Courage to try
1:1 Life Coaching, June 2021
Not having the confidence to do something can often masquerade as lack of knowledge around what to do. You may think “I just don’t know what to do”, when it’s really, “I know what to do, but it feels scary”. You may spend years fooling yourself that what you need is more knowledge or skill, when what you actually need is the courage to try!
So, what stops you is not lack of knowledge, rather lack of confidence when you already know what to do. When you already have the necessary skills. Noticing this distinction and that fear is at play is the first step to breaking free. To finding the courage to let go of what holds you back.
Leverage your skills
1:1 Career Coaching, May 2021
Trying to fulfil ALL your needs purely through your day job is one approach, but it is not the only way. Sometimes, the market may not be willing to pay for the things you are interested in doing. Or, you may not yet have developed your passion to a level where that is possible. But, this does not mean you must give it up!
You can still develop your passion projects on the side, while having an income generating gig that leverages the skills you already have. The key here is ensuring your day job is not all consuming, such that it leaves you enough time and energy to purse your passion projects.
Expression of deep interest
1:1 Executive Coaching, March 2021
The thing(s) that deeply interests you can express itself in different areas. It does not have to be tied to a narrow job role or sector. You do not even necessarily have to be paid for it (though that may be something you wish to develop).
In the same way that a love for music can be expressed through different instruments, so too a deep interest can have many, varied outlets.
Once this is appreciated, the next step is uncovering which of these many paths most appeal to you. And, remember there is no need to single out just one. Why not explore multiple areas? Perhaps, you will be drawn to more than one, in the way that a musician plays more than one instrument, sometimes across different genres.
Dragging you down
1:1 Life Coaching, February 2021
A useful lens to apply to your life is noticing what really gives you joy and what feels like a chore. Some activities, like brushing your teeth or attending to the boiler, may be unavoidable chores. Fair enough. But others, like staying in an unfulfilling career or relationship for years may be perfectly avoidable. The real question is what keeps you stuck doing something that feels like a chore, day in and day out? What stops you from doing more of what makes you feel alive?
Perhaps, you hold deeper (non-conscious) beliefs that pressure you into doing so? Or, perhaps the pressure comes from people in your life that drag you down? People that reinforce the very thing you would rather move away from. The first step to breaking free, then, is really noticing and acknowledging the sources of such pressure. How it can come from both within yourself AND others, and how the two can form a dangerous alliance.
1:1 Life Coaching, January 2021
Your environment can have a huge impact on your ability to function well. If you despise rigid, hierarchical workplaces, for example and find yourself in one, this can stifle your natural creative spirit. How can it not?! Yet, you might blame yourself for lack of motivation, thinking that there is something wrong with you — when you are only reacting to what is around you.
So, your feelings of de-motivation and doubt may be very valuable information about your environment. They may be telling you to pay closer attention to your own needs. For, the real question is, if something doesn’t really work for you, what still keeps you there? Seeing the nature of your circumstances with real clarity is, then, the first step in breaking free. In replacing self-blame with self-knowledge and choice.
1:1 Career Coaching, December 2020
What’s the difference between being the best that you can be, and being the best that you can be at your job? Striving for excellence may be the common feature, but whose agenda are you working to?
Excellence, as a holistic value applied in your life, may not quite match-up with excellence at work. In fact, it may even be completely at odds with it, if the pursuit of excellence at work requires you to do things you would never voluntarily do!
Such situations can create inner conflicts and niggling feelings of unease. The first step to breaking free is noticing with absolute clarity any tension that exists between your personal philosophy and the work you do. From such a place of clarity, you can then decide how you want to proceed.
1:1 Life Coaching, November 2020
You are often your own greatest critic. But, what if this critic is really an internalised voice that belongs to someone else? Perhaps someone from the past — a parent, spouse or boss? Or perhaps an archetype from culture (e.g. authority figure) that says you should remain small and thwarted. NOTICING the nature of this inner critic is the primary step to breaking free.
When does it appear? What tiggers it more (e.g. interactions with certain types of people)? Whom does this voice really belong to? What makes you give so much weight to what this inner-critic says?
1:1 Executive Coaching, November 2020
The moment that you realise that you don’t NEED to react to something that you are triggered by in your habitual way, is the moment that you create real personal agency.
Not needing-to, liberates.
It brings choice.
