Today marks ten years of my coaching practice, be. I’m celebrating BIG as I feel immense joy and love at having been able to form lasting partnerships with clients, plus getting to work alongside and learn from some amazing collaborators, plus have a loyal friend and family network who’ve elevated and cheered me on, all the way.
Author and poet, David Whyte wrote about work being ‘a sacred opportunity for discovering and shaping the unique place where your Self meets the world’. I see this as true for myself. I love that when I work alongside a client I am helping them to shape their version of how they want to show up at work, and how that can have a ripple effect to how they show up in the rest of their life.
Below are ten insights I believe can transform your be-ing-ness – or who you are beyond what you do. They are equally simple and profound ways you can recalibrate your energy and approach to life. I’ve understood these both from my own experiences and from the many conversations with clients on revelations they’ve had.
+ Create space in your day, every day
In 2014 I completed a six week, 1000km walk of the Camino de Santiago in Spain on my 35th birthday. I am not sure if I’ll ever be gifted that much space to myself again. It was a phenomenal experience, and after that much time trudging through blizzards, rain and not often knowing where I’d sleep that night, I was able to find consistent inner stillness and my mind emptied. We can’t all opt out of our lives for six weeks, but we could for six minutes. Take moments to find ‘your calm’ in your day and disconnect.
Create space by mastering how to breathe properly. Learning how to breathe properly is the best (and cheapest) advice I can offer. Most of us pick up patterns of breathing because of habits we’ve formed when under stress (like holding in our breath, shallow breathing to our chest only) or hereditary patterns from our parents (yes we can pick it how we breathe from as far back as being in our mother’s womb!)
Being able to take full deep belly breaths for most of the day will get oxygen to vital parts of our brains and body, help us respond not react to a situation and observe ourselves better. It’s a simple way to create more space in your life in a few minutes. Box breathing for just three minutes (repeating a pattern of a 4-second inhale, 4-second hold, 4-second exhale, 4 second hold) will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and get you out of a flight or fight state.
+ Honour your values rather than seeking a purpose
My approach to any change is values-based. Knowing what is important to you is at the core of transformation – acting on what is important to you embeds it. Values determine how you make choices, which alters how you think, feel, connect and act – both towards yourself and in relationships with others. You can use them to guide simple and complex choices to determine why you’re compromised or what fills you up. I believe they are far more critical to day-to-day fulfilment than having a purpose. I’m all for a purpose if you decide it’s what brings your life meaning, it’s a way to live what you’re passionate about or contribute. Mostly, it’s really helpful at work, to connect and align teams around a common cause or goal. It doesn’t make you any more or less of a person if you have one, it can often be damaging for some people’s self-worth if they can’t ‘figure it out’.
+ The relationship with yourself is the most important to nurture
Each of us need to take responsibility for the life we want. This was a true life changer for me. I used to blame others, make excuses (well sometimes I still do!) or stay in denial over a problem in my life. I can usually ladder a shitty situation back to a series of poor decisions I made (and often after I ignored my gut sense). When I understood I had choice, especially how to respond in situations it calmed me and began to reduce the areas of friction in my life. This altered how I saw myself.
No one else gets to explore the inner working of you, spend time getting to know yourself. Be curious, stay interested in observing yourself and how you treat yourself and evolve over time. If you know in your bones (very deeply!) you’d really like to achieve something, chip away at it every day. Growth comes incrementally, and doesn’t have to be ‘hard’ work. Notice when you feel in rhythm and tune with yourself, and when you’re not – and what impacts this?
+ Define what success means to you, critic and all
This is a layered one, I’ll try explain it simply. Anthony Robbins introduced the concept of ‘where focus goes, energy flows’ and it is so true. If you can understand how your beliefs are programmed, and it usually comes from your upbringing, culture and key life experiences, you can then challenge if they are right for you. This process gets us out of auto-pilot and into the driver’s seat. Learn to take notice of your beliefs and inner language, especially the critical part of yourself. If its dominating you’ll get stuck. A very high percentage of my client’s need to face up to this part of themselves, and reprogram the relationship with their critical voice and find the helpful side. When you understand what success means for you (beyond a pay check and material things), and understand the fears and societal programming, you magically start to redirect effort and energy towards what fulfils you.
