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Responsibility- how do you bear it?

How do you view responsibility?  A necessary evil?  Part of the blame game?  Something to avoid at all costs?  When you think of responsibility, do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach?  Or does it lighten you and bring a thrill of what is possible, excitement and potential?

Very often, responsibility gets a bad press.  It can be linked to blame, in that other people can point the finger if things go wrong or it doesn’t work.  Many think of it as a burden that comes with mortgages, job roles, parenthood, relationships.

Others avoid responsibility because they feel the weight of it crushes their creativity, freedom and sense of fun with life.  And there are those that see it as unavoidable, like shackles that hold them back and stop life being fun and exciting.

Embodying Archetypes to explore Responsibility

On a recent Embodiment Circle Online co-hosted by myself, Thea Allison and Catelijne Coopmans, we explored responsibility through the archetype of Sovereign.  We built on the theme that alignment of the body allows you to relax and bear weight more lightly.  And that alignment relates directly to the weight of responsibility and how that burden can be lightened when it is aligned to your values.  Here is the body-based meditation we ran in the Circle:

Responsibility and Personal Sovereignty

Sovereign is a powerful metaphor for your personal sovereignty.  To take responsibility for your own fulfilment, meaning and purpose.  To create the order, structure and stability for yourself and therefore for others so that they may thrive.

You must align with you values if you are to take on that responsibility willingly, openly and with commitment.  As a business leader, to see your colleagues thrive and develop in their jobs and contribute in a way that sees your industry and the economy at large prosper.  As a parent, to witness your children grow and find fulfilment in their own lives.  Or as a manager, to create teams that are motivated and inspired and instrumental in the success of the company.  And central to all that is honouring what is most important to you so that you flourish too.  You are Sovereign of your own life and no one can benefit from your skills, talents and qualities if you are not fulfilled and living life on purpose.

That takes responsibility, a commitment within yourself to stay true to what is most important to you, for your well-being and the well-being of those your life touches.  There is something about bearing the weight of responsibility as a gift that lightens you, inspires you, when you are aligned to your values, meaning and purpose.

Embodying Responsibility

An equivalent alignment in the body would be with the Head (mind), Heart (chest) and Hara (pelvis).  When these three centres align, the weight of the body is supported by the skeleton and the muscles can relax.  Without that alignment, the muscles remain tense and become tired.  Life becomes effortful, and increasingly so as the body tires, weakens and struggles more.

Responsibility aligned to Values

This relationship between alignment of the body and aligning your responsibility with values, meaning and purpose is essential if you are to bear the weight of responsibility without effort and with dignity and wisdom.  Wisdom comes from understanding that there is a great price to be paid if you take action that is out of alignment with your values, meaning and purpose.  Just like when you move your body when it is out of alignment and you damage a muscle or break a bone.  The price is too high for you and those around you.

Bearing Responsibility Lightly

The mantle or cloak, crown and insignia are the ceremonial garments Sovereign wears to represent this responsibility.  Together these garments are a weight that is best carried with good alignment of posture.  Aligning Head, Heart and Hara allows the muscles to relax.  Muscles free of tension allow the weight to drop into the floor.  And because every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion), the Earth pushes back against that weight, lightening the body.  No matter how great the weight, the force pushing back will always reciprocate, offering support and bearing the load.  It is universal law.

A person who lives aligned to their values walks with confidence, a lightness and ease in their step.  They walk tall, take up space and have a presence and power that are commanding.  They own their sovereignty and bear responsibility lightly.  Alignment of values shows itself through alignment of body.  An aligned body shows the strength of character to honour values through action.

Values-based Responsibility

In your own life, responsibility will include your relationships, career, finances, bringing up the kids, job responsibilities, upkeep of the home and bills, offering emotional support and helping others thrive.  You also maintain self-care, so that you can live life to the full as well as continue with this responsibility.  If you are to bear these responsibilities lightly, joyfully, with ease and dignity they must align with your values.  What responsibilities do you have that align with your values?  What is the feeling of that alignment?  Energising, invigorating, inspiring?

It is not enough to feel responsible for the finances of the family for example.  That responsibility will crush you if what you do to live up to that responsibility gives you no joy, fulfilment and a sense of purpose.  It is such a common situation for a person to work all hours so that they can provide for their family.  Yet, they are missing their children and spouse because they are working all the time.  They are out of alignment with their values.  The long hours would be more bearable if they had great relationships with their family.

But so often they do not.  They feel lonely and isolated and find themselves longing for the intimacy of family.  Meanwhile, the family misses their presence and they fall short of thriving as a result.  For your own sovereignty, it is important to get that alignment right and find the balance so that the weight of financial responsibility is lightened.

Aligning Responsibility to Values

If your responsibility does not align, can you find a way to do so?

I have a love/ hate relationship with the responsibility of keeping a clean and tidy home.  It gets in the way of my creativity and freedom if I do it too much.  And yet, if I let it slide too long, the mess and lack of calm inhibits the creative flow.  So, I balance the responsibility of cleaning and tidying with the values of creativity and being productive in my work.  What responsibilities do you have that you can align to your values that are currently not aligned?  How might you find a way to align them?  What is the feeling of finding that alignment having been out of whack?  Relief, coming home, relaxing, light, free?

If you cannot find that alignment, can you drop that responsibility?

When new opportunities come my way, I think carefully about whether they align to my values.  There is a factor of time of course.  And there is a question of alignment that gives me energy, vitality and enthusiasm for the work.  Is the opportunity aligned or not?  If not, it will drain me and allow less time and energy for what really matters to me.  So, I let it go.  If it is aligned, it will add to the momentum and energy of my life and so I willingly accept it.  And allow the responsibility of taking it on to lighten my soul through joy and fulfilment.

The bigger your life gets, the more important it is to stay aligned to your values.  That structure, support and order both internally (through Head, Heart and Hara) and externally (with values, purpose and responsibility) are vital for you to maintain your power and vitality.  Without them, your reach, impact and capacity become diminished.  Sovereign is about thriving and creating and maintaining order to do so.  Responsibility can help you thrive, or not.  It all depends on how your responsibilities align with what is most important to your head, heart and soul.

Over to You

What responsibilities do you have that help you thrive?  And what responsibilities drain and weaken you?  Are they aligned to your values? What can you do about those responsibilities that are not aligned?  How can you get more alignment?  I’d love to hear how you are doing with these enquiries.  Please post your discoveries in the comments box.  Alternatively, you can e-mail me if you’d rather keep things private or you’d prefer to discuss what is coming up for you.

Pass it on

If you have enjoyed this blog and found it useful, what in particular was beneficial to you?  Is there someone you know who would benefit from that too?  If so, please forward this blog to them.  They’d really appreciate the thoughtful gesture and it shows them how much you care.  Thank you.

Archetypes in Lockdown- a north star and guiding light

There is an old samurai saying, “Adversity makes the man”.  Challenging times build resilience. It is all too easy to get lost in fear and despair.  So, it is good to know what signs to look for if you stray that way.  And to have a North Star by which to orient yourself so that you can move towards greater confidence, resilience and leadership.  Archetypes provide such a template.

The point of this blog is to highlight some of the aspects of four archetypes so you might navigate your way through lockdown.  And be able to look back and say I did well in lockdown and contributed in a positive way towards my own well-being and that of my family, friends, community and beyond.

**I’ll put in bold the aspects of each archetype**

Warrior:

All life events are an opportunity to live within your values and remain focused on your chosen purpose and direction in life.  Covid-19 is no exception.  A plethora of opportunities are opening to follow and expand your purpose as a values-focused warrior.  Warrior will keep you on focus and make sure you stay on purpose.  But Warrior will hold you entrenched in particular thinking and action because “it is the right thing to do” when actually it would benefit you, family and business to pivot and do something different.

