Ice baths and 4am meditation aren't for everyone

We are in an unprecedented place where women are being offered so much support to develop, to lead, to grow. And for men it’s often difficult to know where to go if you are stuck or need a fresh, unbiased, perspective. A space where you can say what’s really going on, where you are not in danger of saying the wrong thing and where you are championed.

Ice baths and 4am meditation aren’t for everyone, deep searching for skeletons in the closet isn’t always the answer!

These are often the two extremes of personal development, and I wanted to create a new space, a space between therapy and elite performance coaching, a space for men to reflect on what they need and want next - with tools and techniques to make it happen.

I want things to be different for my boys as they get older, that seeking out support/help/coaching will be as common as getting your car serviced. I have experienced the impact of burnout on those close to me, and seen the beauty when people invest in themselves. When they don’t wait any longer, and see that they are worth it.

So this is one for the men, for you, for the men in your life. Invest in yourself, seek out a space for you. A space which is supportive and challenging, a space where you can hear your own voice and what’s important to you, a space which will get you unstuck and benefit you and your relationships at work and home. A champion so that you can champion yourself.

Invest in yourself here - Coaching for Men

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

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Ban the ‘shoulds’- returning to cricket after 20 years.

When I was 15 my mum set up a women’s cricket team, she loves cricket. All those years of facing her brother’s spin bowling in the kitchen had paid off!

We were a motley crew.

Always struggling to find 11 players, sometimes borrowing a fielder from the opposition. We had to play early on Sundays to make way for men’s cricket in the afternoon, and whites designed by men, for men, and worn by women is not a great look! And yet we loved it. A group of girls and women coming together to try and score some runs, and sometimes not very many. Then university started and I stopped playing cricket, there were other distractions.

Until last month, when after twenty something years I found myself at women’s cricket training.

Cricket was not in the plan, in any plan. The plan was to start doing some exercise, probably yoga because it’s what everyone else is doing, I like yoga outfits, I can book it online, turn up and then leave again.

I should do yoga. 

Why am I not going to yoga? Yoga has not stuck. 

I’ve coached enough people to know that ‘shoulds’ don’t stick, there is no glue in a should. All the excuses I’ve been using for yoga - mostly I’m too busy - have not featured once with cricket, in fact I seem to be going out of my way to play and go to practice.

Try saying - I should try something new versus I could do something new. It feels so different, ‘shoulds’ are flat, they do not result in any action that sticks. I now find myself saying, I could buy a new helmet, I could meet my friend at the nets to practice, I could chat with other women and see if anyone else would like to play. I could stop travelling on Fridays so I don’t miss practice!

What ‘shoulds’ are you saying to yourself, what are the ‘coulds’ that you would love to embrace? 

I hear you, maybe it’s not cricket, maybe it’s not even exercise, but I bet there is an area of your life where if you got out of your own way you would do it. ‘Shoulds’ get in our way, and we let them.

Maybe it’s something from years ago, or something completely new. I don’t know what it is about cricket that I seem to love - the familiarity, the fact that being keen and enthusiastic is enough, that on a summers day cricket clubs are great places to hang out!

Banish the shoulds, embrace the coulds.

Give it a go, you might just find yourself loving it, and maybe like me you are now practising something new - like air cricket shots in the kitchen! 

My son asked me yesterday when I would be playing in the World Cup, that’s how much he believes in me, he seems to have forgotten about me getting run-out in my first match!

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

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Give yourself a break
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Your work will never be good enough. The goal is not perfection. Perfection is an unattainable bar, one which as you stretch up it just gets higher.

Instead of focusing on the bar, stand up and look at what’s around you, at what’s possible, and what you make happen.

Are you doing your best? Perhaps start with that question.  Be a bit kinder to yourself. 

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

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5 Tips for delivering impactful workshops
  1. It’s not about you, it’s about them! Yes it may at times feel like you’re putting on a show at the front of the room, but don’t make it about you. They have come to learn, there’s experience in the group too, so use it.

  2. Great workshops have a well thought through arc, with a beginning, middle and end. Focus on these in your planning and what you want participants to get from each stage. Timings will fall into place, don’t obsess over them, let go of your inner control freak!

