Why I’m Celebrating Somerset Day

Today is Somerset Day.  For most of you, this may be insignificant – but for me, since I was born in Somerset and have chosen to reside here most of my life, it’s a pretty important occasion.

Somerset Day is a pretty new thing: it was created just a couple of years ago to celebrate all that is great in the county and of course, to promote the wonderful county.

I for one love the county.  I was brought up in a small village where our house was surrounded by fields.  I spent most evenings playing in the garden and fields after school; and exploring the woods on weekends.   It is the exact childhood I wanted for my own children and so when the time came, my husband and I moved to a similarly small village.   We spend much time with the children exploring nature or mores as they are growing up, playing cricket.

Somerset is clearly a great place for business too, with lots of businesses thriving.  Being in Somerset has been a real asset for my own coaching business: I love that the countryside offers space to help clients free their mind of the clutter which prevents them from seeing the wood from the trees (excuse the pun).  I love how when clients visit they instantly relax and can leave the pressures of city life behind – and I am sure this also helps clients to make real breakthroughs, enabling them to move their own business forward.  I also love driving to see clients in the county and seeing the contrast between the Levels and the various hills, and the different wildlife that brings – it brings a real appreciation of life.

I am sure that Somerset Day will promote and bring about the best of what is Somerset, and I will certainly be celebrating these successes; but it is also a really useful reminder to me of just how the county has helped shape my life and my growing business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Learning to unplug

I was brought up to believe that I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard enough.  It was a belief I strongly held and yes, I have achieved lots in my life: good exam results, great career…but that did come at a cost – I did have to work really hard at it.

Not only that, when my career involved being an employed Director (employed by someone else, not my own business), it seemed that everyone was conditioned to work really hard: putting in as many hours as they could, skipping lunch, and running round the building like headless chickens whilst they demonstrated just how busy and important they were.  And yes, everyone was important, they were doing a great job – but the stress was so visible and a number of colleagues burnt out, including myself.

For me it was a wake-up call.  My burn out manifested itself in lots of illness that wouldn’t go away – my body was literally telling me to stop.  I knew that if I continued at the pace I was, my body might stop for good.  As a mother of two young children, it scared the hell out of me.

It taught me a lot – about the power of stress (and how at it’s worst it reduced me to feeling useless and helpless) but most importantly, about resilience.  I thought I was highly resilient – and I was.  That meant that I was seen as a good worker who delivered, which meant more and more work landed on my desk.  But what I learnt about resilience is that it’s all a balancing act – if our stressors exceed our resilience, then we will break (and everybody has a breaking point, no matter how resilient you think you are).

In order to become more resilient, we need self-care: we need to do things that top up our cup and make us feel good and happy. It really made me evaluate just how much I did for myself: very little.  I thought about all the things I love doing such as running, walking, reading, spending quality time with my boys, spending time with friends, taking a long soak in the bath and actually, I got to do those things infrequently.

Since then I have changed my life enormously.  I now have my own business which I have grown over the past four years – I spend my days coaching and training others in how to develop their business and make it successful.  One of the biggest messages I give, is that in order for us to be successful we cannot work at a hundred miles per hour all the time – if we try to operate like a machine, we will burn out (and actually who leaves their machines and gadgets on 24 hours a day? We all know they will burn out and go up in smoke!).  If we are to be successful we need to be clear on our strategy, focus on the important and we need to make time for ourselves; we need to unplug from the daily treadmill and do things that make us happy.  It is then we have the energy and focus to live enriched lives, to deliver what’s important and to be truly successful.

A change in perspective

“We can’t change others, we can only change ourselves.”, is a presupposition in Neurolinguistic programming which helps us to understand the differences between people but also the reactions that people have.

We all have experience, beliefs and values and intrinsic preferences (such as how we take in information or express ourselves) which means that we see events differently; and most importantly, how we react to events and interact with others.

So often in coaching, my clients raise issues about relationship with others – opening up about their frustration that someone has behaved in a particular way, said something hurtful or not understood their point of view.  And this is often followed a statement that the other person is, “unreasonable” and by the question, “How can I get them to change?”  The assumption being, that the problem sits with the other person and that by that other person changing, it would solve ‘the problem’.