It brings the ability to really decide how you want to be. The first step to breaking free is noticing your behaviour patterns in various situations.
Fear of being alone
1:1 Life Coaching, November 2020
We can put-up with unhealthy relationships because of the fear of being alone. Unhealthy relationships that we cling to like crutches to keep us from falling. No doubt, human relationships enrich our lives — we are the most social species on the planet after all! Yet, the inability to be comfortable with one’s self, to be comfortable with being alone, might cause us to maintain just any old relationship. Even if such a relationship brings suffering.
So, the ability to be alone empowers you with real choice. It allows you to choose relationships that are healthy, and to let-go of those that aren’t. Empowering yourself begins with asking what it is about being alone that you fear?
Is it discomfort around staying with your thoughts and feelings? Is it existential loneliness connected to your relationship with death? Could there be something familiar and ‘comfortable’ about certain types of relationships that draw you to them, despite their difficulties? Breaking free begins with having the courage to look within. It is better to be alone than in toxic relationships.
1:1 Executive Coaching, November 2020
The memory of negative experience may become entangled with an activity that you cherish. Usually because the two things happened to be connected at the time, so one came to be associated with the other.
Perhaps, having had a micro-managing boss makes you averse to stepping-up now, even though you are very capable. Or perhaps, having had an unforgiving piano teacher makes you anxious every time you sit down to play now. Of course, all this happens outside of conscious awareness.
The first step to breaking free is recognising that there is something to be disentangled. A non-conscious response related to the past, which no longer needs to be tied-to what you want to do in the present. Don’t ignore the entanglement — you might end-up erroneously discarding something that you really want to do!
1:1 Life Coaching, October 2020
Sometimes, getting rid of unhealthy habits is easier than replacing them with specific, new habits. For example, simply imposing a fast on something —say social media, watching TV or alcohol— might be enough for you to disrupt an unhealthy pattern.
The space you create then becomes a fertile void for new things to emerge, without you forcing too much! This approach is particularly useful when a desired replacement habit is yet to be identified. What all this takes though is the will power to impose a fast — the courage to break a cycle.
1:1 Career Coaching, October 2020
If you are clear on why you are doing something, it is much, much easier to do it (or not do it). The hard part is being honest to yourself about the real reasons.
For example, are you trying to climb the career ladder for validation and to prove your self-worth? Or, because it will make you more money and that’s useful for practical living, so why not!
Being very clear about the ‘why’ behind your actions is the path to living better. Because it allows you to really challenge the deeper drivers behind your choices.
1:1 Life Coaching, September 2020
There are numerous forces acting on the individual, forces that influence your chosen path, whether you are consciously aware of them or not. And there are often many layers to this — family, organisational, cultural, wider socio-economic and political. Layers that sometimes mesh together in strange and contradictory ways.
While, some of these forces will be supportive, others will pull you away from your path. Especially if your values are at odds with the environment you find yourself in. Noticing the different forces acting on you and where they originate is then fundamental to breaking free. Because by gaining a deeper understanding of what is at play you immediately empower yourself with choice.
1:1 Career Coaching, Skype Coaching, September 2020
Choices come with trade-offs and consequences. Some things you might be willing and comfortable to compromise on. Certain things however, might matter so much to you that compromise is not negotiable. Yet, you might find yourself in a place of inner tension, not realising that you have in fact compromised on what you value so much. The mind can often deceive itself!
Perhaps, this is because you don’t really value it as much as you say? Or, perhaps because you have not yet found the courage to really own who you are? Breaking through starts with fully acknowledging the reality of where you stand. How you might be deceiving yourself into doing things that you don’t really want to. The more clearly you see the nature of the tension within yourself, the more likely you are to find the path that frees you.
1:1 Life Coaching, July 2020
Sometimes life problems can feel insoluble and tangled-up like a thick knot. And, the knot may feel dense and difficult to unravel, particularly when there are conflicting voices within you that form different strands of the problem. The mind can be a trickster that hides the crucial thread that you need to pull on to loosen the knot.
Often, very clearly mapping the problem (e.g. using objects), carefully identifying the different strands involved and their inter-relationships, can in and of itself lead to the solution. Chances are, not that you do not know what to do, rather that you may have deceived yourself into believing that the problem is something else. We are very good at creating smoke screens in our minds! The first step is daring to look beneath the surface.