  3. Ditch the slides, and handouts unless they add real value. If you must use slides adopt a great technique from Dr Joe Dispenza which he uses with groups of up to 2000 people. He will explain quite detailed concepts about the brain and our habits, then he says ‘now turn to your neighbour and tell them what you just heard’. This is how to embed learning.

  4. Plan your closing. People obsess about the introduction, the timings, the lunch and don’t invest enough thought in the ending. What do you want people to leave with? Maybe you want to go round the room so everyone can reflect on the action they are taking away OR ask ‘what do you now know that you didn’t know when you came in?’. Do not end with details about feedback forms, or website information, close with impact.

  5. Less is more. You have plenty of content, make sure you leave space for reflection, discussion, connection between individuals. This is what the group will remember. Trust that you have enough knowledge to make it great.

Extra Tips

Great read - Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering, turn your gatherings from lacklustre and unproductive to impactful.

Great tool - cards or prompts to inspire amazing conversations, and break the usual habits, cards for an art user are amazing.

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

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The discomfort of appreciation

Appreciation goes a long way, and yet for many receiving it feels uncomfortable. People don’t know where to look, they want you to stop talking as quickly as possible, or to move the conversation on to something easier!

When you appreciate someone, you really see them.

Often my role with teams, and individuals, is to challenge them, to build an experience so that they can learn something about themselves, about their own leadership style, about each other. Often trying things which are uncomfortable, or new, is where the real learning and growth is.

The Appreciation Loop is a great tool to try. It is a hugely powerful tool to use with your team or group, you can make it very specific, appreciation related to a project, to leadership, or a strategy day.

- Form a circle with your colleagues, seated or standing.
- Choose who goes first.
- First person turn to your colleague and tell them what you appreciate about them.
- He/she receives the appreciation, and says thank you, nothing else.
- Then he/she turns to the next person and does the same.
- When you get back to the first person, repeat in the other direction so everyone has the opportunity to give appreciation and receive it.

Try not to rush it, even if it feels uncomfortable.

Don’t make up that this won’t work with your colleagues. That it’s too personal, or ‘we just don’t do things like that’! I have used this with engineers to recruiters, executive boards to groups who have only known each other a few hours, men and women, just men, just women.

It tells you a lot about your own leadership style - do you find it difficult to receive appreciation and praise, or perhaps you find it hard to give appreciation, is giving feedback easier when it’s about focusing on what’s not working rather than what is.

It’s good information to know about yourself, and then you can make a choice about your leadership. And the best way to know is to experience it, to try it.

Appreciation goes a very long way.

Time and time again individuals and teams take this tool from a workshop with me and embed it, continue to use it. Workshops are to experience and learn, the best ones you take the tools with you into your everyday life. This is one tool I wanted to share, more to come...

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

Thank you to Pau Casals for his photo, on Unsplash

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Tapping in to inspiration
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations”  Mark Twain

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations” Mark Twain

I was delivering leadership training last month and some of the group said that seeing themselves as innovative was a stretch. That as soon as they are asked to come up with ideas they freeze, can’t think of any. And then how annoyed they are with themselves when someone voices their idea, they did have an idea but didn’t say it - assuming it wasn’t good enough, ambitious enough, new! We can often get paralysed in our own thoughts in that moment.

This idea has already been thought of, it isn’t big enough, others will dismiss it”.

In truth you have dismissed it before anyone else has had the chance to hear it. And yes some people may dismiss your idea and many will not.

Most ideas have been done before, if you take one of your ideas and run with it, it will already make it different. It’s you doing it. And maybe along the way you’ll change it, or ditch it for something better, more suitable, crazier, more profitable. In truth we don’t know. Ideas start first with choosing to give it a go, to lead.

All of us are innovative, creative, inspirational, and we need to start telling ourselves that.

I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days at Cove Park this week. Born out of an idea to provide a residency space for artists to create. It now welcomes artists from all over the world, artists in the broadest sense from painters, to writers, to weavers to film makers. All sparking ideas, borrowing from those that have gone before them, collaborating with others.

I’ve been thinking about how do I bring the spirit of somewhere like Cove Park into normal life - into the school run, the EasyJet flight to a meeting, the expenses pile - and simply it’s a choice. A choice to carve out space for ideas, for innovative thought, space to tap into an idea when I have it and see where it goes. We are all inspiring, we are all innovators, we all have ideas. So don’t doubt yourself, just start...

