Vulnerability and Leadership………………..

Recently, I have been reflecting on the relationship between vulnerability and leadership, for two reasons, really:

One, after years of quoting Brene Brown’s

“You can have courage, or you can have comfort, but you can’t have both”

I finally read, her book Daring Greatly. How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

It certainly helped me to see that increasingly those of us that are called to lead and instigate change cannot expect to be comfortable. Discomfort is most likely to become a familiar companion.

Careerresilience Values 1

Two, observing Theresa May’s speech at the recent Tory party conference and our reaction to it.

It is not my intention or wish to become embroiled in a discussion around politics, but I am curious to understand what this means about how we see leadership and what we expect from our leaders.

Do we expect too much or indeed too little from our leaders?

Do we only want to see vulnerability and human frailty in our leaders, when it suits us, when it feels safe? Is it perhaps our own discomfort with vulnerability that stops us from accepting it in our leaders or others?

Had never really given the idea of vulnerability much thought other than to try and avoid it until I started noticing, people stepping into the ‘arena’ and sharing their stories, their feelings, their values and their why. They were giving us real access to their struggles, their highs, their lows and we the audience seemed to engage and respond to it more.

So, on one level, we like stories and we want to know what goes on ‘behind the scenes’.

But, perhaps on another level we need the reassurance of knowing that our leaders are always on top of things, they are certain about their vision, certain about what needs to be done. And if there are uncertainties and doubts we prefer not to see them.

Perhaps for leaders it’s more about getting the timing and the balance between the two just right.

However, in today’s world of ever increasing change, global instability, economic uncertainty and the ability of news and social media to whip things up in an instant.  I believe it’s unrealistic to expect a leader to have such a clear and untarnished view, the future is not going to be so clearly mapped out. It’s not going to be enough to point the finger and state, ‘that’s where we need to go’. 

It strikes me that leaders may need to take on the role of navigators, prepared to assess the terrain and make the changes as situations evolve. Leaders will need to be agile, open to learning and open to using/utilising the skills and talents of all the people around them.

Careerresilence Nov 2017 1

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown suggests ‘ a leader is anyone who holds her – or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes’.

For me this only partly explains or captures the notion of leadership, so I dug around and picked out three from Lolly Daskels helpful article, 100 answers to the question, what is leadership?

‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ‘ John Quincy Adams

‘ Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others’ – Lance Secretan 

‘ I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers’ – Ralph Nader

Out of the 100 available on Lolly’s list these were the ones that did it for me. I like the idea of leaders supporting, creating and mentoring new leaders. Am totally on board with the idea that real leadership is a human and I would add, humane activity.

If you want to pick out your own favourites, the full article is available here.

It seems self-evident that there is a strong link between vulnerability and leadership, and one that most of us probably accept at one level. If you are going to lead, you are by definition, ‘exposing yourself to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally’.

Might even argue that you can’t really lead unless you are prepared to be vulnerable.

In Daring Greatly, vulnerability is described as:

‘Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. ‘

I love the idea that leadership needs to be present and engaged come what may.

Whatever happens we need our leaders to be all in and perhaps for this to happen we need to accept and celebrate their vulnerabilities and frailties.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Posted in Leadership, Uncategorized, values, Vulnerability | 1 Comment

‘The people you admire, warts an’ all’ ……

Who are the people you have a high regard for, despite their flaws or maybe even because of them? Maybe they have had a strong influence on your life and career choices or played a role in formulating your world view?

I first wrote about this in November 2010, where my list included, Elizabeth I and Scarlet O’Hara, now, seven years on as I review my list I realise that there are certain traits and behaviours these characters may share, that I continue to notice and admire in people today.

Careerresilence tough and focused

So:

To those stubborn and ‘bloody minded’ people I know who just refuse to accept second best – I salute you.

To those whose attention to detail and determination to get things right, drives me mad at times – I salute you.

To those who are completely committed to their cause and uncompromising in their pursuit of excellence – I salute you.

To the people who continue to try and give things a go, and don’t allow their age and gender to limit them – I salute you

To the quietly determined people, who don’t posture and impose but get things done on their terms – I salute you.

To those people whose strength of character shows up in regular acts of kindness and compassion – I salute you.