As long as it does not compromise your values and purpose, your creativity (Magician) will take you to new and fascinating places.  And because you remain aligned to your purpose and values, it still feels heart-felt, passionate and inspiring to take this new path.  For example, the fruit and veg wholesaler who overnight had no restaurants to buy his stock.  So, he delivered free food parcels to local homeowners so that the food would not go to waste.  Now he is inundated with orders for fruit and veg boxes during lockdown.  He is making more profit as a result than he ever made dealing with restaurants.

Adapt or Flounder

As Nietzsche said, “if you know the why, you can live any how”.  In other words, stay true to your driving force and principles and you can live with integrity in any life situation.  Look at all leaders.  They have had to pivot and have done so successfully by staying true to who they are.  Steve Jobs for example, co-founded Apple on one of his visions of using computers for creativity.  When the Apple Board kicked him out, he founded Pixar soon after, which creates computer-animated films.

Personally, during the 2008 financial crash, I lost two thirds of my clients overnight.  I did not adapt fast enough to make ends meet, had a painful time of it financially and floundered in the subsequent years.  This time, I am more adaptable, and have used the opportunity to go online more and promote myself and my brand by offering free support and training.  The connections I make now may lead to new opportunities post-Covid.  We will see.  But I am staying aligned to my values and purpose at every pivot I take.  Therefore, it matters less whether it leads to business in the future.  And more about whether I maintain integrity and true to myself.  It’s much more fun that way!

I think people appreciate the loyalty and steadfastness of Warrior.  People trust the person who is reliable, true, honest, consistent, principled and unshaking in a cause or purpose.  Are you feeling the strength and confidence of Warrior during lockdown?

Lover:

How are your relationships doing with social distancing and self-isolation?  Are you finding it hard to say “yes” to things that are supportive and “no” to things that undermine your well-being, safety and confidence, so that you maintain your boundaries?  Are you using this as a time for self-care or are you caring for others?

Relationships

As your life takes on new rhythms during lockdown, how are you managing your relationships?  Are you able to get the time and space alone you want?  And how are you using that time?  Some time alone is important for your well-being.  To take time to connect inward, be that meditation, writing, walking or exercising alone, contemplation or reflection, reaffirms your relationship with yourself.  And that always you to keep centre when you are in relationships with others.  Lover can be prone to giving to others without thought for oneself…… which ultimately can lead to resentment, burnout and fatigue.  Or to be self-centric and give no thought to others.  How are you managing that balance?

Boundaries

Which really comes down to boundaries.  How is lockdown impacting your capacity to say “yes” to the things that support your well-being and relationships?  Are you able to ask for the time alone you feel you want?  Can you ask for help when things are overwhelming?  Or even better, before they become overwhelming, so that you can avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.  And how are you doing with saying “no” to things that do not serve you?  Can you push back on the demands made by others for your own well-being?

Travelling to work on public transport may pose a threat to your health.  If this worries you, can you ask to work from home or take furlough?  If there are social events, can you attend and maintain social distancing?  We recently celebrated Victory in Europe (VE) day in the UK marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.  There were street parties and celebrations.  In our street, we made a point of keep two metres distance from each other and still enjoy the festivities.

Community

And I have noticed that people are using this time to connect to new communities online.  I met someone on an online embodiment event who was saying that he has always felt an outsider in the communities he usually connects with.  Lockdown has given him the opportunity to find new communities in which he feels a part and included.  He will come out of lockdown with a new collection of friends that more deeply appreciate him, his gifts and contribution.

Magician:

There is always the option of living from fear through the Covid-19 situation.  More often than not, the News promotes the negative view.  And many people seem to focus on bad news.  But there are many positives coming from lockdown at a personal level, for community and the planet.

Interconnection

Our inter-dependence, the fact that we all impact each other, is coming to the fore perhaps more than ever before.  Our fates rely on everyone doing their part to be responsible for self-isolating for the benefit of the common good.  There is a larger cause here that we are daily being asked to consider when we take any action.  And that larger cause means we are being kinder to each other.  It means we are driving and flying less which is allowing the environment to recover and heal.  We are seeing tremendous acts of bravery, be it frontline healthcare professionals or war veterans walking to raise money for charitable causes.

Healing and Peace

For the first time in human history, humanity is united against a common enemy.  What healing can be done from this place of peace, unification and kindness?  The world could become a very different place once lockdown has passed.  Things could go back to where they were before.  But when Magician responds to this pandemic, there is a look towards doing things differently and finding solutions that will heal many of the challenges we faced before Coronavirus hit.

There is an opportunity to rewrite how we work, care for the sick and elderly, look after those closest to us and our neighbours, support our communities, manage stress and mental health, govern with compassion, take our responsibility as custodians of the planet, invest financially, cultivate relationships and much more.

New Solutions

It’s easy to go back to the old ways.  But, many of those old ways are not working right now.  Perhaps we are paving the way for a new way of being?  There is no precedent for this.  We are going to have to work it out as we go.  Turn inward towards our intuition and gut instinct and feel which is the best way to go.

In the old traditions, Magicians were wise men of counsel, like Merlin.  They saw the bigger picture and advised the sovereign so that he may rule with wisdom and compassion.  And perhaps Magician’s greatest counsel was not to be swayed by the fearful minds of lesser men.  But rather to be guided by your personal inner strength so that you may live with gratitude, wisdom, respect, compassion and above all, love.

Sovereign:

What order are you creating through lockdown?  Or perhaps you feel like things are in disorder?  Quick and radical changes have thrown many of us into disarray and it is taking time to reestablish order.  So that we feel safe and able to flourish.  And as things continue to change, so we are being asked to shift our structure, organisation and order to accommodate shifting sands.

Order and Freedom

Order offers freedom.  Structure and organisation give a framework around which freedom, adaptability and versatility can thrive.  This could be an opportunity to take action on your own initiative and authority.  There is the opportunity to do something new.

By your own direction, you can determine your routines, the order in your house, the care you take of yourself.  And your capacity and willingness to support others and empower them to tap into their own sovereignty.  Self-sovereignty is about having dominion over your own body, mind, emotions and spirituality.  I have spoken before how self-awareness empowers choice which leads to freedom.  And freedom is a hallmark of self-sovereignty.  Freedom allows self-authorship.  In other words, the power to write your life the way you would like it to be.

Sovereign as Leader

It takes Sovereign to mark out the routines, order, structure, plan, strategy and tactics to make that happen.  And Sovereign recruits the other archetypes to make that possible.  Sovereign calls on Lover for boundaries and relationship building with self and others.  Warrior to move forward and stay on purpose in a values-driven way.  And Magician to balance the heart and the head and live in service of something bigger than personal success.

Knowledge and Learning

I’m also hearing a lot of people are taking the time to learn new things.  Knowledge increases your capacity to adapt, lead and be more compassionate.  Covid-19 has opened the internet to so many free learning opportunities and expand your sphere of influence.

How are you using your sovereignty and self-authority during lockdown?  Are you using it to create order so that you and others can flourish?  Or are you abusing your position and using your freedom to limit the freedom of others?  Are you using it to lead with a sense of vision of how lockdown can be better for us as individuals, a society and the planet?  What can you do so for your family and community at large?

Over to You

How are you doing?  What areas of your archetypes do you feel you are doing well in?  Which archetypes do you think you’d like to work on?  What archetypes do you want more of?  And which ones are dominant or over-bearing?  Which archetypes do you want less of?  And which archetypes would it be beneficial to step up to?  What areas of your life would you apply the archetypes?  What of the archetypes could you do more of and take into your life beyond lockdown and Covid-19?

Pass it on

Phew!!!!  That was a long one!!!! If you found this blog useful, please pass it on.

 

Goal setting- do you only set professional goals, or personal goals too?

Do you set personal goals for yourself?  If you do, are they only for work?  Or do you set goals for your personal life as well?  Are you focused on the journey or the destination?

I have noticed with clients that they are often focused on setting goals for their business or career. Less so do I notice clients taking their personal life in hand and asking the question “What do I want to achieve in my personal life?”  When I realised that, I took a look at my own life and noticed that I had few personal goals outside of my business and almost all of those were long-standing and no where near being achieved.  It was a slap in the face.