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

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The Blame Game

It is so easy to blame others, there can be something quite addictive about it, and in teams we can all happily point the blame at managers, others departments, founders, clients.

When I coach teams, blame often comes up in conversation - our department is always the last to know; we’re just seen as a support function they don’t include us; he doesn’t stick up for us in strategy meetings; she doesn’t listen, she’ll never change...

Toxins.

Gottman referred to them as the 'Four Horsemen’, toxins he called criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. He used the horsemen metaphor to describe communication styles that, according to his research, could predict the end of a relationship. He was specifically looking at marriages, but his concepts have been shown to relate to teams.

We all blame others, we all have a favourite horseman, what’s yours?!

When teams start to notice what blame they are carrying, to recognise its impact, it can be a gamechanger, and many find comfort in hearing that other teams are also learning how to manage blame when it shows up. Horsemen behaviours are often rooted in a sense of powerlessness, when individuals and teams don’t feel heard, appreciated or recognised.

I remember being in a team rife with blame, all aimed at the director, everything was their fault! Looking back we just felt powerless, unappreciated and not heard. Just to have been able to voice that as a team would have been a relief, and to have been given support to notice and take responsibility for the blame we were generating. I hope we would have chosen to behave differently, worked out an action plan together. Instead there was gossip, misunderstanding and eventually people started to leave, it was very stressful, and I’m not sure we got a lot of work done.

Conflict happens, and when it does there is information there for the team, and they need to decide what to do with that, how to manage it. It’s not about all being friends, rather taking responsibility for how you want to work together. If you want to take responsibility for the blame.

What’s your horseman? Mine (I hope not too often) would be defensiveness, which never gets you what you want, in fact it often leads to stonewalling, hoping that ignoring the situation or the person will make it all go away. Not a great strategy!

You have to first notice the horse you’re on, and then make a choice to come off it. As difficult as that may seem, there are antidotes to the toxins. They take practice, and teams who work through this will testify that having the knowledge that these horsemen exist is hugely powerful.

It’s interesting that Gottman’s research was with married couples, and yet looking at the amount of time we spend with our colleagues it’s no surprise that his findings also relate to teams. Sometimes it can feel like a marriage!

For more on Gottman’s work see his website

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

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sally powellComment
Space, cinnamon and the tiger
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I ditched the idea of resolutions a few years ago, such a formal word ‘resolution’ worthy of the UN, but not really my life! Mine were always the same ones around exercise and saving and never resonated long enough to last into February.

I meet very few people who get excited by setting resolutions, but the idea of theming the year seems to light a spark, resulting in amazing conversations. It’s a way to consciously start the new year, from which to build ideas, goals and aspirations.

Last year for many felt relentless, particularly the frenzy up to Christmas. There was a sigh of relief when finally the out-of-office could be set and holidays began. And now it’s a new year, everyone’s telling you to start an exercise regime, sort out your diet, do better!

Well this is also a good time to reflect - what worked last year, what did you love, when were you at your best and what lessons were hard to swallow. What would you like to take from 2018 with you into 2019, and what would you like to ditch?

Much like the Chinese tradition that gives names to each year, why not choose a name for the new year. Use images, symbols or ideas to name the coming year.  What image will allow you to step more fully into what you want to be and do? In the last few weeks my coaching clients have talked about 2019 being the year of progression; blue; the year of the tiger; year of space; cinnamon; spreading my wings; abundance; living!

Amazingly varied.

It only matters what it means to you...find a name that stretches you and feels good. Feel free to share your theme in the comments, it may inspire others to do the same, to take a new approach. 

At this time of year I offer a stepping into the new year call, a focused and refreshing 90 minutes, to help you get clarity on what your 2019 is going to be, what you are consciously choosing and the goals that will help you on your way. Whether you are new to coaching or you have coached with me before, get in touch and we’ll set up a call.

