courage

What I learned one cold Wednesday evening in the 19th...

What’s one thing you used to do in your childhood that you tell yourself in adulthood you can’t do?

Paint beautiful pictures?

Write imaginative stories?

Dance like a maniac?

For me, it was anything musical. I’ve always loved singing, and I’m always quick to pick up a tune; but somewhere along the way, I got the message that I couldn’t sing well enough, I couldn’t read music, and rhythm and music was not a genetic trait in our family.

So I joined a choir, aged 52.

This Wednesday night, a cold, wintry, rainy evening that rightly should have been spent curled up on the couch, with a ‘blanky’ and the cat, watching Netflix, (I know - enlightening…), I ventured into an arrondissement I’ve never been before, across the other side of Paris, and stood in a circle with 10 other slightly odd-ball people I’ve never met, filled my lungs and sang!

Apparently, I’m some way between an alto and a soprano.

And I can read music.

The thing I am most amazed at is, in looking at sheet music with fresh, curious, adult eyes, how it tells a story that transcends culture and language with a bunch of universally-understood squiggles. I wish reading music had been presented to me in this way as a child. I might not have spent 45 years not doing something that makes me feel good.

Sure - it took some courage to venture out to the 19th, on a cold night, with complete strangers, to do something I thought I couldn’t do, and I remember enjoying - but it was so worth it! And let’s face it - I wasn’t climbing Mt Everest! It was everyday courage, and we all have that.

I absolutely CAN sing, and yet all these years, I haven’t done something I simply feel good doing because I had a story attached to it.

What stories are you attaching to things?

How are those stories stopping you from doing something you vaguely remember you used to love doing?

Get out and do them. You’ll find the stories are exactly that.

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.

 

 

ME - Live on Radio! WT?

I am over-the-moon excited!

A childhood dream realised!

I'm featuring on a radio show in France, accessible worldwide via the magic of the internet.

Details:

"Happy Hour with Ollia"

on Radio Enghien IDFM 98, Tues 9th January, 2018, 7-8pm.

Tune in on www.idfm98.fr (click on blue icon top left "écoutez en direct") or 98.0FM in the Ile-de-France region.

It'll include some of my own choice of music as well as an insight into my work, beliefs and desires for women and leadership. Beyond that, I have no idea!

You can listen to other episodes of Happy Hour with Ollia on Soundcloud. Listen in! It's a great show!

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How the market stall owner is teaching me about boundaries

There is a stall owner in the nearby market selling beautiful qualify fruit and vegetables three times a week near my apartment in Paris. He doesn't know it but he is my teacher.

For awhile when I started buying from him each week, I'd try to avoid him, following his assistant around until he was free so he could select the freshest of produce for me. (In a lot of markets in France, you are served by the stall owner so they can select the prime produce for you. By saying when you want to eat it, they'll select just the perfect firmness for you.)

You see, he is a notorious up-seller. I only have to show a vague interest in the Barbary Figs, Physalis, or Wild Asparagus in store, out of pure curiosity, and he has shoved them into my trolley, adding about another €15 to my bill.

I began to see this as a Universal assignment.

I decided to stop avoiding him - we can't avoid conflict in our lives all the time. What I realised I have to is learn to:

Say 'No' and mean it.

No apology. No excuses. No justification....

over and over again. It goes something like this:

"I'll have a pomegranate."

"How many?"

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"Just one."

"It's 3 for €5 - a good price."

"No - just one, please."

"Are you sure? Saves you coming back again."

"Just one please."

And so I get just one pomegranate popped in the trolley.

Why is this important?

By learning to say no calmly and without apology, excuse or justification, I am training myself to for the crucial conversations; to be able to say no to the big things that really matter - like the next time someone asks to borrow money from me, and I don't want to.

Train yourself for the crucial conversations by practicing on the small stuff. It's called setting boundaries, and it is something women often have difficulty doing, as 'people pleasers'. It's why we often work so hard in our careers, doing everything for everyone else, yet end up staying in the same place. It is easy to say 'Yes' - it trips off the tongue easily, yet it is later we often regret it. It takes strength, power and self-belief to say 'No'.

How do you prepare for crucial conversations?

Do you have a difficult relationship with 'No'?"

How are some ways you can start practicing saying 'No' with the small stuff?

Need some help getting comfortable with 'No' and setting clear, healthy boundaries? Book a call and let's discuss how poor boundaries is stopping you from getting what you want in life and career, and how we can change that.

"You're gonna hear me ROAR!"

Sing it. LOUD.