As a result, I brainstormed ideas and goals that I would like to achieve that had nothing to do with work.  It was tough at the start.  Eventually I got into my stride and the list got really long: holiday destinations, charity work, new learning experiences and skills, building plans and so on.  It was a wonderful and joyful experience.  It continues to grow, and I tick off things off the list on a regular basis.  Life feels more fulfilling, fun and enriching.

Let me share with you some of the things I have learned by setting and striving for personal goals in general and one in particular: climbing Helvellyn via the Striding Edge route.

Expectation and Anticipation

In this instant, have-it-now modern culture, it’s quite a rare experience to have to wait for something.  There is a mounting pleasure with delayed gratification.  I set the date 8 months ahead in early June and did some early planning in a fit of enthusiasm.  But then, I had to wait.  It drifted to the back of my mind, but every now and then, something would happen to remind me, and I got excited again.  I asked friends if they wanted to join me- another reminder and a sharing of my dream and passion.  There was also the feeling of acceptance and rejection as people committed, said no, changed their minds, said may be and made stipulations about details.  I bought equipment, maps and booked accommodation, planned the route.  It all added to the anticipation and expectations.  It was a very joyful journey to June 8th, 2019.

Alone or together

I made a commitment to go, happy in the knowledge that I could do it alone. I had practised map reading and using a compass and I had all the equipment I needed for a solo trip.  In spite of that, I asked people to join me- it honours my values of friendship, connection and inclusion.  I was also honouring the values of solitude, down time and getting away from it all if no one accepted my invitation.  So, I was happy either way.  When I asked people to come, I still experienced the feeling of vulnerability.  I am a relational, people person and thrive in good company.  I also get energised by time alone, so I organised my trip to The Lakes with a day walking and exploring by myself as well walking with a friend. Does that make me an ambivert (both an introvert and an extrovert?)

It’s not all in my control

Weather is highly changeable in The Lakes.  The higher you go, the more extreme and changeable the weather.  We had driving rain and 80 mph gusts throughout.  For safety and self-responsibility, I had to be OK with committing to the trip in the knowledge that I may not be able to achieve what I had set out to achieve.  Committing to goals and at the same time being able to let go of them if something more appropriate comes along is a hard lesson for me to learn.  Getting too attached to an outcome may not deliver the best results.  Events beyond my control may intercede.  I then have choice about how I respond to the situation.  For me, this is the real meaning of responsibility- to be able to respond consciously, thoughtfully and in a centred way.  Not unconsciously, reactively and out of a sense of habit or rigidity.

The famous Striding Edge is an exposed, rocky ridge leading to the summit of Helvellyn

Danger

The famous Striding Edge is an exposed, rocky ridge leading to the summit.  People have died on it.  In fact, the week I committed to the trip I saw a poster at a local café that said that the owner’s son had died on Striding Edge that year in high wind while doing a charity walk.  The father was raising money for the charity in other ways and to commemorate his son’s death, charity and bravery.  It was a sobering thought.  And I committed to it anyway.  Goals require some risk and sacrifice.  In order to say “yes” to something you have to be able to say “no” to others. You may have to let go of others- perhaps even your life.  Extreme I acknowledge, but it tests your resolve and makes the journey more vivid and achieving the goal more delicious.  I think I enjoy the journey more with this mind set, rather than fixating on the destination.

Patterns

Doing something different reveals your patterns and where you feel comfortable and safe: exposed to the elements rather than in the security of home or work environments; spending time in the company of people I know less well or completely new to me; different food to fuel me for the long walk as I listen to my body tell me what I need to eat rather than my head saying what it thinks I should eat; being more active rather than sedentary; rugged hills of the North rather than manicured countryside of the South; camaraderie and friendship with fellow walkers; developing a new level of relationship with the friend I walked with; the glory of a cup of tea after a long day in the hills; a really deep sleep after a strenuous day on the mountain; noticing where my body is weak and strong; where my mind takes me when I am tired, lost or cold; missing loved ones.  Exposing these patterns can be revealing and you can use them as a growth edge in your development if you choose.  I’ve been listening to my body about what and when to eat ever since with remarkable results.

Surprises

Walking in the high mountains of The Lakes, I came across benches that commemorated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

However much you plan things, you will always be surprised by the ultimate outcome.  Things will never be exactly as you imagine them.  Walking in the high mountains of The Lakes, I came across benches that commemorated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.  People must have carried these benches up mountains, over styles and finally positioned them so that they were safe to sit on and enjoy the views.  They went to tremendous trouble to bring pleasure to unknown walkers and in honour of the sovereign.  I think that is wonderful and extraordinary.  It is a legacy.  A reminder that things are bigger than you.  That your actions have a consequence for the future.  What do you choose?

Letting go of rigid control of the plan allows things to unfold organically, naturally and as they will.  Imposing your will only leads to tension, resistance and discomfort.  It is a fine balance to set your intention, allow things to unfold and flow and be a willing co-creator in the process as it unfolds.  Some of the greatest moments of my life have been when I have played an active role in creating something and allowed others to create it with me as equal partners.  I used to run martial arts sessions for 12-13 year olds on extra-curriculum days at a local school.  Each session was different as the children created with me what they wanted to perform to their peers.  It takes humility and responsibility.  I often stumble upon it by accident and find it hard to do on purpose.  I think coaching sessions are the closest I get professionally.  Travel and social situations in my private life provide beautiful platforms for such connections.

Completion

There is something satisfying about achieving a goal- or even seeking to attempt it without success.  When you get to the end, do you celebrate, reflect and learn from the experience?  Life moves on at a pace, and it is all too easy to move on to the next thing without savouring the experience you have just had.  Part of the journey is to come to the end, stop and rest.  All cycles go through this rest period (like the four seasons, Winter is a time to rest, rejuvenate and assimilate what has gone before).  As a culture, we are less good at the resting part, eager to move on to the next thing.  But we lose so much because we do not savour, integrate and process the experience.  Talking it over, looking at photos, considering what could be done differently and what you would do more or less of.  These are valuable exercises is embedding the experience and how it enriches your life.

Over to You

So, there you have it.  Some of the learning from setting personal goals and trying to achieve them. What do you learn from setting personal goals?  How might you do things differently?  Do you focus more on your personal goals or professional ones?  If you’d like that to change, how would you go about that?

Pass it on

Why not pass this blog post on to a friend, family or colleague?  Additionally, like and share the social media posts and spread the love.  Thank you.

Be the Best Boss you ever had

How good a boss are you to yourself?  As a self-employed solopreneur, how well are you taking care of your well-being?  And as an employee, is your well-being at the forefront of your mind as you work?  How well do you look after yourself?  Does self-care feature high on your priority list?

Do you consider what your needs are?  Or do you focus more on getting the job done without regard to your personal cost?  Are you treating yourself as you would treat others?  Or are you giving yourself a hard time?  If you were your boss, how well would you feel you treated yourself?

Recently, I asked a group of self-employed entrepreneurs at a workshop, how good a boss they were to themselves.  We explored how they could be the best boss they ever had.  The questions above were at the core of the workshop content.

Well-being and work

So often, people enter self-employment because they have had a bad experience as an employee: working conditions, professional relationships, long hours at work and commuting, toxicity, lack of training and personal development, life-work balance, clear vision and communication, poor leadership and management, stress, anxiety, overwhelm, health considerations, autonomy, a sense that the work you are doing is not worthwhile and so on.

Well-being sits at the heart of these work issues.  Whether an employee or self-employed, your on-going enjoyment at work, productivity, creativity, physical and emotional health, fulfilment, sense of contribution, career advancement, business growth, freedom, resilience and more determine your well-being.

Being in control

So much of your well-being is determined by your boss and your broader working environment (space, colleagues, hours, travel etc.) when you are an employee.  As a self-employed solopreneur, you have full control of your well-being.  You can control when and where you work, when to take breaks and holidays, who your colleagues and clients are, how you work, your vision for your business future, how your business fits in with your personal life and so much more.