Carrot and stick
1:1 Career Coaching, June 2020
If the modus operandi of your work environment is based on strict carrot and stick, it is unrealistic to expect to find saints there and then be disappointed. Fear and incentives are used by all employers. However, they are resorted to much more cynically by some more than others — this is your archetypical “cut throat” work environment.
If you swim in such waters and are not fully aware of it, you are ignoring a large part of what constitutes reality in your world. Only by recognising a carrot-and-stick environment for what it is can you hope to better navigate it and ultimately empower yourself with choice. Ask yourself: How much do I really want to play carrot and stick in my life?
Circularity of pressure
1:1 Career Coaching, May 2020
Feeling the weight of pressure that you put on yourself because you want “success”, while at the same time self-defining success in a way that puts pressure on yourself, creates a curious circularity. A circularity that exists because you are trying so very hard to prove yourself.
Fortunately, the matter is completely within your control — in how you relate to yourself. And, it is one that can be unpicked from either side. Giving yourself permission to release the pressure will most likely lead to re-defining what success means to you. Because the old definition no longer makes sense. Equally, re-defining success in terms of finding a sense of inner freedom and fulfilment will automatically remove the pressure!
Letting go = growth
1:1 Life Coaching, April 2020
Feeling the need to let go of certain personal relationships can feel guilt inducing, yet it may be a strong sign of your own personal growth. A sign that you are ready to release yourself from company that keeps you small.
Notice your conflicting feelings and where the guilt comes from. Is it something that you need to hold on to? The weight of history and shared experience can keep us caught in unhealthy relationships. But, everyone deserves to be free from suffering. And, that includes YOU too. What would it be like to give yourself permission to free yourself and let go? Remember too that time changes us all. And, time can put us on different paths with different journeys. Paths that naturally diverge overtime.
Through the noise
1:1 Career Coaching, February 2020
Knowing what deeply interests you and why, is a great advantage in life. It clarifies the mind and gives real meaning to everything that you do. It provides a framework for making decisions around how to spend your time.
But, this isn’t always easy, especially when there is so much noise around to distract us. Conditioned societal narratives and received scripts often push us to live in unhealthy ways. Deceiving us into thinking that we “should” be this or that in order to prove our self-worth. Deeply investigating how this noise can confuse you is then the first step. But, in a sense, it is also the last step! Because the more clearly you see how the noise distracts you and say “no” to it, the more space that you create for your interests to emerge.
Start with the simple question: “What noise am I distracted by?”
Nature of love
1:1 Life Coaching, January 2020
Love between romantic partners can only be enduring to the extent that each does not try to control the other. To make them conform to some idea of what you wish them to be. And, control is a subtle thing that can hide behind even the most mundane of comments or actions. For, it is the intention and spirit with which we engage with our partners that is primary. Each person belongs to herself in the same way that the clouds and the moon belong to themselves.
“You do not cling to one another as to commit mutual strangulation.You are not each other’s chattels, and you must trust your partner to allow full freedom to be the being that he and she is” – Alan Watts, In my own way (1972)
1:1 Executive Coaching, December 2019
“The voice of self-doubt is relentless.”
What does this voice have to say?
“You are worthless if you don’t succeed.”
If this voice belonged to a person, who would it be?
“I’m not sure…society…”
And, if society had a face?
“My ex-wife and in-laws!”
Social pressure to pin your self-worth to arbitrary, mainstream measures of “success” is undeniably all around us. However, these pressures can become particularly toxic when they come from those closest to you – those from the past or present, those whom themselves are caught in society’s web of false narratives.
Often these voices remain hidden and unacknowledged, outside your conscious awareness. But, they can drive so much of how you feel and how you live. Noticing them and how they limit you is then the first step to breaking free!
1:1 Life Coaching, November 2019
Life is full of obstacles and barriers born out of situation and circumstance. But, what about those invisible barriers that you create for yourself? Invisible barriers existing in your mind, which feel every bit as real as physical barriers. Deeply influencing what you feel you should and shouldn’t do, can and cannot do.
The problem with invisible barriers is that they are…invisible. Often operating as non-conscious beliefs. But, once you catch sight of them, you have at once empowered yourself! The path to uncovering invisible barriers is first to fully recognise the pain and stuckness that you may feel. To fully stand in the reality of your circumstances without denial. From such a place of clarity, it then becomes much easier to see where and how you might be inflicting unnecessary suffering upon yourself. And, from such a place of understanding, to break free from it.