To those who have the courage to stand up and be counted, in the face of social media and everything else – I salute you.

And my list today would still include:

Careerresilience Sept 22 2017

Elizabeth, I –  I am still completely captivated and fascinated by this monarch, impressed by her intellect and bravery, especially in the early years of her reign. Elizabeth managed to keep her wits about her when accused by her sister Mary of plotting to overthrow her. And I have always wondered, what must it have been like growing up knowing that your father was responsible for the death of your mother, yet still having to show him due reverence and respect at his court. Then having to constantly adapt to an ever-changing political reality.

Scarlet O’Hara – Maybe not a politically correct choice, but as the original exercise allowed for fictional characters, I included her because when the ‘chips were down’ with food shortages and other deprivations this spoiled, pampered girl, rolled up her sleeves and simply did what was needed to keep food on the table. Even as things look grim right at the end, her determined optimism, “Tomorrow is another day” still resonates with me today.

Winston Churchill – In my view, the right man for the right job at exactly the right time. He clearly had to make some very tough decisions, in some very tough times. Whilst also rallying a nation behind him with some truly inspiring speeches. For me it is enough to say, “cometh the hour, cometh the man”.

My Gran –  because she lived her life to the beat of her own drum and was her own woman. Fun, mischievous, incredibly beautiful and a little bit of a Diva, I think.

And now I would also add:

Diane Abbott – simply because she came back and is still in public office doing her thing, despite the media storm during the last election.

To all these people I salute you………….

So, there you have it, who would you have on your list?

Until next time
Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Adapted from original post in https://pittabread.wordpress.com/

 

 

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It’s never just about the notes or the words..

The similarities between working as a coach and learning to play the piano…

Have been learning to play the piano for about seven years now, the first three of which I had an amazing piano teacher, Emily.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons it was not possible for me to continue with weekly lessons. Luckily for me,  I realised very quickly that even though Emily wasn’t with me physically, she did in fact leave me with an ‘internal’ piano teacher and I still hear her ‘teaching’ at points when I am practising.

Careerresilience July 1 2017

Emily, left me with enough knowledge, experience and motivation to continue practising and learning new pieces on my own. Which is what I have been doing for the past three years. My plan is to go back to lessons when circumstances permit, but for the moment I have enough to be ‘going on’ with.

So, this for me is what coaching is all about, helping people to develop their inner resources and their ‘internal’ coach.

When I first started out as a career coach seventeen years ago, my intention was to help people to create a long-term vision for their career and develop the habits and approaches that would help get them there.

This still holds true, today.

People would get what they needed to ‘fly and soar‘ with their careers, it was rarely just about the immediate job, but more about helping people to build for their futures.

So, getting back to my piano lessons, when I first started I was expecting to learn how to play the piano and just follow the notes.

Thankfully Emily, very quickly put me straight, with:

‘I can teach you to play and then I can teach you to play

Which for Emily was about sharing her vast knowledge, experience and understanding of music. It was never just about the notes, it seems obvious now but this wasn’t what I was expecting when I first started with lessons.

Bit like coaching really, it’s not just about the words that are being said.

She taught me to get a feel and understanding for a piece of music before leaping in to learn the notes. She taught me about articulation and dynamics two of the things that add variety, movement and colour to a piece of music.

Very much like hearing someone’s story, the rhythm and movement add layers of meaning to what is being said.

She also taught me how to look for and identify patterns, something you can only generally do if you ‘stand back’ and look at the ‘whole’ first. This meant I could generally reduce the time and effort needed to learn a piece of music.

My go to place April 2017

As a coach, ‘standing back‘ gives me the perspective needed to identify and challenge unhelpful patterns or acknowledge/celebrate helpful ones.

She also taught me how to quickly identify and focus on the problem bars of music. So, instead of getting stuck at the same part and then repeatedly going all the way back to the beginning each time to get stuck all over again. Emily taught me to stay with the difficult sections, even if it were just two bars in a whole sheet of music. She taught me that getting these problem bars right first, would move me on so much more quickly.

There are times, I think when we get so busy working around an issue, that we sometimes find it ‘easier‘ to go all the way back to the beginning and get stuck in the same place, all over again. Rather than sticking with and working through the issue once and for all.