Yet, when you work for someone else, you might be surprised by the amount of control you DO have.  You can choose employers that will support you in your quest for greater physical and emotional health, that align to your values and so bring greater fulfilment, give flexible time and location commitments so that you can create a more compelling life-work balance, offer training that supports self-growth and resilience and so forth.  I appreciate that if you are working for an employer that offers no or little support in these areas it might be a challenge to change culture or find new employers.  But don’t you owe it to yourself and your family and friends to find work that gives you fulfilment, meaning, purpose and holistic well-being?

Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971): God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Whether employed or working for yourself, if you do not take a stand and take control, you find yourself controlled by bosses, work colleagues or clients.  You might become chained to your computer, estranged to family and friends, miss your hobbies and other passions, work with clients and colleagues you don’t enjoy, work too long hours, neglect your health and wonder what the hell went wrong!!!  Where did the fun go?  Why all this stress?  It doesn’t have to be this way.

Be the best boss you ever had

For many years I was the worst boss I ever had.  I didn’t take breaks, I missed family holidays, I worked long hours, I managed money poorly, I didn’t pay myself enough, I lacked a long-term vision for my business.  I didn’t feel free.  The boundaries between work and personal life were so blurred, I missed the best of both worlds.  I ignored all the advice and the signs and so I ended up tired, uninspired and broke.  I left full-time employment because all it gave me was a regular salary and I wanted more.  Yet doing something you love isn’t enough.  You have to take care of mind, body, heart and soul so that you CAN enjoy your work and continue to be inspired by your passion.

It took me a while to climb out of the mess, but the first step in all of that was self-care: managing my stress and well-being.  That included:

  • financial discipline
  • a clear vision for my business
  • boundaries between work and family life
  • rest, breaks and holidays
  • mentoring (for advice, feedback and guidance)
  • training and development
  • regular movement and exercise
  • time management (not just at work but for my personal life as well)
  • meditation practice
  • having an active life outside of work
  • Self-honesty and gratitude
  • Autonomy
  • Healthy diet

It’s a personal journey that anyone can take, whether self-employed or working for someone else.  Either way, first and foremost, you are taking control of your life, being the boss or captain of your ship and writing the chapters of your life story.

Daily check-in

We are all a complex combination of mind, body, heart and soul.  It takes perseverance and self-awareness to keep these 4 elements in balance throughout life.  A daily check-in to ask each part of you what is present for you right now can bring this to your awareness.  For example, my mind at the moment is saying that I have a lot to do today and I need to be focused and efficient; my body feels tired and tense and wants rest; the heart feels full from all the work I am doing that is aligned to my values and; my soul craves the hills and open space of the Lake District.  It takes 30 seconds, maybe a minute.  Try it now.  I’ll wait…………

There is nothing you must do about it.  Don’t make it right or wrong.  But if you feel compelled to make change, does it improve your well-being?  And can you keep improving your well-being and maintain or even improve your quality of life (materially, financially, emotionally, spiritually etc.)?

If you want to take control of their well-being at work, “Be the Best Boss you ever had” workshops are designed for self-employed people and employees.  The impact personally and professionally can be profound as you learn practices you can do throughout your day to improve well-being, reduce stress and build resilience.  If you’re interested in local public workshops why not get in touch?  Perhaps you would like to host such an event at your place of work?  The next public event will be in Cambridge, on July 18th, 2019.  You can find more details here.

Over to you

Are you the best boss you ever had?  Or the worst?  How do you look after your well-being throughout the day?  What will you do differently as a result of reading this blog post?  I’d love to hear what you’re doing to take care of yourself and be the best boss you ever had.

Pass it on

If you found this blog useful and know someone who would benefit from reading it, please share it with them.  Or share the social media posts and comment, raising awareness of this essential topic.  Work is a major part of our daily lives.  Happiness and well-being at work are essential for overall life fulfilment….and if you can’t find contentment at work, having practices in place to maximise fulfilment outside of work can make the difference to your life-work balance.

What is life coaching- and what can it do for you?

Have you ever wondered what life coaching is? Or perhaps what it isn’t? The word “coaching” is used so broadly it can be a little confusing what people mean when they say “I am a coach” or “I offer coaching”. One of the first questions prospective clients ask me is “What is coaching and what can it do for me?”

What is Life Coaching

From my understanding, the roots of coaching are firmly embedded in sports performance. Timothy Gallwey may well have written the first life coaching book with The Inner Game of Tennis.

He talks about using the body to learn new habits, embodying the feel of movement to create great, high-level performance. It’s a short step to embodying any new habit, including feeling confident, empowered, powerful and engaged in any number of daily life situations.

Any high performing athlete needs a coach to motivate, inspire, guide and improve physical and mental performance. So why not any person who wishes to perform at a higher level in any area of their life? Success is not assured, but the likelihood of improvements and achieving desired goals is highly increased.

Life Coaching for Everyone

The parallels with everyday life are massive. We all have goals. We all want to improve our performance, be it at work or in our private lives. Mind sets around showing up in relationships and creating the life you long for are essential for success. Life-limiting mind sets keep you stuck in old patterns. Finding mind sets that are aligned to your goals and values make success more likely.

Now, there are many ways to make this happen. There are books and courses and retreats, webinars and seminars, both on-line and off-line. There are executive coaches, therapists, financial coaches, counsellors, relationship coaches, consultants and life coaches.

When the word “coach” is made to mean the same as “consultant“, you might get an expert in a particular field. The client or coachee is expecting input from the coach/ consultant based on their experience in business say to advise and guide. Incredibly useful. I myself have used business coaches at certain points in my business development. This type of coaching or consulting is a step-by-step, incremental development as the client grows in knowledge and experience.

Co-active Life Coaching

The kind of life coaching I do, co-active life coaching, is transformational. Rather than step-by-step, incremental growth, the client experiences transformation. Evolving from caterpillar to butterfly.

For over 20 years I have taught martial arts. The Japanese word for that role is “sensei”. That roughly translates into English as teacher. Yet, as is so often with different languages, the work “sensei” means much more. It is one who cares for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of those that are supported by him. There is love, patience, compassion and a fierce longing for their true strength and power to reveal itself and manifest in ever area of their lives. It comes to each individual in its own time. Yet the sensei never stops longing for that truth and working with them to make that real in the world.

When I went into life coaching, I felt a natural affinity towards this type of coaching. It was a great fit. An extension of my “Sensei” role. And I could bring physical embodiment to my life coaching and greater emotional intelligence to my “Sensei” role. You can learn more here.

Life Coaching and Transformation

An example of this transformative process with one of my clients follows. Changes in perception and perspective in almost every call lead to massive shifts in action that gave new and exciting outcomes. The client’s life was literally transformed.

“I have been lucky enough to share a coaching journey with David that has been and still is a transformational experience……….What David brought to the game that was priceless, was an in depth exploration of these ideas and plans to put any changes into daily action. That’s where the real power of coaching is and with this depth has come great personal rewards….. I found that the positive benefits of exploring these concepts actually manifested themselves very powerfully after the sessions and are still going on now.

“David is an empathic and passionate coach who held my wishes as a client foremost in our relationship and gently but very firmly held me to my decisions and personal promises without distraction. It’s not new knowledge that to change old habits, reach new heights and achieve ones goals, powerful and sustained focus on them is required to empower them, but theres a vast difference between just knowing how to do it and actually doing it, David helps make it happen.”

Evoking Transformation

The caterpillar needs to dissolve away old ways of being and doing that support old goals. Instead, embrace new ways of being and doing that are aligned to new goals. The shift is not incremental. It is transformational. New perceptions and perspectives that drive deep, inner change.

That is what I want for any client that comes my way. If I know I cannot walk along side them to support that change I will suggest appropriate coaches I think can. Then the client can decide. And if I can, I will use all my love and compassion to evoke transformation in my client. An on-line dictionary defines evoke as “bring or recall (a feeling, memory, or image) to the conscious mind.” Coaching tools delve into exploration and awareness. As you become more aware, you have access to inner resources previously unavailable to you. Those inner resources ignite new levels of consciousness or being which result in different doing.

