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‘Vulnerability is the cornerstone of confidence’ 

Time to reflect on intentions set at the start of the year & understand what’s holding you back from being your truest self.

As we move into February, we pause to reflect on the intentions we set at the year and whether we feel we are embracing them or distracting ourselves with the drama of life. Are we holding ourselves back with limiting beliefs or learned behaviours? Can we bring the spotlight on these and drive ourselves forward to close the gap between the expectations we have of ourself and the reality?

Our popular Daring Way™ workshops continue this year to support female leaders and also helping professionals to expand their range and embrace courage, authenticity and vulnerability in their professional work. Here is what one of our participants had to say about the workshop last year:

“The daring way is for anyone who wants to be the best they can be, at work, at home as a parent… The framework gives you a safe place to really know yourself and what you are striving for.  What you learn in the two days you will revisit again and again throughout your life.  You will come away wanting more for yourself and the people around you.” ~ JL, CPO, Mindshare

I have been asked time and time again by the women on these courses to run one for male leaders. We understand that vulnerability can be a real stretch for men given our strong cultural stereotypes and expectations we have on masculinity. However we also know that vulnerable leadership is critical in leading diverse and inclusive teams. Do you know a male leader who will have the courage to come on The Daring Way™?

If you are going to be brave with your life, you will sometimes fall. This is where Rising Strong comes in. The goal of the process is to rise from our falls, overcome our mistakes, and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom. It is those that know that they can easily rise again that are able to be the most courageous.

More information about all the courses can be found by clicking on the individual images or feel free to email emma@thehobbsconsultancy with any questions.

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All the best,

Roxanne

 

 

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A belated happy new year!

This year, I’ve watched the usual New Year messages, resolutions and new starts being paraded around social media and felt strangely uninspired.

I don’t want to make any huge changes to my life this year.  I want to carry on making a difference in the workplace via inclusivity, continuing to work with inspiring people and ensuring I have enough time with my family.

My words for the year are COMMUNITY and INSPIRATION.

With that in mind, The Hobbs Consultancy are going to be collaborating with some game changers in the inclusivity space.  The first one to tell you about is Creative Equals who are creating the gender equality kitemark for the advertising industry.

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Our relationship with Creative Equals started last year and is continuing in to 2017.  As well as offering in house consultancy and training, we have created a series of workshops that are affordable and accessible.

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Excitingly, any of you can now sign up to the Be Awesome Night School.  This is affordable training open to women all over London and covering topics such as Imposter Syndrome, Resilience and “From Burnout to Badass”. They’ve got some brilliant trainers involved including the awesome Harriet Minter who some of you will have met at my conferences (ex Female Leadership Editor of The Guardian). I’ll be running the Imposter Syndrome workshop and also one on your career – we’ve heard a lot about how unconscious bias might get in the way of how you treat other people, but did you know it also impacts on how you think about your own prospects?

You can sign up to the workshops here http://www.creativeequals.org/training-support

I hope to see some of you there

Rox

Rox
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We have thought long and hard about the challenges involved in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. It is not an easy ‘fix’ – if it was, businesses would have succeeded by now.

These are what we see as the key challenges:

We are operating from a place of unconscious incompetence
We literally don’t know that there is another way. What we see happening around us is what we know, and it is difficult to grasp an alternative way of doing things, let alone the benefits that might bring. Despite strong research (research done by McKinsey), the business case remains largely intuitive and conceptual.

The human brain wants to fit in
The human brain is wired for survival – meaning that it likes certainty and to feel like it fits in. Growing up, we learn that compliance makes us safe and that belonging feels good. The shift to a diverse and inclusive workplace is going to require vulnerability, swimming against the tide and a comfort in being around people that are ‘not like us’. The other side of this coin is that those who don’t feel like they ‘fit in’ experience imposter syndrome and operate from a place of ‘not enough’ – meaning they often play small. We can help people recognise and move beyond their imposter syndrome, at the same time creating cultures which are less likely to give rise to this phenomenon.

Unconscious bias
The human brain is also wired to categorise and to stereotype. It is a universal human trait that helps us to make sense of the world. Unfortunately, that skill comes with a less useful by-product – that of unconscious bias. We, unconsciously, hold stereotypes about groups of people that may make it harder for those groups to succeed in the workplace. We may also internalise stereotypes about the groups to which we ourselves belong.

