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

, , , ,

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.


Does Love Come into Coaching?

, ,

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?

Bringing Spring Freshness into the Coaches Mind

, ,

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.”

Depression is costing UK business £1,000 per employee per year

, , ,

Today, we heard of a shortage of Mental Health beds in England and reports of patients begging for assistance from their GP and Community Psychiatric Nurses. For anyone who  has spent time suffering anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder you are aware that for long periods you can be well, happy and healthy. There are however periods when you are feeling unwell. Imagine, you recognise the signs of a downturn and you can’t access the real help and expertise that you know that you most need.Well we all know that financial cuts have torn through general health and social shutterstock_71532082service provision.

Then I stumbled upon this report in the HR Review

  • A quarter of people in the UK (26%) have been diagnosed with depression according to the UK IDEA survey report (European Depression Association (EDA), Impact of Depression in Europe Audit Survey (IDEA Survey), 2012)
  • The wider economic cost of mental illness in England has been estimated at £105.2 billion each year. This includes direct costs of services, lost productivity at work, and reduced quality of life.
  • The cost of poor mental health to businesses is just over £1,000 per employee per year, or almost £26 billion across the UK economy.

This is such a drain and financial burden when the NHS and businesses are already suffering in the toughest times. Do you support a mental health charity? Are you in a position of leadership or policy making? What can you do to influence and make mental health issues top priority.

Click on the photo to read the article.

“The Art of Avoiding Being Seen as a Bully”

, ,

Sadly there are so many pressures every day on people to hit targets, close a deal, bring in the unpaid account money and prove their worth. Organisations are being run like machines where even if you are not normally considered a bully, you are put under great duress to get rid of staff that are deemed “Poor Quality” or made to push your team members  to perform when you already know their personal health or circumstances are already tenuous.

As we recently had “Awareness Week for Bullying” I do wonder how many of us are considered to be one of them? Have you ever wondered who might think that you have that tendency? It is a pattern of behavior between a bully and another worker, which can demoralize, isolate and trigger illness in the target of the bully. How often do you feel very uncomfortable when dealing with co-workers? Are you aware that as messenger you can be seen as part of the organisational culture that supports bullying?

Are you being asked to deal with someone who is over 50 years of age and seen as a liability? Perhaps you know that this is discrimination but feel you need to deliver the message anyway.

Is the person known to be a trouble -maker and you have bought into this without experience or evidence? If you are being asked to treat someone unfairly—- please think about how you would feel if this was being done to you.

Are you not being given the recognition in the workplace as this would mean you would be rewarded a bonus? What has your line manager told you and are the reasons realistic and evidenced?

In my coaching sessions I am hearing more and more of these types of concerns. Difficult conversations need to be had but perhaps if we work within our own set of values there would be less bullying. Being mindful of how we deliver someone else’s message is an art to be developed by most people who hold integrity close to their heart.

The “Art of Avoiding Being Seen as a Bully” is in your hands!


Sustainability of our human assets.

, ,

futureWriting two years ago about the urgent need for appreciation of the human being in the workplace, I wonder how much is changing? I quoted then the  survey by Towers Watson  that suggested that one in three employees faces excessive pressure at work due to long hours and pressure brought on by the economic downturn.According to the research, 26% of British workers said that they have not been taking as much holiday or personal time off over the past three years, while one in five felt that cuts to the workforce had left them with an unreasonable amount of work. In addition to this, 30% of respondents believed that their organisation was under-resourced.

I questioned then the sad fact that fewer and fewer employers were prioritising funding for the real wellbeing of their staff. The Employment packages offering counselling and a few complimentary therapies have seemingly lost their popularity as budgets have also been cut. We ideally would be supporting our employees to take real skills home with them to allow long lasting sustainable health  and wellbeing. We need to talk about a lot more than physical wellbeing. Mental and emotional wellbeing are addressed yes. However the sustainability is not always established. Ongoing eroding of energy and confidence in the workplace is taking its toil.

How do we sustain ourselves?

Crying out to be heard employees are often unheard, as they struggle with depression and anxiety and continue to make it into work. GPs are often supportive but can suggest little more than the above or medications.

We coaches know the real cost to human spirits; the unacceptable levels of pressure handed down by young, success hungry managers who have no respect for the real people behind the job titles. Systems where there is no one really listening!


Openness and Transparency- How honest can we be at work?

“We struggle mostly with ourselves as we debate whether or not to speak up in meetings,
confront a co-worker who we have issues with,or approach a supervisor about unreasonable
expectations or to clarify instructions,” said author Steven Gaffney.“That conflict between
what we want to say, and what we actually feel we can say, causes great stress. The solution, Gaffney added, “is to do what most people are reluctant to do: Be honest. Honesty  really does work.”

Working with a room of senior executives I hear so very often that they are scared to speak up. I am amazed that organisations still do not want to hear the truth about their managers or from their managers. As an executive coach working nearer the coal face than most managers ever get, I see  and sense them walking on a knife’s edge. Their stories of continually being told they are not measuring up, the blame game racing down from the tiers above them and responsibility being owned by few!

