Are you really a fraud? Will you be found out?

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Just been inspired to write about this so very common phenonema that strikes us down, regularly and unwittingly.

In my life I know that I have frequently felt inadequate and often had to battle with lack of confidence. Did I become a master of camoflaging the nerves before presentations or face up to the fact that I really was an imposter as my inner voice kept warning me. Young adults, graduates or those who have just passed their driving test are great examples of those who act brave to save face. They feel that now they have to show up in the world and compete with everyone else. ” Fake it till  you make it” Some put on a shiny new facade and tackle the world with defenses and bravado, sharing with nobody the absolute fear they carry within. Those inner voices of the imposter often arise and the voices can take over and riddle our confidence with holes.

Others hear their peers bragging about their great career paths and inside they crumble and want to hide. They are not worthy of an interview for they scrapped through training college or university and will be found out as a loser if put into the headlights in an interview room.

Imposters—- frauds — clowns— comics can present themselves and we can crumble or shine but how do we go about this without experience and maturity?

Firstly we have to be aware that we indeed are full of self conflict. I remember having a track record of getting “straight A’s” or “gold stars” in most things in junior school. Then frequently as a child I heard  I was the smart one in your family or peer group? Wow did this set me up for feeling like a fraud. I knew that I had to work really hard to achieve, so that did not measure up to being smart.

Sadly this fear of failure and not being good enough stayed with me until adulthood and parenthood. Facing  my fears and doing it anyway became such a very precious mantra for me. I was for many years so terrified of being found out as the fraud.

To be continued.

 

Giving and Receiving

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artistic-christmas-header

Frenzied shopping at the end of the year, large financial concerns as you see the credit card levels increase or quite simply a checklist, like every other list of things to do.  The theme of “giving” while offering someone a gift can be joyous and heart-warming, or in many cases it becomes a duty or creates a feeling  of emptiness inside.

I know for me that gifts bought out of ” we do this every year” makes me feel sad and often a little hypocritical. I used to have a long list of the courtesy cards and gifts that were sent out. Realising that there was no real sincerity being sent along with them led me to make changes.

Firstly, I asked myself how I felt when receiving a tick- box present? Then I compared that to one that was bought and offerred with  heart-felt-ness and authentic love. I knew immediately which of the two types of gifts, I personally appreciated most.

In recent years I decided to only give from the heart, asking myself “Is this an expression of love and caring? Does it come from the heart?”

The act of giving and receiving is most worthy and friends and families immediately become our true benefactors.
What would it look like if we perhaps offered these people, only words?

Christmas time is so perfect for a gratitude practice? If we stop for a moment, don’t we owe our gratitude to the people in our lives? What if we took the time to say or write a brief expression of that gratitude for each person? If we tuck some special words into our gift, or better yet, take time to tell them.  When we are in their presence, noticing that they are opening our gift to them ,what else might we say in that moment?

Spreading love and kindness, showing gratitude and appreciation are indeed the most valuable gifts of all.

Does Love Come into Coaching?

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Does Love Come into Coaching?

Rick Hanson asks in a recent newsletter “ How do you love – Freely?”

The power of coaching

The power of coaching

My own curiosity and moments of self reflection have opened many doors of enquiry through the years of coaching others.  I am  wondering how we as coaches bring love freely into our coaching and indeed how do we hold love in our own personal lives?  We are all very aware of working with empathy, compassion, kindness in the coaching relationship but how do we model love in the world of business?

Love is overly talked about in some circles, overly commercialised in others and almost completely avoided in the largest organisations of the world.
Let’s take it right back to basics and let our attention rest on our own self.
Love, the most powerful of all our emotions has for centuries created space for poetry, filled many music moguls pockets, brought deep passions to plays, operas and much that we relate to, deep inside ourselves. It raises questions, causes much pain and yet we all seek to be loved but do we always offer love when indeed it might bring healing, relief or freedom for others?
In our daily lives and coaching sessions do we openly communicate loving kindness?
How freely do we show, model or name LOVE?

How do you love?

When love flows freely we touch into so many other human feelings and actions; compassion, empathy, kindness, liking, affection, cooperation, and altruism are all in our nature, woven into the fabric of human DNA, the most social – and most loving – species on the planet. Love is a natural uprising of energy from deep inside us all. It doesn’t need to be forced or camouflaged, it needs to be released. If authentic love in any of its forms is bottled up, it hurts. For example, one of the greatest pains is that of a broken heart.

