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.

 

There’s more to visibility than self-promotion

self-promotionIn this article Kate Griffiths continues with the theme of visibility that she started in last week’s post and shares ideas on how to get noticed in a good way.  Business owners, particularly those starting out are keen to get clients and be noticed so they focus on being visible but often in a way that is counter productive.  

If you look up the dictionary definition of visibility it states that it is the ability to be seen or the extent to which something attracts attention and gains prominence.  Small businesses rely on recommendations and referrals as a key way to growing their business.  Marketeers often teach clients that any publicity is good publicity because people will be talking about you.  This is a myth, let me explain why using an example of my own.  I had a hideous experience about five years ago when I was very new to the world of small business where I agreed to write an article about social media for Mums.  The editor felt that I needed to write stronger statements in my article so I did what I was asked and wrote something quite controversial.  It provoked a fierce reaction and the organisation got what it was hoping to achieve which was high engagement on its site however it did not do a lot for my reputation because readers, understandably, assumed that the views expressed were what I believed.  Furthermore when I needed it, I did not get the support from the editorial team.  To be fair to them, I had not questioned their motives sufficiently nor had we communicated how we would behave if the article went viral.

It was a great lesson for me in that my desire to be noticed overrode my sense of who I was becoming at that time.  Rather than writing my truth, I adapted my views to fit in with what someone else wanted.  I am not like the great chess players who think many moves ahead as they contemplate their next step, I tend to live in the moment.  I did not stand back and reflect on the potential impact of what I was writing and I paid the price.  It had many ramifications for me, few of them positive at that time.  It was probably about the last time however that I was caught out in that way and as the adage says you only learn when you find yourself in a place of discomfort.

In my experience what clients are looking for is a sense of innate confidence in what you are offering and a constancy in how you show up.  They want to get to know you to decide, especially as a coach or someone who works in the leadership development field, whether they wish to work with you.  They cannot achieve this if you don’t spend at least some time engaging on social media platforms.  Think about it how can they get a sense of who you are and what you stand for, if you rarely participate in conversations online except to post your latest offering.  That is not showing up.

And yes it is difficult to straddle all the platforms effectively.  At some point you need to make a choice about where you are going to focus your energy.  Will it be Facebook, Google plus or Twitter?  You can have a presence on all three and yet you still need to decide how you will engage in each medium, for how long each week and the extent to which you will automate that engagement.  This post is not going to go into the merits of the different platforms as Chris Ogle has written a very useful article on that so click here if you are interested in reading more on that.

For me what is important is that everything you do is aligned to your values.  Your focus needs to be on who you are becoming and to find inspirational places where you can be that and start to build your community in that way.  Yes it takes time and there is not necessarily instant gratification or sales.  That said it is a lot more sustainable in the long run because you start to build a following and people look out for your comments and posts.  It is why I set up my facebook group Sacred Soul Space because I wanted to create a place of inspiration for business owners where they could grow and be seen and supported by others.  Some amazing connections have already happened in particular someone drove from Watford to Oxford to meet another of our members; there are two based in the San Francisco Bay area who are planning to meet up; and others have got together through Link4Growth in the North and regularly get together.

In the new paradigm, doing business or your levels of visibility equate to the extent to which you give to others.  Generosity of spirit is a key value now and pays dividends although often unexpectedly in terms of how business comes to you.  In short just posting your own links in a forum or group and yet being notable by your absence 95% of the time, will not build your business.  We all buy from those we know, like and trust.  Being present in a mindful way is one of the fastest ways to grow your business in the long term.  I know this from personal experience.

I hope this article has caused to reflect on your own practices as a business owner and you get a real sense that visibility in business comes when you know who you are becoming.  It is all linked to who you are being.  I am available for a free 30 minute consultation if you wish to discuss any of this further and currently have one or two openings for new coaching clients.  I would love to hear your take on visibility in the comments below.

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Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you want to get free tips then ask to go on her monthly newsletter and join Sacred Space for the Soul

 

 

Why is increased visibility challenging?

visibilityIn this post Kate Griffiths explores some of the reasons why women business owners shy away from increased visibility and the big time.  It is a reflective piece that chimes with the season in that winter is about giving yourself space to breathe and take stock. 

Yesterday morning I had an inspiring time with Kate Codrington and a bunch of other women where we reflected on 2014 – in particular the moments we were proud of and what we would like to see more of in 2015.  It was an enriching time and it led me to ponder on a question which I want to share with you here as it was a theme that emerged from the group.  How do you cope with increased visibility when you have other demands on your time?

