Transformational coaching

Everything I love about my clients also makes me wince

My work leads me to some amazing women - smart, ambitious, successful, action-takers, and go-getters. They inspire me every day I work with them. They're working with me because they know more and better in their lives and careers is available to them as a right, and they want guidance to create their goals and make them happen.

Everything I love about them is also everything that makes me wince.

When did we become so hard on ourselves?

You see, these women have high standards and expectations - of others, and their level of work, effort and accuracy; but they hold themselves to an even HIGHER standard than they do of others.

To hold themselves to a higher standard, they raise the bar so high, they can never feel accomplished, competent, loved, accepted, or content. To live with that every moment of every day leaves a massive imprint on their brains of...

I'm not good enough.

Just imagine doing that to a child every single day. Imagine telling that little child, "You're hopeless," "You can't do that!" "You're not as good as they are."

You just wouldn't do it.

Think about that next time you're berating yourself for not meeting your self-imposed high standards.

I admire those ambitious traits you have, for what they can do for you, and what you can achieve in life and career with them.

Those same traits can also 'undo' you - in a big way.

  • Beating up on yourself on the daily when you don't measure up to the arbitrarily high standards you've set for yourself.
  • Experiencing extreme emotions when you are challenged in a work setting or when you feel you may not have all the answers, affecting your performance and relationships.
  • Feeling fiercely competitive, coming from a place of anger, frustration, and scarcity.

It preys on your well-being - emotionally, mentally, and even physically, with conditions like emotional eating, or over-training and injury. It affects your relationships.

It is exhausting to feel this pressure on a daily basis.

Does this resonate?

It resonates with me - at least, who I ONCE was.

What I practice now is FORGIVENESS: Allowing myself room to fail so I can learn from it, and see how I can do, be, and think differently next time; not, "What SHOULD I have done?" but "What can I do differently next time?"

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" Winston Churchill

What I practice now is ACCEPTANCE: that I am pretty bloody brilliant just as I am. My 'weaknesses' and failings make me human, and are an invitation to greater self-awareness, self-knowledge and self-mastery.

What I practice now is DETACHMENT: I have goals, of course, and I strive to achieve them. At the same time, by letting go of the outcome, I can ease into the goals, flow with the process, have faith that the goals will be achieved. It is a more abundant place to come from, instead of an angst-ridden, scarcity-based "What if I don't achieve my goals?" (The answer to that is, "I will still be pretty freaking awesome as Helen. It won't define me."

"Failure is seldom fatal"

You'll notice I said that I practice forgiveness, acceptance, and detachment - for that's what it is; a practice - every single day. I'm not perfect, and I know it,...and it's OK.

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it" Salvador Dali

Does any of this sound like you? Tired of beating up on yourself in this way? I'm currently offering a free Career Strategy call to help you turn down the volume on the inner critic so you can achieve your goals. Book a Career Strategy call to find out how to balance fierce ambition with fierce self-acceptance, as well as the 5 factors that might be slowing your leadership track.

How Your Loved Ones are Misleading You

Have you got some big ideas and dreams you want to share?

Have you got a problem you'd love help with?

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Don't tell your loved ones!

OK - that might be extreme. Share it with them if you'd like to, but be careful.

Your loved ones don't always have your best interests at heart.

I know you know what I mean:

Scenario: Your partner tells you he's thinking about leaving his job before securing a new one. What's your first thought?

Be honest. Your first thought is likely, "How is this going to impact me?" Even though I know you're a supportive partner, your first thought is for yourself and the effect of his decision, not on whether it's the right thing for your partner.

Family, partners, friends, trusted advisors all share their opinions "looking out for you" but their views are steeped in years of their own fears, limiting beliefs, upbringing, social norms, and yes - their "What's in it for me?" thinking.

I'm writing about it because it came up a couple of times this week with current clients. They shared Ideas they were considering with their loved ones, and close friends, and what they got back was less than supportive, and planted a lot of doubt in their minds.

I did a Facebook Live about it this week, too. View it here.

You see, family, lovers, friends, trusted advisors are all well-intentioned but they come at problems with their own baggage - their own limiting beliefs, the beliefs they were raised with in their family, social norms, and much, much more. And none of what they're basing their opinion on is necessarily helpful to you.