Has any aspect of your own love stopped flowing freely?
We know that besides feeling wonderful to be in love, opening to love heals psychological wounds, builds resilience, and supports personal growth. Neuroscience is rapidly informing us that, love calms down the stress response and reduces activation in the neural circuits of physical and emotional pain. It nourishes by increasing “oxytocin” which indeed facilitates milder behaviours and helps keep you out of conflicts with others. Coaches have much to offer in cultivating a loving heart, as we dance around the edges of spiritual practice and meaning and purpose in the work that we do.

 

Part Two of this blog  will be based on the contribution of coaches. So consider these questions and do pass comment please.

  • How do we contribute to bringing back human- ness into the workplace?
  • If we are suffering due to divorce, a broken relationship or the bitterness of a broken heart, can we hold a clean, healthy space for our clients?

Attention, attending and attendance

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Life has been given to us; to some this is a gift to others it may be a curse and to many, many millions, it is a case of choosing to leave, their homes, country of origins and search for a safe place to survive until real living returns again.

No matter where we are in our lives, from the safety of our own homes, to experiencing the storms and forces of mother nature,  the way we experience these moments in time is all down to the way we bring our attention to them. How does the youngster just beginning life as a student attend to the small details hidden within the huge somewhat overwhelming transition? Our humaness is vast and complex as we are filled with complexities of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and our ability to learn. As so many wise people have said, we however are not taught how to use the power of attention.

However without attending to the smallest apple hanging on a tree, the hungry child fleeing to Europe may miss his daily sustenance. The kindness written in a letter of condolence can be overlooked in the shock and grief of an accident but the genuine comfort of attending to the words, may lift that father from a place of dispair to a glimmer of hope in a period of deep sadness.

Much has been said about the benefits and pitfalls of remaining in the past. Coaching was born from the notion that future planning and striving is the way to achieve. For me neither of these options offer me a safe place to rest inwardly.

The past has already delivered my history, captured in my memory, in a snapshot of time or from the reminisences  in tales and stories. The future is never guaranteed and I have learnt that always waiting to be successful, happy or recognised in the future, may never ever arrive. It is a strange phenomena, that this is the only moment when, if we choose, we can bring our attention to now. How succesful are we right now? How recognised am I by family and friends? How alive do I feel today as I write this blog. Assuming that we will have health, wealth and happiness tomorrow seems an assumed security. When will  we attend to really appreciating and “attending” to this moment of our life?

Attending to all that passes through our bodies and minds every waking moment is a forboding challenge for many.

We reach many statAttendinges in the present moment, much of which is fleeting almost ghost like and gone before we realise that we have thought about it or recognised the discomfort. Automatic living, busy hands, brains and a never ending information stream reaches us, touches us and then—————– we move on in some other way!  Memories, past dreams, broken hearts, unfinished suffering >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> moving on to a little recognition of the shock of seeing images of  thousands of migrants landing in Europe >>>>>>>>>>> a quick sense of injustice or fear or frustration…. and then moving on to writing this blog about attending.

In attendance to our emotional experiences and the thoughts that arise, we begin to view how we catastrophise, see the positive in people, judge ourselves, sabotage our own actions or judge the situations that we are noticing. We gain a growing sense of our own mindstates.

More in the next blog ————-

 

 

Learn your theories well…

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Reaching a certain stage or age where you begin to notice that there are already many models, theories or skills, that are so embedded in you————- life is easy. Some may say it is “conscious competance” others may call you arrogant, but that inner knowing is only really present with us NOW.

” Learning to earning” is a mantra that many young people live by.  We progress from school to apprenticeships, college or university learning. We meet and greet, connect and disconnect and move through life with great drive to achieve, learn and be successful. Much is absorbed into our inner being, stored and retrieved when most needed.

I love the question ” So when do you know you are successful?”

Is it when you have the car, the house and the possibility to travel the globe? Do you stop long enough to notice?

Let go for a moment in time and stop the striving, planning and goal setting.

“Learn your theories well, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of a living person”.

Begin to get in touch with who you already are. You are that miracle of life and you are already here, in this moment. Stopping to be here with yourself is the only way to really see what you already know.