So, this takes us to the very essence of the human condition. To an exploration of the difference between “unavoidable suffering” and the “avoidable mental suffering” that we so often subject ourselves to.
Put in a box
1:1 Leadership Coaching, October 2019
When occupying a leadership role (especially a new one), you will always have people projecting their own expectations and feelings on to you. Treating you in the manner that THEY wish you to be. Putting you in some kind of box or the other. And, the force of such projections can be strong.
Here, it is vital that you are very clear about how YOU want to occupy that role. About how YOU want to lead. So, discussions may need to be had. Lines in the sand may need to be drawn. Conflicts may have to be resolved. But, you must first decide how YOU want to act in that role and what you are prepared to fight for. Otherwise, you can become trapped in the box that they put you in and end-up resenting every bit of it!
1:1 Executive Coaching, September 2019
Just because you are working closely with somebody, that does not automatically mean that there is a definite meeting of minds. Physical proximity and regular interaction can strengthen a relationship up to a point. But, what is crucial is cultivating a real spirit of openness and trust.
Often, we can make assumptions about the quality of a relationship only to be surprised later! Because conflicting personal agendas and values are usually at play. Recognising and having a dialogue around them is the foundation for genuine, enduring professional and personal relationships.
Two sides of the same coin
1:1 Life Coaching, September 2019
Arriving at what the real question is, often involves a process of excluding what the question is NOT.
Finding out what is important requires deeply recognising what is NOT important. Pinning down what is unclear requires noticing what already IS clear.
What-is and what-is-not are two sides of the same coin. Finding focus is then as much a matter of not doing what is unimportant as it is about doing what is important.
The two go together.
How you see yourself
1:1 Career Coaching, August 2019
“I just see myself in a suit walking through the city and that makes me sad. Yet, I can’t quite picture myself doing what I really want to.” Often, we can get so stuck in a particular story, in believing a particular narrative about ourselves that it feels difficult to even imagine another way. And, we may continue to hold such beliefs despite them keeping us stuck in a place of frustration and psychological pain.
Much of institutionalised education and employment robs us of our creativity, self-expression and entrepreneurial spirit. Large corporations are really no different to mainstream schools, with their focus on bureaucratic box ticking, obedience and punishment! The first step to breaking free is really noticing the particular self-story that YOU believe about yourself. Noticing how this story keeps you stuck in a place of unnecessary suffering and discontentment. And, that you are not alone in being conditioned to settle for living like that.
1:1 Life Coaching, July 2019
Sometimes we can feel stifled and trapped by the expectations of those closest to us, whether friends, family or business allies. Expectations that were perhaps formed at a different time in the past and during different circumstances. And, these expectations may weigh you down, particularly if you have changed as a person. If you no longer are on the same path that you were on when those people came into your life.
Embracing your personal journey and your growth is key. And, if that means some people are disappointed and unsupportive, well perhaps those people don’t deserve to be in your inner circle anyway? Noticing and acknowledging if and when you feel stifled by those in your life is the starting point for breaking free. It is then about asking what keeps you stuck in such a place? What would it take for you to break free?
Structure and flow
1:1 Career Coaching, June 2019
The universality of the principle of “structure and flow” has important implications for organisational culture. For creating an open, nurturing and collaborative environment that produces high-quality work.
1) The purpose of structure here, is to very deliberately make time for checking-in with each other, especially when you have no time! For example, when going through hyper-growth. And, structure might come in many forms – regular meetings, coffee catch-ups or even drinks.
2) Flow, in this context, is about embodiment of the spirit of openness, collaboration and excellence. Where by your very way of being you create an environment of spontaneous approachability. Where people feel like they can reach out to each other and support each other at any time.
Structure and Flow are both necessary. They reinforce each other.
1:1 Career Coaching, June 2019
What happens when the people you work with don’t subscribe to the same standards (quality, ethics, team work, loyalty) that you subscribe to? What happens when your organisational environment is structurally set-up to uphold different values? Big corporate hierarchies often drown the individual in a sea of rules aimed at furthering the organisation’s own ends.