Over to You

On and in it goes, revealing more potential at every exploration. If you would like to make those transformational shifts, perhaps you are ready for co-active life coaching with me and bring new inspiration to your career, relationships, health, wellness and life as a whole.

Pass it on

If you know people who want to make transformational change, please forward them the link to this blog. Alternatively, if this has inspired something in you, please get in touch and we can have a conversation about how we might be able to walk the path together towards a more fulfilling life for you.

Self care- the benefits for physical, mental and emotional well-being

What does self care mean to you? Does it seem essential or indulgent? Are you at the top of your list for self care or are you at the bottom? Are you always looking out for others and disregarding your needs? Or are you taking care of yourself so that you can look after those you care most about?

Take care of yourself first

You all know the scenario given in the flight safety information announcement before the plane takes off: in case of emergency please apply your own oxygen mask BEFORE helping other people to apply theirs.

It seems like a no brainer and common sense in that situation. If I pass out through lack of oxygen how can I help my child or elderly parent in an emergency? Or anyone else for that matter? In the immediacy and short time frame of an emergency, it seems obvious.

It is an act of self care. According to the Self Care Forum, “Self Care is the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, well-being or wellness.”

Yes, you are doing it so that you can help others, but first and foremost you have to care for yourself. Yet self care need not be an emergency situation. In fact, the vast majority of self care is the daily little things you can do that keep your mind and body relaxed, stress free and in a state of well-being and wellness.

Self care in action

I have known a number of people who have had strokes and heart attacks. They all say the same thing: when it first happened it was such a shock that I was jolted into taking action for self care. They ate more healthily, exercised more, worked less, reduced stress, had more fun and spent time with the people they cared about and doing things they enjoyed. Yet, as time went on and the shock of it passed, the immediacy subsided and the urgency is not so great. Old habits return and they find themselves in a similar situation a couple of years down the line. The only exception to that example I know is my Mum who still eats a very healthy diet, exercises regularly and has a personal trainer 5 years after her stroke. She is 87 years old.

Self care is not selfish. It ensures you are able to serve others as fully as possible as well as your self.

So what sorts of things can you do to take care of yourself? You know most of them: reduce fat and sugar in your diet, exercise for longer and more regularly, cut out smoking, reduce alcohol intake, eat more green leafy vegetables, rest more, sleep more, work less, reduce the things that stress you, increase what gives you joy and have clear boundaries to which you say “yes” and “no” to name a few. What others would you add?

Two items of self care I’d like to explore that are less talked about are honouring your values and living your life purpose. These are essential self care tools I believe because they are at the core of why you would care for yourself.

Self care and Values

Some of my values are kindness, trust, transparency, seeing people at their best and giving people space to be themselves. For me there is integrity and peace when I live in line with these values. It can be challenging but I feel less stress and more powerful when I act in alignment with them. I hold myself in that too so I am more self-compassionate and understanding as well as with others. It is a kindness I can offer other people and myself.

So, what are your values? What is most important to you? Get pen and paper and write a list. If you’re struggling, think of a time when you felt really alive, powerful, tingly all over and you didn’t give a hoot about what anyone else thought of you. What was going on? Who were you with? How did you feel? What impact did you have?

Alternatively, consider a time you were upset or pissed off. What angered you about that situation? What was being stepped on that was important to you? These exercises will shed light on what is most important to you- your values. Notice where these values show up in your life? And where they don’t? Where would you like to see them more in your life? How would your life be different if they were more present? Can you see how by living these values more you are doing what’s best for you which means you bring more of yourself to your life? That people would benefit more from your power and passion because you acted from what was most important to you? How stressed and less than your best do you feel when you don’t honour those values? It’s a win- win when you do? Doesn’t everyone lose when you don’t?

Self care and Life Purpose

Connected to values is life purpose. Now don’t get all worried because life purpose has to be something earth shattering that brings you to the Oprah Winfrey show! Life Purpose is about what lights you up inside. Isn’t that self care? What makes your heart sing? Wouldn’t the people in your life benefit from that as well as you? For some their life purpose is to create a bold and loving space for their family. For others it about creating a legacy to reduce suicide, or homelessness, save the whale or create a more compassionate world. Personally, my life purpose is about personal freedom and empowering people to live fully themselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. What is your life purpose?

Can you see how awareness of your values and life purpose make living a more healthy lifestyle, creating and maintaining boundaries and other acts of self care easier to do on a daily basis? They give a context in which your self care can sit. And they give an empowered perspective to keep choosing self care even in the face of challenging circumstances. Keep choosing you and you will always have the strength, clarity and power to serve others.

Self care and coaching

Exploring values and life purpose are central to co-active life coaching. They are some of the foundations of your coaching exploration and journey. Clarity on these so that you can live them with integrity and fullness is an act of self care you can keep saying “yes” to again and again. And the benefit to your friends and family and the world at large will be massive. 

Some may challenge and create barriers as you step into your values and life purpose and you may have your own challenges and barriers as you live them more fully. That is what the coaching journey is about as you grow into that person more fully. Support and having someone in your corner can help make that transformation more readily. Would you like to take that journey? If so, get in touch and we can have a discussion about what your goals are and how I may be able to support in that journey.

Over to you

How do you administer self care? What will you do differently now about your self care having read this? Every year in the UK we have Self Care Week. “Whether it is about self-treatable conditions, long term conditions, or lifestyle choices to ensure better physical health and mental well-being, (self care) week raises awareness of the huge benefits of people looking after themselves better.”

Here is a poster for Self Care Week 2019. Lots of additional resources are available at the Self Care Forum website and throughout the Potentiality Coaching blog posts. Here is a video with more information:

Pass it on

If you know someone who needs more self care, please pass on this blog or details about Self Care Forum to them. It may empower them to greater self care and allow them to make a bigger impact in their world which will be gift to everyone.

Your significant relationship- how are you showing up?

This week marks 2019’s designated day of Love- February 14th, Valentine’s Day. You could spend your time right now reading about the commerciality this brings and the hollowness or shallowness of this dedicated day to romance. Or you could be reading about how to sweep your lover off their feet and thrill them in sexual desire.  Instead, I’d like to discuss a much broader topic that is central to a successful relationship……. how are YOU showing up in your significant partnership with lover, spouse or partner?

Who are you choosing to be?

There is no doubt there are challenges in all relationships. The key, I believe, is understanding where your responsibilities lie and who you are choosing to be in every moment. There is also an ambience to a relationship and what you bring to create, maintain and grow that ambience.

What do you put in?

There are a couple of really great metaphors I have been taught about successful relationships. The first is that a relationship is a container. It is as full as what you put into it. The kind of things you put into it determines it’s ambience.

For example, if all your energy is focused on your work, you put very little into the container. If all your focus is on the kids what are you putting into the relationship with your partner? It needs feeding. What are you feeding it with? You can hear more about that here:

What is the ambience of your relationship?

If you feed the container with abuse, control, cynicism, lies and indifference, what do you think the container is going to be like? Gestures of flowers, chocolates and a beautiful meal once a year is not going to do much to change the ambience of the over all relationship is it?  Also, you are going to be able to take very little from the relationship that is positive and nourishing.

If love, respect, honesty, curiosity, interest, empowerment and support are regularly poured into the container, the ambience will be empowering and nurturing. Another gesture on February 14th is only going to reinforce what you already know to be true about the relationship, right? Valentine’s Day is just another part of your Valentine’s Life that consistently fuels a beautiful relationship.  You will be able to draw positive and nourishing from the relationship whenever wanted or needed.

What you bring to the relationship creates that ambience. Once a year won’t do it. Choosing to be the supportive, romantic, funny, respectful and honest partner you want to be everyday is going to build the kind of relationship you really hope and long for. However you want to show up with your partner, choose it purposefully, consciously and intentionally and choose it everyday.  Honour your values and bring them alive in all you do…. and that includes your significant relationship.

Is there balance?

A co- dependent relationship is like two cards leaning on each other. One will fall if the other leaves. Independent and inter- dependent relationships are fair healthier and resilient.

