Are you running yourself into the ground?

When people are smart, high achieving, wonderful people who care about doing a good job, in and out of work, it’s very easy to reach a crunch point.

I often see it where clients are doing exactly what Bill describes in this quote.

Things are busy at work, it’s all go, glued to screens and phones and meetings for hours. Lots of coffee, lots of sitting and maybe some sugary, processed, quick-and-easy food chucked in for good measure.

In the presence of this, it can make sense to try and balance. With all this unhealthiness at work I must make sure I go running or to the gym, I must make sure I eat well at home, I must make sure our family time is full of maximum-quality experiences. read more

Numb to life : how to reconnect

We’ve layered up stories through life that make us numb, disconnecting us from life and from our deeper wisdom and intuition. And we can return to connection. We can de-layer the stories.

Our nose stops smelling when we’ve been sniffing the same thing after a while.

Our ears stop hearing the background noise of traffic and planes. read more

Stop the search

All that’s ever going on is we’re having a full 4D experience of the power of Thought. Every single moment of every day.

Image of search bar

You’ll be familiar with search engines and algorithms in tech work. When you search for a new sofa suddenly new sofa adverts pop up everywhere on every social media channel, on every search engine page. Showing you what you need. read more

Self Care Week 2018 : don’t make it another “should”

I saw a tweet recently from someone whose goal is to “drink more water”. This is the world we live in now….. a world where we don’t prioritise our own needs, not even our most basic need to stay hydrated!

It might just be me but I find this incredibly sad and I hear my internal voice of desperation asking “what on earth are we doing??”.

I also wonder how many people find expectations of self-care just another stress to add to the pile of other things “I’m not good enough at”.

It’s all with good intention but it’s not getting to what really needs to be got at.

Yes, look after ourselves better but not in this way.

Not when looking after our own health is a to-do list or goal.

I have a lot of time for you Michelle Obama (assuming she actually said these words in the quote!) but self-care can’t be attached to a “we need to” i.e. “we should”. Anything along those lines is a force, a push, a cajole, a tell, an expectation that’s being put on us from outside of us, a standard that if we fall short we’re rubbish (and then we give up).

Yes, look after ourselves better but not when we believe we have an important role to play in getting things “right” with our health and wellbeing, because the more we do this the more we get in our own way.

Layering our thinking and piling expectations into our heads only takes us further away from our innate wellbeing that we already have inside us; in all of us. It takes us away from letting our system right itself, which it does all the time if we stop meddling.

Instead, when we drop all that thinking, looking after ourselves becomes the most obvious thing to do. Anything else just looks bonkers! And we don’t need someone outside of us to tell us what to do or how to do it.


If you’d like to talk more about what this means for you just get in touch.





Expectations in a Box

Think of yourself at work and how it feels right now.

If you imagine you’re in a box at work, what would that box be like?

Are you in a roomy box with space to spread yourself out and change position?

Are you cramped in a box that you feel you could burst out of any minute?

Do you remember once feeling like you could burst out and now you feel like you’ve shrunk to fit inside?

What about your team?  What are their boxes like?

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Our brains are constantly scanning for danger, these days danger isn’t usually an animal that wants to eat us, it’s a threat to our self esteem, or our ego.  We’re raised in a world where being ‘right’ and ‘good’ are the things we’re meant to strive for*.  That’s what gets us praise, good school grades, a good job, a pay rise……stuff that boosts our self esteem and positively strokes our ego.  Interactions that make us feel like this are helpful to calm our fearful brain down which improves our thinking, helps us feel more abundant and generous towards ourselves and others, helps us become more creative by connecting dots.  This then leads to a growth in confidence and the desire to try more things, to push the boundaries, to come up with new ideas.  To coin the lyricist R Kelly, we believe we can fly! read more

Threats everywhere!

“When your own life is threatened, your sense of empathy is blunted by a terrible, selfish hunger for survival”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi.

If you swap the word “life” for –
or “job”
or “performance appraisal rating”
or “hierarchical position
or “share of the budget”
or “pay rise”…..

you have some of the threats our minds perceive all the time at work.

These modern day threats generate fight or flight responses – at different levels depending on the threat and on the person.

The fight or flight can cause us to feel fear and we shrink away, or anger and we become defensive. Even if we believe we respond well to pressure, our perspective on a situation will have narrowed and our ability to think laterally or creatively will have dropped.

