Is our world in danger of collapsing?

tower-collapsingHow do we make sense of the recent US election result? What does it mean for the world order? I have been watching the views on the recent American election with interest. We have seen the full cycle of grief play out – denial, anger, sadness and eventually acceptance. It’s not surprising it was a great shock to many. If I am honest after Brexit and considering the year we are in, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. And yet I respect that many are still in shock, reeling and trying to make sense of it. What helped me initially were these words by Thoreau: “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” The rest of this article shares some of the thoughts that came to me when I sat quietly and reflected on it all.

Those of us that are Colour Teachers know that 2016 is the year of the Tower. What does this mean I hear you ask? As human beings, we tend to like order and many attempt to keep the the world structured and steady; in a Tower year, all will tumble around you anyway. If you think about it that is what we have seen on a grand scale with both Brexit and a Trump victory.

If we use a building analogy, it’s as if just as you mortar the last brick in place, lightening strikes and the whole structure collapses. Here’s the irony, those fortresses or golden cages that have been created needed to come down so that we can truly build the new paradigm and this is the year we have the strength and fortitude to deal with it. Remember nothing lasts forever, regardless of how permanent it might appear. And that’s okay because if you take a good hard look, the walls of the fortress that you put up to protect yourself probably became more of a prison than a shelter. A Tower year reminds us to let change happen when it needs to, and gives us the nudge we need to go through with it. Of course it can be painful as we go through it and the trick is to hold onto one grain of truth that we can use to start rebuilding our reality once we have come through the other side.

So let’s consider what is happening on the world stage for a moment. There have been many marginalised voices that have not been heard for a number of years. They have made their presence known here. In the UK they rose up and said that they had had enough of the inequality which they perceived was being doled out by the EU institutions and those people voted for a new kind of relationship with the European Union. Similarly in the US many have revolted against the established order and the perceived cronyism and corruption that they see within the political elite. Take heed of the date of the presidential elections 9/11 no less – just recall for a moment how our world changed irreversibly 15 years ago. This date is significant as from a numerological perspective 9 refers to the end of a cycle and yes I realise in the US it would read 11/9.

When we have taken the time to reflect who knows what will emerge. However I firmly believe that order comes out of chaos. This could be the impetus that we need to bring about the change we so need to see in the world. I want to share the following article with you because it is the first thing I have read that actually makes sense of what’s happening. So I encourage you to have a read and see what you think for yourself – https://goo.gl/tpgHvJ

This is a chance for us to come together and explore what we have been ignoring for the longest time and start to embrace the underbelly of our collective shadow so that ego doesn’t win. So who’s ready to take some time to be introspective and heal up some of their own wounds for the sake of the collective consciousness so we can truly radiate love rather than fear?

John O’Donohue expresses some of the sentiment that I believe is necessary going forward if we are to heal our world. His poem is called Coming home to yourself:

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.
May your fears yield
their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love.

Honey I shrunk the kids

mindfulness leafAs humans, we exist to be in relationship with one another and yet here’s the rub. Every day I hear about good friends falling out. On a granular level if you are parent, how often do you find yourself shouting at your kids and regretting it? One of my friends was telling me recently that her daughter keeps quoting the NSPCC’s Childline number to her and threatening to call them! Shows great initiative and it made me smile and yet why are our relationships with our children not optimal? In this article, I explore what lies behind miscommunication in families and offer a way through that is based on research. Whilst this is about parenting, you can see the same things happening in business which is why companies employ consultants like us to come in work with their people and turn them into high performing teams. People laugh at all the behaviours that they see on the Apprentice and of course they are exaggerated to increase the entertainment value for the Public; AND these kinds of things go on all the time.

Change can happen instantly and in other areas, it is very slow. A great example of this comes from a study of the seasons. Currently in the UK we are experiencing a very mild autumn; the first signs of winter are only just beginning to come. It is November and yet the sun is shining and many trees still have their beautiful russet gold leaves. Every morning I appreciate that even though the car windscreen is misty, it is not yet frozen solid with ice. That means we can leave about 5 minutes later and still get to school on time.

Two factors that cause miscommunication

  • Busyitis

How often are you in a hurry? If you have children how busy is their schedule each week? One client told me recently about her week and I really did not know how she got through it. She works full-time and then helps out with at least two of the organisations where children do after school clubs. On one day she has about 15 minutes to fit dinner in.  This is madness.  One thing we do is have a busy morning before school so that we can adopt a more relaxed pace after school when the girls are more tired.

Of course it is good to expose your children to a range of different activities. You want them to find out what they love doing; to excel at something or at least enjoy an activity, as it is a great way to build their confidence. AND yet everybody needs those “scratch your bottom” moments. Otherwise you will get exhausted with the constant round of ferrying, as will your kids and then there will be conflict. You are not a machine, you are a human being. If you are always rushing around it is hard to be present and in the now.

  • Guilt

As a parent how often do you feel guilty about how you have treated your children? After shouting at them, you feel a range of conflicting emotions, your energy levels are at an all time low and there’s that voice in your head that starts telling you off.  That internal voice may even sound like your Mum.  You feel waves of shame at how you behaved. This kind of emotion is so debilitating: it can be crippling.  When you feel like that, what do you do? Do you withdraw because you feel so uncomfortable or do you go on the warpath to distract yourself from how you really feel?