The first step to breaking free is deeply acknowledging any dissonance that may exist between your values and the values of others around you. Deeply recognising the impact that such dissonance is having on you. It is then about really asking yourself what keeps you stuck in such a place of dissonance? A place which stunts who you are and what you value dearly. It may be difficult to stop a train that is going to a particular destination, but you do not need to stay on it either!
Just because you can
1:1 Executive Coaching, May 2019
Having many skills and abilities that you can draw upon is not the same as really wanting to use them. There is a particular danger for those to whom conventional success comes more readily — the so called high-achievers — that you get stuck doing things that you don’t really wish to. That you get stuck living someone else’s dream. You don’t have to do things just because you CAN.
You are allowed to do whatever you want even if some might falsely view it as a “waste of talents and potential”. Those who pass such judgement are almost inevitably projecting their own fears and desires on to you within a narrow view of what is possible. What is more important is not what you do, but how you feel about what you do. And, chances are that your many talents create infinite possibilities!
1:1 Life Coaching, May 2019
We can sometimes confuse acceptance with passivity and inaction. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Acceptance, be it of the past or the present, is about fully embracing the reality of the situation in all its ugliness and beauty, pain and joy.
It is non-acceptance that is in fact passive, as it can push us to feel that we have no agency. So, acceptance is then a very active state of full engagement with clear, unwavering attention. It becomes a fertile ground from which new and unseen possibilities can emerge. Because embracing reality requires you to fully see it and acknowledge it. To challenge the conditioned false beliefs that define who you think you are and should be.
1:1 Career Coaching, May 2019
Delegating responsibility and nurturing new team members can feel tricky when the stakes are high. When you know that your experience and input will make a real difference. Understanding when it is safe for mistakes to be made, and when it is not, then becomes key to effective delegation. It is the difference between allowing a baby to learn to walk in a safe environment, versus encouraging them to play next to a dangerous fire.
It is crucial to distinguish between these two scenarios. And, a key question to ask is: “Am I introducing catastrophic risk by delegating?” Whether it is health and safety related or financial. If, “yes”, may be delegation is not yet possible. If, “no”, and the risks are negligible, what are you waiting for?!
The full picture
1:1 Life Coaching, May 2019
We are all prone to the one-sided story, to seeing only part of the picture. To accidentally missing elements crucial to making sense of a particular situation. And, we can make the same mistake in how we see ourselves and our life circumstances more generally. How, driven by dominant social narratives around “achievement” and “success”, we may ignore those things in our lives that are already amazing.
There very likely is a lot that is already present in your life today that is really worth celebrating. Doing so is not about ignoring the complexities and difficulties that inevitably also exist. Rather, it is about having a more complete sense of what-is, so that you can move forward from a place of clarity and deeper understanding.
Proving to yourself?
1:1 Life Coaching, April 2019
We’ve all got goals and dreams, things that we think we want to achieve. But, what is really going on here? Are these truly your dreams, or are you trying to prove your self-worth by living someone else’s? Our egos can play tricks on us, and even when you say: “I am only trying to prove something to myself”, is this not still the pursuit of social validation by the back door?
Because proving anything to anybody, including yourself, requires some external framework for confirmation. And is this not inevitably conditioned by experience? The first step to breaking free is looking more deeply into yourself and the motivations for your actions. Looking into your mind with unwavering courage and clarity.
1:1 Career Coaching, April 2019
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is honesty. Honesty about how you really feel and what you really want. Honesty about your worries and deepest fears. It is such clarity that surfaces inner contradictions and difficulties in your life that may otherwise remain hidden.
It is such clarity that ultimately becomes the fertile ground for uncovering new and unseen paths forward. Without being honest to yourself, you are never going to create the life that you really want. But, being brutally honest to yourself takes courage. The courage to really ask yourself the tough questions. The courage to examine those areas of your life that are uncomfortable and even painful.
From insight to action
1:1 Life, Career Coaching, April 2019
Having insights into your unconscious tendencies and what you need to do more of is one thing, putting such insights into action is quite another. Sometimes, insights are so powerful that they automatically lead to behaviour change, but often it takes practice. Much of the difficulty is simply remembering to do what you need to do.
Whether your desired behaviour change is more assertiveness during meetings or more compassion when giving tough feedback, the key is finding ways to support yourself to embody those states and then practicing. It is important to find what works for you, whether it is setting aside time to practice with someone else or having a pre-event ritual that allows you to be more prepared. It is practice that ultimately makes new behaviours stick.