Mindfulness Moments as Day Dawns

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As a  professional person with a family, getting out of the house on time  to start the commute to work can be a real challenge.  So multi-tasking is one way of meeting the needs of everyone involved. The way that this is handled can have a long lasting effect on everyones moods for the day. Husbands can feel guilty for not being able to stick around longer to help. Children will often feel rushed and not have time to enjoy a full breakfast and mothers become the cook, carer, chauffer and cleaner all in the first hour of the day, before setting off for a day of meetings. Even having a well prepared plan and organised list  does not allow things to run with army precision. Read more

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time –part two

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There is no point in arguing that to complete one thing at a time is a less efficient use of time. We all are capable of great things and we can drink tea and read the Sunday papers or discuss a merger whilst making notes and thinking about the effect on your life.

The human brain, heart and gut are powerful centres of complexity that we as humans are only beginning to understand.

Steps to changing self and others

Quite simply try to carry out one task or activity from beginning to end. Resist distractions, interruptions and hold your attention on the point of focus. If a long time span is required have mindful breaks and keep bringing yourself back to the task in hand.

• Set out the task and announce that you do not want to be disturbed for a certain length of time
• Break the task down into small, manageable steps and hold your focus
• Create shorter face to face meetings to hold attention – 45 minutes with 5 minutes reflective space for note writing
• Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting
• Take short breaks every 90 minutes- walk outside, eat and drink slowly and breathe
• Make official quiet spaces for employees to go to
• Invite staff to turn off their email at certain times. If it’s urgent, you can call them —
• Stop buying into the need for instant replies
• Encourage children to have quiet times during the day but especially at night
• Spend meal times savouring the food let the chatter resume after eating
• Rejecting the role of a victim and instead view events through a more hopeful filter
• Time is infinite but we have an expiry date- stop to savour the now

“ Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose,
in the present moment, and non judgmentally to the unfolding of experience
moment by moment as if your life depended on it” Jon Kabat- Zinn

Mindfulness for all

It’s up to individuals to set their own boundaries and acquire skills which will help them cope with this new world. Time is an infinite resource, it is not in short supply, but energy is different. If we want to make the best of the life we have, then managing your energy is vital. It has four wellsprings–the body, emotions, mind, and spirit–and in each, it can be systematically expanded and renewed through Mindfulness.
YOU will benefit in many ways

Increasing resilience, adaptability and flexibility
Improved effectiveness and productivity, and reduced sick days
Rising motivation and well-being in a more positive working environment
Happier, calmer kids who enjoy moment to moment living

—————————————————————— the list goes on and on!

Bringing Spring Freshness into the Coaches Mind

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In a recent issue of Forbes Magazine 23rd January 2013 I noticed an article “Three Keys to Mindful Leadership Coaching” by Douglas Riddle.

“There are countless executive coaches I would never hire for myself, no matter how wise, insightful, dynamic or experienced. If a coach can’t create an environment that dissolves the limitations of history, expectation, and assumption, I’m not interested.” says Riddle “The coaches who expand my mind, emotions and performance come to the coaching relationship from a place of inner calm. They have quiet minds. They are not beguiled by fancy techniques or elegant coaching models. They are midwives for the narrow, messy emergence into a larger world – and they rely on habits of mindfulness to accomplish that.

So how do you prepare your mind, body and soul for being in a coaching session?

A typical response might be “ I have a little routine that I go through to check I am ready and prepared then I centre myself with a few breaths before the client arrives!”

Let me ask the question again. When you are stuck on a train with only five minutes to go to the beginning of your session and you have a migraine starting, how do you take care of yourself?

Perhaps, you are sitting comfortably in your favourite chair, note pad on your lap and telephone ready and waiting. It rings, you pick it up and launch into welcoming your client but surprisingly it is another caller who launches into a long story. In that moment what happens to your sense of quiet readiness? Where can you begin to feel the panic rise or those thoughts of “How do I get her to stop!”

Life and coaching sessions can be dotted with “in the moment issues”; clients are unpredictable beings, technology can cut out communications and of course, we coaches are but mere mortals at the end of the day. If you have not taken care of your own inner resources, it makes no difference if you have every coaching model up your sleeve and a degree to prove it.

Often in supervision sessions, the question comes up, of how appropriate it is for a coach to be coaching when their personal challenges are relentlessly stressful? Reading coaching ethics and standards might guide you, talking about somatics , EQ or thinking about meditation might assist but to be able to sit with our client’s inner landscapes we need to touch deep within our own landscapes. Mindfulness gives you a deeper awareness of yourself and your inner resources.