It is through sharing emotions that we build connections with others. Good communication is only possible when we are aware of our own emotions. That only happens when you give yourself time to self-reflect and build that awareness.

So often with clients, I find that they try to rationalise their feelings. If you break down that word, rationalise, you get its real meaning: rational lies. It is so important to get out of your head and tune into how your body feels about whatever’s happening. As Bob Samples (1976) quoting Einstein wrote:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

As a parent the more can communicate the rich inner world of your feelings to your children, the stronger the attachment you will have with them and the better they will be at developing close, intimate relationships during their lifetime. This sounds easy and yet many find intimacy challenging and scary at first.

I encourage you to read Philip Wade’s beautiful post about Intimacy as he explains why years of conditioning are what makes intimacy so challenging. His definition of intimacy is so powerful in to me see. The eyes are windows onto the soul. So the first exercise I am going to encourage you to do is to look deeply into the eyes of another. See how long you can hold their gaze and notice everything you experience.  How difficult was that?

Every time you resonate with your child’s emotions, your child experiences herself as “good.” Siegel and Hartzell describe emotion as “the process of integration that brings self-organisation to the mind….integration may be at the heart of a sense of well-being, within ourselves and in our relationships with our children and others.”

In can be really hard to relate emotionally to your children because it requires mindful mindfulness photoawareness of your own internal state as well as being open to understanding and respecting your child’s state of mind. That requires a huge amount of awareness. You become more aware of your own internal state when you pause and reflect on it; just acknowledge what’s going on and journal about it too.  Below are seven steps to better communication with your children:

  1. Pay attention to your emotional field: notice your feelings, your physiology and other nonverbal signals
  2. Alignment: allow your own state of mind to align with that of another
  3. Empathy: be open to another’s point of view and experience by remembering that everyone is right but only partially
  4. Verbalising: allow your inner world expression outwardly in a respectful way
  5. Participation: Join in the give and take of communication so there is balance of sharing and listening
  6. Curiosity: we all use words in different ways so be sure to check what the other person means by asking questions
  7. Diversity: Remember there is joy in the uniqueness of each individual’s form of expression – infinite diversity in infinite combinations

Remember children only model what they see. To be a conscious parent you need to practise great self-care. There are a couple of places on my forthcoming mindfulness retreat weekend, 21 and 22 November, where we will be really getting into this space of conscious communication.  Afterwards you will feel more at ease with intimacy and you will be able to build greater intimacy with others including yourself.  You can find more details here and get in touch to book your place.

Conflict is inevitable; combat is optional

inner-glow-1056365What has become clear to me as I get more into relationship and systems work is that conflict is an inevitable part of life and the aim is not to avoid all forms of confrontation rather it is something much more challenging initially. The key is to recognise what is going on and develop the skills to manage it. I have known this for some time and was rather dismayed that when I reached out to an online group of spiritual people to discuss it, the collective response was almost to deny this truth. That is just burying your head in the sand and ignoring the messiness of life. As spiritual beings having a human experience, our souls want to experience the full range of emotions even those hugely painful ones. We are not our feelings and with greater understanding, we can step back and observe it all rather than getting wrapped up in the drama or denying the reality of it. Let me go on to share with you some recent insights I received which I think help put all this into perspective so that you no longer fear conflict but rather embrace it and move through it, acknowledging all that you have learnt from it.

It starts with understanding stress

How often do you hear people saying that they are stressed out? The implication is that that is the cause of their behaviour but here’s the first fact stress is a symptom not the cause.

Stress comes about when there is inner conflict. Here’s what I love and I am thankful to Sandy Newbigging for explaining this so clearly for me. Conflict is made up of two forces resistance and attachment. Let me go deeper by sharing some of my stuff. When I get frustrated with my daughter for losing things there are two things going on. There is resistance to accepting that as a creative she has a tendency to be scatty AND attachment to the need for order due to a belief that being organised saves time and leads to greater efficiency. In other words the stress I can feel in those situations is not caused by what has happened but by internal disharmony between my resistance to what I don’t want to acknowledge AND an attachment to something I think I need. Sandy puts it as

Stress is a symptom of there being a conflict between what your mind wants and what your soul knows you need; for you to fulfil your life purpose.

 In essence as long as you remain in conflict with life by forcing it to meet your expectations then you will stay stressed. So how do you make the shift?

The first step is to really embrace and start living from the Taoist philosophy of who knows what is good and what is bad. There are many versions of the parable but this is my favourite. It is set in Ancient China when owning a horse was considered a sign of wealth:

One day a wild horse jumped a poor farmer’s fence and began grazing on his land. According to local law, this meant that the horse now rightfully belonged to him and his family. The son could hardly contain his joy, but the father put his hand on his son’s shoulder and said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” The next day the horse made its escape back to the mountains and the boy was heartbroken. “Who knows what’s good or bad?” his father said again.  On the third day the horse returned with a dozen wild horses following.  “We’re rich!” the son cried, to which the father again replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” On the fourth day the boy climbed on one of the wild horses and was thrown, breaking his leg. His father ran to get the doctor; soon both of them were attending to the boy, who was upset and in a great deal of pain. The old farmer looked deeply into his son’s eyes, and said, “My son, who knows what is good or bad?” And on the fifth day the province went to war.  Army recruiters came through the town and took all the eligible young men to fight the war.  The farmer’s son was not taken because he had a broken leg.