Fear of conflict
Most people have an aversion to conflict and certainly would prefer to be surrounded by people who agree, rather than disagree, with them.  Getting a more diverse range of opinions in the room is going to mean greater disagreement. Period. We need to show people that conflict doesn’t need to be feared, that it can be a place of personal growth and give them the tools and skills to have difficult, challenging conversations.

The ability and knowledge of how to build diverse and inclusive teams
We like to be right, and the current leadership model, whilst shifting, is still in the ‘all knowing leader’ paradigm. Often, we don’t have the resilience to align rather than agree and we are not aware of our greater role in the system. Asking for help is seen as a weakness, whereas it could in fact mean listening to other people’s valid, different and possibly more useful opinions. Diverse teams need a skilled leader to harness them otherwise homogeneity is probably preferable. Such leaders let go of ‘coerce and control’, understand our interconnectedness and know how to align teams on a common purpose. It is a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world and team leaders need support in being able to deal with that, when they have been taught to look for certainty.

We are too busy
This is a two-fold challenge. Often teams feel like the D&I agenda is going to be resource intensive within teams that are already stretched to breaking point, (we would argue that it requires shifting your ‘being’ rather than a series of time intensive initiatives and that operating from the current place is more time ineffective). Alongside this, when we are operating at full pelt, we neglect to access our intuition and we ignore our emotional needs. We need to listen to both to move forwards – as individuals and as teams. When systems ignore their pain, it is stressful and this makes us less socially intelligent, empathic and creative. We are functioning from our limbic brain, we waste human capital and stress shuts down our neural pathways.

We value certain ways of thinking
Culturally, we value the left brain over the right brain. We value reason, judgement, cause and effect… and yet what could be possible if we valued feelings, relationships, intuition and creativity? Some experience shame at being ‘differently brained’, again dampening their productivity.

We have developed a suite of products to support businesses in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. 
DOWNLOAD OUR D&I TOOLKIT
Love Rox

THC’s view on The Great British Diversity Experiment

Emily Philp, Head of Marketing and Operations, The Hobbs Consultancy

 

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I attended The Great British Diversity Experiment Report Launch on Wednesday 25th May at BBH London with over 250 fellow advertising folk. As you walked into the room, you could feel the nervous energy bubbling below the surface, what findings were in store for us… For those who don’t know what The Great British Diversity Experiment is, it’s the first diversity initiative conceived for, designed and launched by the communications industry. Over 20 teams of truly diverse individuals took part in an experiment, answering a brief from Tesco to attempt to solve problems of food wastage. The winning team received an all-expenses-paid trip to SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, and a weeklong placement at BBH London. Meanwhile the findings of the diversity experiment were collated into a report, which were presented on the evening of the report launch along with talks from industry leaders on the very specific and practical insights the experiment uncovered and a review by the winning team on their individual poignant experiences, challenges and self discoveries.

One particularly interesting, but not surprising insight for me was that the teams that performed the best in the experiment were those where the individuals could be themselves. Furthermore, it is emphasised in the report that diversity works for the creative industries because working with a diverse group of people allows individuals to show up as their authentic selves, which means you can contribute more creatively and effectively in your job.

As mentioned this isn’t a surprising insight for me as one of the main focuses of our energies and offering at The Hobbs Consultancy is to enable people to show up as their true selves in both personal and professional life.

The Hobbs Consultancy’s mission is to bring a more inclusive culture to the workplace and coaching is a core part of what we believe can deliver that mission. It is through coaching that individuals can work out who their authentic self is, understanding what makes them tick, what holds them back and what enables them to be the very best version of themselves when they enter the workplace.

Of the 5 practical actions that the report sets out for businesses to do now, the one that resonates the most for me, is ‘retrain your leaders’. It’s vital that leaders of organisations take action. Without the buy-in and demonstration that company bosses will put their money where their mouth is, without inclusive leadership, we wont have the power to transform the industry, making it one that thrives with creativity, connection and innovation, that attracts and retains the best talent and ultimately delivers game changing work for clients. Here at The Hobbs Consultancy, we offer executive coaching and Leadership Programmes, which focus on leaders doing their own internal work, recognising and then accepting responsibility for our circumstances and taking action to create a more inclusive culture.