Happy 2019 x

sally powell
More than words can say

Love Quest…my friend Vu started a a quest to inspire humans to love better. He collects stories about love from people around the world, people like you and me, and posts them on his website - ourlovequest

These stories are heartfelt, real, messy and fun to read. Those who have read my blog know that at times I talk about vulnerability, and the vulnerability hangover when you wish you hadn’t tried something new and stepped out of your comfort zone. And to write about love does not feel easy for me, at least that’s what I told myself and yet I was drawn to write about it. The love, the connection, the spark you feel and experience with others is the most important thing we have. Read my Love Quest story here….I love you more than words can say

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sally powell
Start today with your kids
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I'm always drawn to those blogs and posts which say 'The Top 10 Secrets of Successful Relationships' or the '5 Key Things All Successful People Do', mostly to see if there's something new that I might have missed! Although I've realised that I never feel that uplifted or inspired by reading them.

Then I had the pleasure of meeting Emma O'Connorthe author of Everyday Happy: A Journal for Happiness, at an event we were both speaking at. And maybe I should have called this blog 'One Thing Everyone Should Start Doing With Their Kids'.

Emma has written a book which has started a whole new routine with my two boys, which I didn't foresee happening. Each page of the journal is a list of things kids can ask themselves about their day including - 'What am I grateful for today?', 'Who was I kind to today', 'What was the most fun thing about today' and an opportunity to rate their happiness on a scale of one to ten. Kids love to rate stuff! It's fascinating and surprising to think back over the day and rate it in this way and hear our kids do it too.

We are a week in to our journal, and towards the end of each day, unprompted, my oldest who is eight asks me if we can sit down together and do the Happiness Journal. And of course his younger brother follows!

This is where it starts. Habits form at a very young age, and can be learnt at any age. Happiness is a habit. Gratitude is a habit.

Young children thinking about gratitude, happiness, what fun is, what it means to be hugged and to show kindness to others, to take photos of beautiful things or to spend time on a hobby. This has been hugely powerful for me, to see how my kids view kindness and happiness, the things that make them tick, and to listen without judgement.

There is even a question around have you sat in a quiet space today, entry-level meditation! We then sit with our eyes closed and take 3 or 4 deep breathes! It always end in giggles or my sons pretending they are yoga masters omming! Which is brilliant!

So yes I want to plug this book because I believe it will be a game changer for many families, and for many young people who feel anxious or unhappy, and frankly can be used by anyone from 5 years up. I am enjoying this as much as my boys are. And while you wait for it to be delivered in the post, ask yourself some of the questions above....How would you score today on a scale of 1 to 10?  

Buy your copy at Amazon - Everyday Happy

sally powell
Why we love sleep and give it so little attention
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'One out of every two adults across all developed nations will not get the necessary sleep they need this coming week’, says Matthew Walker in the inspiring book Why we Sleep.

I would describe myself as a good sleeper, I get close to eight hours a night. And then I thought back over this past week, nights out, sleeping in hotels and travel delays, unexpected news that kept us up late planning, my youngest waking me up at 5am. Reality is I haven’t slept very well this week, and it seems I am not alone.

One out of every two adults! My reaction before I had read the book would have been ‘It’s ok I can catch up at the weekend’. Well it seems it doesn’t work like that, your body doesn’t work like that. You simple carry a sleep deprivation debt round with you every day and it builds up, you can’t magically pay it back at the weekend.

How much thought do you give to your sleep? How much sleep do you get?

If one out of every two adults doesn’t sleep well, what does that mean for your team? One half of your team doesn’t sleep well, one half of the drivers on the road don’t sleep well, one half of your family doesn’t sleep well.

Quite simply you can eat well, exercise, practice mindfulness, go to retreats, swim with dolphins! But if you are not getting a good sleep every night, none of these things are enough. Even trying to lose weight when you don’t get enough sleep will not work, your body will lose lean body mass not fat!

Matthew Walker’s book is fascinating, a must read, we all need sleep and this shines a light on how sleep and a lack of it, impacts our health, businesses and communities.

And yes people sleep differently, ‘night owls’ and ‘morning people’ as we often label each other. I’ll admit until reading his book I thought that people who described themselves as night owls or ‘I’m not a morning person’, just couldn’t be bothered to get up early! Well scientific research proves otherwise, which means our society which is set up for early morning starts for school and work, benefits morning people while it has a negative impact on night owls, with mental health issues and sleep problems being high amongst this group.

Are you a night owl? Do you struggle with the routine that your work requires you to meet, would you rather start later as you perform better in the afternoon and evening? You are not alone.