This comes to my final point which is that the more you can suspend judgement and develop 360 degree thinking the greater versatility you will have to deal with the vicissitudes of life. Interestingly in some research published by the Harvard Business Review recently 360 degree thinking was in the top five attributes considered to be vital for leaders today. That’s hardly surprising as the old command-control structures give way to ones built on self-organising principles which are about empowering employees to see themselves as leaders.

If this seems like too big a stretch for you right now then let me offer you the first step. It comes true-happiness-innerpeace-1-1441466by breaking with your routine, even taking a breath and trying a different approach. This becomes much easier when you build in daily meditation time. In the last 12 years there have been over 10,000 studies done that show the benefits of mindfulness. I know how busy you are and that finding an hour a week for eight weeks can be a challenge. So I have designed a weekend course, which will enable you to get all the tools that you need to bring about a step change in your life. And what people have said about my programme is that it is highly practical and introduces techniques that you can build into a hectic schedule. I know what its like as I have two small children and two businesses to run and I couldn’t do it without this as my foundation.

Find out more details about the weekend, including client testimonials here. Being towards the end of November, it makes a great early Christmas present to yourself and you will feel rejuvenated by the end of the weekend.

Myths around making money & how to bust them

money-money-money-1237912-639x443It goes without saying that money is just the flow of energy so if that’s the case why do so many small business owners struggle to do more than make ends meet? I have had a number of enquiries from potential clients about helping them with money blocks recently. If that’s you then I hope you find this myth busting exercise and the tips that follow  really helpful.

  1. You have got to have money to make money

What absolute bunkum! In many respects with the internet and technological advances, it has never been easier to set up a business without expending vast sums. What you do need is a moneymaking mindset. I had dinner with a serial entrepreneur last week and he explained how he made his money. He discovered a process that saved insurance companies £300 a time so they all bought it from him. He charged £299 for a solution which cost him 5p to make but it still gave the customer value as it was half what they had been paying.

Such a markup on a service or product may not be possible in your industry but no matter what the marketing funnel says, don’t be tempted to give away too many freebies. What does that say about the value you place on your own product or service?

  1. The cheapest deal offers the best value for money

Not that long ago I needed to do some marketing and someone I knew made me an offer I could not refuse. It all seemed incredible value and in some ways it was in that I paid considerably less than the going rate. This was because they were a start up business so it was a loss leader for them. Unfortunately the whole experience was rather ghastly. I had to go through a “middleman” so to speak to get to the person doing the work. This slowed the whole process up. I ended up getting emails and texts after 10pm at night and at weekends.  This is my switch off time normally so I learnt a lot about being clearer about my boundaries.  The final straw was that I got the wrong sized flyer and it took over 24 hours to get the right size which led to an increase of 30% in my printing costs because it became a rush job. The motto here is you get what you pay for.

This is so true for us personally too. This year we decided to move our daughters into the private education system. It wasn’t an easy decision as I am sure you can imagine and yet I have been quietly impressed by the school. The Friday before their first day, both their class teachers rang up to check if there was anything we needed. That to me is service beyond the call of duty and it is a reflection of the lengths staff members will go to reach out and connect and in so doing smoothen the transition.

  1. Don’t spend what you don’t have

No I am not about to encourage reckless spending and yet one thing I have learnt is that when I invest in myself then it allows the money to flow. When I started out, I said to myself that I wouldn’t allow my bank balance to go below a certain level. I still made money but it was a slog and that was because the choice I made may have felt safe but it was actually damming the flow. The effect was to put the brakes on my potential earnings. It was only when I let go of that artificial ceiling and actually started to invest in myself that I began to see a significant shift. I realised that I needed to undertake some training which was going to cost me around £3,000 and at the point I took the decision I had no idea where the money was going to come. Within a month of taking the decision I won a contract that more than covered the investment. These days I tend to work on the basis of investing about 25% of what I make into developing myself. It pays off because people can sense often unconsciously when you have new insights as a coach and so have more to share and they start knocking on the door.

  1. You need to buy into fancy systems to make money

So many people fall into this trap. They either end up spending a fortune to meet with other business owners once a month and pay a significant fee for the privilege or get seduced into buying software packages on the claim that it will take their business to the next level. The first system tends to offer a range of motivational talks and support from other members when you offer a new service; the argument around the second is that you are taking your business seriously and being more professional. Neither is a prerequisite to success but either can be tempting if you don’t think that you are enough in yourself.

Having outlined some of the common myths around making money, let me give you some tips on what does work. As with most things, it starts with understanding what is happening at the subconscious level. Here’s the thing when you were a child, you got told off by your parents if you did something naughty. As an adult, you become your parent. You punish yourself and the way many do that is by preventing the flow of money. How miserable do you feel if you can’t afford new clothes; if you feel you don’t have the means to go out? See how effective this punishment is now.

If you look at a course and think I can’t afford it; I haven’t got a spare £xyz then the likelihood is that you won’t do it. Here is the thing though your relationship with money is emotional. There will be certain expenses you never question or even feel you deserve. It is amazing what you discover when you go through your expenditure, log it on a spreadsheet and ask yourself if it is all absolutely vital.

Remember the adage you get what you pay for. The person who is running a weekend course has probably invested £1000s into their own training and so what they are asking is a fair price. If you can’t cut back on a lot, see where you can make savings and put aside a regular amount each week for a couple of months beforehand. That way you will raise the money for the course and making the investment will make you feel good about yourself and that will have a knock on effect on your business.