Katy Perry writes:

You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground

I facilitated a workshop recently for a corporate client. Composition was around 20% women - a high percentage for this particular male-dominated sector of a male-dominated industry.

Seven strong, competent women - experts in their field, outspoken on a small group basis, and in reporting back on group work, but in the larger group....

NOTHING.

Not a peep.

Granted, there were a number of men who weren't vocal also, but it wasn't 100% of the gender representation.

That's what struck me - these strong, expert women, with passionate opinions and ideas about their business had earned a position in this global group, and 100% of the representation did not make themselves heard.

I am prepared to admit that perhaps I am holding women to a higher standard of behaviour to be vocal in a wider audience - I'm that passionate about seeing women become more visible to themselves and others. I urge them to do so every chance I get.

If I look at this purely focused on the male audience, 43.5% of them said nothing in the larger group, and for the most part, it was because their English was not at a comfortably fluent level.

All but two of the women had NO English language challenges.

Photo by  Pawan Sharma  on  Unsplash

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

This seems to be about being visible. A lot of women still have challenges being seen and heard by others, because they are not being seen and heard by themselves.

The hard grind of getting to this level of leadership has been done - you've beaten off competition, all the -isms you've crossed, and now you're there at the top. It continues but you're more accomplished at it now. So now is the time to try doing things differently to be more effective and get your ideas out there.

It's also about safe environments (this WAS a relatively safe environment, though perhaps I felt it better than the audience - pause for reflection for me). Creating a safe environment where everyone's ideas are heard and appreciated is paramount to effective team work.

I saw a statistic last week that was thought-provoking - 70% of the ideas are delivered by something like less than 5% of the people in an audience. How can diversity of ideas be aired with those kind of statistics?

There is also the argument that not everyone is an extrovert who needs to be heard. I get that too. Does that mean that 100% of the representation were introverts? Perhaps - it's possible, given the small sample.

If you want different results, you MUST do things differently - "what got you here won't get you there" - and that includes learning to be seen and heard.

SO go all Katy Perry on your damn-self, and ROAR!

I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Let me know by responding!

PS Need help learning to ROAR? We can do it step by step so you will be heard, listened to, and you and your ideas will be taken seriously, introvert or not. Book a call

Who is your inspiration?

Who is your inspiration?

Who possesses the values you most admire?

I came face-to-face with mine this weekend.

Peta Mathias has been an inspiration to me since I read an article about her in a NZ magazine perhaps 30 years ago. She is a celebrity chef, a prolific author, a broadcaster and travel addict. She combines all her passions into a unique lifestyle that serves as my inspiration, leading cooking tours to exotic countries, spending half of the year residing in NZ, the other half in her architecturally-designed home in the south of France. It is here I came face-to-face with my idol when I did a half-day cooking class led by her in her stunning house in Uzès.

When you come face-to-face with your source of inspiration. A highlight, for sure.

When you come face-to-face with your source of inspiration. A highlight, for sure.

Forty years ago, she looked up from her work as a registered nurse in the public system in NZ, and thought, "There must be more than this." She packed her bags and cooked her way around France and the world, beginning her love affair with food and La République. So many of her decisions in life resonate with me. 

She demonstrates a joie de vivre I like to live by, too.

She drinks in life.

She lives life with gusto.

It is not unheard of for her to break out into a rendition of "La Vie en Rose" by Edith Piaf after a few verres de vin rouges.

It's what I want you to ponder today. Is there more you could be making of your current circumstances? How are you playing small? Where is fear keeping you safe? How could you be drinking in more of life?

#drinkinlife #livelifewithgusto #joiedevivre

Hit reply and let me know how you want to drink in more of life.

PS Don't forget, if you sign with me this month on a 90 day program of coaching, you get a 90 mins strategy session with image and first impressions expert, Alba Gomez worth normally €300. If you want to drink in life, look the part, too! How we present ourselves to the world is so important to how we FEEL in our skin. Contact me.

What Netflix is teaching me about success...

The evenings are starting to draw in and the weather is cooler. Cue fleecy blanket, cat on lap, and on demand Netflix!

I'm watching the documentary series 'Chef's Table' - a series of interviews with the world's top chefs. Just watching their artistry and creativity in the kitchen feeds my soul (and adds to my world list of top class restaurants to try before I die - or next year, whichever comes first!)