Emily also taught me how to integrate the problem bars into the rest of the music. So, having perfected them I could then add them in, ‘bit by bit’ and then move into and through them, seamlessly.

When I think about this in  terms of coaching, this might mean that my clients may well find that they too can ‘weave’ solutions seamlessly into the rest of their lives or at the very least, understand and see clearly the consequences and the full impact of their ‘solution’.

So, there you have it.

It’s never just about the notes or the words…….

And I look forward to continuing on with both my piano playing and coaching, over the coming years.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Posted in coaching, hobbies, Personal Development, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What keeps you going, when times are tough?

What keeps you going when times are tough and work isn’t going so well or it just feels like you are ‘wading through treacle’? Your progress seems inordinately slow and you might even wonder if you are in fact moving backward.

I know for me, there is a certain stubbornness in my nature, (I don’t always want to admit I might be on the wrong track).

There is a certain level of ‘grit’, in my makeup and I also know that there are times when I need to get my head down, put the work in and just keep going.

Sometimes the break through comes at the moment you least expect it,  the ‘darkest hour is just before the dawn’- Thomas Fuller.

How many people have given up just at the point they were about to reach their ‘breakthrough’?

So, how might you be able to encourage and support yourself when times are tough?

Careerresilience June 2017

Well it might not hurt to:

Check your perspective, are you really making so little headway? How realistic are your plans and expectations, are you hoping for too much too soon? Or are you in fact playing too small, I do seriously wonder whether it is easier to just go for the ‘humongous’ dreams.

It may be that your vision or your dream is simply not big enough. Take a look at an earlier post, ‘Making sure your dreams are big enough’ post here

Check in with your values, is what you are trying to do in alignment with who you are and the things you really stand for? A lack of progress might well be a big clue to this, you may well have propped your career ladder up against the wrong wall. It just might not be the right thing for you.

Check your timing, so much of life I think is about timing and serendipity. Perhaps there is some additional learning and training that you need to undertake first. You may well be stretching yourself too thinly and not giving your project the energy and focus it really needs.

Check your pathway, is it time to adjust your approach? This might be when you need to ‘Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach’ – Tony Robbins

Check your process, similar in some ways to the point above, but if you know you have the right elements in place then ‘let go of the outcome’ and focus on the doing. Sometimes this is the only way to proceed, just keep going and trust that the process you are following is right for you.

Check your destination, is it still where you want to go? Maybe somewhere along the way you have simply changed your mind, but possibly not quite acknowledged it.

Check your self-talk, what are you saying to yourself about your progress or lack of? Would you allow someone else to talk to you like that?

So, whether you are:

  • On the hunt for a different job
  • In pursuit of your first role
  • Making a complete change of role, career
  • Looking for that first break
  • Waiting for that first piece of work as a new business owner
  • Chasing your dream

It is worth remembering that sometimes, life is a bit of a marathon, for some situations there are no quick fixes, no sprints to the finish.

Be kind to yourself and accept that you are most likely doing the best you can.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS if you have time and enjoy singing take a look at one of our songs from Brighton Goes Gospel, our version of the Mary, Mary song I can’t give up now.

Hope you enjoy

Posted in career change, kindness, Personal Development, Resilience, values | Leave a comment

What happens when someone asks for our help?……………..

First wrote about kindness in the workplace, last October  and have been prompted to write again as I have observed that increasingly people are sharing their vulnerability or simply just asking for help, on the LinkedIn platform.

Have been fascinated by the reactions and responses to these posts, which in general have ranged from the encouraging, ‘keep at it. Don’t give up’; through to signposting to helpful information, right through to offers of practical help.

All of which, from what I can see has been gratefully received, but it has made me reflect on how we might respond when faced with a direct request for help.

What options are available to us and how do we decide how involved to become?

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Seems to me there are at least three options available to us:

Offering advice: 

We might choose to offer advice and guidance, fully expecting that the person is then able to go off and follow it. Perhaps also hoping that, by in large that will be the end of our involvement. We’ve supplied the ‘necessary’ information and that should be enough.

It might be our way of dispensing wisdom and then walking away – with no further involvement.