And, as Yann’s quote so accurately says, we will lose our ability to empathise with others.

Less empathy means less trust.

Without trust we don’t communicate well, and our’s and others’ work is affected because people aren’t getting the full story.

Not a great place to be.

And yet this happens in workplaces across the globe every single day.

On the bright side, this story can be flipped on its head. We can choose to be different. We can choose to create organisations where threats are minimised, or people are enabled to handle them better, or ideally both.

And to be most effective, belief in such a workplace comes from the top and filters through everything.

What goes on where you are that causes threats to egos, self esteem, safety….?
How do you want it to be?
How can you develop self awareness to enable more helpful responses to threats?
What can be changed?

I believe in people being the key to success in a business and that success is unlocked by great bosses. I’m an Executive Coach for SME leaders to help create success for you, for your team, for your business.

Get in touch for a chat if you believe in this stuff too and you want your business to be even better –
or take a look at my website to find out more

Literally Headless


I read a great story by Doug Shaw yesterday ( which really resonated with me.

The last few weeks have been really busy. Preparing to handover my old job, getting ready for new life, attending a couple of fantastic coaching courses, organising the kids’ birthday parties, the usual household stuff, oh, and the draw of the phone, as Doug so poignantly wrote about, constantly there with the many channels and so much great content to read!

The result has been a bit of headless chicken; doing lots of things, none of them especially well. So I was glad to learn on my Postgrad coaching course that this headless chicken activity is actually a commonly female trait when feeling a bit stressed. Men, on the other hand, will focus on one thing badly – like repeatedly looking (ineffectively) for those lost keys in the same place over and over again!

When we feel like this, our prefrontal cortex is hi-jacked, we go into survival mode, we lose our sense of humour, our memory suffers, we withdraw, we struggle to see the point of view of others and we struggle to care for them. We also stop being able to reflect, plan, imagine. And, as Christopher Demers wrote (, reflecting is a helpful activity to maintain our mindfulness to the impact we’re having on the world.

Some of this physiological reaction is very familiar from the last few weeks. Not all the time, but in bouts. And I’ve tried hard, in amongst a rotten cold, to keep exercising – because I know that’s one of the key ways to keep the prefrontal cortex feeling happy and not hi-jacked. Even just 20 minutes of exercise will settle our stress response – after that, there’s no major benefit, so why do more!

So it was fantastic yesterday, on our first day of holiday, to sit outside in the peaceful Northumbrian countryside, before the kids appeared, just soaking up the surroundings, thinking about breathing well (btw did you know that smokers actually aid their sense of calm just because they have a longer exhale than inhale breath when smoking – of course, there are some downsides to this activity so try to breathe like you’re smoking – but without the cig!).

Then later, we went for a walk at Cragside where the kids didn’t even moan once about the hike up the steep steps to the top! Both activities involved no phone checking – the first because I made myself not do it. The second because there was no signal! But both worth it to make me enjoy the moment, and stop being distracted or rushing ahead to the future. I could feel my thoughts calming and my mind becoming more free. My stress-induced Type A personality giving way to my, much preferred, Type B.

But to get to this place took some effort. It required me to recognise how I was feeling, to get some of the turbulent thoughts out of my head and onto a bit of paper, to literally force myself not to check my phone (my husband thinks I’m addicted!), to step off the treadmill, to make the choice to get fresh air, exercise and relaxation.

How many people do you see rushing around in headless chicken mode? How many do you see doing the same piece of work to death, making no progress with it? Some maybe because they’re so busy, some maybe because they’re not being stretched enough and they fear life is passing them by.

These people need some help to step off, to slow down, to alleviate their stress response so they can THINK differently and creatively, opening up different possibilities of actions they can take to get different results.

But they don’t need hep with your solutions – rescuing someone with your solutions will reinforce their belief that they can’t cope, that they’re incapable of finding their own solutions, that their value in the world is low.

What’s fantastic, and as you’d expect from someone that’s been learning a load about coaching in the last month(!), is that coaching is an amazing and powerful way to do this.

Once the person can be brought back to a place where their prefrontal cortex is operating in its human mode again, they can be coached to resolve their own challenges, to find their own solutions.

And the empowerment they feel from this will help them grow with a different mindset so that next time a similar situation occurs, they’re a little bit better able to self-solve.

So next time you’ve got your head buried in a smart device, just lift it for a moment to notice who you can spot that needs some help to help themselves.