Archives for the month of: May, 2015

photo-1422433555807-2559a27433bd
Growing up, success to me was all about getting the A grade. Yes, looking back, the perfectionist tendencies took a hold around exam time when getting a B would be perceived as a failure.

Moving to London, success became about financial independence – being able to afford to buy a flat (well – a dodgy studio flat in Oval), to have an annual holiday and to pay for dinners out with friends. Pretty quickly, success was framed in terms of the amount of money I was earning and how I was progressing up a linear career hierarchy. I doggedly pursued a Managing Partner position as a critical milestone in my career success.

Having children changed things for me somewhat. If I was going to leave my children to go to the workplace, I wanted to be making a difference. A second paradigm of success became available to me. What if my work could truly make a difference alongside being a present Mother? What if success was being able to pick my children up from nursery early each day whilst pursuing a meaningful career? I quit the Managing Partner role and started working for myself, meaning that my time was my own and that I could do the work that really mattered to me – supporting women in showing up and being seen in the workplace.

I confess it took a while to feel this new perspective in my bones, rather than just in my head. I would still get a pang of jealousy seeing peers being promoted, and realising the salary I could have been on. Practicing gratitude was always my way through this. It became a mantra – I am grateful for the opportunity to see my children every afternoon. I am grateful for being able to do meaningful work. I am grateful that my time is my own. And a couple of years later, I realised it had really landed for me. No longer did I look wistfully at the ‘big’ jobs in the workplace. In fact, I was offered a role recently and it was pretty easy to turn down as soon as I realised it was only my ego that was attracted to the pay and the title.

More recently, I find myself tentatively playing with a new paradigm, inspired by Gabrielle Bernstein – ‘I measure my success by how much fun I’m having’. This has been eye opening for me. Sometimes when I am engaged in the work I really care about, it isn’t fun. Sometimes the passion for creating change equals frustration when things change too slowly for an impatient type like myself. Other parts of my work – The Daring Way™, the group coaching – are always fun. I look forward to them and relish being at the front of the room. Equally some of the time I’m present with my children isn’t ‘fun’. As any parent knows, that time between picking them up from childcare and getting them to bed in the evening can be an exhausting battle of the wills.

So I am giving myself permission to explore this new paradigm and see how integrated I can make it for my life. It feels out of reach just now, just like the second one did a few years back. I am going to write myself beautiful reminders by my bed and by my computer to prompt me to make different choices. This morning, the children went to nursery and I went to yoga, had a walk in the park and a Mediterranean brunch at a local café. Writing this I have a much bigger smile on my face than if I had spent the morning engaged in admin and paperwork. I haven’t knocked anything off my to do list, but I suspect I’ve had a more successful day.

Today I want to introduce you to one of our new associate coaches – Hannah Massarella CPCC ACC.

IMG_4028

Hannah spent a number of years working in the women’s sector – supporting women in incredibly difficult situations, often with a lack of resources and an even greater lack of support from the institutions that were meant to protect them in the first place. This deep passion for supporting women is one of the reasons I was drawn to Hannah.

Alongside this experience, one of Hannah’s specialisms at The Hobbs Consultancy is supporting women who are feeling burn-out. She is firmly of the opinion that self development is a responsibility and not a luxury – particularly if we want to step in to our leadership and make a difference to the world around us. I see working women who are operating on the edge pretty much continuously. They don’t have enough sleep, they don’t have enough time for themselves. Any kind of self care feels like a luxury and is the first thing to disappear on the endless to do list.

So, for today, I’m handing over to Hannah to explain a bit more about her experiences of burn-out (and heading out for a yoga class and then an early night):-

‘My work in the women’s sector was hard yet fulfilling, upsetting yet inspiring and certainly a great learning curve. However, with a personal lack of understanding about the importance of self-care when working in this field, I ended up burning out after four years of intensive work.

When you burn out you feel like a failure, and you feel like a bit of a fraud too because you’ve gone head long into something, telling everyone around you how perfect this opportunity is for you, and then, tail between your legs, you have to surrender and say ‘I give up’.

Which is what I did. But by surrendering to burn out I opened a new door.

I left my job and embarked on a personal development journey that took me to places emotionally that I had never dreamed of. I started to be really aware of all of my emotions, seeing each one as beautiful and a signifier that I was alive, I was feeling. Because when you reach burn out, your emotions disappear and you’re left feeling numb and resource-less. The route to re-claiming my feelings started by employing a coach, training with The Coaches Training Institute, reading books by Danielle LaPorte, Tony Robbins, Jess Ainscough, James Redfield, Gabby Bernstein and Deepak Chopra. Taking up meditation, yoga, cycling and swimming. Taking these actions meant I started looking after myself and learning myself on a deeper level. Which, basically, re-ignited my flame.

I do believe, had I known the importance of self-care and self-development all those years ago I’d have been able to work in a more sustainable way, and potentially stay in the sector. I’ve always felt working to empower women has been my calling and now several years after leaving the womens’ sector I am seeing new opportunities to re-enter the field. But this time, I have done the internal work first, and feel more energised, nourished and empowered to do so.

I learnt a lot in my journey into and out of burn out, but these five fundamental truths stood out:

Burn out truth #1 – Burn out happens to passionate people.

If you’ve burnt out it means you probably threw your whole self into something, you are not a failure, in fact you’re a success for having the guts to try it in the first place.

Burn out truth #2 – Burn out is temporary.

Although it feels powerless to be burnt out, once you acknowledge it’s happening, you can then make changes in your life to move on.

Burn out truth #3 – Life doesn’t have to be complicated to be fulfilling.

People who burn out often have a lot of thoughts whizzing round in their head. Society would have us believe we need to be doing loads of things in order to achieve success. The opposite is in fact true. In order to achieve real success the trick is to slow life down and think about who you are being as much as what you are doing.

Burn out truth #4 – If you look after yourself as a priority, you can then get on with making the change you’re meant to make in this world.

Often people who burn out prioritise making others happy. This is an amazing quality, but in order to achieve this in a sustainable way, the focus firstly has to be on you, and then you’re energised to support those around you.

Burn out truth #5 – After burn out, the flame comes back bigger, brighter and in a more sustainable way.

If you acknowledge you have burnt out and bring in support to help you through it (maybe via a coach, books, meditation or yoga) you will have more tools in your toolbox to move on in life. See burn out as a gift, an opportunity to stop, recoup, change gear, and go on another adventure with a renewed energy and a more sustainable internal flame.’