Others have a very strong work ethic. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with this however you are not a machine and cannot go on and on. Like a battery you will run out of juice and you can suffer from stress and exhaustion if you push yourself too far. Very often the driver for this type of behaviour comes from a sense of scarcity. If you had very little as a child then you may feel driven to provide for your family to ensure they have the security you never had.  So learn to pace yourself and take the foot off the accelerator before you have a nervous breakdown!

Finally it is okay to have spiritual values and make good money. That in itself will not make you a greedy capitalist. Become a conscious consumer, appreciate all that you have and you will receive more because you will be living in abundance.

Easy to say and hard to do you might say. It does require a shift in your mindset and this is where I can help. Using colour, which is a visual and kinaesthetic therapy, I can enable you to heal rapidly within a few sessions if you are ready. This is very powerful work as it accesses your deep-seated issues in an incredibly gentle way. Check out the reviews on my facebook business page to get a sense of the results that I have had. Not only have I seen amazing results for others, I have experienced them for myself. Because I believe in it so strongly, I am offering anyone who books a session by the end of September, 20% off the normal rate for an initial introductory session. So get in touch today to claim this offer.

What kills community because it’s so corrosive?

 

I am not a hermit, however much there are times I long for that depth of silence. I live in a small village community and more than ever I recognise that my every action will either unite or divide that community.  More than that I am a member of many systems.  Some of them are healthy and a place where interdependence thrives; others are a challenge to be part of.  One of the most corrosive elements present in any system is gossip; it can kill the sense of community.

Impeccability

Impeccability

Here’s the rub, the other day I noticed that my impeccability bottle was leaking and I grew curious as to why that was so I reflected on that.  Here’s what I discovered. The pull of belonging as discussed in a previous post is so strong that at times we compromise our own values.  How often have you found yourself colluding in or endorsing behaviours that stick in your gullet in order to fit in?  What other factors are present when gossip is rife?  Have you ever considered why Gossip happens? How much have you participated in gossip at work or in the school playground?

What do I mean by gossip?  I was discussing these ideas with fellow spiritual coach Nancy Swisher and I just loved her definition which was talking about anyone who is not present in the conversation.  It is neat and simple and so clear.  All I would add is talking in a detrimental way about people who are not part of the conversation.  This is gossip because they have no opportunity to give a different perspective.  It is vital because there is no absolute truth as the saying goes we see the world as we are not as it is.  What this means is that we are always making up stories based on the data we have sifted out from the reams we receive through our filters.  These filters have developed from the experiences of life that we have had.

This is not a post condoning gossip: that said it’s too easy to take the moral high ground and start condemning others for not living up to our expectations.  Yes impeccability with our word is vital because as soon as you say something hurtful about another you have no idea where it may go or what it will lead to.  There’s an analogy that’s been used in films and plays that describes the impact of gossip brilliantly.  If you stand on top of a tall building and rip open a feather pillow and allow the content to be scattered in the wind; it would be virtually impossible to find all the feathers later on as they will have dispersed far and wide.

Similarly whenever you say something unpleasant about another, you cannot see the impact of your words and it is unlikely you ever will see it.  We know that actually spreading malicious stories can be more hurtful and can cause more damage to someone’s self-esteem than any stick or stone that is thrown.  It is also poisonous and contaminates the environment in such a way that people withdraw to protect themselves as they don’t want to be hurt.  This is so harmful too because one of our basic needs as human beings is connection.

Why does gossip happen?  I think about the 600 nurses and midwives whom I have worked with over the last year.  None of them wanted to work in a negative environment where they felt controlled and unable to speak their mind and yet many contribute to the negativity through participating in gossip or triangulation.  Triangulation is when you divide and conquer by having multiple side conversations with people to put across a particular view and manipulate the outcome.  These women and men were wonderful people so why is this happening?  So often it is because they feel a sense of injustice about a decision that’s been made that impacts adversely on them and they feel unable to influence change.

There then appears to be a sense of vindication through sharing their position with another and getting support for that.  It is not surprising that someone might feel justified in venting some of that frustration through gossiping with others.  This sort of behaviour appears when people feel powerless.  It doesn’t make it right; what would be better would be to take responsibility and go to the person who is causing concern and use open and transparent communication.  Easy to say and challenging to do especially if you feel you won’t be heard.

So how do you confront someone who is making your life difficult?  Rather than bitching about them behind their back, you arrange to speak to them.  I would recommend that you use a tool like COIN.  The ‘c’ stands for context; the o for observation; the i for impact and the n for next.  COIN helps you to remain neutral as you state what you observed in what context and then using ‘I” statements you say what the impact was on you and lastly what you would like to see next.  I would also place an emphasis on feed forward in other words the behavior that you would like to see in the future rather than focusing on what has already happened.

Be ready to be rebuffed.  Sometimes the other person is not ready to have that conversation with you.  Earlier this year I lost connection with someone that I cherished.  It was very painful as all my attempts to rebuild the relationship were refuted.  They would not talk to me and yet through things they shared with me in writing they did feel it was okay to talk to others about what had happened.  Over time I realised that the relationship had always been more important to me than it had been to them and I learnt to let go of any attachment.  Now when I think of them I send them love and kindness and wish them well.

