A collective breath out

A few weeks ago I was struck by a comment from a nurse working in the NHS who said:

‘I haven’t breathed out yet’

It’s stayed with me vividly since and I often think about it, wondering what it will be like for those in health and social care when they finally get a chance to breathe out. How will they transition back to a more everyday kind of work life – will it be with a huge sense of relief; a sense that things have changed so much, there can’t be a return to a pre-covid way; or any number of iterations inbetween?

What about those outside of healthcare – who’s work and life has been directly or indirectly affected by Covid? Can we neatly step back into a more normal version of our working life or has too much happened to do that? For something that has been a rare collective event, our experience of it and its effect on us will have been intensely personal and individual.

What about if in organisations we had a metaphorical decompression chamber – a transition space where people can re-settle, re-orientate and take a collective breath out. For some people it may just be a short visit, for others they may need to spend a little longer in there, but its recognised as an important and valuable part of the return.

I think the space in between transitions aren’t talked about enough in our eagerness to leave behind, get somewhere new or return somewhere familiar.

I really encourage organisations and leaders to think about this space, especially when the push to move back to a more recognisable way of working builds momentum.

To think about how we might we need to support those who have experienced traumatic events during Covid.

To actively and purposefully explore how to balance the needs of those who welcome the return and feel excited about it, with those who have little desire to return to ‘what was before’ because they’ve experienced something different.

To encourage conversations around these things and to listen to the responses not just hope it will resolve itself.

There’s so much opportunity for reflection, conversation and growth. I hope we have the courage to create a moment of pause and to allow others to do that too, in whatever way feels right for them.

Reflections on Optimism

I’ve been reflecting over the last few weeks about where I’ve grown or shifted this year as a business owner, a facilitator and coach, a person. During this process, five words have kept resonating with me

Courage, Optimism, Uncertainty, Instinct, Hope.

Here’s what Optimism has taught me this year:

It’s tightly connected to my ideas, creativity and drive.

To me, optimism is that belief that something positive is around the corner; that a risk will pay off; that I ‘can’ do the thing that feels like a massive stretch of my abilities.

It helps me grow and move past what I think is possible, to feel more fearless.

It’s me at my most energised and I’m at my best when I have it in abundance.

It can run out if I don’t nurture it

There’s been times this year when I’ve called on my optimism and it’s fell silent – all I’ve heard and felt was worry and doubt.

Things that would normally be an exciting   ‘stretch’ were overwhelming and I became increasingly and unfamiliarly risk averse.

This year I’ve learned to nurture my optimism. To rest and reflect where I can,  so I can hear its voice more clearly. To see and value it as a strength (which benefits from maintenance and attention) rather than a given.

This year optimism has helped me:

  • Approach situations with energy and openness, trusting that I’ll get something from them.
  • Step into uncertainty and help my clients feel comfortable and confident to step into it too.
  • Stay true to myself and my business values and approach, even when I sometimes feel ‘less’ on social media.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of optimism.

Kirsten x

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

Reflections on Courage

Courage 1

I’ve been reflecting over the last few weeks about where I’ve grown or shifted this year as a business owner, a facilitator and coach, a person. During this process, five words have kept resonating with me

Courage, Optimism, Uncertainty, Instinct, Hope.

As we approach the end of the year, I thought I’d share my reflections around each of these words – where I’ve noticed them, what they’ve meant to me and what I’ve learned from them. I’d absolutely love it if you would share your stories and reflections around those words too.

Here’s what courage has taught me this year:

Courage can be quiet and momentary.

It can show itself when we least expect it, and disappear from sight when we most expect it to be there.

It’s mostly internal – others won’t often see or feel those moments when courage is present for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not being courageous. Courage isn’t always on show.

It’s important to me, and makes my personal and professional life richer.

Here’s how courage has played a part in what I do:

Feeling comfortable to take a risk and confront feelings and emotions which are fizzing in the room when I’m working with teams, but which no-one feels able to mention.

Sitting with discomfort for a while until it feels more comfortable, and when it’s right, helping others to do so in my facilitation and coaching practice too.

Acknowledging earlier this year, that I can’t do something I’ve promised to because I’m not well enough, and accepting this is the right thing to do, even when it feels wrong.

Asking myself questions I’ve been avoiding for a good long while and being ready to listen to the answers.

Courage emerges so often through the support, love and help of others, and that’s certainly been true this year. To all of those who have helped me feel and be more courageous.

Thank you. 

 

 

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

How it all began….