Many women have families and responsibilities at home.  We are not just talking about cooking and cleaning although these duties tend to be rolled into all of that.  Often it is the mother who holds the fabric of the family together.  She is there when her young children finish school to hear about their day and support them through the tough times in the best way she knows; to mediate when there are squabbles over the favourite mug, plate or bowl; bring in laughter and healing and extra love through cuddles when that is needed.  There is an expectation that she will keep on providing this constancy and love as and when required whatever is happening for her.  After all that is considered to be part of the job description.

No one has endless reserves of unconditional love, it is vital that each of us takes time to refill the tank.  That comes from having dedicated “me” time and yet if you are busy at work and home, how do you fit that in?  For many mothers, their entrepreneurial journey is into doing work that they love and there is an assumption in there that if you are passionate about what you do then you will find the reserves you need to be there for your clients.

This is a myth.  Dedicated “me” time means doing stuff for you; for your own growth.  Often this is then translated into time for personal development and whilst that is noble and can really support an individual’s growth and reap dividends in terms of what you can then offer your clients, I question how much it fills you up personally.  What struck me yesterday was that as people’s businesses have grown and I include myself in this to some extent; the focus has gone on to personal growth that supports the development of services for clients rather than on themselves.  This can lead to the resources that you have being stretched even further perhaps to breaking point.  Really that is about doing rather than being.

One of the best things that I have done this year is to take on a part-time housekeeper.  You could argue that it is a luxury but it means that I no longer spend any of my time cleaning, it is just about keeping the house tidy.  I can honestly say this is a great investment for me.  It means that I am much happier doing the ironing now and actually found myself ironing a duvet cover earlier this week which is a first!  It also gives me a bit more slack in my day to create with the extra demand for my services.  It also means that I can play with my girls on the days they don’t have after school activities.

All that said, there is more to life than work and what I realised as I listened to myself and the other women yesterday was that for many of us, we are juggling so many balls in the air that there is very little time for fun and quality time with those that we care about.  This is one of the biggest challenges as your business grows and especially if your partner has a demanding job too.  It made me realise that going forward, I want to take some practical steps which are to have a regular date night with my husband including the booking in of the odd weekend away with the support of family to make this happen.  It is much easier to relax when not at home faced with a mountain of chores that need to be done.

There is also a bigger theme here too and that is the theme of visibility.  Why is it that so many businesses do not reach their potential?  It is important to know your values as a business owner and make time for what matters.  That may mean getting clear about your boundaries and saying no to work that is not aligned to your values, something I did recently.  It is very empowering.  It could also mean being clear about your working hours and if demand increases, consider building a waiting list for clients.  Saying no to a client takes confidence and firm belief in your own worth and it can be very satisfying to have defined boundaries as well as being helpful for potential clients.

Beyond that for many there is a fear of success.  When you are more visible then you become more accountable.  Often people expect more of you.  There will probably be increased demands for engagement so you need to become much clearer about what is in scope and what’s out of scope.

All of this gets easier if you can tune into your inner wisdom to discover what your soul desires. That is at the heart of this particular conundrum and is one of the reasons that I started Sacred Space for the Soul, an online FB group with offline meet ups.  If you are involved in work that is making a difference to the world and could do with more sacred time, do consider joining us.

Alternatively you may wish to consider working with me one to one, as transforming people from the inside out is the focus of my work.  It is vital that you come to realise that you are already perfect and are in just the right place for you right now.  It is also why when we had the awards ceremony at Kate Codrington’s place yesterday where we determined what Kate’s certificate was for, I decided that mine was for being real.  For me the key to wholeness is sharing my reality so that you can see it is good to reveal your own humanity.

Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you cannot remember the last time you stopped and took time to relax then do check out Kate’s two day mindfulness course  at the end of November.

 

 

 

 

What is the secret ingredient in business success?

2014-09-06 16.27.53In this article Kate Griffiths talks about what it takes to be at the top of your game in business and why it is so easy to get out of kilter.

You know that grey feeling that you get when you have overdone it….where you feel you have little energy to deal with anything?  It’s funny how children seem to sense when you are in that place and start playing up.  If you stay there too long then you are heading for burnout because no one can sustain that relentless pace.  It is important to stop and build in some me time.  If you don’t you are likely to end up under performing at work and if you maintain the pressure so much of life becomes joyless.