Offering help: 

We might in some circumstances choose to jump in and ‘do’, from our perspective the person needs immediate help and support. They wouldn’t have asked otherwise and we might have just what they need. We may even want to rescue them and perhaps become the ‘hero’ of the hour.

Mixing the two:

Or indeed we might choose a combination of the two, perhaps in our assessment of the individual and the situation they are facing we have identified the ‘parts’ that we can advise and guide on, and those where we might have to become a bit more involved.

Ignore completely:

Almost forgot this option, ironic really and you’ll see why at the end of the post. We may for a whole host of reasons, simply choose to ignore and move on.

Clearly every situation is different, our reactions and responses will depend on who is asking, how they are asking and the very nature of the problem they are seeking help with. And that’s without even factoring in, you and how you might be feeling.

I wonder if at times we rush in to help or offer advice, seeing the problem but not necessarily fully seeing the person in front of us.

So now I am considering is it kinder to consider the request from this perspective? Is it kinder to look more closely and listen more carefully to the person asking for help and really weigh what they might need?

Is it kinder to take a bit of time to assess when to step in and provide help and when to offer guidance or indeed when to offer a combination of both?

Kindness comes in many guises, sometimes it’s kinder to offer advice and keep some distance and sometimes it’s certainly kinder to ‘ roll up your sleeves and get ‘stuck in ‘.

The other thing I would say about kindness, is that it needs to be real, if you genuinely for whatever reason cannot offer it at that moment in time, then be honest and offer what you can. Life has taught me that in general people can only offer what they have.

How often in your life and career have you wanted/needed help and instead received advice?

Advice can be great, extremely useful and timely but there are times when what people need is help, hands on, involved, side by side help.

On the other hand……

How often have you been seeking, guidance advice only to have someone jump in and start doing for you?

Perhaps there is a fine line between taking over and ‘walking with someone’ until they are steadier.

Have you always been fully present and willing to help when required?

And here I do have to come clean, haven’t always done this, can think of one work situation where I just did not heed the request for help.  It’s still with me to this day, despite the years and a situation I will not allow to happen again.

So, there you have it, until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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Energy, engagement and enjoyment, Part two

Part one originally was originally published in October 2015 , so time I think to return to this topic and consider more deeply what might lie behind someone having attained a high level of skill in their field and yet experience little or no joy in applying it.

A couple of things spring to mind regarding this:

I wonder about ‘profound boredom’ and how people might reach this point. Is it just about the loss of excitement, fun and interest, they had in the early days?

And what does it mean to be ‘profoundly bored’, regardless of the root cause?

Careerresilience Oct 3

In conventional usage, boredom is an emotional or psychological state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, is not interested in his or her surroundings, or feels that a day or period is dull or tedious.”

For me this becomes profound, when there is seemingly no end to it and it appears to permeate every fibre of your being.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boredom

However, I also wonder whether it is possible for a person to become so ‘bone weary’, they no longer have the capacity or the energy to fully engage and enjoy the work they are doing. They may well be operating for much of the time on ‘auto pilot’.

My third thought is around ‘values’, and the possibility that there is mismatch between the individual’s values and those of their organisation. Their ‘boredom’ with the work and or organisation might well stem from a growing sense that the ‘work’ no longer holds any real meaning for them.

There is for me something about ongoing boredom and lack of challenge that can over time, perniciously sap confidence and self-esteem.

We can reach a pinnacle, enjoy the view for a while and then start to ask ourselves, what and where next?

And yet, though ‘boredom can be a dangerous and disruptive state of mind’ what might it be trying to tell you? Is it time to ‘shake things up’ and set some new goals?  Time to make some radical changes?  How bad does it have to get?

In his article, ‘Why boredom is bad and good for you” –  David Robson examines the idea of boredom and what it might mean in evolutionary terms. The purpose it might serve, particularly in relation to our ‘curiosity’.

So being bored might well ‘stop us ploughing the same old furrow, and push us to try to seek new goals or explore new territories or ideas’

To read the article in full, please click here.

Examples that I can think of might be surgeons who go into countries where their skills are in short supply and work there.

Project managers, nurses and other professionals who decide to apply their skills to go and set up orphanages, hospitals, clinics…

Lawyers and advocates who might grow tired of ‘billable hours’ and decide to apply their skills in completely new ways, ways that they deem to make a difference.

