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Career Reinvention Day

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Take some time out this April to invest in yourself! This special career reinvention day is for you if you’ve been feeling a little (or more than a little!) disillusioned or dissatisfied with your career. Maybe you’re in a job you hate or in a career rut, but you don’t know what else you could do or what you really want. You’d like to take action, but you feel stuck.

This reinvention day is also for you if you’re someone who’s looking to return to work after a long career break. Maybe you’ve been dealing with illness, or perhaps you took time out to raise your family. You’d like to get back into the working world but you don’t know what you would be suited to and you’ve lost some confidence.

Bookings and full details at www.quietspacecoaching.co.uk/events. Come join us!

Some direct advice

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I’ve been thinking about leadership today – topic for this week’s blog post. About a week ago, I attended a talk during which the speaker referenced this acrostic:

Dedication
Integrity
Respect
Energy
Credibility
Trust

That’s what you need to look for not only in the people you hire, but also yourself. What example are you setting as a leader?

More on Friday.

Thoughts on networking

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On a scale of ‘deathly allergic’ to ‘I love it to the end of the universe and back’, how much do you like networking? To what extent is it like some secret cabal for people in the know?

I used to see myself as extremely introverted: wallflower, hates parties, world is too peopley, socialising is utterly draining. Even amongst loved ones I needed to escape to a darkened room after a couple of hours. And then networking – ah, hell on earth. Can you relate? (If not, maybe keep reading anyway.)

Some five years ago I was taking part in a coaching trios exercise (where you take turns being the coach, client and observer). I was in the client chair, and had just mentioned my dislike of networking. My coach in the trio said: “Well, why don’t we talk about that – in fact, let’s try it out now and see how you get on.” and I physically recoiled with a “No!” “Aha!” she said. “Look at that! You actually leapt back in your chair! What’s behind that?”

To cut a long story short, I realised that day that I had a bit of a phobia about it all. I hated it because I always felt like I didn’t have anything to talk about and was scared of coming across as stupid and uninformed. I also realised that it wasn’t just professional networking; it was any group setting where I felt surrounded by far more intelligent people (even among friends) and therefore felt unable to put in any twopenneth worth talking about.

That day I discovered two key strategies for overcoming my fear: first, learning how to take a step back, away from the perceived pressure to appear intelligent, and into a space where I asked questions instead (because even if you don’t, lots of people do like to talk about themselves). Second, once I was out of the perceived spotlight and a conversation had started to flow, I realised that I actually knew more about any given topic than I thought I did.

More recently, I’ve moved from being better at networking to actually enjoying it. There are, I think, a number of factors that have led to this, primarily the fact that, in having started to love myself properly, my happiness and confidence have grown markedly and I seem to have developed an expanded capacity to welcome others into my world. There is also a great deal to be said for finally doing something that I care passionately about; now I actually want to talk about my work.

The funny thing is, now that things are easier in the context of networking, it’s as if the tumblers have fallen into place, the lock has clicked and the door’s wide open. I keep finding myself initiating conversations with strangers simply to make a connection. And then I find that me being happy and wanting to connect is somehow contagious, which is a lovely effect to have on people.

The way I’ve started thinking about all this is that I really don’t like to call it networking, because it can be off-putting jargon for what is, at its core, creating relationships, finding things to bond over and seeing how you can help the people you meet.

I think everything flows from this. Ultimately everything you do is about people. Getting to know people, being curious about people, building connections with those people, and having mutually fulfilling interactions. Selling products? Focus on what your customers want. Service-based business? Find out what problems your potential clients are trying to solve and then focus on that, not what you want to push out to them. Attending a professional networking event? Find out about the person you’re talking to, not just their job or business. Tricky colleague? First, make them feel heard and understood.

I don’t know about you, but I hate small talk; I’d much rather skip straight to the meaningful conversation. Don’t be afraid to go deep. Shall we skip past the weather and the state of the country? Let’s pretend we’ve known each other for months and have that conversation instead. Suddenly we’re entering interesting and worthwhile territory.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably still rather curl up at home than dress up for a night out, which also explains why I often look like I’ve gone out in my pyjamas. But that’s me, you know? And on that final note – just be yourself. I want to know you, not the person you think you should be. Everybody is fascinating when you take the time to get to know them, which is exactly what I’ll be doing.

 

Humankind cannot bear very much reality

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I’m reading poetry, which I do when I’m stressed. Stressed is desserts spelt backwards. Lemon tart is a dessert. I thought I’d move on from this in the chain of thoughts but now I just really want lemon tart.

Jokes aside, I love Eliot. “Humankind cannot bear very much reality” – being authentic isn’t easy. Accepting yourself, knowing yourself – in some moments all we can do is admit that really we know very little. I’ve written before about constructionism; we have the liberty and ability now to construct new realities that are more to our liking, but always there is the challenge of remaining authentic and loyal to our truths.

Faith or fear?

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Faith and fear both demand that you believe in something you cannot see. You choose!”

I love this quote from Bob Proctor. I also love the symbolism of this image from the Camino de Santiago. Even if you’re not religious or spiritual, there’s something to appreciate in the scallop shell as a symbol of journey and renewal, and the Cross of St James as a symbol of faith, courage and hope in the face of difficulties.

What’s your choice going to be? Will you run from fear or stand firm in faith and conviction that you have been given the resources to meet the challenge?

There is no one alive who is youer than you

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Your unique experiences mean that no one else can be who you are and that you are uniquely placed to do what you do. You’re authentic and beautiful and this world needs you simply to strive to be the best you that you can be!

Time to Talk Day 2018

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Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Time to Talk Day is a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.

I’ve written several times about my own struggles with mental health. I’m in a good place right now, but I remember all too vividly the worst days – the uncontrollable crying, the inability to get out of bed let alone leave the house, the nearly irresistible urge to just run away from everything and disappear.

What I have decided to share for the first time, however – because I think I should walk the talk about being open – is that anorexia and body dysmorphia also form part of my history. I thought I should mention it because to me it feels more taboo than depression. That in itself is reason to talk about it. I find this interesting. Why should it be so? Maybe it somehow seems more superficial, despite my knowing that this is worlds away from the truth.

Wherever you are today, tonight – start your own conversation about mental health. Be kind, always. Choose your words carefully. Try not to judge. You never know what battles a person is fighting.

And if you’re battling right now, I wrote this poem for you. Hang in there. It gets better. I love you.

i looked at you today
when you were contemplating alternatives
to semblances of normal; stiff upper lips
and the notion that if it’s not ok, it’s not over

you were wearing your usual colours
blue, grey, black
— like a bruise, blooming
you turned to me, and i had a fancy

i could smell salt; you spoke
under your breath, soft,
as if navigating some provisional distance
to get to anywhere but here

and i wanted to wrap you up
in a cocoon
as if to say don’t touch, not ready
tell the world you’re tired

you’ll come out when you’re ready
i know you’ll come out when you’re ready