For me the way to wholeness comes through mastering emotional self-control by increasing self-awareness.  More and more I making an active choice about who I spend time with and often prefer to be alone.  Having space is about giving myself time to reflect on what is happening so that I can grow from every experience and find a better way to be next time I am triggered.

One of the most joyous experiences in my life at the moment is spending time with Kath my business partner for Transformational Leaders Ltd.  Not just because we have loads of fun creating tools for client but also because we practise impeccability with our word all the time.  We consciously design how we want to be with each other and regularly check in to see that the relationship is working for both of us.  This takes effort which is why I feel so much connection with the hermit these days.

If you want help with how to manage a challenging conversation or more support to deal with conflict then I do have a couple of openings at the moment to work with one to one clients.  Get in touch for a 30 minute consultation to get clear on whether we are a match.  Let’s talk.

 

8 tips on how to handle conflict more effectively

A Sign Of ConflictThis weekend I experienced a profound shift and it was as if there were a number of light bulbs going off as the “aha” moments flooded in. The first thing I wanted to do was to get this post up so that I could share my thinking with you.  Things have been crystallising for me over the last  year whilst I have been sharing tools on how to deal with conflict with nurses and midwives.  In some ways the material I was working with just didn’t seem to go deep enough and I feel like I now have some of the missing pieces having started my ORSC training this weekend.  So I have consolidated my thinking for you below.

 

Before you even sense a potential conflict, notice in your body how you see conflict.  This kind of awareness will give you many clues to how well you manage it. If you are not sure then start by doing the following exercise:

  1. Say to yourself or write down conflict is and then fill in the blank.
  2. What did you find? How often was your internal response something like debilitating, draining or even to be avoided at all costs?
  3. To what extent did you come up with neutral thoughts like a difference of opinion or voicing distinct perspectives?
  4. Did you have any thoughts like conflict is a great way to clear the air?

This last response may feel unlikely but often if you can remain neutral or even positive in a difficult situation, you are likely to be more skilful in the way you handle the challenge. I used to actively relish confrontation because it was an opportunity to be very straight and direct with others. As I have grown older, I have become more conscious that this can be quite a high risk strategy especially in the UK where directness is not always appreciated. These days my intention is to remain calm and not be triggered by what is happening in front of me AND that is easier said than done.

Self care is absolutely vital. So if you feel emotionally flooded then it is probably sensible to say to the other party that you are not in the right place to have the conversation and take yourself off until you are in a place where you can share calmly what is going on for you.  Some may call this avoiding the issue but in fact it is a really mature way to approach situations when you feel strongly about what is happening and are finding it hard to practise emotional self-management.

Another entry point around conflict is to become super attuned to your own emotional state. As soon as you sense even a bit of discomfort or low level anxiety, check in with yourself and be curious about what is causing it. If you can catch yourself at this point you will be much better placed to handle the issue in a way that is effective.

An example of this for me recently was increased awareness about a business relationship in that I noticed that it wasn’t working for me. My first reaction was that the person was not delivering and that I would need to find a new person to do that work. Then I took a step back and reflected on the bigger picture.

I always like to have a personal relationship with those that work for me.  Taking a moment to pause, I found some compassion for the individual and became conscious that they were going through a major transition personally and so probably needed some slack. At that point I picked up the phone and we talked.

The first thing I did was to voice what I thought was going on for them and to ask if they had any unmet needs that I could help with at this time. This meant that they were able to relax because they knew I appreciated them for who they were. We then had a frank discussion around my expectations and found a way forward. Even with that part of the conversation, I did not just state the facts, the impact it was having on me and what I wanted to happen next. I started by acknowledging them and who they are. Everyone needs to feel seen.

 This whole process made me realise how much I liked working with this person because they are so direct and open in their communication style. We had another business call the following day and at the end of it, we had a further discussion. Previously they had said that they could not fit in a piece of work I had asked them to do. When I enquired further, we discovered it was because it felt too difficult to do alone. So I suggested that we could do it together and then we explored when we might be able to fit that in and came up with a workable solution. In other words, asking questions and being curious will give you much more to work with rather than making assumptions or even judgements based on your first impressions or even the initial response you receive.

Another of the key things that I have learnt is the value of communicating either face to face or over the phone. Don’t sort out challenging situations via email; it rarely works because it is so hard to really know the intention behind what someone has written. Something I learnt to my cost earlier this year when I was too slow to pick up the phone.

Finally when we look at relationships systematically there is one rule to hold on to and that is that everyone is partially right. Too often when triggered, you will look for ways to blame the other party or justify your own actions. If you can uphold the belief that there is some truth in every position, you will find it easier to discover a way through.

In my next post, I will start to explore what tends to happen in conflict and the best ways to resolve that.  I would love to hear your thoughts on all this as helping people to get better results from their communication is at the heart of the work that I do.  What are major sources of conflict in your life?  How helpful are these ideas with that?

Are you ready to take off the mask & stand in your power?

bot63Many say that we teach the things that we need to learn for ourselves.   Over the last month or so I have been taking a deep dive inwards because for me, it is only through doing the inner work that we can hope to gain what we want on the outside. It has been rather a rollercoaster of a journey often quite raw at times but I guess that’s the nature of transformation. I go inwards using colour therapy and just lately I have been on the golden journey, examining what blocks me being in my full power and exploring the different faces of fear.  Discover more of what I learnt.

