Uncertainty can feel shaky but there’s a reason for that

With changes afoot in my life I momentarily got caught up, believing the scary movie in the thought-reel of my mind. All perfectly designed to wake me up.

Uneven ground road sign

Things look uncertain.

I just had a meeting that’s confirmed a significant price of work with a client is coming to an end after Q1.

I left the meeting (later than planned) and got a flat tyre, currently waiting to be recovered.

Two kids are at home alone, first time on their own together (they’re known to argue!) for longer than intended. read more

Finding freedom from the sandbank of self

Who you ‘think’ you are is not who you are. Release the restriction and realise you are the flow.

I was working with a client this week, sharing the metaphor of a river to remember the context of the work we’re doing together (see incredible artwork below!). Our work is upstream, at the source, from where you gain the greatest downstream effect.

Credit to Insight Principles for the concept of Content, Programming, Mechanics. Image credit: me!

Then, the great thing about working in collaboration with another mind happened, he suggested an addition to the metaphor — the sandbank of self. read more

Psychological safety : the individual’s perspective

Last week I wrote about Psychological Safety from the perspective of a leader trying to create that environment for their team or business. But what about the individual? Do they have to just wait for someone else to come and create that for them? You can probably guess that’s a no — but read on to explore more…

Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

I can’t work with that person they’re so intimidating.

This team just seems incapable of a decision and drive me crazy going round in circles.

I’m too introverted to get my point across, the extroverts just take over.

Nobody ever listens to each other. It’s pointless.

All possible scenarios where we can drop into the role of victim, believing that we need a rescuer to come and change things for us. The leader in his coat of shining armour who will take responsibility for the dynamic and make it all better. read more

If how to’s were enough…

Have you ever met someone who knows what needs to change in their work or life and yet they stay stuck in it? Maybe you’ve given them advice knowing full well they’re not hearing a word of it. Even if they’re nodding and making all the right noises? So what’s going on here?

From Brian Klemmer’s book of the same title

I’ve not read Brian’s book but I entirely agree with the sentiment of the title. read more

My experience of flotation!

This is my experience of a flotation pod at Calm Water Flotation, Nottingham who (despite how you’ll see my thought flowed) were very helpful at explaining how everything worked and how we might feel in the pod.  Giving floating a try was for our Aligning Teams Christmas Do and on the back of Mark Gilroy’s experience – we decided that the usual meal and drinks wasn’t for us and instead we plan to try a different therapy or experience each year……

I step into the warm, thick water….

Oh it’s not as thick as I expected.

[Closes the lid]

Lie back. Oo I’m floating!

The blue light and sounds of the ocean on the shore are calming.

Is my ear plug in right? I’ll just adjust that.

[Sits up, with difficulty! This water’s floaty! Lies back down.]

I’m breathing. But it feels hard. there’s a tightness in my throat. Is that anxiety?? Even with the light on??

Just breathe. In and out. Calm down. You’re just in a tank. Floating.

Rest your head right back. Test out this buoyancy thing. Oh yes, that works.

[Lies there for a bit, still thinking about breathing quite alot]

Wow my neck really hurts!

I wonder what it’s going to be like when it goes dark. If I close my eyes I won’t notice when the light goes out and it’ll just be the same.

They do turn the light off for me…don’t they? Maybe not…. Maybe I have to do that for myself….

I’ll just turn it off.

Wow it’s dark. I swear I’m moving. Spinning. Oh, there’s the side. Am I on the opposite side? I think I am. It’s hard to tell. I’ll put my hands out to see what I can feel.

I can feel the wall on one side. And one of the struts from the lid. Where’s the other side? That’s where the light switch is. I want to be near the light switch.

Slight panic sets in. [I’ve since realised there’s a light switch on both sides!!]

[Fumbles for the other side]

Just open the lid. See where you are. Then you can get back to being near the light switch and relax.

[Opens the lid]

Wow I’ve turned 90 degrees and yes, I’m on the opposite side! This thing is so big!

Right, back to where I want to be.

[Closes the lid]

Now there’s a gap where the lid meets the pod! Have I not closed it properly? I’ll just open and close it again. No, the gap’s still there. Oh well. I’ll just close my eyes, it’ll make no difference. It’s still darkness. Oh but the man said to replicate the REM state you need total darkness. This will affect my experience. I could go and tell them. Ask to move pod. But that means getting out, using a towel to walk to reception.   I don’t think I want to walk to reception like this!! It’s fine. I’ll just keep my eyes shut.

Just relax and make the most of the time.

But I’ve paid for this. Am I being silly not going to ask about this? Should I press the alarm button? But is that just for real emergencies? I can’t remember what they said.

Maybe if I open the lid fully like I did to start with then it’ll close fully.

[Opens lid fully and closes it again]

No. that’s not worked. Oh and now I’ve got a splash of salt in my eye. Ow that hurts.

[Blink, blink, blink]

Why do I have no tears! Has the salt dried my eye up?? There’s the spray bottle out there on the seat to wash eyes out with. Oh it’s fine. It’ll pass. I can’t be bothered to get it.