We coaches do struggle with our own daily worries , we hide our vulnerabilities and push our physical bodies through winter flu, cancer scares and addictive behaviours. Living in “automatic pilot” with a brain full of over –activity is common to us all. I wonder how many of us slip into automatic pilot during our coaching relationships ? Cultivating an inner awareness of ourselves allows subtle changes in the way that we experience alertness in our sessions.

The introduction of westernised Mindfulness pioneered by Jon Kabit Zinn, has brought mindfulness into clinical practice and made its benefits available to the ordinary person who is suffering in some way. Large companies are engaging Mindfulness based courses for employees and we cannot ignore the huge evidence that mindfulness not only works but can hand control back to the individual. Our clients or potential clients are benefiting from the new availability to access a more wholesome way of living their lives in and out of work. Can we executive coaches celebrate and share the deeper insights, lessons of compassion and encourage our clients to “be” in this brave new world that is developing?

Can you give yourself permission to stop and just be?

Do we have a regular time that we give ourselves to sit in the present moment; a quiet moment to really recognise how we are being in our bodies, with our thoughts, emotions and senses?

Cultivating a real awareness of how we are, in our body and minds may feel like a huge commitment. What are the basic foundation stones of developing self and deepening our capabilities in that space we meet our clients in? How often are we really being in the present moment whilst coaching? Do you ever witness our own voice and its questions during sessions and sense a discord deep inside? Yes we do have inner voices which may be saying “when was the last time your walked your talk, coach?”

Mindfulness combines both formal and informal practices which can be added into our daily lives creating opportunities for coaches to adjust their way of being. There is no right or wrong way of being mindful but modern research has helped us to understand the depth of the benefits found in adopting regular exercises. The structure of our brains can change after just 8 short weeks of regular practice.

The AC have offered wonderful opportunities to learn more about Mindfulness and coaches can immerse ourselves in the plethora of wonderful books. However adding this mindfulness practice into our lives is one of the challenges that we all face. No matter whether you are a Buddhist or coming from a secular perspective, finding real time and commitment to stopping and giving attention to our wellbeing in the present moment is significant. Mindfulness is not just a new tool to be added glibly to our tool kit, it is a commitment to embody a new way of being in our lives not just in our coaching sessions. This is an ancient practice which deserves respect and appreciation.

Inviting a fresher alertness into our lives

  • Can we enter each session with the freshness of a beginner’s mind? An empty mind is key to letting something happen in someone else. It is the essence of coaching.
  • Can we sit with ourselves and develop compassion and self -care?
  • How self managed are we in our lives? Can we respond rather than react?
  • How does our self judgment play out in the coaching space?

As Riddle says in his article:

“The real question for the coach is this: how can I prepare myself to create a mental, emotional, and relational space in which someone may grow and develop? Mindfulness practices prepare coaches to really help instead of just trying to be helpful.”

The Pillars of Mindfulness and Coaching

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In the early years of being a coach I had the privileged of attending a European Coaching Conference in Sitges, Spain where Master Coach Hannah Wilder PhD was running a lunchtime workshop on Mindfulness. Hannah, an American coach had been following the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn and the Order of Interbeing for many years and she was offering a slow down session for all the noisy, over excited coaches who had come together in 2002. It was a peaceful haven, with no Buddhist robes, amidst the high energy of Julio Olalla, Sir John Whitmore and Alain Cardon. A year later Hannah ran another workshop on Mindfulness for coaches in a London pub—it was an evening that inspired me even more. Hannah became my mentor coach, colleague and friend over the years and has always encouraged me to follow a more mindful existence.

Not only did I discover the amazing Order of Interbeing I also realised that there was a whole community of international people who had taken his teaching deep into their westernised lives. Thich Nhat Hanh taught me the wonderful ways that we can incorporate the simplest of practices into our daily lives. The humdrum activities of walking, eating and housework suddenly became alive and purposeful.

Hannah, introduced me to incorporating mindfulness into not only my everyday life but also into my coaching. As I evolved and grew so has my coaching. Adding mindfulness for me has been very natural but often challenging journey. So many of us have floated in and out of contemplative practices over the years but have wavered in continuity under the real daily pressures that we live with.