The GBDE report also calls out that there is a huge need for more diversity training in the industry – in order to change the creative process and leadership styles. We agree and believe passionately that Diversity and Inclusivity training is key to helping companies create a more creative and innovative working environment, which is why one of our main product offerings is a Diversity 3.0 workshop which gets participants behind the business case for D&I, looks at what their unconscious biases might be and finally moves into action.

Alongside D&I training and Leadership Programmes, we offer Mentoring training, Conflict Resolution workshops and a D&I audit – this product offering has been designed to help businesses provide a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

My biggest take out of the report launch was that there is hope; to quote the founders “if every leader across the communications industry implemented the recommendations of the report, we would build a better communications industry” – I believe collectively, we are on the way to making this happen.

To read the full findings of the Great British Diversity Experiment, click here.

For more information on The Hobbs Consultancy’s products and services, email Emily@thehobbsconsultancy.com

 

How women are portrayed, considered and represented is currently on everyone’s agenda.

In this guest post, Roxanne Hobbs and Flora Joll from Mullen Lowe London argue whether advertisers need to catch up with our changing culture.

We are in a unique position in the advertising industry. Everyone is jostling to lead the discussion around equality and conscious that the views around gender are moving faster in culture than in advertising. Yet we are also in a unique position to influence the outcome as we create part of our cultural landscape through our creative output in the advertising that we make.

As a case in point, Fairy asked the question of how fair the division of labour is in your household, to complement Ariel’s suggestion that men #ShareTheLoad in attempts to redress the balance of inequality. These campaigns perhaps have the intention to create a conversation about the distribution of household labour, whilst also selling a few more unit cases of detergent. Indeed we now know that the more fathers undertake their fair share of household labour, the more their daughters in particular express a greater interest in working outside the home and having a less stereotypical occupation.

Perhaps the sooner we question and thus subvert gender stereotypes, the less likely they are to persist. Riding on Allways’ coat tails, Barbie has changed her act and Target doesn’t stock blue and pink ‘gendered’ colours for their toys any more.

With this momentum, what is now required is a definitive statement of intent. It almost goes without saying that equality is the endgame, but now that the conversation has moved on, where should it go?

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We believe that what is now required is a more progressive conversation about gender equality. Whilst we applaud the attempts to instigate a conversation in the media and through advertising, we suggest the end game is one in which gender isn’t even part of the equation.

Gender is just a small part of how people define themselves, and it would seem for the younger generations this is becoming increasingly true. Perhaps The Guardian got it right – “the next step in marketing to women is to stop marketing to women”.

We do not need to create a gender specific portrait of women, or men. We can create narratives that appeal on a fundamental level: human first. Gender stereotypes play out well on a creative mood board, but the cost of these stereotypes on a societal level are becoming clear. We predict these stereotypes will increasingly create resistance, and not attraction, to our brands.

Ultimately we envisage an advertising world in which we don’t even allude to gender stereotypes, even if the intention is to ultimately undermine them.

Change does not have to be dramatic or overnight – it can be done incrementally, as Soraya Chemaly pointed out in her TED Women talk “The Credibility Gap: How Sexism Shapes Human Knowledge”, saying that “small changes in initial conditions can yield exponential difference”. A deodorant brand that has been all about attracting scantily clad babes can show your girlfriend smiling next to you; it just so happens that it is her in the driving seat, as Axe showed in ‘Find Your Magic’.

Flora would argue that marketing should set the agenda for culture, whilst Roxanne believes, at the very least, it should reflect the culture around it. At the moment it would seem, given advertising’s obsession with the younger demographics, that in the arena of gender it is doing neither.

Author – Flora Joll, Strategist, Mullen Lowe
Contribution by Roxanne Hobbs, Founder, The Hobbs Consultancy

 

Welcome to the third part of our Imposter Syndrome series.

In part 1 we talked about what Imposter Syndrome is, the fact you’re in good company and its relationship with perfectionism.