Close your eyes again. Rest your head back. Relax.

My eye still hurts. Just keep them closed. It’ll pass. My neck really aches. It’s always the left side. I needed a massage before I got in here.

I can feel a tiny breeze coming through that crack from the lid. Quite soothing on my eye actually.

Relax. Look at your knees. They’re so tense. Relax them.

[After a short while]

Shall I open my eyes?

Oh! It’s properly dark! The lid’s closed fully by itself!!

And my eye’s stopped hurting! I did have some tears afterall. But don’t wipe them away. You might get more salt in your eye!

Lie back. Relax……


I’ve no idea how long I spent with all this faffing! It might have only been 10 minutes! Felt like ages!!  But after this was all done I was able to lie still. I was able to meditate, with my mind drifting off to work, kids, back to breath, more work, how I was feeling, what I was noticing, back to breath. Sometimes with my eyes open, sometimes they naturally closed. I didn’t sleep but I can see how you could. Towards the end I felt like I was just a head, neck and shoulders floating in the water. If my neck hadn’t kept aching I might have just been a head. My arms, body and legs seemed like they’d disappeared and I didn’t have the inclination to move them to check if they were still there. It was nice!

When the music came back on it seemed so loud, although I’m pretty sure it won’t really have been. And the light was so bright. Sitting up I felt really heavy but once I was up and showering I felt so refreshed and alert.  This was followed by relaxing with a herbal tea in their quiet space which was the perfect way to absorb the experience before heading home.

So would I recommend? Yes. Definitely! I could never lie in a bath that long to switch off – the managed temperature of the water and the air make it perfect. And I don’t think I could ever meditate that long on dry land. In future I’d seriously consider a shoulder massage first so my neck aches less and, although the relaxation wasn’t as deep as I’ve experienced in acupuncture, I did spend a VERY long time faffing about so it’s not altogether surprising!  Next time I’d have it down!





Childhood Truths

So does this ring any bells from childhood?

Child 1 – “You’re a big smelly poo”

Child 2 – [say this part in a sing-song ‘nah nah nah nah’ child’s voice for maximum effect] “What you say is what you are”

Child 1 – Urgh no fair!

But it occurred to me the kids are actually onto the truth here!  [Note my use of ‘the’ kids – you really have no evidence that it was my own kids having this high brow discussion during a boring, rainy half term!]

Anyway, it’s not that we want to be going round calling people big fat smelly poos – well, we could but it might not get us very far.  It’s more the fact that they hit on the nugget of truth that is ‘what you say is what you are’.

In my lead-up to resigning from the corporate world I had high self belief in starting my own business to coach and develop leaders.  Much of this belief had come from the coaching I received from my own coach, but also from the incredible support of wonderful people in my new world, many of whom I met on Twitter (kudos to those generous folks – Perry Timms, Ian Pettigrew, David D’Souza, Alex Moyle, Noel Gray).  Through challenge and support all of these people helped me to get clear on what I wanted to do so that when it came to the point of resigning I knew that it was absolutely the right thing.

And then, once I’d resigned, I of course had lots of conversations with lots of people in work that involved them saying things like “you’re leaving?”, “you’re very brave”, “I can’t believe you’re doing this”.

This was all fine for as long as my responses were true to everything I believed that had led me to that point, and in fact that they were true responses.  Where it started to take a downward turn was when I began jovially responding to the question of “so have you got lots of work lined up” with “no, it’s a bit crazy isn’t it” or “no, I’m hoping that’ll come”.  Neither of which were actually true because a) I’m good at what I do and I love being able to help people make a difference (not so crazy) and b) I’d planned my approach to build my work (no need to hope).

But these jokey responses of ‘craziness’ and ‘hope’ started to niggle at my self belief and undermine my confidence in what I was doing.

So what?  I spotted this, I switched my language, I re-focussed on what I believe and the purpose of what I’m doing.

And I started to regain my positivity and confidence.

Whatever we see and hear from people – the positive and the less positive – there’s a whole load of stuff going on beneath the surface linked to our beliefs, our values, our past experiences, our memories, our emotions.  These influence the thoughts we have.  And then these influence the stuff we see on the surface – how we behave, how we respond to situations, how we react, the words we use.  And ultimately this influences the results we get in life, the outcomes.

And this connected chain reaction works the other way too – the words we use will impact what we think, which will impact how we feel.  And which was why my words of ‘craziness’ and ‘hope’ had started to feed thoughts of ‘I can’t do this’ and feelings of depleting confidence.

And what’s more, some of these sub-surface beliefs aren’t even actually factually true!  And yet they have a massive impact on our lives.

The best part though is that this stuff can be changed and the power of it is incredible!  Our beliefs can be discovered, and built on if they’re working OK for us, or changed completely if they’re working against us.

And this is exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing – and why I love it!!

So next time you’re saying something that’s impacting how you feel – stop and ask yourself what would be a more helpful thing to say.  What would you say instead that’s true?

Because what you say really is what you are.