Appropriate challenge and growth, are what’s needed as I don’t believe we are built or designed to remain in ‘limbo’ for long periods. We live in one of two conditions, we are either moving forwards or we are moving backwards.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Posted in career change, Career decisions, Personal Development, Uncategorized, values | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bold and ‘Badass’ or Fierce and Free? …

What words would you use to describe your ‘inner Diva’?

I was fascinated, recently to come across Jackie Huba’s TedTalk; ‘Unleash the power of your inner drag queen’.

In her talk, Jackie, describes the events that led her to becoming a ‘drag queen’ and the impact it had on her career and  life.

..female drag queen, Jackie Huba delivers a talk that showcases the need to embrace the transformative abilities of your flexible personas. Recorded at TEDx Vancouver at Rogers Arena on November 14, 2015”

To watch Jackie’s talk, click here.

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Seeing this talk, reminded me of the phrase, often associated with self-confidence ‘fake it until you make it‘. Must admit, I have always struggled a little with this concept and have  never been quite able to make up my mind over it.

But the idea of adopting a ‘persona’, that might support the development and enhancement of self-confidence and self-esteem is another idea altogether.

So, I hit the books and ‘Google’ for some definitions:

1)The aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.

‘her public persona’

Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/persona

2) a) an assumed identity or character. b) (in Jungian psychology) the mechanism that conceals a person’s true thoughts and feelings, especially in his {her} adaption to the outside world. (Latin: mask)

Source: The Collins English Dictionary, ISBN 0 00 433135-4

I was interested to find the definitions suggesting that a ‘persona’ is an aspect of your character and that you can choose to present it publicly. The second definition is interesting too as it suggests that an individual for right or wrong, might adopt a ‘persona’ to hide from the world what they truly think and feel.

You could also argue that a ‘persona’ could just as easily be used to do the exact opposite. It might even make it ‘easier’ and perhaps more ‘acceptable’ for certain messages to be shared.

So, having watched Jackie Huba’s talk, and listened to her speak on another platform I became more curious about my own ‘persona’, and how she might emerge a bit more often to support me in my life and work.

And so, today, I’m choosing to look at my own ‘persona‘, who happens to be a bit of a ‘Diva’, and is that unreasonable, outrageous and ‘out there’ part of my character that emerges only very occasionally.  I did as Jackie suggested and thought hard about the people I have admired over the years and remembered I had written about this a few years ago, in a post:

People you admire, warts and all,  to read click here.

It turns out that my ‘Diva’ is a mixture of Madonna (Madge would, definitely feature now), Elizabeth Ist, Winston Churchill and my Gran.

In my head I see a ‘cigar toting’, black woman, who owns an extensive collection of Afro wigs and takes ‘no sh*t’.

careerresilence-3-feb-2017

Her name in honour of my gran is Miss Winnie, though I need to state categorically that my gran would disapprove of the swearing and the cigar.

And before anyone writes in, this is my persona ‘warts and all’ so it’s fine if you don’t like her, just go and create your own.

But, this is all very well and good, but when might I choose to access Miss Winnie and bring her out to support me?

Or indeed, put her back in her box?

I’m noticing that she is emerging more as I get older, certainly in my writing and how I tell my story.

I might bring her out a bit more when I’m networking and presenting myself and my business. Miss Winnie is starting to get a bit more involved with my parenting. Sometimes this is helpful and sometimes, not so much.

There may even be times when she emerges whilst I’m coaching, who knows?

More broadly, you might choose to access your own ‘Diva’ when you need to:

  • Make an important presentation
  • Ask the tough questions or deal with the ‘elephant in the room’
  • Manage feelings of fearfulness and overwhelm
  • Assert yourself professionally or personally, when feeling intimidated by a person or situation
  • Say no – when you need to say no…
  • Say yes – when you need to say yes..
  • Accept who you are ‘warts and all’…

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS I also want to acknowledge and thank Joy Marsden for her inspiring talk at the Phil Jones, Professional Network Marketers event I was lucky enough to attend in January, this year. Joy’s talk was all about Stepping Up, Stepping Out and Standing Out. To find out more visit her site: Joy Marsden

 

 

Posted in Personal Development, Self-confidence | Leave a comment