In part 2 we talked about how to move past Imposter Syndrome.

In this final part of the series we talk about cultural shifts. How can we create workplace cultures in which it’s ok to be yourself?  How do we help our people avoid feeling like they don’t belong or that they don’t deserve to be there?  In short, how do we minimize feelings of fear or shame in the workplace, and instead cultivate creativity, innovation and empathy?

Embracing diversity

One of the reasons I think some successful individuals struggle with Imposter Syndrome is because they look around at other successful people, and unconsciously think ‘but they don’t look like me’. Industries often have a stereotype of what success looks like, and that becomes problematic when you don’t fit that mould.  There are so many reasons to embrace diversity in your organization, and this is another one to add to the list.  It makes business sense – if you want people to contribute their full range of talents, you need to break the stereotype of what success looks like in human form in your workplace.

Action: Do you know your diversity challenges, goals and strategy?

Embrace imperfection

Do you have a culture in which it is understood that mistakes happen?  Or that failure is an occasional consequence of pushing boundaries and innovative thinking?  Or do mistakes have high consequences and failures are dismissed or hidden under the carpet? We need to remember that to be human is to be not perfect.  We are all imperfect. Our mistakes and struggles make us what we are – the learning we gain from that experience is what enriches us.

Action: Consider how you collectively view failure, could you turn it into something to be celebrated and learnt from?

Embracing vulnerable leadership

Finally, I’m a huge advocate of vulnerable leadership.  I believe that it’s through our openness about what we don’t know and what we struggle with where, sometimes, we can make our biggest impact as a leader.  If you have any type of managerial or leadership responsibility then you have an important role to play in influencing how, and whether, others succumb to it.

A female CEO of a large advertising agency said publicly, when she was offered the role, that she felt nervous and she had loads to learn. It’s difficult to imagine many men doing that, don’t you think? But more importantly, in one sentence she made it possible for every single employee in that company to step out of their comfort zone, to move beyond their Imposter Syndrome, and go for it. For me, that is the epitome of leadership.

Action: Role model vulnerable leadership. Don’t be afraid to show that sometimes you are uncertain, have taken risks or expose yourself emotionally. People want real.

 

 

We hope you have enjoyed the series on Imposter Syndrome. We offer workshops in organisations to help your teams understand how they might be holding themselves back and to navigate this phenomenon.

Please get in touch with emily@thehobbsconsultancy.com to find out more.

Love Rox

P.S. To learn more about emotional resilience, picking yourself up after set backs, and being with difficulty,  book onto our next two day Rising Strong workshop on 20th April and 11th May. Click here to book your place.
To learn more about vulnerable leadership and the gifts of imperfection, book now to attend one of our Daring Way™ intensives. Click here.

Welcome to the second part of our Imposter Syndrome series. In this piece we discuss how you can be aware of these feelings, their associated behaviours and how to navigate it.

Clearly, if you’re not showing up as yourself, if you are doubting your abilities and ‘holding yourself back’ then that could well be preventing you from stepping into leadership, from going for that promotion, maybe from simply speaking up in the workplace.  And that, unfortunately, just keeps you stuck.

How can we tackle Imposter Syndrome?

There is no easy fix but there are steps you can take.  Each one will give you a stepping stone for showing up as your true self and sharing your talents in a way that feels authentic and valued.

Understanding your thoughts, feelings and behaviours

Often, expressing feelings in the workplace is not widely welcomed.  Yet, we cannot effect sustainable change without considering feelings alongside our thoughts and our behaviours.

The typical thoughts associated with Imposter Syndrome are ‘not enough’ – whether it’s ‘not intelligent enough’, ‘not qualified enough’, ‘not creative enough’ or simply ‘not good enough’.  The feelings behind these thoughts are often unworthiness, shame and fear.

Think about these feelings and whether they resonate with you.  Are they feelings that surface when you are at work?

Your feelings and thoughts influence your behaviour and this is the key to self awareness and long term behavioural change.

If you recognise those self doubting thoughts in yourself then the next step is to understand how those play out in your behaviour.  Are you:

  • holding yourself back from applying for that promotion?
  • not taking the action needed to pursue that job you really want?
  • trapped in a workhorse mentality, thinking that if you only put all of the hours in then you might be ‘enough’?