1:1 Career Coaching, March 2019
It is extremely problematic to work for someone who puts you in a double bind— a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation that is unsolvable. Often, double binds can present through inconsistent behaviour and contradictory demands. For example:
1) “That’s not enough detail” vs. “That’s too much detail!”
2) “You are too direct” vs. “Get to the point quicker!”
Double binds exist everywhere in life, whether professional or personal, and may sometimes be very subtle. The more subtle they are, the more they can trap you in anxiety inducing situations that make you feel like you are not good enough. Becoming aware of when you are caught in a double bind is always the starting point for breaking free.
1:1 Executive, Career Coaching, March 2019
There are two kinds of success. Success from the outside-in. And, success from the inside-out. The former is about external validation and achievement, and constantly puts success ‘out there’, as some place to be reached. The latter, true success, is about an inner state. About living and working in congruence with your values and what you believe in.
When considering change, it is then very important to really ask yourself: What am I seeking at a deeper level? How in line with my values is what I do? What values are not fulfilled or even worse, violated? If there is such incongruence, what makes me tolerate it? And, if there is no incongruence, then why change? Is it change for the sake of change?
1:1 Leadership Coaching, March 2019
Holding back your opinion as a leader may or may not be useful, depending on the situation. Sometimes, it makes sense not to influence the discussion too quickly. But, if holding back is a habitual pattern, rather than a very conscious choice, it begs the question, “why”? Especially, when you bring knowledge and experience that is very relevant.
What are the beliefs underlying your reluctance to speak-up? What is it that you fear about being more forthright? The more inner clarity that you find around what stops you, the more choice that you give yourself to do things differently. Collaborative leadership includes providing a platform for all voices within the team, and that includes your own!
1:1 Career Coaching, February 2019
It is easy to worry about being a pushover in an unforgiving environment. Equally, you may fear turning into an a****** that walks all over others. Though seemingly opposites, these are both places of fear and insecurity. But, there is another way – what we might call rigorous-compassion.
Rigorous-compassion is about speaking your truth from a place of deeper acceptance of both self and other. From a place of clear intention that seeks to collaborate and empower. It is more about your internal state, rather than about the specific words or tactics you employ. It is about coming from an inner place that seeks maximum rigour and clarity along with maximum commitment to open-hearted engagement. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, together they can be very powerful.
1:1 Executive Coaching, February 2019
When a career opportunity to step-up arises and you hold back, it is really worth asking, “why”? Is it the critical voice of self-doubt that stops you? Or, are there tactical considerations that make it better to wait. It could be either, or a mixture of the two. And, disentangling them can be tricky.
That is all the more reason to dig deep and find such clarity within yourself. The more that you become aware of fears and doubts within you, the more that you empower yourself to break through these. But, that takes courage. The courage to look deeper at what might be uncomfortable.
Systemic Team Coaching, February 2019
The org. chart is rarely, if ever, how things actually work. Spatial system mapping can be a powerful way of uncovering deeper insights into how a team really works together. Insights into less visible dynamics that can create the basis for strengthening existing bonds and for seeing blind spots.
But, such mapping requires courageous leadership and open-hearted engagement by the whole team. It takes a willingness to really embrace whatever might emerge. And, it is such willingness that becomes the fertile ground for growth, impact and more meaningful engagement.
1:1 Life Coaching, January 2019
Having to make difficult decisions can often create feelings of confusion and anxiety. And, that can be because inner conflict is at play. Conflict between competing desires, expectations and values — creating an internal war within you.
The first step is recognising the different parts of you that might be at conflict. Really seeing and acknowledging the desires and fears that each part brings. And, from such a place of deeper understanding, a path forward can more freely emerge. A path that involves greater integration of the different competing voices within you. A path that leaves behind the false narratives and beliefs that hold you back.
1:1 Career Coaching, January 2019
Saying “yes” to everything can be a fast track to burnout and getting stuck doing less meaningful work. The more that you say, “yes”, the more your workload can pile up. But, the real question is: What causes you to say, “yes”, all the time? How aware are you of your pattern, what might be driving it, and when?
The path to breaking free is about more deeply understanding your own behaviour. About finding clarity around what keeps you stuck being a “yes (wo)man”. About really taking controlling of both the “yes” and the “no”. So, that you can empower yourself to decide either way.