I can describe this so well because I have experienced it.  It is a common dilemma for solopreneurs.  You are your business.  There are always things that need your attention.  I generally keep weekends as my time to relax and recharge with my growing family.  However the other week I ended up spending the whole weekend working.  I needed to get copy done for my new joint venture.  With various calls and writing that took up one day; and then on the Sunday I was running my first colour party.  It was all exciting stuff and yet it took its toll.

It was rather a surprise in a way as it rarely happens these days because I am usually very disciplined about scheduling regular “me” time.  I make sure that I get plenty of time alone because then when I am facilitating to large groups I can find limitless amounts of energy and enthusiasm.  This is usually quite easy for me to do because I am clear that what I value above all else is inner peace.  Mike George describes it as

Authentic peace is a state of being, which shapes a state of mind, which generates positive and focused thinking, which are expressed as proactive attitudes and behaviours.

Peace leads to the end of emotional upset and when you find emotional freedom you will cease to be distracted by the outside world.  Then it is easier to access your intuition and using your third eye you can start to see the truth in any situation.  Peace leads to personal and collective harmony.  One of the ways that I get there is through the use of the following affirmation I am peace.  It sounds simple and yet many people are waging war in their heads thanks to the power of their negative self talk.

There are different ways you can step into peace.  Just being  mindful of what images/ television you watch can help.  Using a photo like the one in this article may help you step into peace…..remember peace is only ever a thought away and what you focus on grows.  Mike George goes even further and argues that your life has no value unless you can find peace within yourself.  Put it another way, peace is the foundation of a happy fulfilled life.

If you want to take active steps towards cultivating a greater sense of inner peace then book into my mindfulness weekend course at the end of November in Hitchin.  I would love to share with you the tools that I have learnt to get more of this in my life.

Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you would like to learn how to use mindfulness for yourself then do check out Kate’s two day mindfulness course  at the end of November.

Anger: a short-term release, unsustainable long-term

anger mgmtIn this article, Kate Griffiths debunks some of the myths around rage and share some tips on how to manage your anger.  In essence it is all about emotional mastery and who wouldn’t want that.

Over the last couple of years, I have had an almost allergic reaction to most activists in that I don’t want to allow them into my space.  Initially I noticed this but could not understand why as often they represent great causes.  I myself was very proud about being one of the people who marched against Tony Blair’s decision to declare war on Iraq for example.  And as those that know me well would recognise I am a very passionate person.  Then I realised that at some level the disconnect was coming because they tend to be angry people who justify their way of being by saying its righteous anger.  I had a major aha moment.  Being passionate has enthusiasm and encouragement as its source of energy; anger of any kind is based on negative energy and is ultimately destructive.  I share this because it is what in part has motivated me to write this post.

Myth 1: Anger is a source of energy

Some justify getting angry as they claim to get a surge of energy and say that it motivates themselves or others into action.  This is only a partial truth let me share the chemical reaction that happens when you are in a rage.  Anger starts with the amygdala perceiving a threat and therefore needing to protect you.   Without getting too technical, there is a surge of adrenaline and nonadrenaline which can provide a temporary feeling of greater physical strength aka the incredible hulk.  However when your anger subsides you will feel exhausted and what is very important to note is that it can take up to two hours for it to subside and for you to return to a relaxed state.  During that time you are more prone to being triggered and getting angry again.

If you keep getting triggered you can cause permanent damage.  Chronically angry people may not produce acetylcholine, a hormone which tempers the more severe effects of adrenaline. Their nervous system is constantly working and can eventually become overexerted, leading to a weakened heart and stiffer arteries.  Research published in the Week magazine in March 2014 suggests that such people are five times more likely to suffer a heart attack and three times more likely to have a stroke.  As Mike George wrote in his book, Don’t’ get mad get wise, getting into a rage causes you pain and is the equivalent to emotional self-harming.

Myth 2: righteous anger is justified

No anger is ever justified because even if it is not physical, it is a verbal form of violence.  Your trigger may be that life is unfair to certain individuals or groups of people and therefore it is right to express anger on their behalf.  Imagine what would happen if you threw a bit more self-awareness into that moment, you might see that you have made yourself a victim on their behalf and are suffering in the same way you see them suffering.