Check in with yourself and understand how your feelings are influencing your behaviour.

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Expressing your feelings with someone who has earned the right to hear it

Is there someone who you trust (and this is why female mentors can be so helpful), and can talk to about your fears and feelings of unworthiness?  Often just expressing your feelings aloud can help you contextualize what is actually going on.  More likely than not, you will also realise that you’re not alone and your feelings are not uncommon.

Engage in critical awareness

Even though you might recognise the signs of Imposter Syndrome you have to be honest with yourself about what is going on.  It’s all too easy to bury your head in the sand and hope that things will change.  The truth is, things won’t change unless you tackle this head on.

Start with being honest about your feelings, thoughts and behaviours.  You can then go beyond that and be honest with yourself about your achievements and your successes.

It’s important to remind yourself that to be human is not to be perfect.  We are all imperfect. Our mistakes and struggles make us what we are – the learning we gain from that experience is what enriches us.

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

*Image by Roberto Nickson http://www.unsplash.com

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Today I want to introduce you to another new associate coach here at The Hobbs Consultancy, Dorit Noble:-

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Dorit spent many years working as an opera singer on stage, before becoming a CTI-certified coach specialising in body and movement. She supports leaders in aligning with their body to access their intuition and to develop resilience.

It is my pleasure to hand over to Dorit to share her wisdom…

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‘Personal trainers say, ‘My body is my business.’ But that’s true for you too.

Everybody’s body is their business. Everybody’s body is intrinsic to their success.

When you can align what your body needs with what your mind and emotions want (money, career, security, success, family, friendship), you have real work-life balance.

Have you ever gone out and had a great time: ‘Yeah!!’ (Fists in the air!) You wake up, your body’s a mess?

The you that drives you to keep partying or working, the you that’s reading this article: that’s your mind. Your mind and emotions, can enjoy partying every night, can drive you to keep working. But your physical body will crash you.

Your body, mind, emotions are a delicately balanced self-sustaining eco-system. The body is the base – the foundation and support of that system.

What I’ve learnt in ten years of studying, and training others in body intelligence, is that in the struggle between what your mind wants, and what your body wants, your physical body wins. Hands down, every time, no exception.

It’s time to start paying attention.

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In the TED talk on power poses, by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at Harvard University; she uses test results from groups of Harvard students, to show its possible to rewire the chemistry in the brain using the body.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman wrote a book that changed business: Emotional Intelligence connected the dots for business between EQ – (our awareness of emotions and ability to manage them) – and the bottom line. He created a bridge between success in business and success in managing and understanding emotions.

And take the Iowa gambling experiment that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book, Blink. The Iowa experiment was created by the acclaimed neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio. It proves that you have a superpower brain – your unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is eight times faster at figuring out what to do when you don’t know what to do next.

The bridge between the importance of the body and business is not yet clearly spelled out. Neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio, social psychologists like Amy Cuddy; best selling books like Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. They are all touching on the same thing: the potency of the body to access information from what Malcolm Gladwell calls ‘the brain behind locked doors’

Your body is the bridge between your superpower, unconscious brain and your executive brain.

When you need to make a snap decision, your unconscious is an internal beacon that illuminates the way, shining a cellular YES or NO response to you in bold body signals.

Body Intelligence coaching trains the ability to listen to those signals, understand them and respond in a way that aligns with that internal beacon.

Today I want to introduce you to another new associate coach here at The Hobbs Consultancy, Lisa Westbury:-

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Lisa helps women to discover their focus and unlock their own flavour of creativity. As a certified co-active and career transition coach, she offers a warm and encouraging space in which women can clarify their career ambitions and impact, improve confidence and work out how to make a difference. Lisa helps women to discover their focus and unlock their own flavour of creativity. As a certified co-active and career transition coach, she offers a warm and encouraging space in which women can clarify their career ambitions and impact, improve confidence and work out how to make a difference. 