I've noticed they all have learned the same lessons about success and we can learn a lot from them:

  1. They don't do it for the money - it's a happy by-product. I've seen this in clients too. The ones focused solely on how much money they can make do not achieve what they desire - at least not with any sense of ease and abundance. These chefs do it to share their passion with others, to make others' lives richer, and to give them a memory, a moment of happiness. The money comes in abundance but it does not drive them. (What's your purpose?)
  2. They all have passion and drive. They have a vision of what they want to create, and they are single-minded about creating it. (What's your vision?)
  3. They learn to find balance by setting strong boundaries. Many of them complain about the impact on their personal life, and it is not until they have experienced this, they learn to set strong boundaries to protect it. (How are your boundaries? What do you need to protect?)
  4. They take risks. Every day. With every meal. With every menu. And they took risks in their pursuit of excellence as world class chefs. (How are you taking risks to create what you desire?)
  5. They fail. Multiple times. And that's OK. It makes them stronger, smarter, more creative, more successful. Not starting for fear of failure was never an option. (How is fear of failure holding you back?)
  6. They have self-doubt but they get back to unshakeable self-belief quickly. They don't wallow in it. All of them have asked themselves, "What the...am I doing?!" as they open the doors on a new restaurant, to a queue of...nobody. But they persist. They go back to faith. (How is "I'm not good enough" serving you? How are you 'keeping the faith'?)
  7. They can't create something significant in life if they're not happy doing it. It is the joy of what they do that drives them to create such significance in their lives and others. (Are you LOVING what you're doing?)

Take a leaf out of the recipe books of the great chefs of the world.

Next course. Bon appétit!

PS What's your recipe for success? Haven't quite mastered the technique yet? Let's chat. Hit me with a reply about what's holding you back from the life and career you desire, and let's get on the phone.

How often do you say ‘Yes’ when you really mean ‘No?’

Does this happen to you?

  • You are invited to a dinner that you really don’t want to go to, but you find yourself saying ‘Yes’, then you make some convoluted excuse later to say you can’t make it ( - white lies are OK, right?)

  • Your boss consistently asks you to stay late. If it was just for the period of the project, you’d be OK with it, but now it’s happening all the time. You find yourself agreeing to it, then resenting the decision - and worse, it doesn’t feel like there is any way out.

Hey, I’ve always had problems with setting and standing by boundaries. In avoiding conflict, and trying to keep others happy (‘people-pleasing’ and being “the Good Girl”), I have put my own needs and - yes, even safety - in the back seat. I have made some poor decisions in the past, both personally and professionally, thinking that saying ‘Yes’ was the path of least resistance, avoiding conflict, and ultimately keeping others happy, but not me. I haven’t allowed MY truth to live and breath.

  • Like the time a friend came to stay for a month, and ended up staying a year. Even when I talked to him about moving out, that I needed my space back, it fell on deaf ears, and I got on with making the best of a bad situation.
  • Like the times I accepted a measly $1,000 raise, or - worse, no raise at all despite being a top performer. Instead of confronting it head on, I resentfully accepted the situation, walking away feeling undervalued and unrecognised for my contribution.
  • Like the times I allowed my thoroughly-prepared, practiced, and strategically important presentation to my colleagues in the leadership team to be bumped from the agenda during our 3 day offsite.
  • Like the times I allowed myself in my personal life to tolerate the type of treatment that if a friend told me she was tolerating, I’d have said, “Get. Out. Now,” with the compassion and love she deserved.

Well, I’m getting lots of universal lessons showing up to test the strength of my boundaries right now - courtesy online dating!!

Holy…

It’s a whole new ball game. I’ve created a very clear vision of what I am looking for in a relationship (and in particular how I desire to feel), and what is acceptable and what is not. I find that at every moment, I need to be very aware of these ‘mini-challenges’ being sent my way so I can respond differently - saying ‘No’ when, actually, that’s EXACTLY what I want to say. Do I want to see you again? “You know what? I had a nice time, but no - no, I do not want to see you again. Thank you. “ It also requires me tuning into how I FEEL in this person’s company, instead of letting my rational mind take over with, “Well, perhaps he’s having a bad day,” or “Perhaps, it’ll be different next time.”

It’s a muscle I’m flexing, getting stronger, being clear about what I want to create, and what feels good to me, instead of worrying so much about how others might respond or being the “Good Girl.”

Having that clarity about what I desire has led to a surprisingly enjoyable date with an utter gentleman who I would not normally have been interested in. I said ‘Yes’ to how I want to feel; ‘No’ to the crumbs or sloppy treatment others are offering me.

Is saying ‘Yes’ when you mean to say ‘No’ something you find yourself doing repeatedly?

Here is my mini-challenge to you: next time you feel like this, do things differently, and...Just. Say. No. One small step at a time.