This does not mean all your attention is in your relationship. That is not healthy and balanced. If you did, what other parts of your life suffer as a result? This would only put strain on your relationship and make you dependant in each other. This is known as co- dependency.

This brings us to the second metaphor. Co- dependency is like when two cards lean against one another. Take one card away and the other card crashes to the floor. This is not a healthy open relationship.

Instead, learn independence. Cultivate your own life, interests and friendships. Be an interesting person to yourself and your partner. Be excited about ALL your life.

Including your partner. Be curious about him/ her. Delve deep into them. Discover their fears and their strengths. Listen to their longing and their dreams. Let them surprise you. Allow yourself to be in awe. And be awesome.

Learn to stand beside them.  Two cards side by side.  Neither one reliant on the other.  Each supporting one another.  Creating space, freedom and openness in the relationship to be individual, independent wholes.  Offer support, love and understanding when needed, in the knowledge that your partner is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Allow them to do the same with you. Be open, transparent and vulnerable.  This makes the relationship greater than the sum of the parts.  An inter- dependent system that serves more than the two- it serves all the rich communities of which you are both a part.

Taking responsibility

You don’t need each other. You choose to be together. Don’t blame them. You are at choice.  Take responsibility and choose to be in the relationship or not. If you choose to stay, be all you can be to serve you, your partner AND the relationship.

If it is really not serving you and you have tried everything you can or if you feel you are not being met by your partner, perhaps it is time for an honest conversation. To ask for what you want from the relationship and your partner. You don’t HAVE to put up with any crap……. you CAN choose to, for the sake of so many other benefits that may get as well. It is up to you.

As Valentine’s Day 2019 looms and passes, think about what you and your partner bring to the container that is your relationship. If something is missing I challenge you to speak to them about it….. lovingly, kindly and respectfully. Take ownership of your responsibility and allow them to take ownership of their’s. Discuss it, craft it and design a relationship of which you are proud.

One night of romance can be beautiful. Celebrate it on February 14th or not. It is the little drops of beauty and kindness that fall into the container of your partnership, the fierce love that holds responsibility and accountability to both of you that make it strong.

Don’t allow the hum- drum of life to dull your Light. Shine bright in your work, friendships, parenting, passions and significant relationship.

Love hard, love fiercely and above all love daily and create a container full of jewels that makes your relationship priceless.

Over to you

Do you have a Valentine’s Day or a Valentine’s Life? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day once a year or throughout the year? Are you consistent in your responsibility for your relationship? Do you nurture your relationship as much as you can? Could you improve in your nurturing? Who do you bring to your significant relationship? Are you happy with what you bring? What would you do differently? Who would you be instead? What’s getting in the way? What are you getting right? What do you want more of?

Pass it on

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or on social media posts. I’d live to hear from you and get a conversation going about this topic. Also, please pass it on to anyone you know who would be interested to read the blog. I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

Resilience- 15 things you can do to top up your Resilience Bank Account

I was recently asked to run a workshop for The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) on resilience.  A dictionary definition of resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”.  The concern was that employees have tools and resources that can make them more resilient.  This not only makes them more inspired and empowered in their personal lives, but also more effective, creative and productive at work.  Resilience is a multi- faceted quality that can be tackled from numerous angles.

Resilience Bank Account

Your Resilience Bank Account will have resources coming in and going out

As is so often with complex ideas, a metaphor helps to simplify.  I like things to be simple.  So, as a working example I use the idea of a Resilience Bank Account.  Like all bank accounts, the Resilience Bank Account has to have money coming in and going out.  We are all familiar with our own bank accounts and the many demands for withdrawals there are.  Often, our source of income is limited to only one or two.

Any strategist will tell you, this is a weak and vulnerable place to be.  If that single source ceases due to redundancy, illness etc., suddenly there is no way to top up the account and the demands for withdrawals remain the same- perhaps even increase.  So, it is good practice to have as many sources as possible.  To be truly resilient, the more sources of income your bank account has, the better.  If one source of income dries up, you have others to buffer the loss and give you some time and wiggle room.  This might be in the shape of savings, stocks and shares, part time jobs and other investments.  You may even have passive sources of income.

Your resilience and your Resilience Bank account are the same.  You want to top them up from as many sources and as often as possible so that in the event of withdrawals, you have plenty there to cover the cost.  If one of your sources is not delivering at this time, there are others to cover the shortfall.

Resilience Deposits

We will look at the withdrawals later.  For now, let’s look at the deposits.  Deposits are the things that build your confidence, grow you, strengthen you, make you feel enlivened and empowered, move you forward, get you thinking with positive focus and intention. Here are some examples:

Mindset

The attitude you bring to a situation often determines how successful you are, how quick you bounce back when derailed, your ability to adapt and generate positive outcomes. So, a positive mindset which is solution focused is best.  This leads to more creative thinking.

Goals

Setting goals is a positive step to help you move forward. Large goals get split into smaller manageable pieces.   Achieving these smaller goals bolsters your confidence.  Savouring the victory has even greater positive psychological impact.   You may not achieve your larger goals.  Whether you do or not, these smaller steps moved you forward in life, created experiences and learning which all add to your Resilience Bank Account.

Values

It is important for your values to be honoured and appear in the goals and activities in your life. Doing so leads to feelings of fulfilment, contentment and well- being.  Gaining awareness of your values means you can make life choices aligned to them. More deposits for that account.

Boundaries

Have strong boundaries and keep to them. These are the things you don’t want to negotiate on based upon your goals and values.  If you value health and fitness you may want to say “yes” to exercise and “no” to sugary and fatty food.  If family is important to you, you may want to say “no” to working evenings and weekends and “yes” to individual time with each family member (for me details see bogs on “yes” and “no“).  There is no right or wrong.  It is simply a question of creating boundaries for yourself and others to respect and honour so that you live with integrity and contentment.

The Body

Feeling great in your body is a powerful resilience tool. Good diet, exercise, sleep, rest and relaxation are essential to this end.  Correct hydration and breathing are invaluable.  Use massage, meditation and mindfulness to aid in health, rehabilitation and restoration.

Emotion and mental health

Do not suppress your emotion. It leads to all kinds of mental and physiological distress.  Gain awareness and notice your emotions.  Build an emotional vocabulary that becomes more discerning over time.  Finding the right word to describe how you feel is a liberating experience.  It’s like you can “name” it, see it for what it is.  As a result, it loses some of its power.  Find ways to express your emotions appropriately in writing and speaking to the right people who will really listen and give you time and space.  Develop emotional mastery and your life will blossom in SO many ways.

Family and friends

Surround yourself with supportive, positive and nurturing people. One’s whom you respect and enjoy and enjoy and respect you.  Have mentors that can guide you.  Cheerleaders who are in your corner.  You want to have limited access to people who leave you feeling “less than”.  Instead, surround yourself with people around whom you feel great.  Make deep and meaningful connections with people, share life’s moments with them and the bond will deepen.

Environment

Make sure your working and living environments are tidy, clean and ordered. Have calm spaces, places for family activities and space to be alone, restful rooms for sleep and garden space that allows you and the family to do more of what you love to do.

Self- Care

Ensure you have “me time”.  What do you want?  Go out and get it.  It’s so easy to put others at the top of your priority list while never meeting your own needs.  Sometimes put you at the top of the list.  Buy yourself gifts sometimes.  Take yourself away or go on a trip with a friend.  You’re worth it.  So often, you forget about your needs.  Please don’t.  Sometimes it’s because you cannot think of what you want.  This is something I struggle with.  It may be because you are out of practice recognising what you want.  Please, get practising and begin to notice what you desire in life and go out and make it happen.  Like all things it gets easier with practice.  If you are not well cared for by you, you cannot be fully of service to anyone else.

Spirituality and Contribution

Do you have a spiritual practice(s): Meditation, prayer, contemplation, reflection, mindfulness, writing, music, charity and movement?  Anything that connects you to something larger (Source, God, Universal Energy).  If that seems too big, what makes you feel like you contribute in a significant way?  Moments shared with others, or alone, nourish the flame within that burns in your heart or soul and makes you feel alive, connected and enamoured with life.