That's why a coach is so transformative and supportive. A good coach's only goal is to ensure you are making the right decision for YOU. A good coach does not have her own agenda or fears or baggage influencing work. In fact, advice is not something a good coach will give, because a good coach believes YOU have the answer. She has the questions that will get you to the right decision for you.

So - by all means share what's going on for you with family, friends, and loved ones, but be mindful, they're coming at it from a place that is not necessarily impartial.

PS Need impartial assistance to make a decision about your life or career? Get in touch - we'll chat.

Ladies, Take a Bow!

I sit writing this on International Women's Day, March 8th. It feels like this day is gathering momentum as being more and more important, rather than less. Although the subject of women's rights is leap years ahead of where it was when the first internationally recognised day was celebrated in 1975, it seems there is a new momentum, a new vigour to it. It's the next iteration of women's rights that's evolving, with a future that looks brighter.

Today, I'm giving thanks to those women, real, fictional, past and current, who have inspired and influenced me to be the woman I am today:

  • Kate Sheppard: a New Zealand activist who campaigned women's suffrage, gaining women in NZ the right to vote as early as 1893. As the first country in the world to do so, and growing up in a relatively egalitarian society, it has given me a sense of "anything is possible."
  • My mother: who gave me steely determination with oodles of generosity and kindness. Although, I've tried hard over the years to not be like her by being a career woman, rather than a home-maker, there's no getting away from the fact that I am my mother's daughter.
  • My grandmothers: Becoming widows early in their lives, I learned that it was possible for women to be alone in the world, and be OK with it. My maternal grandmother, in particular, did so with relish, leading a life full of love and connection with those around her, without a partner.
  • My mentor: who has shown me that when you are fully yourself, and unapologetically so, you can lead an abundant, full life, where anything is possible, by putting your mind, body and spirit into it. (You know who you are! x)
  • Anne Hartley: author of "Financially Free: a Woman's Guide to Creating Wealth," a book I read in my 20s which changed my relationship with money and wealth. I went from low-wealth-consciousness teacher, to a financially secure corporate queen in the space of a few years.
  • HRH Queen Elizabeth II: She has been a public figure all my life, stoically leading and developing the Commonwealth. Although we could get into a debate about the relevance of monarchy today, she has made it completely natural for us to see a woman in power.

I know there are more women who have inspired and influenced me, (I mean - Notorious RBG! #badass; Oprah!) but the list is long.

Whatever your gender, stop a moment and give thanks to all those women who have shaped you and continue to influence and inspire you. #womanlyartofleadership

For more inspiring women, subscribe on Apple Podcasts to the Womanly Art of Leadership Sessions podcast.

If you're not taking a risk, you're taking a risk

Don't you love that headline?

"If you're not taking a risk, you're taking a risk."

Sallie Krawcheck, founder and CEO of Ellevest, and former CEO of Merrill Lynch coined this phrase in her book Own It: The Power of Women at Work (worth a read - it's the book I wished I'd written. She got there first!)

If you're sitting in your office or cubicle thinking that your next career move will be somewhere else in the organisation, or perhaps the next step up, you're taking a career risk.

You see, the world is evolving so rapidly now that many positions that have existed for the last 40 years, even 20 years, will be automated in the future - and it is a not-too-distant future. Some will automated entirely such as assembly line workers, while others are likely to 'morph', evolve or be redefined e.g. social media managers. The future of work is uncertain, but what IS certain is that it won't look the same as it does today.

It is on US as individuals to evolve, up-skill, keep learning, develop broader interests and look outside our current domain to future-proof our careers.

Staying within a 'safe space' means you're taking a career risk. You're taking even more of a career risk if you stick only to what you know and do nothing to evolve or develop.

A great analogy is that of investing. Keeping your thousands in a savings account feels safe and that you're preserving its value. At best, it might earn 1% interest, depending on your national treasury's current interest rate.

Eating away at its value, though, are account fees, tax, and inflation - that unseen but felt factor that means your money today is not worth the same as it will be tomorrow.

The same can be said of your career. Savvy employees are 'inflation-proof-ing' their careers by taking courses in new areas of interest, extending and challenging themselves, opening their minds to new ideas and fields, and ways of working - to stay relevant.

This is not meant to be a portent of doom - it's just a jolt into reality. I invite you to look at work and your career very differently by opening up your mind to new ideas. Get creative, get clear, and get cracking!