This is like someone who is drunk trying to help someone else who is drunk….your so-called “righteous anger” shuts down your capacity to empathise and be compassionate also ~ Mike George

Getting your own back

What about those times when you have been unfairly treated or misquoted?  Only today I went into a difficult meeting which needed to happen to get the best result for my daughter.  I knew ahead of time it wasn’t going to be easy and thought I had prepared myself for every eventuality.  It all got a whole lot harder when I found out that someone had taken something that I had shared on Facebook out of context and  in effect spread half truths about me.  Part of me yearned for justice, to find out who could have done such a thing and have words with them.  But how would that have helped?

Facing my upset full on and acknowledging my true feelings and finding a safe space to express them and be supported by those who knew my intention was pure has enabled me to step back and let go of this.  If I had chosen to wreak revenge who knows what else would have happened or where this would have ended?  And yet there is so much in the media that encourages us to do just that.  All that does is to perpetuate negative energy.

These may not be beliefs that you buy into at the moment and yet I hope it is food for thought.  Let’s assume for now you recognise the dangers of anger then the next question you will be asking yourself is how can you act on this information.

Three steps that will free you from the anger habit:

  1. Understand why anger is unhealthy;
  2. Accept responsibility for your anger whatever form it takes, at all times and in all situations – no one has made you angry; and
  3. Be prepared to uncover, question and change the beliefs and perceptions you hold, which are creating your emotional pain.

It is not easy but remember this we are designed to be loving peaceful souls.  You can find your way back to your true essence by learning and practising a form of meditation.  It is one of the reasons I teach mindfulness as it is so restorative and enables mindful communication.  Why bother?  Because as you tune into these truths something shifts not just at an individual level but also at a collective level which means ultimately there is more harmony in the world.

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Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you would like to learn how to use mindfulness for yourself then do check out Kate’s two day mindfulness course  at the end of November.

What are you really saying?

head based communicationDon’t waste a good crisis.  You can apply that to situations that backfire on you in that they are great opportunities to learn.  This week I want to share how conscious communication is only possible when you get out of your head.

The other day a quite innocent exchange of views became very intense very quickly and by the end I felt violated quite simply because I no longer felt respected or heard by the other person.  I had a strong reaction probably because I am highly sensitive soul.  Yet even at the time I recognised that this was a great gift, an opportunity to explore how the whole exchange could have been more fruitful for both of us.  Coupled with the fact that I am doing a lot of work around how to manage conflict in the work place, it just felt that a post on the tenets of good communication was timely.

Words are so powerful.  The phrase sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me is stuff and nonsense.  You can feel violated by another just by their manner towards you as much as what they say.  So let me share with you some tips on how to manage challenging conversations.

When the going gets tough, turn to wonder

If you start feeling irritated and annoyed or sense yourself going onto the defensive, get curious.  Ask yourself what is triggering you?  Not always easy or the first thought in a conversation and yet it can provide a mine of information.  The likelihood is that a need of yours is not being met. 

If you discover what that need is then you are in a much more powerful place and can find a way to share that information with the person you are talking to.  The likelihood is that they have no idea about what’s going on for you.

 

Self-respect and respect for others is vital

Be honest.  How often do you berate yourself when something goes wrong?  Do you start attacking yourself and calling yourself stupid.  I expect you do because the way that you were educated to think would have encouraged that.  Actually it is very hard to learn when you are giving yourself a hard time and in extreme cases it can lead to depression.  As a minimum when the “inner bitch” gets going you have lost your sense of self-respect.

At times it can be very hard to maintain respect for the other person.  This happens when you stop listening to understand their point of view and have decided that what they are saying is nonsense.  In these moments there is no more curiosity and the danger is that ego can take over and you can think that you are superior and that you are right.

Whatever the truth of the situation, the other person will sense that you have switched to a more adversarial position and there is a strong possibility that they will withdraw from the conversation rather than keep plugging away.  Alternatively they may go into an accommodating style and just agree with you in order to end the disharmony or they may move to a competing style and become as vociferous in staking their position, which just leads to a Mexican standoff.

Taking yourself too seriously

If you find yourself in a tense conversation and can maintain a lightness about yourself and even bring in humour that can help to defuse the situation.  Just remember there is very little that is of a life and death nature.  If you take yourself too seriously then it is likely you will find yourself needing to be right.  When you get into that frame of mind then it follows that in order to do that you will need to prove that the other person is wrong.