There are endless articles and training courses which aim to advise and instruct on the way you communicate with employees. Is there another method of highlighting honesty in the organisation when leaders withhold information. Keeping company information from employees leaves them feeling uninformed and takes away from encouraging honesty in the workplace. While some information needs to be confidential, make it a habit of keeping your staff informed on basic company operations. Most employees appreciate transparency from the company even if the information they receive is negative. For example, employees typically want to know if the company is performing poorly rather than being kept in the dark. The honest communication encourages employees to exhibit the same level of honesty.

How much more can we take of being held down and gagged by fear?   

By creating a company culture that values honesty over perfectionism, you highlight the importance of honesty. If the workplace is set up to punish employees for taking risks or making mistakes, you are more likely to have staff members who hide the truth or don’t take ownership for their errors.If leaders and managers can be authentic and model real truth,honesty and openness then they will also be exhibiting their own accountability.

Do you as a leader create a safe environment that places trust in your employees to handle their duties?  How would you know if your team feel safe and secure in your leadership?

Can you accept constructive feedback or can you provide feedback without making employees feel ostracized if they make a mistake?

As  a person on the ground, delivering the real services of the company do you believe in your leaders?    How would you deal with telling your line manager that they seem non-aligned to the ethos of the company?

Coaching Case Study

, ,

It is quite a challenge to allow you the experience of coaching without you really having a session. Here I can share a case study or even a video link of a live session and remember any coach worth their money will be happy to offer you a taster session to see if you click.

The case below is not a recent experience and all names have been changed.

Mary called me about a year ago and told me that she was feeling so fed up with her life that she felt like running away. Every day she was expected to look after her elderly mother, run her own house and still hold down her job working in a local bank. At 40 years old she was divorced, single again and childless and felt that there was nothing to look forward to. “I have been on the hamster wheel or is it a roller coaster, for too long and the most I see of the world is a two week holiday normally with my mother.

“I rush around to my Mother’s before work, make sure she is awake and dressed .She hands me the shopping list for the day, moans about the weather and reminds me to be back before 6pm as she wants to lock the door. I get to work, deal with the public all day, dash out at lunch time to pick up the supplies and dash back to sort out Mother again before 6pm. Weekends, I do my own housework, shopping, and general catch up and then go to Mother’s and do the same.”

“I see no friends unless it is on Sunday, have no social life and so no new partner. I can’t leave my Mother to fend for herself as she is losing her sight. I feel guilty if I don’t see her everyday and I feel so bad for complaining about my life. I hate my life because it is a safe, boring rut!”

I am sure that many of you have similar feelings when your life never seems to measure up to the way you think it should be. I am confident that most readers feel that they too are trapped in a cycle of duty, caring, working and getting ready for more. Young mothers who are looking after children and juggling other responsibilities might relate to the sense of disappointment in the way they live.

Here are the main points that Mary became aware of in her Coaching Sessions;

  • She is an adult who is responsible for her own life, her choices and decisions
  • Guilt does not serve us well, but rather teaches us what we are already conditioned to by the way we have lived our life so far. Parents, teachers and society teach us our beliefs and values, however as an adult we can step aside and look at what is the best for ourselves and others
  • We live in a country which has resources to assist those who are in need. That is why we pay our taxes, join charities and raise money for worthy causes
  • There is no shame in asking for help, paying for help or asking for support
  • Her sense of duty was admirable but losing her own health through worry and self pressure did not mean she could offer the best that she could be

Remember there is a difference between being selfish and genuinely selfless.  We need to find a balance between selfishness and selflessness. I cherish win-win solutions that allow self and other to be cared for with mutual consideration and respect. The people I respect most are those who take good care of themselves. People who take good care of themselves don’t need to manipulate others into taking care of them, and when they give, they don’t rip their hearts out to do so.

Coaching- What you will not get from Coaching– and what is on offer

, ,

Continuing on the theme of what will you receive from coaching, I promised to outline what you will not get from coaching. There are always myths and misunderstandings about any profession and to save time here is what you will not get. It is easy for you to decide if your expectations are set along perhaps another route.

  • It is not up to the coach to tell  you what to do, give suggestions or teach you new skills
  • Coaching does not delve into your past issues and seek meaning in what has happened
  • Coaching is not consulting, counselling or psychotherapy
  • If you think that a coach will hold all the solutions to your problems-  sorry not a chance

However, if you are forward focused and tired of how things are now, then keep reading.

  •  A Coach will  help you look at the present, acknowledge the past and plan for the future
  • A Coach will listen to you, ask you questions which will allow you to think and see things in a new way
  • Coaching will allow you to explore, reconsider and find clarity in how things are today
  • This then allows you to plan for the changes you need to make
  • You can design your own changes, make your own choices and be totally free to lead your life the way you choose
  • A coach will make you the priority, keep confidentiality at all times and champion you to take realistic risks
  • A coach may share a wealth of resources with you, but only if you agree
  • Even in the work situation, your coach will not divulge anything about your coaching sessions to your boss or line- manager
Here is your chance to send me your thoughts, comments or questions.
If this is useful to others, please share with a friend or colleague.