Hobbies

What brings you joy? What activities beyond work, with or without family, with or without friends, also makes you feel alive?  Adventure, exploration, learning, new places, people and cultures, exercise and fitness or things that bring pleasure to the mind and senses like gardening, collecting, making and designing. They all deepen your connection to life.

Short- term Stress

This is the good stress.  Things that make your heart pound and quicken your breath can really deepen your resilience.  The little things that scare you can give you a buzz.  Most especially if they are aligned to your goals and values.  You sign up to give a talk or attend a networking event and beforehand you’re wondering what possessed you to commitment to it.  Once you’ve done it you feel pride and achievement.  It also takes your life towards new directions, experiences and learning.

Balance this with Relaxation

It’s important to relax too. Sleep, rest and rejuvenation are essential.  Weekend breaks, holidays, spa days, adventure days with friends, dinners, lunches and get- togethers are all active relaxation opportunities that help you thrive. Chilling on the sofa, reading a book, watching TV or soaking in the bath can all rejuvenate your body and soul.  Just don’t do too much- it has the reverse affect if you do!!!

Education and Growth

Constant learning, challenging, experimenting and enquiry help to keep you sharp physically and mentally. Education can bring you all kinds of information and learning experiences that may come to be really useful as resources towards resilience.

Energy

You are not a robot. Nor can you work all hours, sleep little, rest little, eat poorly and drive yourself endlessly.  You are human- in need of change, variety, and diversity.  Humans adapt to subtle cycles and nuances through the day.  If you were a battery, you would need to recharge regularly (see blog: Recharge).  Much of the above points will do that for you.  Energy is an essential resilience resource.  Learn to conserve it as well.  Use your boundaries to protect yourself.  If your energy drops too low, your health and well- being will suffer.

Resilience Withdrawals

That is a list of the things I have learned to use to make deposits into my Resilience Bank Account.  Together they make a formidable set of resources that can give you a cushioning when life gets tough and set- backs occur so that you can bounce back.  The more of the list you use, and the more often you use it, the more resilient your Resilience Bank Account.  Not all of them will work for you.  Perhaps you have some of your own?

Keep track of them and use them to keep your Resilience Bank Account topped up.  You have control over these fifteen inputs.  You can choose.  Make changes to build your Resilience Bank Account up every single day from multiple resources.

You will enjoy better health, contentment, meaning and purpose.  Life will feel more fulfilling.  You’ll have more fun, feel part of something larger to which you positively contribute.  You will love and be loved.

And so when the inevitable pains of life come: the annoying work colleague; someone cutting you up in traffic; redundancy; relationship breakups; disloyalty; death; illness; financial issues; machines breaking down; internet going off- line and so on…….. you will have plenty in the Resilience Bank Account to ride the storm.  You’ll be able to make the withdrawals required for yourself and others and still have resources left.

And, if you run out of resources, you know there are at least fifteen ways you can build yourself up again.

Over to You

How do you stay resilient?  What do you do to keep your Resilience Bank Account topped up?  Which of the one’s listed do you use?  What one’s are missing?  Do you find that you bounce back from set- backs and challenges quickly or do you struggle?  What does resilience look like to you?  How could you become more resilient?  Why not post in the comments box or on social media and let us know your thoughts and experiences?

Pass it on

If someone sprang to mind while you were reading this because you thought it might be useful to them, please pass it on and send them the link.  Please share the tweets and posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Thank you.

Workshop case study- developing practical strategies to manage the pressures of everyday life

“David and I discussed at length how best to help staff to manage physical and emotional well-being, which is a key priority for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health as without a healthy workforce we will not be able to deliver our ambitious agenda.” Louise Frayne

I was approached by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to do a workshop at their London offices.  The workshop was designed after detailed discussion with the Head of HR & Organisational Development, Louise Frayne, who was looking for content relating to stress- management, well- being and confidence.  We had “met” on an on- line discussion I was running about confidence.  Louise was intrigued about my use of the mind- body connection for greater confidence, managing stress and workplace wellness.  Because of my martial arts background, I designed a workshop that focused on mindset, body and posture.  It also centred around movement, connection and the relationship between mind and body.

“I contacted David to design and deliver workshops here at our London office to help staff develop practical strategies to manage the pressures of everyday life. David and I discussed at length how best to help staff to manage physical and emotional well-being, which is a key priority for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health as without a healthy workforce we will not be able to deliver our ambitious agenda.”  Louise Frayne, Head of HR & Organisational Development, RCPCH

Stress, Communication and the Body

We started by using the work of Paul Linden and gaining awareness of how the body responds to threat.  By eliciting a stress response, attendees paid attention to where they became tense in their bodies and how they moved when threatened.  Then they learned a centring technique by balancing and relaxing the body, bringing them to a calm and broadened awareness.  As a result, they responded to threat in a much more effective and confident manner.  We explored how and where we might use this in our personal and professional lives.

We extended this theme by looking further at posture and breathing.  How do they impact on our confidence and perception of the world?  Also, how that impacts the people we interact with. We practised scenarios and realised how some postures and breathing made for more receptive and open communication than others.  It was agreed that using these more open postures for meetings and general communication around the office and at home would be beneficial.

We continued the embodied theme by looking at boundaries and being able to maintain those boundaries in the face of challenge and conflict.  These challenges and conflicts can be external and internal, yet it is the person’s personal relationship with the challenge or conflict that is vital for success. Thinking about boundaries alone is not powerful enough.  Integrating the work in the body can make for much more empowered behaviours and statements.  Attendees chose challenges they wished to say “yes” to and “no” to. These were as diverse as requests from work colleagues, personal health challenges such as diet and exercise and behaviours that improve well- being such as relaxation.  Embodying and centring gave more powerful and assertive “yes” statements, giving inner confidence and resolve.  “No” statements could be said confidently and calmly so that it would not damage relationships.

Finally, we tied all these strands together with a communication exercise.  Using Aikido principles of flow, we built a metaphor for communication based on remaining engaged and curious in conversation through movement.  We explored the relationships between leading and following and coming to conversations with an agenda and being agenda free.  Also, we discovered that entering the relationship with our own personal confidence and strength gave us the ability to play our role well, contribute effectively and enjoy the process.  We used the centring, breathing and postural techniques learned earlier in the workshop to make for better communication in a range of relationships so that we experienced win- win outcomes.

Feedback and further workshop development

The feedback from this workshop was very positive:

“David’s wealth of knowledge and expertise was invaluable.  The first workshop introduced core principles of breathing and relaxation. Feedback was so positive that I commissioned two further workshops to build on the themes of the first workshop.  Take up by staff was enthusiastic. Feedback from staff who attended showed that they felt able to use the strategies David had shown them in a variety of settings and they particularly liked how David developed trust and rapport in the room, so everyone could talk openly, which is so important for this type of event to work well. I would have no hesitation in recommending David and his workshops to any organisation.”  Louise Frayne, Head of HR & Organisational Development, RCPCH

Louise and I discussed the content for two further workshops to be carried out the following year.

Presence, Values and the Body

We continued these themes in the second workshop six months later.  Our objective here was to explore values.  How do they impact on stress?  In what way do posture and energy affect our presence?  How does all that impact our relationships with others.  Finally, we looked at meditation for greater rest, resilience and relaxation.

Attendees noticed how posture improved responsiveness, agility, intention and commitment to values.  Focus led to more power, strength and resilience.  Combining these qualities, it was easier to express their individual values, stand up for them when challenged and work more effectively and productively when their values were aligned with those of the College.  We also drew on learning from the previous workshop, adding further strength and confidence to participants’ resolve, resilience and presence.

