Courage

  • Read this when you feel like you’re not enough

    I worked with Ann as her coach as she was considering transitioning roles with her employer. She loved her specialism, her team and the clients she worked with. She enjoyed seeing her juniors grow into their talents and delivering new approaches to working in her clients’ organisations.

    People wanted to be on her team and saw her as a role model of female management. Seniors had high hopes she’d be a rising star and become a Partner in due time. She commuted long hours and worked on the journeys to ensure everything was done to exacting standards. Her mobile was connected 24/7 just in case.

    Just in case, anyone found her out. Ann feared being found as a fake, failing to achieve some invisible target or standard. She feared letting down her friends and family. Maybe she would be seen as lacking, not credible, not worthy of their time, respect or affection.

    But Ann wanted more. More in her career and more in her life. We worked on busting those doubts and building empowering ways forward to create clarity, confidence and spaciousness.

    Not enough: queue of people, one woman who is looking pensive

    Do you recognise those kind of behaviours, thoughts and feelings too? That nagging sense of you’re not enough can be fleeting or more constant.

    It might manifest in your body as an ache or cramp. It might affect your behaviours, such as avoiding eye contact or not engaging in discussions. You may find your thinking becomes foggier, hesitating in procrastination or self-critical. It’s also possible you might engage in people pleasing tactics or try to prove yourself by working extra hard.

    All of these are where your inner Protector is working to keep you safe. It shows up for good reasons – you’ve identified potential risks. Maybe it is the possibility of being judged or rejected? Or the levels of complexity have gotten overwhelming.  You may fear disappointment – of others or yourself.

    Your Protector has one purpose to help you avoid pain, upset, discomfort. It wants the very best for you. It supports your day to day healthy adult self to be, think and feel all the good stuff in life, and help you build resilience to the not so good stuff.

    Not enough: seated queue of people. One woman looking anxious as she waits.

    So when that icky feeling of not enough crops up or you spot yourself behaving or saying things that aren’t your authentic self, I want you to pause and slow breathing. You may even find closing your eyes helps you to connect with yourself. Lightly hold the sensations and feelings you’re experiencing for a moment and notice how as you breathe, they lessen their grip on you physically and mentally.

    The Protector has no way to make your fears real. It simply wants to signal a risk to you. It isn’t the truth. So, what can you learn from your Protector?

    Get specific – what exactly do you feel you’re not enough of? In what ways and in what circumstance?
     
    Then flip it, when and how are you specifically enough, maybe even more than enough? How do you feel in that moment? What are you thinking and doing (not doing)? What do you believe? Make a note of this belief.
     
    What can you choose to take from those moments into this uncomfortable one? How can you think, feel and do differently with that supportive, empowering belief? If you act from that belief what is possible? 
     

    Hey guess what? The icky sensation of not enough has passed. You’re back in your more resourceful, powerful self, capable of compassion towards yourself and others, and able to take a small doable step forward. So, go on, take that true authentic step.

    Not enough: women with head in her hands with people hodling out mobile, notepad, watch to her

    His Holiness The Dalai Lama proclaimed at the Vancouver Peace summit in 2010, “The Western Woman Will Save The World”. He continued championing female leadership last year for International Women’s Day, saying “Since they are especially skilled in nurturing compassion and human values, we need women to take the lead in creating a more compassionate society.” 

    You are a much needed person on this planet with all its challenges – you bring something no one else has or can do in your way. You are valued and loved in every way. We need more women, like you, to step out and lead – at home with their families and friends, in the workplace to drive collaboration and inclusivity, and in our wider communities such as sports clubs, religious groups and social activities.

    You are needed. You are brilliant just as you are. You are enough. Come as you are.

  • In scary times, leverage your feminine energy to lead yourself and others effectively

    A change to the planned blog -with the events in Ukraine, I feel compelled to switch out my cheery topic and simply be present to this heartbreaking, challenging time our Ukrainian peers are facing.