P&G, Google and Nike and some others have proactively put in measures so that wellbeing policies include sleep education, and Google have changed the traditional work pattern so that people can start later, supporting night owls. The CEO of insurance company Aetna, has introduced bonuses for employees getting more sleep, based on sleep tracker data.

And yet wellbeing in the workplace too often doesn’t include any mention of sleep - rather the opposite is practiced, where leaders are praised for performing on little sleep. Now research shows that a sleep deprived leader and half his/ her team also sleep deprived is not a profitable, productive, innovative let alone happy place to work.

No matter who you are, how much willpower you have, how awesome you are! Your body needs 8 hours of sleep every night. Leadership requires presence and you can’t be present if you’re half asleep.

This requires such a shift in mindset, I don’t think any of us have been educated around sleep or the importance of it in every aspect of life. So I would encourage you not to dismiss this, look at your current sleep habits, read the book, talk about it with those around you, seriously re-think the sleeping pills. And if you have children, this book raises interesting questions about school and how difficult it can be for children as their sleep needs change and we do little to acknowledge this.

I’d love to know what you think. Have you read this book, what did you find inspiring or surprising? Has your employer introduced anything to do with sleep training/education or incentives?

5 Tips for Better Sleep

Sleep Myths Debunked - The Independent

sally powellComment
The vulnerability hangover
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The Vulnerability Hangover - A term borrowed from my friend Claire, who borrowed it from Brene Brown!

I’m trying a lot of new things at the moment, today included some filming around wellbeing in the workplace. My chimp was super active, ‘Sally there are people more qualified to talk about this than you, you won’t look good on camera, you don’t wear enough make up, you haven’t even got your own wellbeing sorted!

You know really helpful comments!

I am qualified, I’m a human being who cares about my wellbeing and those of others, I have coached hundreds of people who want to focus and invest on their wellbeing.

Then later that day, the vulnerability hangover hit me, you put yourself out there and afterwards it feels really uncomfortable. ‘Oh no, it’s on film, people will see it, I said nothing of any value...it wasn’t perfect, the good stuff will all be edited out!’. And then my friend Claire reminded me of the vulnerability hangover, which kicks in right after you try something new or say something that others might not like. Well hangovers pass which is one good thing, and the other is that taking yourself into vulnerable places is where growth happens, the perfect moment is now, and authentic voices talking is what’s needed in the world.

So if you’re tempted to try something, and you’re worried about what people might think, or worse that you should wait until you’re an ‘expert’, do it, give it a go. And yes be prepared for a hangover (eat a doughnut on the train like I did) and then go again! Being a 5 or a 6 out of 10 is more than enough, you don’t need to wait until you’re a 10/10.

So that Brene Brown gets her proper credit, please watch this great Ted Talk!

sally powell
Happy Birthday!
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It’s my Birthday!! Thanks for all the lovely birthday messages, it’s amazing to hear from people I’ve met in such varied places. It reminds me of Dr Seuss’s ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’.  Why not pretend it’s your birthday today too, and do some of the things that you love doing!

A few things I would tell my younger self - 

Do it because you enjoy it, let go of what others think

You can be your own money role model, don’t look to find it in others

Instead of a career ladder, have a map with lots of paths

Surround yourself with positive people, they help you shine brighter

Focus on the things you want in your life (not on what you don't)

The possibilities are endless…

Happy Birthday to all of you on whichever day it falls. I’ve just launched a Masterclass in Awesomeness, click here to find out more and to sign up.

Sal x

 (Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash - Love this photo!)

sally powellComment
A secret admirer....
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I was sent a book in the post this week, stamped in Frankfurt, no idea who sent it. It's a book called 'Footprints on the Moon' by Seth Godin. It turns out this book isn't available to buy, only to share.

I am a big Seth Godin fan, simple messages delivered with a punch, a great writer and blogger who is followed by thousands. Seth Godin is all about action, releasing your ideas today, not tomorrow, or after you have finished another course, or when you gather feedback from friends who agree it's a good idea.....now. Sounds so simple on paper, and yet we make this really difficult for ourselves, put lots of blocks in our way and 'what ifs'.

So he sets a challenge in the book, which I am starting today - 

Get a stack of blank postcards, address them to yourself.

Four times a day, fill a postcard with an idea, a message to yourself from today to tomorrow. And then post it.

A few days later, handwritten ideas from your past yourself will begin to arrive.