We finished this workshop with some simple relaxation exercises.  Requests for issues to be addressed included the negative impact the commute has on employees’ health and well- being.  I thought it would be useful to offer attendees relaxation exercises they could do on the train, in the car or while they walked to work.  These exercises could be used as a method to get to sleep or return to sleep so that they felt more rested.  We explored how breathing and muscular relaxation can reduce muscle tension, pain and discomfort.  They can also be used to calm the mind and bring mind and body to a centred space.  We also explored the build- up of negative energy in the body (through unexpressed emotion, lack of movement and exercise as well as compounded stress) and how that impacts health, well- being, relaxation, productivity and creativity.

Resilience, Emotions and the Body

The third and final workshop saw us look at resilience and managing emotions at work.  We used the metaphor of a bank account to explain how resilience works.

We focused the resilience exploration on three areas:

  • goal setting and the intention and focus to achieve those goals
  • effective emotional communication
  • how the body can be used to achieve these ends

We discussed goal setting and how it can positively impact resilience. We also looked at how set- backs and challenges can be dealt with more effectively and a more resilient mind set can be achieved through focus, commitment, body posture and intention.  In addition, we explored the power of surrounding yourself with people committed to and supportive of a similar goal.

The final section of the workshop looked at managing emotions, particularly anger.  The plan was to use the centring exercise from Paul Linden used in the first workshop, to show how it is possible to express and receive anger in a healthy way at work.  The attendees got a lot out of the different perspective offered.

In conclusion

The body is so often over- looked.  For many our primary concern is “the body beautiful”.  Perhaps that might extend to body health.  Yet, my hope is that these workshops presented new awareness of “the body powerful”.  That the resources of the body are so much more than how good it looks and physical health.  These are important factors in their own right.  And there are more.  The body can influence impact on:

  • stress
  • health and well- being
  • mental health and agility
  • living life on purpose and with meaning
  • presence
  • confidence
  • creativity and productivity
  • self- management and regulation
  • personal power and empowerment
  • employee engagement
  • communication
  • relationships with oneself and others

Caring for the body’s health increases its capacity to support us in all areas of our lives.  Awareness of our body’s sensations, feelings and emotions gives greater scope to explore the full human experience and perform at work and beyond in fulfilment.

If you would like bespoke workshops designed for you and your teams around stress management, resilience and well- being using the body, please get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.

Learning is transferable- Life Coaching, Shokunin and the Japanese Way

Some clients like their coaching experience to touch all areas of their lives.  Other clients prefer to restrict the coaching to specific areas.  This may be for many reasons and is part of the design of the relationship right at the start.  Of course, I honour this request when clients ask for it.  After all, the client is in complete control of the coaching process.  The client is responsible for the results and outcomes he/ she gets from the coaching journey.  This view gives focus and clarity.  It may make it easier to keep the coaching process restricted to a limited number of sessions.  For those who are looking for on- going or open- ended coaching, the freedom to explore all areas of the client’s life brings other benefits.

Open Ended Coaching

For those clients that open their whole lives to the coaching experience, there is a huge amount of growth that can come from seeing how behaviour in one area of a client’s life is replicated in other areas of their life.  This observation allows them to see how that habit may or may not be serving them in a broader context.  This can offer powerful insights.

One client for example noticed early in the coaching journey that he allowed himself to be derailed by other people’s agendas.  He got himself into financial difficulty because friends insisted on spending more money than he could afford on social activities.  He allowed himself to be persuaded and derailed from his financial plan to get out of debt and kept falling into the trap.

Much later in the coaching journey, he noticed that this derailing pattern appeared throughout his life.  Once he noticed it and knew he could resolve it in one area of his life, he was confident he could do it in others.  He took the understanding, learning and empowerment from his financial situation and started applying it to other areas.  He overcame this pattern in almost every section of his Wheel of Life- health, work, friends and family, relationships, fun and education.

Learning is Transferable

He did it by gaining clarity on what he felt was the priority for him in those social situations.  Yes, going out with friends was important, but to restrict that interaction for the sake of financial control and independence was more important.  He felt he wanted to explain this to his friends.  He had underlying fears of being seen as boring or irresponsible as well as rejection from the people he loved.  By holding to his principles and values he felt better about himself.  He was better able to stick to his plan and enjoy himself when he did socialise.  The fear and anxiety were gone.  He applied this principle of priority clarification in other areas of his life and found that his confidence, determination, relaxation and self- respect all improved.

Repeating Patterns

It is powerful to notice repeating patterns of behaviour in your own life both as a sign of where you can improve and where your strengths lie

I have heard many teachers make this observation.  “The way you do it is the way you do it,” says Richard Rohr, while T. Harv Eker says, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”  I think this is so true, and it is powerful to notice these repeating patterns in your own life both as a sign of where you can improve and to see where your strengths lie.

For myself I am a procrastinator.  I will put things off because I think I am too busy to deal with them or I think I have the time to look at them later.  Sometimes I just don’t want to deal with them.  The thing is they pile up and then I feel overwhelmed.  Then it’s harder to get those things done quickly and efficiently.  I continually train myself in all areas of my life to do things as they come up or realistically schedule them in my diary.  Otherwise it leads to anxiety and overwhelm.  It makes me far more efficient and effective.

Conversely, I show great tenacity, committing to any project that I sign up to, person I support or relationship I value.  It connects with my values of honour and integrity that I try to live throughout my life.  When I drop the ball, it is incredibly disappointing and painful to notice that deviation from my values and truth.

Conscious Awareness

When you take conscious control of these traits, you can steer yourself towards positive thoughts, words and behaviours that impact in all areas of your life.  While they are unconscious, they can run your life in an unsupportive way in the shadows.  Once you shed light on them, your awareness allows you to see where changes are beneficial or necessary and where current habits are already supportive towards achieving your goals.

This idea of becoming more consciously aware is a foundational part of the transformational co-active life coaching process.  It is also part of the martial arts journey.  Having studied the Japanese martial arts for almost three decades, it came as no surprise that this idea is an intrinsic part of Japanese culture.

The Japanese Way

In Japan, martial arts are not just about being able to fight and defend oneself.  They are a way of life, filled with life- enhancing principles to be applied to every moment.  They offer a foundation for living with honour, integrity and respect for self, others and the world.  Many traditional art forms in Japan, from tea ceremony and calligraphy to sword making and pottery, are infused with this sense of taking the focus, care, commitment, patience, time and love necessary to make their art, into all areas of the practitioner’s life.  This is the transformational nature of martial arts, along with any other “Do” or “Way” in Japanese culture.

More well- known Ways include Judo, Kendo and Aikido in martial arts, and include Chado (Tea Ceremony), Shodo (Calligraphy) and Kado (Flower arranging).  When this has been mastered, the practitioner is known as Shokunin.  It is as if the art is used to bring the individual to greater maturity, awareness and integrity.  It touches their whole life and the lives of the people they touch.  A great example of how our mindset infuses all our actions and behaviours.

Blind Spot

The notion that the way people approach any life situation often mirrors their approach to all of life’s situations may encourage us to sit up and take notice when these patterns emerge.  They are hard to recognise in yourself- as if you have a blind spot.  A life coach, holding a vision of bringing your best self to all situations in your life, can be invaluable in supporting you in that process.

Understanding that lessons in one area of your life can be instructive to make you more effective in other areas of your life is transformational.  It shows you that: if you can do it once you can do it again; communicates your commitment to yourself to grow, be courageous and be your best self; allows for compassion for yourself and for others; demonstrates that the job is never done and that there is always more learning and directions of growth.

None of it can be done without action.  In action, we show ourselves what can be done.  Action is the classroom of learning, failure, success and developing transferable skills.  It can make us more rounded, mature and powerful agents of change in our lives.

Over to You

What patterns of behaviour show up in your life?  Do you notice those patterns yourself, or do other people reveal them to you?  What are your blind spots?  What habits do you have that are not supportive of your success?  Where else do they show up in your life?  Please share your thoughts in the comments box or tweet me at @PotentialityC.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Pass it on

If you know someone who might find this article useful, please forward it to them.  It might be the inspiration and motivation they need to make deep change.  It could make all the difference in the world to them for their health, wellbeing, career, business ideas, relationships, finances and much more.