It is my pleasure to hand over to Lisa to share her wisdom…

‘When I returned to work after my first daughter I was unprepared for what it would feel like and what I would find when I got there. I was lucky to have a very supportive line manager, a challenging but manageable portfolio and some familiar faces. I had taken a whole year out, and so the agenda had moved on a bit. But the trickiest bits were rooted in the emotional stuff, how I responded to the attitudes of some of the senior people and the pressure I put myself under. Everything appeared to be the same, and was also somehow different.

Since then, I have shared experiences with a number of other women in both personal and professional settings. I’ve discovered that having a baby is not only a time of potentially confusing thoughts and somewhat alarming emotions but also an opportunity for deep reflection and re-calibration. Many women come out of it with a new purpose, a shift in priorities or a re-energised hunger to make their work worthwhile. At the very least it can be an opportunity to try different perspectives and ways of being at work.

Why preparing helps
Although you can’t prepare for everything, you can start to sort out what is important and what is not important for you in this phase of your life, and cultivate the mind-set that is going to best serve you in the coming months, perhaps years. This conscious decision making brings issues into sharper focus and puts you on the front foot in negotiations with yourself and others.

The borderland between work and home, that fuzzy territory between the two worlds may have shifted its features and customs. For instance what personal information do they now need at work and what working information does your family need at home? What roles and skills do you perform in either world which could be used across them both? When does work get done at home and when do home tasks need to be considered at work? What are the hard boundaries you want to keep?

Some of this will be affected by your office culture and norms, and you may feel differently about this now  and again in the first year or two after returning. It’s important to have a strong sense of your inner compass so that you can feel steady, less blown about by others and more able to be yourself as you re-enter the workplace.

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Manager communication
This inner compass is particularly important in negotiating with managers about your job role and working arrangements. Studies show that returning women commonly experience difficulties communicating with their managers. If your work does not have “keep in touch” mechanisms for maternity leave, then initiate them yourself.

Arrange a conversation about expectations with your manager at least a month before you go back so you both have space to resolve any problems.  Prepare for that by getting clear about values and priorities, where you can be flexible and what flexibilities you can ask for in return. It is in everybody’s interests to make this work.

The confidence issue
I have yet to meet the woman who returns to work with her confidence perfectly intact. It is completely normal to have forgotten what you were good at, or even the name of your former boss (in my case). Unrealistic expectations of yourself and negative self-talk only undermine you even further. Rehearsal of what you are good at and really enjoy doing are good antidotes.

Another set of confidence shakers in those first few weeks is the emotional impact of leaving your baby, concerns about childcare arrangements, feeding, tearfulness and tiredness. This is completely normal and, with gentle attention to what you and your family are feeling and need, this should settle down.  Sharing your feelings with friends, family and peers inside or out of work can be enormously helpful in getting you through the early months.

Finding balance
If it wasn’t on your mind before, then balance is likely to be on the agenda for the rest of your working life. I don’t say this to frighten you, only to remind you that what creates balance shifts with your circumstances and priorities in every phase of your life and it will need regular review.

Setting realistic expectations with your manager and with your family for the transition, and fierce prioritisation will help you to get what’s really important done. Notice what gives you energy, try to plan challenging or creative work sensibly around your best times of day, and be realistic about what you can achieve when your energy is low.

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So for those sleep deprived mums who would like it spelled out simply – here is my five point plan for managing the transition.

Build confidence by asking three friends and former colleagues for feedback on your personal and professional strengths.  Choose the ones which feel most true and keep them close at hand.

Tackle overwhelm and guilt by focussing on what is really important now and de-prioritising/delegating what is not. Doing a few good things well each day is better than attempting everything badly.

Manage your energy levels by taking care of your emotional and physical health and planning your most challenging tasks for the best parts of your day

Seek support from your peers and friends. Voicing your concerns and knowing that others are tackling similar issues is immensely reassuring. They will also have valuable ideas

And finally be realistic and compassionate with yourself. You don’t have to be all things to all people or achieve perfection. Know what is good enough and learn to let go.’

Please pass this on to a pregnant women or returning Mum you know to support her in managing this transition. We offer both maternity coaching to individuals and within organisations. Is there anyone at your organisation you could introduce us to, so that your company provides more support for returning Mums?

Please contact hannah@thehobbsconsultancy.com for maternity coaching enquiries or bookings.

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

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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.’