Archives for category: Growth

Thank you for taking an interest in our work this year.  It really has been a phenomenal year for us as a team and also myself on an individual level.

I always encourage people to reflect on the year past before looking forward to the year ahead.

Our 2015 highlights

  • Assisting on Brené Brown’s School of Life workshop this weekend just gone was super exciting (and super tiring).  This was a key highlight along with getting trained in her new Rising Strong curriculum.
  • The Emerging Women conference in 2015 really expanded what’s possible in my mind and has created the inkling of lots of ideas for 2016.  Plus I’m about to book my tickets for next year!
  • Getting published in The Guardian – yay!
  • I’ve also had a great trip to the US, settled my eldest son in school, expanded my professional network and have taken on a number of associates for my business.

What do you want to celebrate about 2015?  Take some time to think about your key achievements and learnings…

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And what do you want to make a commitment to doing in 2016?

We have a Daring Way™ workshop at the beginning of the year to support you in making this your most courageous year ever.  Plus Rising Strong dates bringing the new curriculum to life…
Here’s to being grateful for the year that’s past, and excited about what’s to come in 2016.

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With love, Rox

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How much do you organise your life so as to avoid failure?

What is your relationship with those face down moments?  Do you put your head in your hands thinking, “I’m obviously a failure, I’ll know not to do that again”? Or do you think “Oh that didn’t work out this time and I know better for next time”.

In truth, failure isn’t failure if you can learn from it.

Brené Brown’s new work, ‘Rising Strong’, is all about those face down moments that we all have.  Her premise is that if we have a process for picking ourselves back up again after a failure then we are able to be more brave, more often.  And if we are truly brave with our lives then we will fail.  (Note: She doesn’t mean you will risk failing more often.  She means you will actually fail more often.)

What is so striking for me about the process is that it starts with getting curious about our emotions.  And how opposed that is to how most of us live our lives.

I go into organisations where people are told they are ‘too emotional’ and that ‘emotion should be kept out of the workplace’.  I coach people who were told as children that they should ‘stop being upset about that as it won’t get you anywhere’ or ‘emotion is a sign of weakness’.

I was an emotional being in the workplace.  I definitely showed emotion in a way that other people weren’t entirely comfortable with. And usually this was the flip side of me really caring about the work that I did and therefore getting frustrated by lengthy processes or people not sharing my vision.   More recently someone observed that I seemed angry* about the way a project was going in a big organisation.  It was taken by me, and I assume it was meant by them, as the opposite of a compliment.  The implication was ‘there is no room for anger in this organisation’.

But what if we could get curious about these emotions?  Instead of feeling them and immediately pushing them away, what if we could hold the space for them, reflect on what is behind the emotions and move through them mindfully? When I was told I seemed angry, I mainly felt incapable and embarrassed.  I subsequently tried to shut the anger away and show up as lovely, kind, jolly Rox to move the project forwards (because nice girls don’t get angry, right? And, more to the point, you “should never show emotion” in the workplace). Reflecting on this now, I was angry because I saw something that really contravened my values being played out.  Too right I was angry – the behaviour I was seeing needed calling out, not passively accepting with a smile on my face.

Let’s be clear, holding the space for our anger does not mean shouting or acting aggressively.  I mean giving ourselves permission for the feeling and getting curious about the cause of it, rather than pushing it away immediately.

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I see the alternative being played out in workplaces and families across the country.  Unexpressed emotion has a habit of building up and either affecting you physically (insomnia, anxiety, stress) or of finding an outlet at an equally unsuitable time (road rage, shouting at your children). I wonder if the passive aggressiveness I see in offices is a symptom of this too.  As I tried to shut my anger away, I found myself on a constant loop in my head having circular conversations with the people involved in this scenario.

It is only through knowing how to rise strong, trusting that we will be able to pick ourselves back up again enhanced rather than diminished by a failure, that we are going to be able to take risks in our careers and in our lives that will move us forwards.  The very first step in this process involves getting curious about our emotions and acknowledging when we are emotionally hooked.

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I am at the very inspiring Emerging Women conference in San Francisco at the moment.  It’s been a huge undertaking to get me here – I was supposed to go last year to the one in New York and felt unable to go at the last minute.  This year I have travelled to California with the whole family for a month of training, work, meet ups and holiday.  It has been AMAZING.