1:1 Career Coaching, January 2019
Arriving at career crossroads can be a tremendous opportunity to make meaningful changes in your life. But, that requires a deeper consideration of what any new career path is going to give you.
It is easy to carelessly jump from one thing to another without really asking “why?”. We can often neglect our deepest motivations for doing things — our values. The key questions to ask are: What are my values? And, how congruent is what I am doing with my values? What is truly important to me? From there, you can then consider if any career change brings you closer to, or further away from, your values.
What’s you edge?
1:1 Leadership Coaching, January 2019
You can often spend a lot of time looking for ways to add to your skill set and to fill perceived gaps. That’s all great. But, it is as important to recognise what you are already good at. It is as important to ask: What is my edge?
No one can know everything, and effective teams are founded on collaboration amongst people with complementary skills. Of course, there is tremendous value in going beyond your core expertise and in understanding various interconnected aspects. That is a skill in itself. What you must not forget is the unique blend of skills and experiences that you already possess. The edge you bring that makes your offering uniquely valuable. And, yes, your edge can change over time too!
It’s almost never “laziness”
1:1 Life, Career Coaching, December 2018
Laziness is rarely the real reason behind not engaging in something fully, be it at work or in a hobby. This is particularly true when you can find examples in your life where you do engage fully, with energy and enthusiasm.
It may have something to do with your degree of interest, (dis)passion or connection to the activity. It may have something to do with situational dynamics or people, but it is highly unlikely to just be a matter of “laziness”. When “laziness” appears as a diagnosis, it is always worth digging deeper. Chances are there is another reason hiding
1:1 Leadership Coaching, December 2018
Self-consciousness kills performance. This is true whether you are at the podium presenting, leading a business meeting or playing a sport. Performance is directly linked to the strength of your focus. And, that involves keeping the rational brain on the task and not constantly criticising what you are doing.
Because if it is busy criticising your performance, it is not actually focused on the task! You are no longer in the moment and this is when things start to fall apart. Knowing what to focus on is then crucial. And, that will very much depend on the specific activity in question.
More clarity, more impact
1:1 Career Coaching, December 2018
Getting the most out of professional interactions, be it meetings or calls, is fundamentally about clarity. Clarity not only about the agenda, but the various (hidden) agendas behind the agenda. About really asking, “What is the purpose of this?” and “Who is it for”?.
Meetings can often feel like dangerous places, where multiple egos are competing to assert themselves. Such behaviour can easily engender insecurity in you and in others. But, the more that you seek clarity and the more that this search for clarity is backed-up by competence, the less you will have to worry about insecurities and egos. And, the more impact you will have.
In a shark tank
1:1 Executive Coaching, November 2018
Being in a shark tank does not necessarily mean that you have to become a shark. It is more about a deep awareness of your business environment and seeing reality for what it is. In all its ugliness and beauty. With such an awareness, things are less likely to catch you off guard.
You can then make a conscious decision about if you too want to be a shark, the skilled diver that navigates through it all, or out of the tank altogether! The choice is yours. You must decide how you want to play the game. It all starts with a true understanding of what-is. Of self and other.
Different sides of you
1:1 Life Coaching, November 2018
There are different sides to you that constantly jostle for air time. Different facets of your character that make-up the whole you. Understanding what parts tend to dominate, in which situations and why, can be fundamental.
What are the implications of having a particularly dominant facet? What does that mean for you as a person and how you live? Could it be pointing to an unhealthy imbalance?
1:1 Life, Career Coaching, November 2018
If true success is about an inner state of contentment, engagement and peace, what is it that stops you from allowing it? What is it that keeps you stuck in a different place?
Seeing the inner voices that distract you with their definition of “success” is crucial. Whom do these voices really belong to? Unconsciously, who might you be trying to please? Success is not something “out there” to be defined by others. It is something within.
Seeing what keeps you stuck
1:1 Executive Coaching, October 2018
Sometimes, what might on the surface seem like a tactical problem, could have deeper roots in how secure you feel about yourself, regardless of what tactical path you take. Seeing what keeps you stuck in a place of insecurity is often the first step.
The next is letting-go of what holds you back and allowing more trust in yourself to emerge. This is often a far more fertile place from which tactical decisions can be made.