The cycle of life is really a spiral. This is a wonderful thought because it means if we don’t fully integrate a principle or understand an idea, it doesn’t matter because we will meet it later on. So we don’t have to rush at things, get intense about what is happening. We take what we need at that time knowing the time for deeper learning will present itself. How freeing is that?

Embodiment, the concept of giving tangible or visible form to an idea, quality or feeling has been part of my journey. Thanks to Beth Follini, I discovered Wendy Palmer’s work many years ago. I got so far with the training but didn’t complete it because I wasn’t ready at that time. Now I feel it calling me again so if it is meant to be I will take it up again.

When I was doing embodiment work with Wendy Palmer what struck me most was a particular exercise about success. So often people crave for success. At a certain level they believe that more money or greater recognition is what will make them happy AND then as became apparent through the exercise, often we are not ready for success.

I mention that here because it is definitely a theme that I have been seeing with clients of late. They have come to me because they want to move from good to great. They want their business to really take off. We start doing the work and then they can become paralysed by fear.

I know what this is like as I experienced it when I was redesigning my website. I got so far with the project and felt unable to continue. It was only thanks to the loving support of Anya Pearse  that I made it through.  And here are some tools which  may help.

According to a rabbi called Alan Lew there are two types of fear based on the Hebrew translation of the old testament.

  • Pachadis “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined.” That, in contemporary terms, is what we might think of as over-reactive, irrational, reptilian brain fear: the fear of horrible rejection that will destroy us or the fear that we will simply explode if we step out of our comfort zones.
  • There is a second Hebrew word for fear,yirah. Rabbi Lew describes yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting. It is also the feeling we feel when we are on sacred ground.

If you are someone who has felt a calling in your heart, you have uncovered an authentic dream for your life, and felt a mysterious sense of inner inspiration around a project or idea then this will probably speak to you.

Interestingly people often conflate or confuse the two types of fear, and simply refer to both of these types of experience as “fear.” But we can discern them more closely, and in doing so more effectively manage fear so it doesn’t get in our way.

Next time you feel fear:

1.Ask yourself: what part of this fear is pachad? Write down the imagined outcomes you fear, the reptilian brain fears.  Then check in with your wise self by asking how real these are?  Wait for the answer.

  1. Savour yirah. Next ask yourself: what part of this fear is yirah?You’ll know yirah because it has a tinge of exhilaration and awe -while pachad has a sense of threat and panic. Lean into – and look for – the callings and leaps that bring yirah.

If you find that difficult then you may wish to delve into the Work by Byron Katie . She recognizes that we are not our thoughts. Just following the start of the process can give you more clarity. Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Is this true? Wait for a yes or no from deep within
  2. Can I absolutely know this is true?
  3. How do I react when I believe this thought?
  4. Who am I without this thought?

To go deeper and get a real sense of how to use Byron Katie’s process then do read this excellent blog by Corrina Gordon-Brown .

So when I had that feeling of fear. I realised that in part it was very much linked to being more visible. I felt that I would be under more scrutiny from people that others might start judging me and find out that I am only human and don’t always get it right. At some level that felt terrifying for a while until I realised that actually my clients like the fact that I am real that I am not glitzy and highly polished. It means that I am natural and that makes me more accessible.

So as long as we are not pretending to be something we are not then all will be well. The first step is to come out from behind the mask. The second is to ask for help if you need it. No one can get through life on their own. We are designed to connect with others.

Yes it takes courage to step up but as soon as you do. You are saying to the Universe that you are ready and the good things will start to flow. What I have learnt is that life is about being “perfectly imperfect.” A thought is just a thought.

If you struggle with that then do join me on my next weekend retreat based on these and other mindfulness techniques to help you stand in your power in an authentic way.  You can find more info and book here.

How do wholeness, belonging and connection relate to business?

Being whole is incredibly challenging because it requires you to accept all of who you are not just the bits that you believe others will like or the parts of your life that appear to be successful.  So often we can get lost in a process and forget how it is to be of service to us.  In recent times there has been huge emphasis on the value of appreciation in terms of raising the vibration in your life: I often teach about its importance in my mindfulness-based programmes.   However, if in following this practice, you forget to be real and acknowledge all of your feelings then there is a degree of misalignment.  This is very challenging especially for business owners because there is a belief that people only buy from those who are doing well so in that scenario being too transparent could jeopardise your sales.  And at the end of the day, there is no magic formula.  It requires discernment and listening to your body wisdom to determine how much of yourself you are going to reveal.

When I unveiled this insight, unexpected things happened.  I understand that the recent eclipse brought up many deep things for people and had a momentous impact so if that was your experience know that it is part of what has been in the energy of late.  For me, a relationship that I thought was really solid started unravelling and my attempts to minister to it were inept I now realise.  I thought I was being open hearted and creating a loving space.  I managed it for four days until I was triggered and then I went into shut down.  It was hugely painful and one of the most challenging pieces was being with that and feeling unable to share my feelings because I felt as if I was being watched, scrutinised and judged.