In considering your next career move, ask yourself these questions:

  • What have you always wanted to do?
  • What did you love to do as a child?
  • What would be an ideal day for you at work?
  • What area of study interests you?
  • What would you do if you were brave?
  • What can you do all day without being aware of the time passing?

These questions prompt you to look outside the apparent safety of where you are now.

Need some help opening up your mind to the possibilities of the future? Send me a message and let's get on a call to discuss what your future career might look like.

 

 

The "People-Pleaser" Debate

Are you a people-pleaser?

Are you someone who goes out of your way to please others without a thought for yourself?

I've had discussions with a few people recently who question me, "What's wrong with being a 'people-pleaser'? It's kind and generous to want to please others."

Yes, it is...until it's not.

People-pleasing in itself is not bad - in fact more kindness, generosity and a desire to love, connect with and please others is probably just what the world needs now (I feel a song coming on...)

The question to ask yourself is:

"What benefit am I getting from pleasing others all the time?"

  • Is it to be accepted, loved, and approved of because you learned from your parents or guardians that you could only be loved if you were the 'good girl' and helped others?
  • Is it to avoid conflict because you feel like you have to tip-toe around the other person so as not to upset them?
  • Is it because you only feel needed when you are doing things for others?
  • Is it because by doing things for others, you can get others to do things for you?

It's when pleasing others takes on such significance that you do it consistently, without regard for your own needs, at an emotional, physical, mental, financial, or spiritual cost to you, so that you become resentful, a martyr, and afraid to set boundaries, that it's time to look at it, and create new habits and beliefs. The trick is to find a healthy balance of giving to others that feels good to you without it being a compulsion and causing you pain.

So no - pleasing people is not bad, but consider the driving need behind it and at what cost to you. Codependence, self-abandonment, and lack of self-worth can easily be dressed up as 'doing good' for others.

PS I'm flying today to Dubai for 10 whole days! Work and play, I'll share with you what's going on.

Word on the street is...

I've been doing some research recently

I've been asking executive women what their main challenges are right now in life and career. (A big thank you to those who have taken part in the research!)

Here's a flavour of what I'm hearing:

"I don't know whether to try to move up or move on."

"Although I objectively know I'm good at my job and a great asset, I don't 'believe' it and it is holding me back in my career."

"I no longer feel passionate about my job."

"I can't find balance between work and play. It's killing my family life."

"I love my job, and I know I'm good at it. My personal life? That's another story!"

AND, (and this one is a biggie for a lot of you:)

"I hate the 'politics', and feeling like I need to 'play the game' to get ahead."

Any of it sound familiar?

Firstly - my heart goes out to you if you're experiencing ANY of these feelings. I get it. I was there, too.

Secondly - know this...

There IS a better way

- to rise above the politics, to find passion and purpose in what you do, to have balance, to have self-belief, to develop self-confidence - whatever "grinds your gears" or keeps you right where you are now.

If you'd like to speak to me about what's going on for you, click here.

If you'd like to take part in the research, click here.

Why I am against Women's Empowerment

Me: "I work with executive women to help them become more impactful and inspiring leaders."

Them: "Oh - like women's empowerment"

Umm...no...in fact, nothing like that.

Every post or headline you read right now is about empowering women. I LOVE the concept - it's my very purpose and mission in life to help women find their voice, be visible, and present, so that can unlock their power and confidence.

 Some of the most powerful and influential women in the world currently, chair the World Economic Forum's annual meeting 2018 last week at Davos, Switzerland.

Some of the most powerful and influential women in the world currently, chair the World Economic Forum's annual meeting 2018 last week at Davos, Switzerland.

I do NOT like the word "empower".

Let's look closely at the word.

empower, verb (used with object)

1. to give power or authority to; authorise especially by legal or official means:

I empowered my agent to make the deal for me. The local ordinance empowers the board of health to close unsanitary restaurants.

2. to enable or permit:

Wealth empowered him to live a comfortable life.

Can you see the problem I have with the word?

Let me help you out a bit more.

The most relevant synonyms for the word empower (verb: authorise, enable) in a search on thesaurus.com are:

allow, entitle, entrust, grant, legitimise, permit, vest.

Allow? Permit? The word implies that power must be given to women...by someone else...presumably men. What I know for certain from knowing myself, my mother, my grandmothers, my sister, my female relations, all my female friends, my clients, and numerous role models and inspiring women around the world, is that women have shedloads of power! It doesn't need to be GIVEN to us. We don't need to be ALLOWED to have it. In many cases, it is simply a question of harnessing it, embracing it, unlocking it. That's what I help women do.

