rocks, or a rainbow on some wood and display it outside your front door 
Google an IT question and solve the problem to up-skill yourself 
Dust off an instrument you haven’t played for a while, and play a tune 
Go for a walk all by yourself  
Go for a walk with a member of your household 
Go on a bike-ride 
Do some gardening 
Play solitaire  
Teach yourself a magic trick 
Have a nap 
Schedule a lie-in 
Have a night off cooking so you can have a pre-dinner drink in the garden 
Meditate on an inspiring quotation – focus on one word at a time 
  1. Go through your diary and schedule at least 30 minutes (ideally two sessions of 30 minutes or more) per day of re-charge, every day, for the next five days. 
  1. At the end of each day, review the effectiveness of your re-charging activities, giving the session a tick if it was refreshing, and a cross if it wasn’t. 
  1. At the back of your journal or diary, make a running list of the activities that you find refreshing, and keep building on it throughout this month.   
  1. Ask the other members of your household what refreshes them, and what you can do to release them to be refreshed. 

If you do this for a month, you will have formed a new habit, and you should have a comprehensive and evolving list of refreshing activities to regularly call upon.  You should also have more energy, and greater ability to stay calm under pressure.  If everyone in your household is being intentional about Gear 1, you should have a more peaceful time at home. 

Congratulations!  You have completed a nice session of self-reflection. We hope you enjoyed it, and found out something about yourself.  Please do let us know your thoughts and insights via facebook or email… and we will be in touch again soon! 

Recommended further study:  

The 5 Gears by Jeremie Kubicek & Steve Cockram 

Check out the 5 Gears videos on Giant TV 

Click on this link for one month’s free membership of Giant TV 

To comment or follow us on Facebook Click here.

5 Gears in lock-down

An overview of the 5 Gears in lock-down

Here is a summary of the 5 Gears – please read this before you watch the video

As a car needs 5 gears for different speeds of driving, so we need different ‘gears’ to help us organise our time at home in a way that keeps us and our relationships happy and healthy.  Read the descriptions of the gears below, and consider jotting down some notes in your journal. 

The 5 Gears: Summary

Gear 5: Focused Mode.

Some people have never been in this gear, but for many of us, this is a gear we spend some time in every day.  It is a hyper-focused mode where we don’t want to be interrupted.

Gear 4: Task Mode

Answering an email, making a phone call, cooking dinner, doing housework, gardening or fielding messages whilst attempting to be present. This can perhaps best be understood as a multi-tasking mode! A lot of us are in task mode most of the time.

Gear 3: Social Mode

Talking with others about life, love and the universe! You may shift up to talking about work for a while, or you may go down to sharing on a deeper level.  Our enjoyment of third gear will depend very much on our personality.  Some of us could pitch a tent in 3rd Gear, whilst others may feel happier switching up or down, whenever we can get away with it!

Gear 2: Connect Mode

This is when we talk at a deeper level than just the weather, people, places and things.  Here we are not fixating on a task, but really getting to know another person.  We will need to ask questions, and use our listening skills to make sure another person feels truly heard.

Gear 1: Re-charge Mode

Every one of us recharges differently.  This gear is all about operating in the areas that refuel us, often when we are spending time on our own.  It could be reading, going for a run or walk, playing the piano or just spending time meditating or contemplating.  If you can understand how you recharge you will have more energy.

Reverse: Responsive Mode

I know we said 5 gears! But there is actually a sneaky sixth. This gear is about being responsive, not resistant.  Accepting where we have got something wrong (knowingly or unknowingly), and asking for forgiveness.  This gear grows our influence as we show ourselves to be people who can accept responsibility for our mistakes, and who care about moving the damaged relationship forward.

A healthy life will include some time in each of the gears, and knowing which gear is needed for each circumstance of life. 

Now you are ready to watch the attached video…

Afterwards you might like to ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • In which gears do I spend most of my time? 
  • Which gears do I find hardest? 
  • How can I access the gears in lockdown?
  • Which gears are important to my family members or housemates?  (Consider having a household discussion about which gears are most important to which person. Then you can help each other out when one member is feeling tetchy or sad because they haven’t been prioritising their more energizing gears)
  • Map out a typical day, noting which parts of the day are spent in which gears.  You may like to take some different-coloured highlighters (we all love a set of highlighters!), so you can spot which gear is being neglected and in which gear you are spending a lot of your time. 

Now it’s over to you. 

Write down two ‘take home’ goals which will help you to organise your time in a healthier way.  Include who will keep you accountable and when you will start.

For example:

  1. I commit to spending 30 minutes each day in Gear 1.  Starting tomorrow, I will go to the front garden where no-one can find me, and I will listen to the birds, drink coffee and listen to a podcast, or just be.  I will ask my friend Liz to check I am keeping up this ritual!
  • From tonight, I will commit to switching off my phone at 8:30pm every evening so I am not permanently in Task mode, and I can have some Gear 2 time with James.  I will get him to keep me accountable on this.

Thank you for reading this far, and please let us know what you think!

For further reading, we recommend ‘The 5 Gears’ by Jeremie Kubicek & Steve Cockram