Positive Lives Blog

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A Riddle

So, there I was buying stamps in my local post office from a red-haired assistant. Got out my credit card.

There's always that moment, isn't there ... hold your breath, wait, wait ... and Yay! Transaction goes through. 

So then this Riddle pop into my mind. So I ask the red-haired girl, isn't that just like Life? 

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LEAD

Benefits of Coaching to SMEs

Good leadership can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful business.

The coaching element of the NWDA’s innovative LEAD programme is designed to help owners of small businesses to discover new ways of approaching issues and to do – or view – things differently.

SME owners lead busy lives; and they learn primarily through experience. The role of the coaching element within the LEAD programme is to help delegates capitalise on their experience, developing greater awareness of issues and individuals within the workplace. Coaching helps them step back from their business to work on it rather than in it, and increase their ability to create workable solutions.

 

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Chocolate inspires Professional Women to be Leaders

My recent presentation to Chester’s PROWL (Professional Women’s) network – entitled Why Women Are Ditching the Hero - was described as “food for thought”. 

Drawing on examples of campaigning women like Wangari Maathai and a story of everyday life from role model, 60-year old Comfort Kumeah, a ghanaian cocoa farmer who became national executive of Kuapa Kokoo, the presentation examined how women are often socialised out of calling themselves Leaders and thus hold back from recognising their authentic and innate qualities and strengths as women leaders.

Having coached many women to step into responsibility, bring and lead change, I suggested that a more comfortable alternative to “Leader” might be “Changemaker”. 

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A Reunion, A Procession & A Letter

 I've been profoundly moved and thoughtful over the last few weeks, and here's three reasons why:

A Reunion
A Procession
A Letter

Let me explain.  The Reunion was of many friends gathering at a funeral.  All of us were joined in celebrating an amazing life of a dear mutual friend.   Some of us have not met for over 20 years.  Some of us didn't recognise each other, as nearly quarter of a century has reshaped us, changed our hair colour, given us interesting lived-in faces.  It was, in fact, a deeply respectful and in many ways joyous occasion.  A life fulfilled - what more can I say?  Afterwards, many of us expressed how powerfully we had recognised the bond between friends, the importance of connections, family, friendship.

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International Women's Day

International Women's Day at the Monastery in Gorton.

The pleasure of co-delivering a two-part workshop - The Storyteller Within - with my colleague and friend, Lizzie Gates, of The Lonely Furrow.

Reflections & Emergent Space - then, Vision and Values-in-Action.

 We create a reflective space for busy and aspiring women.  I read an Indian folktale of a broken pot, whose flaw leaves a legacy of bright flowers by the path. Lizzie reads from Baba Yagar, full of dark fear and triumph.

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Falling Awake

Googling about recently, I've noticed a growth in interest in Mindfulness recently.  Bangor University is running several courses, and coaches Michael Chaskalson and Emma Donaldson-Feilder are starting courses next month at the British Psychological Society.  Mindfulness attention is a highly commendable state for coaches, characterised by presence, curiosity, openness, compassion and acceptance. 

But can Mindfulness translate into western corporate culture, or for normal mortals that go about their business 9 to 5 without the luxury of what would probably be considered impractical 'navel gazing'?  In other words, is Mindfulness relevant for our modern lives?

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World-Wide Celebration of Women on March 8th

I am thrilled to be invited to take part in International Women's Day celebration at The Monastery, Gorton.  I love conversations and connections that occur in very special environments.  

The Monastery was designed by Pugin and built in 1863.  It follows the principles of sacred geometry. Sacred geometry is an ancient mathematical system of proportions that uses basic geometry to create complex and beautiful architectural solutions. It has been used by different cultures around the world for thousands of years from the pyramids in Egypt to the Gothic cathedrals of Europe.  It is a very powerful space.

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Customer 166 Wins a Prize!

Another Everyday Tale from your Roving Coach
(Leadership Coaching Principles: Use what's offered; Create from anything)

Made the effort on a very cold afternoon to walk into town, over the Dee Bridge and up to our nearest Post Office in Chester.  There could be much to complain about from the outset, as we used to have a really handy local PO just five minutes walk away.  However, I have been practising Gratitude all  this week, so wasn't going to become a Moaning Minnie.

Our city post office has introduced a new computerised ticket system, somewhat along the lines of a supermarket deli counter.  You wait until your number is called; then you stroll towards your LED designated counter and are served.  OK, it was a bit confusing to start with, but there's always somebody to help you work it out.  And it is a lot more restful on the feet.  You can sit on a nice scarlet sofa and read a book if you want.  Possibly the wait times have not changed, but the experience is generally more comfortable.  It's been really quite a long time since the War, so perhaps we could move on now from the "Queuing Mindset"?  (I've noticed that nobody, but nobody, queues abroad, especially in Italy and Spain!)