Each day, when you get home from work, you'll get three or four (or even five) ideas worth reading. Your job is to take that idea and write it up, expand it, put it on your computer.

Do this for five weeks, for 35 days, for 140 cards. Do it without hesitation, with no regard for whether its perfect or not. We are all changemakers, and it requires action.

I am starting today. And yes my initial thoughts were - I have no ideas and then I remembered I had some good ones yesterday and didn't write them down or do anything with them; I don't have any postcards, not true I have a bunch of random ones bought on holidays and never sent to the in-laws! So the first postcard will be from the Isle of Skye, sent to myself, I expect arriving on Saturday (I only have second class stamps in my wallet!).

It is time to release your ideas, however big, however random they may seem.....it is as simple as footprints.....Join me in the challenge, you never know you might receive the book!

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash (I like the photo - seemed like a good idea!)

 

 

sally powell
A Snapshot of Your Life

The ‘Wheel of Life’ is a tool that allows you to take a visual 'snapshot' of your life as it is today, loved by coaches for its simplicity, giving clients a moment to literally take a snapshot of what they see today and what they might want to start to change in their life!

Assign a rating from one to ten for each of these areas. A score of one indicates that you’re thoroughly unsatisfied in this area and a score of ten indicates that this part of your life is amazing. I often describe five as an uninspired “ British fine” or “average”. Do not overthink this! Approach this exercise from a very neutral place and accept life exactly as it is today.

Then ask yourself a few questions:

What do I like about my wheel?

What is disappointing?

What was surprising?

Which area of my life do I want to see the greatest change? 

What would it be like to score a 10 in health (for example)?

If your health is at a 6 today, what number would you like it to be, and what small step could you make in that direction. I always talk with clients about the doing and the being, how do you want to feel in that area is just as important, probably more so, than what you want to be doing. 

A simple tool to start, to take this to the next level, please get in touch.

sally powell
Burnout

I’ve seen a lot of burnout this year, lived with the impact of burnout - which is often very subtle at first. And I’ve seen the beauty that emerges when people recognise that it is real and choose to take another path, to live a different way.

Burnout is gradual, tiny embers are burning away at the good stuff inside you,  you are snappier than usual, you can’t get to sleep even though you’re exhausted, perhaps you start to forget things you agreed to do. You brush it off, and yet it’s still there. Often described like a fog or a cloud, it hangs over you.

You are not alone in this, so not alone.

Burnout is not inevitable, if you can see that it's ahead of you, then it means you have time and space to make some changes, to make some different choices. The easy deflection is ‘I just need a holiday or two weeks in bed, then I’ll be fine!’ .....well how realistic is that right now, in this busy period, in the lead up to Christmas?

What else could you try - a walk round the block at lunchtime, a conversation with your boss about your workload, switching off your phone before 8pm tonight, working one day less next week, using your mindfulness app. Pick one thing and try it, it’s a start, a first step.

The other end of burnout is horrible, and for many it can result in serious health issues, relationship break ups and misunderstandings, job loss and unhappiness.

And there’s lots of support out there, coaches, CBT, HR and occupational health, your colleagues and family, and google has lots of articles on what to do if you recognise signs of burnout!

One thing won’t work and that’s a head in the sand approach! Go on try something, it will be a good thing, trust me!

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sally powell
Could it really be that simple

We make out that it's so difficult, that we don't have time, it's not the right time. We make hundreds of choices everyday and yet some of the most important things in our life we shy away from, often keeping our head firmly buried in the sand, hoping it will all go away.

What about making a different choice?

Choose not only the type of coffee you want to drink but also what you want to do with your life, what type of parent you want to be, what type of colleague you want to be......and then choose to be it........and when (if) you muck it up, recover and try again.

We are all making this up as we go, doing the best we can, there are moments when we are soaring, and then moments when we feel like we are stuck in the weeds. And that's ok, we just have to choose and take another step.

Just a thought.......we get one go at this life thing. 

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

sally powell
Growth
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I often ask clients to score how satisfied they are with their personal growth. For some personal growth relates strongly to career, for others it is everything outside of career. And then there are a few who have no idea what personal growth means or think it ends when they leave university.

How do we grow? From the inside out. Cultivating interests and hobbies, developing new habits, leaning into passions.