If you find yourself heading in that direction ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Is what I am going to say truthful?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?

Only proceed with what you were going to say if you can answer yes to all three of those questions.  Otherwise try and let it go.  If you are already feeling emotional, taking a few seconds to centre yourself using something like the breathing pause will help.  If you are calm the other person will sense that and it will help them to match what you are showing them.

Silence is sometimes the best answer ~ Dalai Lama

Silent is actually an anagram of listen.  We have one mouth and two ears and if you use your mouth in that ratio then you will gain so much more from those around you.  It will give you the space to listen for the needs of the other person and then you can voice what you think they are.

You may not be right but that then gives them a chance to articulate their needs.  I believe this is so much more powerful than what many tend to do which is to ask “what do you need?”  Quite often that puts the other person on the spot and they don’t always know what they need. Giving them something to work with is a great way of discovering their actual needs.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love ~ Lao Tzu

I want to end my thoughts with this.  It echoes what I stated about when deciding whether to share something or not.  When you are kind in thoughts, words and deeds you experience a richness in life.  Perhaps not immediately but it will always come back to you.  It is why the Dalai Lama has always emphasised the importance of kindness.

When someone continues to share with you what you are doing well then you start to believe that you are good at what you are doing and are more likely to perform at a level of excellence then when someone is highly critical of you.  More than that it will start to shape your thinking and you will be more likely to pick out the good in others.  In that one moment you have created a virtuous circle.  It does wonders for your sense of well being and it puts well being firmly at the centre of all your communication which is why I am such a fan of non-violent communication as a tool.

I will leave you with this quotation from the Dalai Lama which I believe sums up all that I have said.  If you feel inspired then do leave a comment below as I love hearing from you:

As long as we observe love for others and respect for their rights and dignity in our daily lives, then whether we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in the Buddha or God, follow some religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy ~ Dalai Lama

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Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you are feeling stressed and want more space or time in your life then check out Kate’s two day retreat at the end of November.

 

Death and rebirth: vital phases for any growing business

full stop & unity bottleIn this article Kate Griffiths shares a story about transition and offers strategies on how to manage it.  She writes from the perspective of a small business owner, where you are your business.  Daunting though change can be, remember order emerges from chaos  

In August I chose these two bottles when asked what represented where I was and where I was going in my business.  Why these particular bottles?  Probably in part because they are so contrasting and also because I had already been working with Unity, the clear one.  Interestingly, the black one is anything but black.  Have you ever noticed that about black that there are other colours hidden within it? In short the black bottle among other things represents rebirth along the lines of the phoenix arising from the ashes.  The kind of rebirth that is only possible when you have died to yourself. So we are not talking the small stuff here

At the time all I could see was the huge potential in the message and was very excited about what could happen.  Six weeks on, I can honestly say it feels as my dear friend Elaine commented this week as if I have been running at 100 miles an hour to keep up; and as is often the case, I have needed periods of time in hibernation to allow the process to unfold.  One of the things I am more conscious of are the symbols that have shown up to mirror this shift.  For example over the summer a bat flew into the house and circled around for a good ten minutes before finding the doorway out.  In shamanic terms, Bats signal transition.  If, like me, you live with other people then this kind of change doesn’t just impact on you, it also has major ramifications in their lives too!  Let me unpack that further for you.

Physical signs

Decluttering on a physical level is a great way to also release old patterns of behaviour and thoughts that no longer serve you.  In effect as you clear your space, then there is room for new ideas and thoughts to be cultivated.  Quite unprompted I have felt the need to blitz our living space and get rid of anything that we no longer need.  A boot full of stuff went to a friend of mine who runs the the local toy library; followed by five bags to the charity shop and another five to go.  We have also revamped one bathroom getting rid of an old chest that was falling apart and replacing it with a cheap storage unit that allows us to see the towels in all their colour.

Mental signs

During levels of upheaval you will probably notice additional levels of exhaustion so it is important to recognise even more strongly the need for self care.  For me that has meant little to no television in the evenings; less reading; more baths; massages along with meditation, daily appreciations, giving myself reiki and designing my own special routine as I go to bed.  A bedtime routine is key because it ensures that you are choosing what messages to send to your unconscious as you fall asleep.  Curious to find out more then check out our October challenge in Sacred Soul Space.