1:1 Career Coaching, September 2018
When conflicts arise, it is easy to be passively sucked into adversarial exchanges. Seeing and acknowledging the pressures that others are under can help you approach the situation with more calm and compassion. Remember that compassion can be very rigorous.
It is not about ignoring bad behaviour or letting people walk all over you. It is rather about setting appropriate boundaries and taking considered action from a place of deep understanding of both self and other. And, yes, that takes courage. It is far easier to unconsciously take on the role of aggressor or victim. But, it is also far less effective in actually improving the situation.
1:1 Life Coaching, July 2018
Sometimes, you can fall into the trap of giving more value to work that is viewed as higher status by the mainstream, even when it is at odds with your own interests and passions. Such is the nature of social conditioning and status seeking.
Being a ski instructor or CFO of an airline are both equally valid. The question is, what really inspires you? What deeply resonates with you?
Seeing what distracts you
1:1 Leadership Coaching, June 2018
When doing anything, whether it is public speaking, cooking or technical diagnostics, be aware of when you lose focus in the moment. Know both the specifics of the activity that require your focus AND what distracts you from maintaining such focus. They are two sides of the same coin.
Say “yes” to the former and “no” to the latter. What we are talking about then is a mindful state of clear focus in the moment.
Fear of failure
1:1 Life Coaching, April 2018
At times, the very act of noticing and fully acknowledging fear of failure and its roots can liberate you from it. Sometimes though, you have to actively focus your mind away from fear.
Focus on the resources and strengths that might allow you to cut through it. Focus on immersing in “the doing” and finding a mental place where there is then no room for fear.
1:1 Career Coaching, February 2018
Sometimes, in order to get to the heart of a problem, you have to really open-up things. Really take your time to explore different interconnected areas.
The reasons for stuckness can at times be staring you in the face, and you just didn’t see it. But, sometimes the real nub of the issue might be concealed. And, often it is through careful and deliberate exploration that you begin to uncover what is going on. It is about taking the time to look deeper.
1:1 Executive Coaching, October 2017
Even long-standing and tightly knit teams can stumble. Paying attention to how well you are working together and communicating is as important as focusing on the job.
Nothing fuels resentment more than things unsaid and toes accidentally stepped on. Taking time out to nurture relationships could be one of the most important things you do for your team.
Find your calling
1:1 Career Coaching, September 2017
When trying to find and connect with your calling, look beyond the surface manifestation of the possibilities you consider. What are the underlying characteristics that attract you to a particular thing? What are the deeper dynamics that you are curious about?
Example: It is one thing to like the idea of being a dancer, it is quite another to love body movement and yearn to tell stories and express yourself through it.
1:1 Life Coaching, July 2017
Closure does not always need to come through dialogue with the person with whom you have had a conflict or difficult experience.
It is really about an inner movement within you that acknowledges what was. It is really about finding peace within yourself with what transpired.
In their shoes
1:1 Executive, Career Coaching, July 2017
Standing in the shoes of your direct reports and experiencing what life might be like for them allows you to see more clearly the challenges they face.
The more that you become aware of the ‘hidden’ dynamics and pressures in your team, the more you can empower them and yourself.
Team Coaching, June 2017
Starting with the future and first embodying having successfully reached your objectives can help unlock the elusive “how”.
The experiential exercise of team members looking back at “today” from the future and together tracing back their steps, can help uncover both the critical path and ways in which the team could work more closely together.
A walk in the park
1:1 Leadership Coaching, May 2017
When your thinking and ideas are blocked, getting out of the chair and moving can allow you to access your brain in different ways.
What better place to do that than in the park on a sunny day. Changing your environment and movement can help unlock new and creative ideas.
Voices from the past
1:1 Career Coaching, April 2017
Lack of confidence in one’s self can sometimes be the result of limiting beliefs that have originated in the past, and which now keep you stuck.
The stories that you tell yourself about what you can and cannot do, should and shouldn’t do, may be a recurring voice from the distant past. A voice that belongs to someone close to you whom you trust and value.
Team Coaching, April 2017
Transporting yourself into the future and brainstorming in that place together as a team, can generate both new thinking and surface things yet unsaid.
Coming together in this way is very effective for exploring, clarifying and agreeing priorities, in a way that goes beyond what is possible just sitting and talking around a table.