And from the outside in. With the support of others, mentors, coaches, family and friends, teachers. We are drawn to work and create with others. 

Where would you like to see more growth? If growth is over a lifetime, then how about starting with a beginners mind and trying something new, and take the pressure off that you're an adult and you should already know how to do it.

The ability to grow and learn is not fixed, it require's a growth mindset and lots of passion, staying power, messing up, recovering and trying again! 

For some inspiration I recommend reading - Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth or start with the Grit Ted Talk and here are a range of other Ted Talks on Personal Growth to inspire you.

 

sally powell
Fierce courage
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We keep so much to ourselves, close to our chest. If they know that about me, they'll think I'm weak. If they think I'm weak they won't take me seriously, I’ll be overlooked for promotion, they won't trust me. Vulnerably sharing your emotions, your reality - and sharing it in the corporate world! Some still think that isn't leadership. 

It’s vulnerable to ask for help, share a personal experience, admit you don't have all the answers, that you messed up, that you are not a robot and things impact you, that you might need time off, that stress is impacting your sleep....that you're not enjoying life.

And it's these vulnerable actions, ironically, that open up space for conversation, innovative ideas, build trust, grow successful relationships in teams and with clients, provide opportunities for others to lead and grow. That you can perform to a high level, grow successful businesses and be fiercely courageous. 

The alternative is unsustainable. 

As Brene Brown puts it you can’t selectively numb emotions…when we numb vulnerability, shame, fear…we numb joy, gratitude and happiness.

I have worked with people, myself included, who try hard to keep things to themselves, see this as strength, as leadership. It takes a lot of energy, we kid ourselves that it's a positive choice, that we're stronger and we can control and protect ourselves and situations. And that it has no impact on others.

It's not leadership. We risk appearing cold, controlled, that we have it all sorted and people avoid us and conversations aren't open and honest. That it's in the air in client meetings, people can't put their finger on it but it has impact. It leaves a huge place for assumptions to be made, for fear and uncertainty. It creates a place for burnout. 

The word vulnerability sends shudders through a lot of people. What about leading with fierce courage. Courageously owning what's going on in our lives and that we want to make a change for ourselves, our family and careers.

My assumption is that it's harder for men, to risk being vulnerable, the stigma attached to talking about how you're struggling to do it all, that you're missing the joy in life, that you will let people down if you talk about how things really are. And yes, it is not easy for women either, there were more men than women in my house growing up, I'm the only woman in my house now and sometimes it feels easier to keep it in, to not ask for support, and that's not leadership. It takes more energy, and it's a choice to lead a weaker, much less fulfilled life. 

I recommend Brene Browns Ted Talk on vulnerability, clients talk about the positive impact it’s had on them, because it's so spot on - 31 million views - and it has a message for men and women, plus she's very funny. 

Start with the Ted Talk and then make a choice about how you want to lead….with fierce courage? 

sally powell
My But is Getting In The Way

Have you seen the scene in the movie Sing where the three rabbits are singing ‘Oh my God, look at her butt’, this was the highlight for my youngest son! There is a lot of talk about butts, and bottoms at the moment in our house. Then it dawned on me how much I use the word BUT – ‘It was a great meeting but….’, ‘I love the idea but..’, ‘we love being back in the UK but…’.

Any positive message is lost as soon as the word BUT is uttered. In fact, you forget what comes before the but - the but becomes the focal point and what follows is negative.

So, I’ve started to replace the word BUT with AND.

It isn’t easy, in fact over the last couple of weeks what I’m noticing is when I say BUT, my brain then remembers I am trying to say AND, and then I end up saying Bollocks!

And what I’m noticing is, when I do say AND instead of BUT, the impact is noticeable. I don’t feel the negativity, or the drop in the conversation.  

Why am I bothering?

Well I was part of a meeting recently when some research from Stanford University was mentioned. And how making changes such as replacing BUT with AND, and introducing ‘WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THAT IDEA, AND’ instead of our natural tendency to find fault in an idea, has a huge impact on our positivity and those around us, and our ability to create new ideas and new ways of thinking about a situation.

Give it a go, replace BUT with AND, and next time you are in a meeting with someone stretch yourself to say ‘What I like about that idea is…..and…’, and if all else fails say bollocks, it will confuse your audience!

sally powell