Healing has come in unexpected ways.  Here’s the first part of the learning if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.  Last Wednesday I did a biodanza class for the first time.  I have been meaning to give it a go for ages but it meant taking a whole day off to attend because I wanted to incorporate lunch with a client who’s becoming a friend.  It was an incredible experience.  The whole focus of the class was on connection so what synchronicity.  What struck me most was that friendship is like a dance, it starts almost by inviting another into our world and sharing some of our special things with them and admiring some of their insights and wisdom.  This is the forming stage of the relationship which is beautiful and is about invitation.  Some time down the line there will be an element of conflict otherwise known as storming and if the relationship manages to weather the storm you come through that to norming and performing.  Together you weave some of your story before it is time to go your separate ways.

There was something very subtle about the whole experience.  It was also very moving and intimate.  When you look deep into someone else’s eyes you catch a glimpse of their soul.  This can be incredibly scary and often quite emotional.  For me there were moments during the experience when I wanted to run for the hills and yet I stayed and got in touch with the rawness and the depth of the feeling.  As a spiritual being I have recognised that the path to wholeness comes through allowing my body to feel and process my emotions.  This can only happen when you give yourself space to do this and when you feel safe.

You will feel safe when you feel loved rather than judged.  You will need space and grace to love unconditionally and to bring all of who you are into a relationship rather than feeling only certain ways of being are allowed in that space.  Silence is a valuable component and gentleness is balm for the soul.  For me the deer represents many of these qualities.  In a difficult situation, it is vital that you speak from your heart with love and kindness as that gives you the most opportunity that your message will be heard.  And perhaps the most valuable tools of all are the use of clean language and questions.  The former because it is then less likely that you will trigger the other person and questions like What do you need right now?  This last element is vital as without it, as I learnt to my cost, you are more likely to be making assumptions about the other person’s state and it will be harder for them to feel safe in your presence.  Conflict is an opportunity for you to step into your power by being clear about your boundaries whilst being compassionate and communicating mindfully.

As I discovered yesterday when tasting some constellation work, a theme that underpins all this is belonging.  I have often felt torn in this regard as I pride myself on being my own person and so celebrate my otherness, my maverick nature.  And yet the cost of that are constant reminders that I don’t belong when I really want to feel a deep level of connection.  If you look you too may hold this tension.  A question to ask yourself is how much do you compromise your own values in order to feel a sense of belonging in a system?  That system could be your family, your friends, work or any community to which you belong like the Mums in the playground.  The profound insight received from this work was that everything in our lives serves belonging.  You may wish to contemplate that yourself and see how true it is for you.

Finding connection, belonging even,  with others through friendship is a beautiful gift and is one of the things that gives meaning to life.  However it can be fragile and become all encompassing at times.  So as the packages say handle it with care.  Lastly remember that you are part of a myriad of systems that started with your family and so it is important to heal those that are not functioning in an optimal way.  Most of our issues start with how we experienced our place in the family and disconnecting may feel easier but in fact it consumes much more energy.  So whether you choose colour therapy, constellation work or another form of healing, invest in yourself.  The path to wholeness can be tough and yet it is also rewarding as it enables you to experience much more lightness of being.

Following some time with the lovely Anya Pearse I have changed the way that I write my blogs.  I would love to have some feedback on that…does this new style work better for you or not?

What’s your relationship like with money?

money globeIn this article, Kate Griffiths explores why so many socially conscious businesses are not making good money and what needs to change to transform the world we live in.

Much has been written about money and I know my own relationship with money has changed significantly as I have gone deeper into my journey as a soulpreneur.  I believe I have gained quite a bit of wisdom around this topic and I want to share that with you to help you on your journey.

What I write here is inspired by many of the conversations that I have online with other entrepreneurs and yet I want to give a special mention to the Meaningful Work community, a FB group that I belong to as a thread in there really prompted me to blog about this topic.  Let me start by sharing some myths around money.

You are not truly spiritual if you ask for money for your products and services transparently

Part of the new paradigm has been to react against the greed and self-interest that twentieth century capitalism seems to have spawned.  So often in history we do get these cycles where the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other.  However I really strongly believe that being poor does not make you more spiritual.  We created money and that is part of our current reality.  There is a strong belief in many spiritual communities that to seek money is not being true to your values because the most important thing is to help others.  I contend that it is vital to walk your talk and first off you need to help yourself so that you are really in a position to support others.  If you are still querying this working hypothesis then answer the following questions honestly:

  1. How can you really be of service to others if you are preventing your own success?
  2. To what extent do you really believe that you can make a difference to others?
  3. What value do you put on your own skills?

This year the predominant challenge you will see emerging if you are beginning to do well financially will be around the area of self-worth.  It is absolutely critical that you clear any old beliefs in this area.

In essence money is merely the flow of energy so in essence the more you have, the more you can impact positively on the lives of others.  Having money is not the issue, what you need to consider is how conscious  you are around it.

Investing your money ethically

Recently my company became a limited company and when I informed my bank they told me that I had to open a new bank account.  I was pretty frustrated because nothing had changed in that I was still offering the same kind of work.  I did appreciate that the legal entity of my business had changed and that the bank was only responding to rules put in place by Companies House however I was champing at the bit rather.  This went from bad to worse in that I then discovered that the whole process would take around 45 minutes.  I could not understand why this was the case when I had banked with the organisation for many years and so they knew all about my financial history and had all my key details on their system.  The last straw was when they said that they could not give me advice on which type of account to open. At that point, I was fuming and explained somewhat tersely that I would have to end the conversation and that it was unlikely that I would be remaining a customer of theirs.