The movement described as women's empowerment is actually about opening up ourselves (men AND women), and the systems we've created, to creativity, different thinking, new opportunities. It's about creating space for expansion.

I'm open to new names for this movement. In fact, maybe that's it. Here's to - 

Women's Expansion.

Do you want to expand the possibilities for yourself and harness your power and confidence? Hit reply and let's set up a call to find out what is possible for you. (It's much more than you ever imagined!)

 

Sheryl Sandberg and other #girlcrushes

Who is your #girlcrush?

Actually, I have three:

Christine Lagarde: Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

Sallie Krawchek: CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, and former CEO of Merrill Lynch

Sheryl Sandberg: COO of Facebook, author, and founder of LeanIn and Option B organisations.

I was honoured to attend a breakfast meeting this week with one of the local Lean In chapters who welcomed Sheryl Sandberg.

She is so, so impressive and inspiring.

So much great advice and tips she shared from a career perspective (e.g. “Have a short-term plan and a long-term dream”, “Think big!” I'll share more of these in other comms), as well as from the perspective of societal change (“Equality isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good for you.”)

I came back totally on fire and more committed than ever to help women find their voice, set clear, healthy boundaries, so they can uncover their power and confidence to become impactful leaders and inspiring role models in their lives and careers.

Switched on LinkedIn and saw another inspiring article from my other #girlcrush, Christine Lagarde, speaking from the World Economic Forum’s Davos meeting about the advancement of women and their place in society...

...to which I ‘liked’ and responded with a comment that included the phrase “Happy women mean happy societies.” One eloquent individual responded to my comment with,

“What a lot of baloney.”

BAM! Dropped from a height.

I didn’t respond (If he is not going to make an effort for intelligent discourse, my energy is better used elsewhere.) I get it. When you get visible and vocal, not everyone agrees. I’m OK with differing opinions.

Here’s where I was going with the statement, “Happy women mean happy societies.” It’s in the same vein as Sheryl Sandberg’s comment that equality is “good for you.” Studies have shown:

  • That men who support inclusion rise through the ranks quicker than those who don’t.

  • That companies with diverse boards perform better financially and are more innovative than those who don’t.

  • That children whose mothers work outside the home are better socially adjusted.

  • That women whose mothers work outside the home are more likely to hold positions of responsibility and earn higher wages.

  • That men whose mothers work outside the home are more likely to contribute to the household and spend more time caring for children.

Essentially, what makes a woman happy has the effect of making those around her happy or at least, more content. Women are the gatekeepers on relationships and they set the tone for them. They contribute significantly to social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment which the World Economic Forum describe as factors leading to a happy and decent society.

And if that’s baloney, I’m a spicy sausage! :D

Bisous!

Children Benefit from Having a Working Mom, Carmen Nobel, Harvard Business School Newsroom https://www.hbs.edu/news/articles/Pages/mcginn-working-mom.aspx

What Makes a Happy Society? Claire Wallace, World Economic Forum https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2014/11/makes-happy-society/

[NEW PODCAST EPISODE] Money matters

A new episode of my podcast, the Womanly Art of Leadership Sessions has just been released and it's one of my favourite topics:

MONEY!

It's not that I'm money-hungry (though it certainly allows me to live a life of freedom), but it is because the topic is so full of angst for people, especially women.

"Money is like sex - no-one talks about it but we're all supposed to know how to do it" Michelle Gyimah

Join me on this episode where Michelle Gyimah, a money mindset and women's empowerment coach talks about her guilty secret of debt, and how overcoming it, taking control and leading herself out of it led to other areas of her life improving too.

If you haven't yet subscribed to the Womanly Art of Leadership Sessions podcast, do so over at Apple Podcasts (you know, old skool iTunes) or by registering here.

How food can lead to leadership - seriously?

A new episode of the Womanly Art of Leadership Sessions podcast has been released and this week, I'm speaking with Dana Dinnawi, a health and well-being coach who discusses the importance of food to leadership.

What? Really?

She describes how taking charge of your food, eating 'clean' and being more mindful about it leads to better habits in other areas of your life too.

More focus.

Better clarity.

You can't give the best of yourself if you're running on empty - Dana Dinnawi.

Listen in and if you haven't already subscribed, do it here