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Relaxed Conversation is Good for Business

January can feel like a bit of a let down, nothing more to celebrate, back to work, those credit card bills coming in from the Christmas shopping spree.   The pretty lights and decos are packed away.  No more parties.  It can easily feel like a return to drudgery.  

Thank goodness we can all get out now!  I know a lot of people who have felt quite housebound by the grim weather and missing that casual contact with their immediate community and neighbours.


Out shopping today,  I noticed one or two people standing by the corner shop having a good old conversation.  A really welcome change from seeing people head down, battling through the elements on some solitary survival mission.  It was good to see a little bit of relaxed conversation going on around me.

 

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The Saga of the White Van & The SuperHero

Driving home today from a business meeting in the delightful Crabwall Manor Hotel, I saw a van parked up with the name "Flat Pack Mark" on the side.  Looks like somebody (with the name of Mark presumably) is specialising in helping people put together and install flat packs.  Great niche!  And what a boon for all of us non-Pragmatists out there.

Being a Maximiser (cf. Tom Rath "Strengthsfinder 2.0"), I like to "polish pearls".  So by the time I'd reached the next set of traffic lights, I'd thought of "Flat Pack Man", thus raising our chappy to superhero status.

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Beyond New Year's Resolutions

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions any more.  Hope is no longer a strategy for change.  I was very inspired by a recent teleclass from Michael Margolis on using storytelling rather than resolutions to get results.  Michael is author of Believe Me - a Storytelling Manifesto for Change-Makers.

Every year I write a list of business goals.  No more than ten and no less than five.  I share these goals with my husband and I place them on my desktop.  Sometimes I embellish the goal plan with stars (to be creative).  Following Business Guru advice, I vow to visit my goals often.  At the end of the year, I tick off those that I've accomplished. 

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Inspiraton Is Everywhere! Tales from a Roving Career Coach

Taste for Passion
Think of Cheese and you may not think of Passion.  Hunger maybe, Greed even – or just Pleasure.  Yet, as I discovered, plenty of Passion permeated Chester’s Food and Drink Festival last weekend.  And I also discovered another important element of working life – Play!

Wandering through the Taste Pavilion, there were plenty of exhibitors displaying a real commitment to excellence.  Most were extremely passionate and articulate, knowledgeable about our gastronomic traditions, and certainly mindful of modern trends and needs.  Many exhibitors were family businesses, Cheshire born and bred, united by their keen shared enthusiasm for enterprise.

And so I found that the Taste Pavilion had set the stage for a wonderfully colourful drama of human engagement, a mix of mastery of tools, expertise and sheer showmanship.

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Your Curriculum Vitae

I've always loved the meaning of curriculum vitae - the flow of life.  Yet somehow I can't reconcile this lovely and inspiring  phrase with its physical manifestation - two to three pages of typewritten A4, a chronological list of dates, qualifications and salaries.

At some mythical career crossroads, this document could be a wonderful statement of knowing, learning and mastery - as you move from one career milestone to the next.  

Yet, we know that people right now are pounding their keyboards, in a desperate attempt to bury the awful truth - that their CV is utterly indistinguishable from hundreds of others.

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My Worst Career Advice Ever - Pt 2


All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

 OK, so I had no plan.  I would just "do Art" and then something would show up.  Couldn't wait to get to Art College.  Had all the necessary accoutrements, portfolio, red hair, Doc Martens, a grant and a student rail pass.  But not a Career Plan.  Forgot to pack that somehow.

I'd always wanted to "do Art".  I loved the mesmerising focus of being absorbed into texture and paint and colour and shape.  I was good at it too.  But the dream had been squashed in favour of something more sensible, and it had to go on hold for 20 years.

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John Whitmore at the ICF Conference London

Sir John Whitmore speaking at the ICF Conference London- the keynote speech

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My Worst Career Advice Ever - Pt 1

Early Days

I've been browsing through graduate career forums and I am struck by the lack of direction and feeling of futility.  Our national talent seems to be stumbling about in the dark, equipped only with Huge Potential, and a clutch of Qualifications.

Yet, careers advisor is now an established career path in itself.  Every school, college and university has a department where you can go for careers advice.  So what's going on?

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Career Coaching - What's the Point?

What can a Career Coaching Programme do for me?

  • Speed up your job search by setting priorities and goals, and developing a more strategic career plan
  • Translate your life and work experience into realistic and rewarding career opportunities
  • Help you to get a better return on your investment of time, effort and money into your qualifications
  • Remove any blocks to your career progress
  • Improve your interviewing, networking and negotiating styles
  • Use selected assessment tools to increase your understanding of your strengths and personal values
  • Help you balance your work and life priorities, and manage stress
  • Help you to advance in your present career into a leadership role
  • Encourage you every step of the way to become “career self-reliant” – and be successful!

What do you want?  Send in your suggestions.

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