In truth, the reality is, that we cannot change others but all is not lost – we can change ourselves which in turn, can improve the situation all round.  That change, usually starts with a change in perspective and by that, I literally mean trying to imagine what it is like to be in the other person’s shoes.

How can you do this?  Well, it starts by really imagining yourself to be them!  Start by taking on their posture, think about their likes and dislikes and what it is they need.  Then as you move on, think about what it is that they need from you.  The play out the conversations or interactions you have had with them; and think about how you may have contributed to the outcome.  Did you give them the information they needed?  Did you come with beliefs about how the other person would react, which affected the communication style (it’s surprising how often we are guilty of communicating in a defensive way because we are anticipating a particular reaction!)?  Did you take into account what was going on in the other person’s life and show empathy?

So often, when we see this new perspective, we get a huge sense of understanding and that as a minimum gives us a shift in how we see that event.  It literally changes us and can remove much of the angst and frustration around the event.

Furthermore, that new level of understanding gives us real insight in how we can change our communication with the other person; telling us what they need to hear, how we should say it and what body language we can use.  And guess what?  This change in us, often creates a change in the reaction we get – so good all round.

So next time you are getting frustrated with someone else (particularly if it’s an ongoing relationship such as family or work colleagues), do try to understand that person more, see a new perspective and don’t be afraid to change yourself – it will always be for the better.

What is your purpose?

Today I met my great friend, Vicki for coffee.  It’s something we try to do every month or so within our busy, hectic lives – and really look forward to as it’s great to catch up on our lives and to compare business notes (my friend is a very talented artist).

Well as usual, I was updating my friend on how my coaching business was going and how I had recently been working on some great opt-ins for my website and social media.  Then, Vicki challenged me by saying, “Yvonne, this isn’t what your business is all about.  You are about the fabulous coaching you deliver, about connecting with your clients, about holding their space so they can sort their shit and move forward.  You are personable and have a wealth of coaching skills and you set out to help others.  How are you selling this?”

It stopped me in my tracks. I sat back and realised I had made the exact mistake I warn my clients against.  I had lost focus on my vision, my mission – what I am all about.  I was being swept along by what other people deliver because I had found it useful for my business – but that is not what I am about! I realised that the things that make me and my business unique are becoming lost in the wider information I am getting out there and I need to simplify my message.

Running a business is an evolving journey but it is SO important not to lost sight of what your vision is and who you are. Think about why you are doing it, what your purpose it and what you want to be known for – and revisit that regularly.  Yes, I had a wake-up call today – and yes, I felt very foolish for falling into the trap.  However, I realise I am not infallible, I make mistakes like everyone else but life is a learning experience and it’s never too late to re-focus and move forward.   It’s also a great reminder to always be authentic in what you do and stay true to purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to create a Vision Board!

I talk about vision a lot – it really helps you get focus in all areas of your life and a vision board is a great way to see that vision on a daily basis so you know what you are continually striving for.  A vision board is usually a poster board where you stick (or collage) images or words that you find inspirational and reflect your vision that you have for yourself or business. It should encapsulate both what you want from life and why (what does that get you – your motivation!).

So how do you create a vision board?

There’s no real right or wrong when it comes to vision boards – a vision board is for you and should reflect what you feel.  As a guide however, this is what you might do:

  1. Think about your vision:
    • What are you doing?
    • How much do you earn?
    • Who are you working with?
    • Where are you?
    • What are you working hours?
    • What do you do in your spare time?
    • Where do you live?
    • Who do you live with?
    • Where do you go on holiday?
    • What car are you driving?
    • How do you feel?

These are just some questions – let your imagination do the work.

  1. Find magazine images or print images from the internet which mean something to you in terms of your vision. These can be photo’s, images or words – anything that you find inspirational.  Pile them up!
  1. Lay the images on the board and organise them in whatever way seems right for you – use your intuition, there is no right or wrong. Some people like to organise them into areas such as home, holidays and work and others like to spread the images out in no particular order.  Go with your gut.
  1. Glue the images to the poster when you are happy with how the vision board looks.
  1. Now for the most important bit – hang up your vision board in a prominent place. The board should remind you about what you want from life and that your actions need to be moving you towards this vision.

Have fun!