mentor

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.

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.

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 do you view your value and your worth?

Do you have a hard time feeling you deserve a raise?

Do you feel you have to work hard for a six-figure salary?

I've just got off the phone with a client - we had an amazing discussion about how she feels that her self-worth is tied up in how much she earns.

I get it - because I felt that way for a long time, too. I felt that I was a lesser person because I wasn't earning what I really wanted. It was like I had a price on my head - a number that others could see and would judge me as a person because of it.

My client and I are working together to uncover her self-confidence and one of the outcomes from the program is that she wants a raise of between 18% and 60%.

I asked her to write down the salary range and her response was, "It will be difficult to get", and that she feels she doesn't deserve the increase.

Do you feel like this?

Does how much you get paid feel like a reflection of your worth as a person?

Just. Stop. It. PLEASE.

The thing to differentiate here is that:

Self-worth and value are not the same thing.

You can have worth as a human being, and offer value to other people. Two people will see your value differently e.g. one employer will value your skills more than another, a friend will value your time more than another. It is not about YOU as a person. It is about THEIR perception of what you have to offer. Just like in an auction, one bidder will outbid others because they perceive greater value, and THEIR DESIRES drive their perception of value.

So detach from the two - your self-worth is NOT directly related to your value to others. They just see things their own way. And you know yourself, that the people who value your time and energy as you value theirs, are the ones you want to spend time with.

Take that same thought process into your career. If your employer or prospective employer doesn't value you, it's not about you as a person. It means the fit isn't right, IN THAT MOMENT.

Need help to prepare for the salary conversation? Are you tying your self-worth up in your salary? Book a call and let's discuss how we can get you feeing worthy AND valued.

Are you in contraction or expansion?

Stop for a moment, and tell me...how do you feel in your body?

Do you feel tight and tense in your shoulders and back, or your haunches?

How is your breathing? Is it shallow and fast?

Do you miss what's going on around you because you're focused on what's going on in your head, eyes to the ground? 

Does it feel like there isn't an easy answer to what's challenging you right now?

You may not have use this word for it, but I know you recognise how it feels to be in contraction. It's a tight, unnatural and uncomfortable feeling and we truly FEEL it in our bodies when we experience it. It feels like you're closed in a box too small for all your limbs, and you can't see solutions or opportunities even when they present themselves. You're too contained in your box.

Contrast contraction with expansion.

Expansion is light.

Expansion is openness.

Expansion is possibility.

Expansion is excitement.

Expansion is opportunity.

Expansion is creativity.

Expansion is asking better questions of yourself and others.

Expansion is having the same challenges as you do when you're in contraction, but you're coming at them from a very different, more open and abundant place, one that encourages "What if..?" questions. A place of no self-imposed limitations. When you're in expansion, you're able to think more creatively about your situation, expanding your options.

Contraction and expansion are like the difference between hope and desire, closed and open, fear and confidence, scarcity and abundance, surviving and thriving.

I've been listening to some mind-bending podcasts lately, that have had the unexpected outcome of expanding my mind to everything. When you listen to or read life-affirming material like this, it has a tangible impact on how you see the world. If you don't already listen to mind-expanding podcasts, do it now!

So stop and listen to your body.

How does it feel? Do you feel like you're in contraction or expansion?

PS Need help getting out of contraction and into expansion about your life and career? Book a call and let's discuss where you're at.

PPS Want to expand your mind? I'm very excited to announce I'll be launching my Womanly Art of Leadership Sessions podcast shortly! Stay tuned for more info soon!

 

Do you identify with Little Miss Judge-y?

Who drives your behaviour in any given moment?

The victim? "Why has this happened to me again?"

The martyr? "FINE! I'LL do it!"

The boss lady? "This is what I would like you to do, and I would like you to do it ASAP."

A few weeks ago, I did a training on archetypes (if you missed it, catch it here. It's 9 mins long), and in particular, our light and dark characters that drive our behaviour.

Being aware of these characters, knowing when they show up, and being able to use them in a way that's beneficial is key to self-mastery (which is also key to effective leadership, as it happens).

One of my archetypes is Little Miss Judge-y.

She used to show up like this:

"Ooo - should she?" as I nodded sideways at a fashion victim wearing something that in my opinion doesn't work.

OR

"Ooo - he really shouldn't have said that!" as a colleague admits to not being sure about what he is doing on a project (aka vulnerability; cue: eye-roll).

OR

"I'm just going to sit here with my arms tightly crossed over my chest rather than contribute to this conversation in front of everyone," in other words, "The way I judge others is the way I fear they will judge me."

Little Miss Judge-y crops up from time to time still, but not nearly so much. And I'm grateful she doesn't because...

How you judge others is how you judge yourself.

The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.

Judgement like this stops you from going for what you want in life and career, being more confident, speaking up and being heard. I was reminded of how much judgement exists in the corporate world when I worked with a team recently. A very nice, close-knit team, but when it came to showing their vulnerability or sharing anything other than financial results, they clammed shut. Doing that would risk from their peers the type of judgement they eschew on others.

Do you recognise that environment of judgement?

Here's what I recommend.

Stop judging yourself first.

Be aware of when Little Miss Judge-y turns up, and know that, she might be funny sometimes, (I mean, who hasn't enjoyed getting together with a friend and picking someone apart!) but her presence means you are judging yourself in the same harsh way.

And that ain't good.

It's not loving on you.

It's not helping you live and work and achieve all you desire.

It's stopping you from being visible - to yourself and others.

Need help with putting Little Miss Judge-y in a box? Want to feel more confident and stop being a shrinking violet? Book a call and let's discuss how you relieve Little Miss Judge-y of her post.

Where did your emotions go?

OMG!

I'm loving the feedback and conversations I'm having lately in response to my blogs, posts and comments on various social media.

A recent conversation occurred on LinkedIn in response to an article published in Arianna Huffington's publication, Thrive Global. Read it here.

The author writes about the word 'should' and how it is the one word to banish from our vocabulary. I've written about this before in my blog, "There's no good in should."

There's no good in should

My comment in response to the Thrive Global article on LinkedIn was that if we have emotional connection to our goals, there is no space for 'should.'

A question from one of the LinkedIn community to me was, "Why is it some people find it easier to connect emotionally than others?"

A great question - and a big response!

We are emotional beings. Emotions are powerful and strong and big and scary and joyous all at the same time. We are taught from a very young age that emotions are to be feared "Stop crying!" "Don't shout!" "Calm down!" Boys are told not "to be a girl" with their emotions, and girls are told to stop being so emotional. Whichever gender you are, there is no place for emotion in our upbringing.

Does that go some way in answering the question?

Through the years, we lose touch with our emotions, to the point that when asked to recall a memory, some people profess to feel nothing, despite the fact that it is impossible for us to recall a memory without experiencing some emotion. It is simply that we have learned to ignore it, stamp it out, not recognise the emotion. To open ourselves up to these emotions is how we can connect emotionally, not just to goals, but to our relationships, to our decisions, to our intuition.

Emotions are a powerful tool in living our lives and creating careers that are exactly as we desire.

No 'shoulds' required when you're emotionally connected to the outcome.

Bisous x

P.S. I'd love to hear about your experience - do you 'should' yourself? Is what you're 'should-ing' yourself about really something you desire or feel emotionally connected to? Let me know. Message or email me.

P.P.S. If you'd like to discuss a way of having fewer 'shoulds' in your life so you can create a life and career you LOVE, and step into your power and confidence, message or email me. I won't send any booking links - let's keep it personal.