Later on I recognised that this was a great opportunity to find a truly ethical alternative as my business bank.  This led to a rich thread on Facebook in which many gave their points of view. As a result I discovered Metro bank, a truly ethical alternative.  It is the first new bank on the high street in the UK in the last 100 years and it invests its money into local communities and local businesses.  It really does put the customer first in that it is open 7 days a week until 8pm. Every branch has a business manager and it is rapidly expanding its reach beyond London.  So far so good.

Spending your money wisely

I am passionate about seeing every soulpreneur earn good money for their services because in that way we will raise the vibration of socially conscious businesses so that spirituality in business becomes the norm.  To that end I am on a mission to bring business into the soul.  It is not either/ or:  business is the life force of society: now it needs to become sacred.  I have started that process through my FB Community Sacred Soul Space and we now have an online directory of soulpreneurs where it is free to register your business.  Do take a look at that.  This is the first step to creating the purple pound.  It is my intention to spend my money with new paradigm businesses as much as possible.

I already do this in so many ways.  As a mentor, one of my jobs is to help those that come to me to make connections with others.  Only this week, I put one of my clients in touch with four other new paradigm business owners and I am eagerly awaiting to see what transpires.

To summarise, too often we simplify things as few people like dealing with complexity.  Actually what is needed here is healing on two levels.  At one  level it is about putting the soul back into business so that we create soulful organisations; and at another it is about ensuring business principles are enshrined in the heart of the soulpreneur.  Only then will we truly create new paradigm businesses.

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Kate Griffiths works with small business owners and leaders in corporates to enable them to grasp what the new business paradigm means so that they can apply it to their own organisations and benefit themselves and their teams by creating the kind of environment that has a positive effect on all who are part of it. 

 

 

Perfection: a winning business formula or not?

perfect imageBeing perfect is not only detrimental to your health it is impossible to achieve.  In this article Kate Griffiths explores why it is such a trigger for so many leaders and business owners.  She then goes on to offer an alternative, more life-giving approach.

In Transactional Analysis, there are a number of drivers that influence how you behave and one of them is be perfect.  I want to focus on that this week because of something that has unfolded in my learning of late with the intention of supporting you in yours.  For many years I worked in a corporate environment where the focus was on keep at the top of your game or be driven out.  It was ruthless in many respects and yet the organisation prided itself on having the brightest of a generation in its midst.  I left because I felt that it fed on people’s anxieties to ensure high performance and it was no longer a cost I was willing to pay.  It seemed to actively recruit A type personalities – adrenalin junkies who felt that they were only as good as the results they obtained from their last engagement.  As you can imagine the undercurrent of anxiety was strong.  Why did people stay you might ask?  Working for such a well known brand did mean that there were amazing opportunities to do projects that others would give their eye teeth for so for those of us that were ambitious, it seemed a small price to pay.  Or at least that’s what I thought at the beginning.

However when you are in an environment that seems to demand perfection, it creates an edge which seeps into other areas of your life.  I was reading an article that illustrated that point beautifully.  If you are a parent then the ideas behind it might prove to be really insightful.  Ask yourself how often do you place expectations upon your children and yourself ?  At the start of this week, we struggled to get through our early morning routine and it got to going to school time and I had forgotten to make the girls’ packed lunches.  I felt irritated and expressed that to them as we walked to school because it meant I had to come back and do it during my work time.   Children pick up on how we are being and reflect it back to us so being uptight and tense, desiring perfection will feed into their internal narrative and you know how powerful that can become inner critic.  Is that what you want your child to grow up with?

So what’s the alternative?  First of all it is important to understand what’s driving your need for perfection.  For many it is a feeling of not being good enough and here’s the kicker we tend to strive for this when we do not value ourselves sufficiently.  Relax into the fact that you are human, see if you can laugh at your failings rather than feeling bad about them.  And here is my big learning.  When you are driving yourself and others so hard with such high expectations something has to give and quite often there is an explosion of sorts.  The trigger could be as small as the example I gave of forgetting to make the girls their packed lunch.  Whatever it is, we show our irritation then feel guilty about it so in the past my next step has been to apologise and admit that I was wrong.  What if you said sorry thereby acknowledging your part in the mess but then also affirmed yours and the other person’s greatness?

Positive feedback given authentically is vital to the life blood of families and organisations.  Yet there is an art to it, it is not just about saying you are awesome and I am amazing too.  It only really lands if you can be specific with your praise.  For example this morning I acknowledged how well my daughter was doing with her exercises because she completed the repetitions even though it was painful and difficult for her.  I recognised all that too so she knew that I appreciate all that she is.

When you can do all this, you are staying in your power and you are modelling the fact that it is ok to make mistakes.  As you release negativity in thought, word and deed, you are creating space for great things to fill it including miracles.  Recognise that you are enough and more than that you do a great job.  You are so done with feeling small as it does not attract good things in.  In fact with this whole process, you are acknowledging that you are perfectly imperfect and this is a critical step on the path to building a life and a business that is aligned with your values and that is profitable.  If you want to find out more then do sign up for our two day Pi Programme on 27 and 28 January.  We have one more place available and I can promise that if you apply the 13 golden wisdom principles that we teach consistently your will witness a transformation in your life.

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Kate Griffiths works with small business owners and leaders in corporates to enable them to grasp what the new business paradigm means so that they can apply it to their own organisations and benefit themselves and their teams by creating the kind of environment that has a positive effect on all who are part of it.