So this is it. The story of how my business started 12 years ago…

In 2006 i sat down with a months salary, a business name and a very empty diary!

“I’ll take away all the safety nets I thought” – pushing away the safe and gradual route to self employment that was on offer – “if I go all out, I’ll have to make it work!”

I didn’t have a business plan or a sharp suit, an elevator pitch or a mission statement, but what I did have was an idea. I wanted to help people (and businesses) have more of those days where they feel confident, capable and energised. I wanted to help people understand what creates those days; and how they can create more of them.

Over the last 12 years I’ve worked with businesses, leaders and teams across so many professions and businesses, from Nursing to Marketing, from Factory Leadership Teams to Occupational Therapists, from Software Engineers to Entrepreneurs, from HR to Librarians – and so many more in between.

I’ve still got the determination, energy and enthusiasm I felt at the beginning, and I still get a huge sense of satisfaction from seeing people progress, develop and feel more confident in what they do.

I wonder what the next 12 years will bring?

#business #businessowner #selfemployment #coaching #facilitation #leadership

Finding wisdom in the streets

It’s not often you look at a sign like this and feel cheered, or inspired, yet that’s exactly what happened last Thursday in Leicester Town Centre, during a Street Wisdom event, organised by Learn Connect Do.

For those that haven’t heard of Street Wisdom, it’s described as a way to find ‘fresh answers to personal or work-related questions….with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth’. Over the last few years it’s really grown in popularity, and you can find events happening in most cities and towns.

I’ve always enjoyed using spaces as inspiration, so I was intrigued to see what came out of the Street Wisdom process, and how it could be used – not only for me, but as part of the coaching, leadership and team development work I do.

There are 3 stages to a Street Wisdom event, which generally take place over 3 hours. The first is:

Tune Up – its like a warm up for your senses, helping you to notice things more readily and connect all your senses together. We had short exercises to warm us up – looking for patterns, beauty in the unexpected etc. I was particularly drawn to this outlet during the tune up…

… I first noticed the marks that had been made by the water regularly flowing through it, and it got me thinking about whether I’m as efficient at emptying old knowledge, habits and thinking? Whether there’s enough space, light and room for new stuff to grow.

The second step is:

Quest – where you take off on your own, for anything up to an hour with a question in mind – something you’d like clarity on, to think freely and unrestrictedly on, or to make a decision on. You keep that question in mind (mine was ‘How do I help potential clients find me quickly and easily?’) as you walk – using buildings, the landscape, the path you’re treading on or even people to stimulate your thinking.

I found myself getting really distracted at first (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing),so found it helpful to have a clear question to come back to after I’d let my mind wander down different avenues (last pun I promise!).

The first thing that grabbed my attention was this set of chairs

I found myself thinking about the conversation these chairs suggest and about what helps us start or continue a conversation:

  • a common interest or shared values?
  • a shared friend or acquaintance?
  • knowing a bit about that person already?

Definitely some thoughts worth exploring further.

Next I noticed these two things, in fairly quick succession…

A Hi-Tech sign on a drain (a weird theme seems to be emerging with drains!), which made me think about the use of technology, particularly webinars – something I’d been pondering on (procrastinating really) for a while. A chance for people interested in a topic to come together and chat in an informal but informative way. This hi-tech sign put it firmly front of mind and encouraged me to give it more serious thought than I had done so far.

A shop display of tea and biscuits, which came immediately after the drain and made me think about how I could create an atmosphere which is relaxed. A webinar that’s more like having a chat and a cuppa with a mentor.

The final thing I saw, directly outside our meeting point at the end of the hour was the ‘Diverted Traffic‘ sign. I attracted some strange looks as I chuckled to myself and took photos of the sign, but it seemed to beautifully capture my thinking about what attracts or diverts potential clients.

So, to the pub – which was where our street wisdom ended and step 3 began:

Share – over a drink we talked through our street wisdom experience, capturing it on paper if we wanted, and sharing the conclusions we’d come to or answers we’d found. We could share as much or as little as we wanted, but the chance to capture our thinking and discuss it whilst it was so fresh in our minds, was an essential part of the experience for me.

Walking back to the car I found myself continuing to notice things I would have just walked past before. I found myself clearer and more ready to take action. I found myself just a little bit inspired by those few streets in Leicester, and that was a very lovely thing.

Street Wisdom events take place all over the globe, and they run frequently.

I’ll be running my own soon in Birmingham, so look out for them

With huge thanks to Helen Amery from LearnConnectDo for hosting such interesting and stimulating sessions that always make a difference, and to Clare Haynes for leading us through it.