+ There is no work/ life balance, just life
Life is no longer about balance and some illusion of 9-5 (sorry Dolly!). We only have one life. Some of us love to live at full pelt, and others prefer a quieter life, neither is right or wrong. We need to look at where, why, and how we want to spend our time and energy to support making life great. Know what you value, then design and integrate your life around that.
+ After a crisis, reflect and learn the lessons
I’ve guided many individuals, teams and companies through a re-calibration, often due to an internal crisis. At work, this has seen me advise leaders through adjustments to business strategy and values, brand positioning and people planning – giving guidance, tools and skills to leaders that is translated down to their people. The past 18 months has made ‘a crisis’ inescapable, we have all been affected to varying degrees. Driving many to re-evaluate who they’re being (in life and at work). I believe any crisis provides us with lessons, we have an opportunity to reflect on and learn from. By having understanding it can provoke a conscious change. At work, people-leaders are the custodians of making this happen successfully and sustainably. Each of us can do this for ourselves after any big event in our lives.
+ We all want to be heard
I’d say close to 80% of my client conversations are because someone wants to bounce an idea or help them unpack some area of their life they are mulling over. Each of us want to be listened to in a way that makes us feel acknowledged and validated, and at times challenged. So that we can have perspective and confidence in what we do next. If you can master the skill of asking powerful questions, resisting the urge to speak or interrupt, which is being present to someone else, you’ve mastered the art of being a powerful ally. Most of the time, people have their own answers they just need the space and patience (of someone else) to discover then reveal their way forward.
+ Set boundaries to focus on what you can control
Boundaries are an energy exchange, the energy we give out and allow into our lives. What is okay and what is not, what we tolerate, what we compromise on, and what we say yes or no to. They are effective when we focus on what we can control, and there are only three things we can control. First, we can control our energy, how we respond in any situation – no one else can do this for you. Next, how we impact others – whether we have an intention to elevate situations or deplete them, and last – how you show up in any situation, as your best self in that moment or less than. Boundaries are not a division, they are a form of maintenance for how you respect the relationship with yourself and others.
+ We’re all a work-in-progress
Often it is the expectations we place on ourselves that are the most crippling. We want to be better and have all areas of our lives performing at peak levels. It can take a lot of energy to change and this makes it overwhelming. All of us is are walking talking work-in-progress, I’m yet to meet anyone who can say they ‘have it all together’. Yet we can all be quick to judge ourselves and others. Being able to meet yourself and others ‘where they are at’ without judgement or expectations is liberating. Learning how to pace a conversation with someone ‘where they are at’ can be an opportunity for growth yourself. Resist the temptation to fix, change or coerce people. Offer empathy and ask them how you can support them to help themselves.
+ Fuel IN = Energy OUT
This one is simple, yet so hard for many people when we get caught in the busy and prioritising others. We are composed of trillions of atoms that form cells, that convert into energy and carry everything we need from nutrients and water to our thoughts and emotions. If our systems get blocked this can cause less that optimal performance. The expectations on ourselves are often the most crippling and anxiety provoking. Start small. Find a way each day to nourish your body in as little as one minute. Simple stuff, like a cold/ warm shower, rubbing in moisturiser kindly, holding a cuddle with someone for 10 seconds longer, eating decent food, move your body. Like a bank account it will keep on accumulating interest from deposits and actually shift the structure and performance of the cells, and ultimately, you.
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That was difficult to condense into a top ten! I appreciate you having a read, and hope that maybe a snippet here or there inspired you to contemplate a different approach to a situation you’re facing.
I believe companies now have a rare opportunity to really impact transforming the lives of their team members. Never before has work had such a profound impact on shaping who we are, and the great organisations give us the freedom to explore, change opinions and support inclusion on many levels.
Thank you to all my supporters once again, for the generosity, kindness and backing you’ve given me over the years. And mostly, thank you to my clients who invest in themselves by recalibrating their energy and focus, may the returns be worth it.
be. Transition Coaching ~ calibrating people, teams and culture for high performance that lasts.