I so acknowledge all the coaches that I have met over the years who have truly adopted a mindful way of life and so generously share this with friends, clients and other coaches. I could list hundreds of coaches and other professionals that have championed the way and inspired myself and others; from the fields of retreat coaching, ontological, eco- psychology, somatics, neuroscience————

This is not new ground for many people and there is nothing inspirationally different in the revival of age old practices. We who are advocating for mindfulness know that it works. This article is written as a way of informing coaches that more and more of their clients may already have been introduced to this way of being. It is mainstream in the NHS, Transport for London and already holds its own in schools and so many avenues of life internationally. Today as globally identifiable companies are running “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” MBSR programmes, there are so many more possibilities for coaches to work with executive clients who are already working in an open and unlimited space of possibility, within the workplace. Can we meet them in that space?

As coaches attending workshops and trainings we develop ourselves, top up our knowledge whilst deepening our own self awareness and ticking the box for CPD hours. How long does the effect or influence of a refurbished coaching model, a new tool or attractive training, last for? What is the deeper imprint on you and on your imprint on the world?

Globally, this feels more like a conscious choice for creating wholesome people, workplaces. On the individual level many ordinary people are noticing subtle, but life changing shifts in their self – awareness, their own personable ability to control their own thoughts, emotions and bodies with a gentle commitment to following regular practice with the support of other people.

I have noticed the subtle changes personally and my clients are benefiting from the way it has blended into my work as an Executive Retreat Coach. My heart and mind always knew that to work with the whole person I would need to ask clients to step outside the office and their daily lives just for a short time. Mindfulness becomes a way of life which then influences who we are in the world and in our coaching. Everyone that I have ever met has agreed that being part of a really likeminded group is the most supportive way to have a regular practice. Whether we connect virtually or through regular practice, meetings and retreats, mindfulness need not be a solitary affair but it is a wonderful opportunity just to be with you.

There are so many threads of commonality between mindfulness and coaching. Whether you have adopted a simpler way of living your life, attend meditation or mindfulness classes or like me have chosen to train as a Mindfulness Instructor, you embed the learning and begin to reap the subtle benefits. It appears in strange changes that you notice and others comment on.

Discovery is an essential part of the coaching process for both coach and client. The similarities and interwoven principals of both mindfulness and coaching are initially not appreciated nor acknowledged. Everyday our new awareness brings fresh realisations and often, in both supervision and coaching discussions, the connections become so real.

This is a journey of commitment and discovery for coaches who have a mindfulness practice, whereby they begin to notice changes within themselves and in the way they are in everyday life. There may be subtle shifts in the way we remain present, in the way we listen or how we remain detached from our clients’ emotions whilst coaching. In our daily lives, we sleep better, find pleasure in more and notice our balance of intention and attention slowly evolve to permit our general wellbeing to be enhanced.

Noting the commonalities and benefits from encompassing mindfulness into the coach’s life is the beginning of a powerful awareness raising process. Here are a few common threads running through the two practices;

  • Beginner’s Mind
  • Working with the Unknown
  • Present Moment Awareness
  • Non judgement
  • Trust – letting go of your own agenda and attachment to outcomes
  • Empathy and Compassion
  • Patience – with self and the process
  • Completely open to the NOW
  • Non-striving – a recognition that things can only emerge in their own time

Join me in adding to the list as we continue to develop together, raising awareness and leaving a positive imprint on the world.

Standing in Silence

Remembrance Day and the three minutes silence that we are invited to take part in, can be an exercise which arouses both emotions and memories. I also take note from hearing the voices of veterans, their families and friends that the most powerful words uttered are based on strong values and beliefs. Honour, patriotism,dedication,courage,commitment and sacrifice are but a few.

For those who stood in silence, there was an opportunity to recognise just how powerfully those values were held by those who fought for peace and freedom. How today there are many who still hold these values but for perhaps a larger majority these are concepts taken for granted.

As a coach I am used to asking questions and I must admit to being somewhat self reflective today. I am asking myself; what makes me patriotic? Would I be willing to sacrifice anything for my country? What took so many young men away from home,family and country to serve for their country? I wonder how many false values and beliefs came to them as they lay wounded and dying? How many values instilled by the communites they lived did not serve them well?

The questions of commitment; how commited are you on a scale of 1 to 10 ? A question often asked. How far would you go to complete a task, be lead blindly down a fatal path or carry out an order that meant you or your family would be left pained ad traumatised?

Take a few silent minutes each day to stop and ask yourself a question. Stop to acknowledge another or view your actions and then ask yourself  ” How am I measuring up to other peoples values and how am I honouring my own values?” Taking time to question yourself before you judge others.