I am feeling so overwhelmed with information, research and inspiration it remains a struggle to try and summarise a story, or a theme to share with you all.  It’s as if there are tectonic plates shifting in my brain.

For the moment, I have the feeling that we are on the edge of something big. That there is a new paradigm that is emerging and that it is reaching critical mass.

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I am hearing women ask – what if we just did things differently?  We weren’t at the table for the creation of so much of our world.  But what if we could be?  What could the world look like when we catalyse feminine energy in this world? What will the revolutions be when we insist on bringing in the feminine paradigm?

Could we show that there is a place for compassion, for empathy and collaboration in every single institution?

Or, perhaps at a higher level still, what if we could escape the concept of trying to compartmentalise and separate the masculine and feminine?  What could true integration look like? What could this mean for humanity?

I don’t know the answers to these questions at the moment but one thing I am hearing loud and clear is that we need to know ourselves, our wanting and our desires in order to get to this. We need to shut down the voices in our heads that tell us we can’t, or we shouldn’t.  We need to reality check the stories that we are making up in the absence of real data.  We need to take time to get out of our heads and in to our hearts.

It is not necessarily the external world that is stopping us from progressing.  We are just as culpable.  It is our responsibility to work through this and figure out what could happen in our lives and the world if we truly showed up.

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I’ve been hiding in my cave for a couple of weeks. My newsletter hasn’t gone out, I have had to postpone clients and I think I’ve had worse sleep than when my children were 6 weeks old. Returning from holiday to a perfect storm of croup, chicken pox and a tube strike really has created havoc in my family and work life.

Throughout, I’ve had the sense at the back of my mind that this stuff matters. That I needed to write about it. And I’ve procrastinated – partly because of the mind-bending exhaustion. But also because I don’t have any answers for you; I can’t suggest how to sail through this stuff. I don’t want to silver line it for you.

And so I share here some of the misery, exhaustion and feelings of hopelessness – not to seek attention or sympathy – but to reassure you that you are not the only one struggling. This shit isn’t what we share on social media, or even necessarily tell our closest friends. But this shit is sometimes our truth, and our truth always matters.

Sure I tell those closest to me about the horrors of A&E in Ashford on a Friday night, what a pain in the ass it is to lose money from cancelling clients and the frustration of being housebound for five days. I don’t volunteer the information that sometimes I wonder what on earth I’m doing trying to run a business when I’ve got a two and a three year old. That I constantly worry that I’m not a good enough Mother / Wife / Business owner and friend. That there is a ‘who are you to think you can do all of this?’ gremlin’s voice resounding in my head.

Sometimes two weeks will pass in a heavy

One area of my life is always being neglected and typically my children and my business get more of me than my husband and my friends. And during a period of “crisis”, it was just the kids, quite frankly, that were getting anything. And I’m not sure they were getting anything too meaningful out of me. (Notice how I’ve forgotten to include myself in the balance equation too – spending time on myself is, as I’m sure most mothers identify with, right at the bottom of the list when things get tough.)

And you know what, that’s fine isn’t it? Well, not exactly fine, but acceptable. Ok, maybe. I’m reminded of an article about the pressures of having it all. It summarised, in one of my favourite pieces of journalism of late; ‘’ALL’ IS A WHOLE FUCKING HELL OF A LOT’.

And it is. We’re all trying to fit in a hell of a lot of stuff. And I’m so grateful for the varied life that I’m able to lead. Yet it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed, tired and guilty. For all of the positive, constructive messaging that the media – and myself – sends out about how to make it work, please know that sometimes it feels bloody difficult for everyone. Sometimes you are going to feel absolutely, on your knees, can’t string a sentence together, exhausted. Sometimes you will wonder if it is worth the effort. Sometimes two weeks will pass in a heavy eyed, slightly numb, out of your own body trance and you’ll look back and wonder what on earth happened. Sometimes there’s not enough wine in the world.

Please know that you are not the only one who sometimes feels like this. You can have it all – ‘It’s exhausting and it’s a balancing act and it’s way too much for anyone to handle, ever. That’s also what’s so gratifying about it’.*

(Heather Havrilesky in NY magazine; http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/04/ask-polly-do-i-have-a-baby-or-have-a-career.html?mid=twitter_nymag)

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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.