Emotional and spiritual signs

This whole area can offer the biggest challenges because often you have not been supported in being able to express your emotions.  A conversation with a client recently made me realise that it was important to articulate the emotional upheaval because it may well help you if you find yourself in a similar space.  I have included spiritual here because the two are entwined for me.

Taking a panoramic perspective, we are in the midst of a huge shift from the masculine form of power to a more feminine style of leadership.  What does that mean?  On one level it is about accepting that what is is and that means practising detachment and recognition that it is no longer possible to control any aspect of life.  The harder you try to control the outcome, the more stress you will feel.

As women, the more that we find our voice and step into our power, the more isolated our partners can feel if they have been used to taking charge.  There is a subtle shift in the relationship.  You no longer need your partner, you choose to be with them.  If your partner has been the more dominant party in the relationship, they are going to have to start redefining their role and that can be hugely challenging.  It can lead to denial, frustration and resistance.  It also means that you have to found additional resources of love, compassion and patience holding the space so that they feel safe.

Final tips on how to manage such a shift?

The main way that I have found which works is to have a clear idea of where you want to go.  Keep hold of the vision, don’t fixate on the hows.  Ultimately trust that you are in exactly the right place for you right now and be with whatever unfolds.  And remember out of chaos comes order.

To summarise it is important that you give yourself space and are especially kind to yourself during this time.  And remember as you embrace this change and see the positive in it, you will transform the way you experience it: avoidance just prolongs the agony.  It can also help to have the support of a coach especially one that understands first hand about what you are dealing with.

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Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  If you want to find out more about the power of colour then do book a colour taster session with either Kate or Elaine at the Herts Health and Wholeness Festival on Saturday.

Kate is also the co-founder of Art of Leadership, a consultancy which supports organisations with their leadership challenges in a very creative way.

 

 

 

Four metres up: an unexpected lesson in leadership

Striding EdgeIn this article Kate Griffiths shares how leadership comes in many forms and sometimes from unexpected sources.  This is a true story of what happened on her holiday this summer and what she learnt when she pushed herself beyond her limits.

As a couple, my husband and I have always believed that it is important to provide our children with opportunities that require physical challenge as a way to build their confidence.  That is why we walked up Helvellyn with them in April.  We described Striding Edge, the ridge pictured, as great scrambling rocks.  Completing it was a great achievement and little did I know at the time that I would be put to the test myself this summer.

We spent nearly three weeks camping in France in August and one of the activities our girls love is the French “Go Ape ” equivalent where in harnesses they go high up into the trees and complete an assault course.  This year i agreed to join in even though I have vertigo.  As soon as we got to the start, our eldest was itching to do the intermediate level and claimed that she was no longer a beginner having successfully completed several circuits the year before.  After our induction, the four of us headed over to the middle route on the green path.  Just as we were about to start I had second thoughts because once you are clipped on there is no way off, you have to stay on until the end.  I convinced our youngest to come on the first green one with me and I am so glad that I did.  In part because we discovered she was not quite tall enough to go on green and the route my hubby and other daughter did went up eight metres from the ground!

We started our ascent, my youngest leading the way.  When I stepped on the thin wire, it wobbled a lot and I looked down and four metres seemed very high.  It took all my courage to grit my teeth and keep stepping forward as the vertigo kicked in big style.  Halfway across my carabiners got stuck on the wire above my head and so ended up behind me.  It was a delicate manoeuvre to go far enough back so that I could reach them and yank them forwards.  From that point on I kept them ahead of me. The sweat was pouring off me by this point.  I had never felt so full of nerves and yet I knew I had to put a brave face on it for my daughter.  The next task was like a railway bridge with diagonal wooden round logs for slats across.  We both discovered that the easiest way was to walk along the edge of the wire.

I was beginning to get into the whole exercise and forget how high up I was when I came a cropper.  We had to cross two Tarzan-style jungle swings pulling ourselves across using our arms.  I got about three quarters of the way across and felt the strength in my arms go, I couldn’t make it to the platform.  Earlier when I had let me daughter go ahead so that I did not wobble the bridge she had turned around on the platform ahead of me and shouted,  Mummy just believe in yourself….

These words were ringing in my ears as I stood there unable to step forward.  In the end I just had to sit on the swing.  I kept calm but I knew that I had not an ounce of strength left in my arms.  Fortunately someone else was able to blow a whistle to get one of the mountain guides to come and help me with that last bit.  It seemed ages until he came but he did and I got to the next platform.