I’d love to hear if this all sounds familiar or about the mini-successes you experience putting your needs and desires first. Hit reply, or go over to my private FB group - join up and share there.

Wish me bon courage in the online world! :D

Big love x

Change is in the air...

Even if you're not a believer or a follower of astrology, you may have heard that this August is pretty special in the astrological world. (Honestly, I'm somewhere between skeptic and believer. I'm dubious about the science behind it, if any truly exists; but I'm also open-mindedly curious and often surprised at its accuracy.)

We've got a partial eclipse, a total eclipse, something called a Lion's Gate (what the?), Mercury in retrograde - truly, the planets are going nuts.

I've seen it most succinctly written by Jennifer Racioppi (I am absolutely no expert on this stuff!) 

"Eclipses are potent harbingers of change, often lacking the clear understanding of how they will impact you in advance. Eclipses are known to bring startling news to the forefront of your life."

This is why astrology is curious to me, because what Jennifer describes is exactly how I feel (wondering: do you feel the same?) I am feeling shifts personally, releasing what no longer serves me or makes me feel good (including my relationship!), and it's also happening in my business. I'm shedding the skin of my first year of entrepreneurship. I feel like I'm evolving rapidly, and my business is running out of breath trying to catch up with me. It's like looking in a steamed up bathroom mirror - I know there is a shadow of my face looking back at me, but I can't see the detail.

All this to say, change is afoot.

I'm piecing things together as I receive the downloads about my business, and I am trying to be patient about it (not my most developed trait!) As my mentor says, "You wouldn't rip open a flower." So, I must let it unfold, even though I am so tempted to "rip it open." All I can say at this point is that I will continue to serve ambitious women who desire more from their life and career, to live and work more confidently (is that you?) Just what form that takes - well, you'll be one of the first to know.

Watch this space!

And if you're feeling shifts of change, I'd love to hear about it. Comment, (or hit reply) and let me know, or join my private Facebook group and share away there.

I've done it all wrong!

I’ve been quiet the last month or so for good reason. I’ve experienced personal and health issues, and only now am I bouncing back. I have withdrawn into a cocoon (have you ever felt like doing that?) of self-evaluation and digging deep, and here is what I realised…

I’ve done it all wrong!

The first time I came to live in Paris, I was over the moon to have been transferred by my company. I lapped up living here, enjoying the lifestyle, working very hard, but still...something wasn’t quite right, and I was prone to bouts of, if not depression, then downright gloom. I didn’t ever feel quite where I was supposed to be. After all, I was here for work.

The second time I came to live in Paris, I was surprised at my move - I thought my previous years in France were well-spent but ultimately over. I came here this time for l’amour, lerrrve, and again...something wasn’t quite right. In fact, that is what I have been dealing with these last few weeks. I walked away from my reason for being here in la belle France. It’s what’s called a course corrector, for sure! So the last few weeks I have spent wondering, "If not here, then where? What does breaking up mean for me and where I live?"

In a way, I feel like this is now the third time I have come to live in Paris because now,...

I am here for me.

I had a moment last week on le quatorze juillet - Bastille Day - as I watched the pomp of the military parade, and the rouges blancs bleus jets (the Patrouilles Acrobatiques de France who spew red, white and blue smoke out the back as they fly low along the Seine to celebrate the national day) - THIS is where I am meant to be. I am here for me. I can now redefine my relationship with Paris and France instead of being here for someone or something else. I can go back to the time in my life as a young 20-something arriving for the first time in Paris and literally weeping when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

And that’s what I have been doing wrong all along.

I have made decisions to please others, backing my own desires into theirs. It's called self-abandonment, and women are very prone to doing it to themselves. Self-abandonment runs deep and can show up in many ways including giving more of your time, energy, love and care to others than you do for yourself. Sound familiar? This is quite possibly the first time in perhaps 15 years I can truly say that where I am is where I want to be - for now.

Who knows what the future has in store, but I’m excited about what may come, especially now that I am breaking a pattern of self-abandonment.

Bisous xx

P.S. Does any of this strike a chord? Are you dressing up the desires of others and calling them your own? Do you want to find a way to have exactly what YOU DESIRE? Is lack of confidence and self-abandonment making you accept someone else’s desires as your own?

Let's talk - we’ll discuss where you are now, where you desire to be, and how we can get you there. These calls are super-valuable, and whether we decide to work together or not, you’ll come away with value and ideas about what to do next. These calls are not for everyone. It's for those ready to create change in their lives - that's why there is an application process. Is that you? Apply now.