Most of the rest of the trip was uneventful although at one point there was a rope to swing across a section that had no knot in it.  I lost my nerve momentarily so the guide said he would swing with me so off we went and then I realised midair I was doing it by myself which felt amazing.

My legs were like jelly and I was a sweaty heap when I finished the circuit and yet I had a real sense of accomplishment and the whole experience bonded me even closer to my youngest daughter.  She had seen me on the edge of my comfort zone and out of it; and seen how despite all that I had continued to the end of the trail.

When you are the leader in a situation, it is all about learning self-management and knowing when it is appropriate to share your vulnerabilities.  There will be times when you are at the edge of your comfort zone; when you are muddling through – strategy is often emergent and then dressed up afterwards to look as though it was planned.  The other valuable lesson here is that such experiences of physical exertion stand you in good stead for when you are under huge pressures at work.  You know you can get through it because you did when you were climbing.  These kind of experiences help to build your confidence and your resilience.

For me personally, what I realised was that I do not have sufficient upper body strength and I would like to take steps to address that and work on that through the Autumn so that such a situation is less likely to arise again.  I am convinced that the situation empowered my daughter too because she was the one giving me words of encouragement at key moments to get me through.  A powerful lesson in communication that was completely unintentional.  What lessons have you learnt from your children? How do you view physical activity like this?  I would love to hear about them and any other thoughts you have in the comments below.

 

 

 

Wellbeing at work: the key to business success

love youIn this article Kate Griffiths explains why wellbeing is not just a nice to have but an essential in any organisation that wants to succeed and sustain their success.  She explores new scientific evidence that shows how stress can kill you and touches on Dr David Hamilton’s research into kindness and compassion.

By now you are probably familiar with the random acts of kindness campaign and the pay it forward philosophy but did you know that kindness can actually prolong life whilst getting angry and stressed can shorten life?  Powerful stuff!  Let me unpack that for you.

Almost equal numbers of men and women suffer from heart disease and heart disease accounts for almost half of all deaths in Britain.  Every seven minutes in the UK someone dies of a heart attack.  So what does that have to do with stress?  Last week researchers discovered that those working in stressed environments have raised levels of white blood cells.  Monocytes and neutrophils are the technical terms for these cells.  They combine with fats and cholesterols to build plaques on the walls of blood vessels, which if they break loose can cause blockages in arteries.  These kinds of blockages prevent oxygen rich blood from flowing round the body, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.  In addition, Dr Nahrendorf has discovered that when the levels of noradrenaline, the stress hormone, are raised then stem cells in bone marrow prompt the production of monocytes and neutrophils.  This is because the stress hormone is preparing you for danger, like to fight when you are injured.  However with chronic stress there is no wound to heal so a dangerous build up of immune cells in the arteries is what occurs.

Interestingly this fits neatly with the common perception society has of a stressed male manager keeling over the desk at work.  What has been discovered is that the number of women in the UK with heart disease that die each year is greater than the number of men – 82,000 women to 79,000 men.  It appears that it is emotional strain that is the primary cause of heart disease in women but it is much more difficult to detect.  It is often not detected on angiograms taken for women because rather than the main arteries getting clogged it tends to be due to the failure of tiny blood vessels that branch off from the large coronary arteries.

This all builds quite a frightening picture and yet there is an easy way to reverse this trend and that is to start managing your stress.  It is why I advocate mindfulness practices and spend a lot of my time teaching these techniques to corporate clients.  After just one session, a recent client’s anxiety levels dropped dramatically and the result was that they got deeper and greater amounts of sleep at night, which had a positive benefit on all areas of their life.

If you cannot afford to learn mindfulness there is another way.  Research cited by Dr David Hamilton in his books has shown that increasing your levels of kindness and compassion to others can have a very positive impact on your health.  Let me share an example.  Hamilton talks about an experiment carried out by scientists on rabbits.  The rabbits were given 60% more fat than they needed in their diet and within a matter of weeks their health was suffering as a result of their fat intake.  That is all except four long eared rabbits in one particular cage.  This baffled the scientists for quite a long time, as the conditions for all the animals were the same so there was no logical reason for the results to be inconsistent.  Then one day a woman who used to clean the labs after everyone went home mentioned how she had been drawn to the long eared rabbits and how she could not help but pick each one up in turn and stroke it for a few minutes each night when she had finished cleaning.  The scientists conducted another experiment where they paid this woman to stroke specific rabbits.  They got the same results.

So how does this work?  Why is giving love through hugs and caresses so beneficial to animals and people?  Here’s the fantastic bit.  It releases oxytocin in both the giver and the receiver.  Oxytocin is called the bonding hormone and it has amazing impacts on your health.  Therefore one could make the argument that spending time to create the kind of environment at work where people feel relaxed and cared for will pay dividends for the business in terms of productivity, efficiency and fewer days off work.  Do get in touch if you want me to help you create this kind of workplace or help you reduce your personal stress levels.  Feel free to add your own thoughts and comments below, I love to hear from you.

What’s luck got to do with it?

bullseyeHow often have you said oh it is alright for x they are just really lucky or something similar?  Groundbreaking research by Professor Richard Wiseman and others show that we actually make our own luck.  Let me explore with you what I mean.

I was very lucky to spend a few hours in a delightful place yesterday.  The owners bought the property over 30 years ago and it was derelict.  They spent a huge amount of time doing it up and then converting the barn into a games room and indoor swimming pool.  There is also a wonderful mature garden, which could hold 100 people easily.  They live less than 10 minutes from me and until that moment I did not know they were there.  Yet I live in a small village and have lived here for 7 years.  Weird or what?  Not really in that I believe there is no such thing as coincidence, just synchronicity.

I felt very lucky, blessed even to be in that space and to be connecting with some really fascinating people who have made very interesting life choices as social entrepreneurs.  I do not know where this connection will lead and yet I am excited by it and the opportunity it presents.  I am now waiting patiently for that part of the story to unfold.

We live in a paradigm where one of the main beliefs is that something can only be true if we can explain it logically or through science.  Don’t get me wrong; we have made some great leaps in our understanding about the world thanks to science.  That said I would argue that society’s propensity to look to science for answers has robbed us of some of the mysteries of life.  Glorification of the mind in some ways has led to analysis paralysis.  Many of my clients are stressed to the eyeballs and can suffer from anxiety attacks because of their over-reliance on the grey matter.

Conversely as Louis Pasteur said fortune/ chance/ luck favours the prepared mind.  We work on something for a long time, discovering loads of dead ends and then have a eureka moment.  You recognise the break through because of all the work you have done up until that moment.  If we go  bit deeper, I would say that underpinning that preparation is trust and faith in the overarching vision.  For leaders and business owners today, the ability to keep plugging away despite others’ scepticism is vital.  I remember someone saying to me when my business was new and I had no idea what I was doing oh you just live in an area where there is very little need for a coach.  They were being helpful and supportive and yet their view was that it was the environment and not my newbie status that was the issue.  I am the only one responsible for what I achieve

So what has this got to do with luck you may be asking?  Well Professor Wiseman’s research and experiments showed that there was no such thing as luck.  Everyone receives opportunities but depending on how your brain is wired, is what will determine whether you notice the opportunity and then whether you act on it.  He goes one further and says those that seem the luckiest are actually creating their own luck.  If you think about those that you consider to be successful entrepreneurs, did they hit the big time with their first idea?  I doubt it…there were probably many set backs on the way.  The difference is that they did not hold onto the failures, they saw them as learning opportunities and asked themselves things like what’s next.  It really does come down to your attitude and the extent to which you are prepared to bring your whole self to whatever challenge you face.  Do you see a setback as a huge obstacle to overcome or part of the learning process on the journey?  How resilient are you when things don’t go your way?  How long do you hold onto disappointment?  How much do you see life and your work as a game?

In adversity what you need is flexibility.  If you keep on doing what you have always done you will just get the same results.  It is why there has been so much written about the importance on reflecting on the impact after you have done something, reviewing your actions and tweaking them if necessary so that you can fine tune the whole process next time round the loop.

Lucky people tend to be really open to new ideas and seeing the potential in whatever shows up so have huge capacity for versatility.  This flexibility helps them to build their resilience.  They are less likely to flag up the problems and much more likely to celebrate the successes.  In short each one of us has some challenges to face – the vicissitudes of life impact on everyone.  The difference is how you respond to the betrayal, the hurt and the pain.  As my husband says it is all in the recovery.

So next time you feel down on your luck, stop.  Remind yourself gently that you are the co-creator of your own reality and you can decide what kind of day, week, year, life you are going to have.  If that sounds far-fetched, get in touch as I love to help people rediscover their bounce.