    Like me, I’m sure you have seen the coverage of babies being born in makeshift wards in underground stations, mothers and wives making cargo nets, and families fleeing their homes. Equally, the faces of young Russian men sobbing on camera and saying this is not my war, this is not what I want to do, but I’m being forced. 

    Now, I’m not about to head into a politicised essay. I do want to acknowledge the devastation, helplessness and upset I feel as maybe you do too. I want to share some thoughts on what might help you lead yourself and others through scary times.

    The first image is the Motherland Monument in the central square of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Ironically it marks the end of an earlier war and now finds itself at the centre of current actions. A brave woman, standing in her sovereign power, looking at at the possibilities the future holds and focusing in on her vision. I see a female leader, who knows her people’s pains, exhaustion and fear and still she stands to serve them, providing clarity and direction.

    Leading in scary times: Ukraine's Motherland Statue with a clear blue sky behind her.

    From a Powertype perspective in this frozen moment, she’s our Queen – a role model in prioritising her needs without guilt in order to give her best self to her realm, whether that’s her family, her church group, her charity buddies or her team at work. Her best is in using her talents of advice and counsel then discerning the most impactful course to set before inspiring others’ desire for future outcomes, joys and benefits.

    In scary times, ask yourself what is your vision for you and for your realm? What do you need to know or discover to make decisions and create clarity? What do you need to be your best self?

    If you imagine this statue had been a real woman, she would also be leaning into her Lover and Mother Powertypes. 

    For yourself, Lover provides the invite to others to join your efforts with her warmth and ability to truly see people for who they are. She sells the sizzle of excitement of what membership means. Her expressive nature allows for emotions to be felt, space for vulnerability to be shared and integrity through action. |for herself, she creates her own time to explore and release emotions and soothe tensions in her body, mind and soul through self-care.

    In scary times, ask yourself how can you bring life, creativity and emotional engagement to the vision? Where are the energy levels at – for you and your people? What replenishment is needed?

    Mother’s unconditionality allows people to belong, regardless of who they are, what they can do, where they have come from. She is the home for psychological safety – to be, to do and to speak up without fear of judgement or persecution. Celebrating successes and nurturing growth as cheerleader, coach and teacher fall into Mother’s sweet spot of strengths. Her children, colleagues and friends can feel her trust and belief in them – calling the best forth in each of them in a firm but fair way.

    In scary times, ask yourself what you can do to build an even stronger sense of belong and acceptance? How can you encourage performance? What can you offer yourself to feel safe?

    Leading in scary times: a white woman with blond hair, hiding behind a door resisting entering the room

    These three are supported by the feminine power sources of Warrioress and Sorceress.

    The firestarter of action is Warrioress; she sees the necessary steps within the chaos of change, heighten emotions and confusion, delegating with care and seizing the opportunities to move forward with a pacey agility. Her fierce advocacy for her people is legendary – she will defend and hold the boundaries necessary to achieve the Queen’s vision for the realm. Her hand are dirty as she leads side by side to her people. 

    In scary times, ask yourself what small doable actions can we take? How can you create flow between the tasks and the people, bearing in mind where they are at? Can you protect yourself and your people from challenging emotions, unhelpful distractions and overwhelm?

    Sorceress has a secret weapon for scary times. Her grounded nature and connection the potentiality of the Universe. She says yes to innovation and new approaches, untying the knots holding progress back. When you watch a leader connected to her Source, you can’t really see or observe her process – she just knows what comes next, sees where the hitch lies or spot the patterns. Almost like a kinda of magically wisdom. She is more faith-driven than evidence-driven – her “hunches” tend to prove to be right. Time seems to move differently around her.

    In scary times, ask yourself what you can do to increase your faith and connection to your Source? Can you listen to that whisper of inspiration, a-ha or wisdom? When could you trust your gut in ambiguous or fast moving times?

    Leading in scary times: a diverse team, standing in a block formation, looking off to the right. They look focused with a mix of courage and fear

    Leadership also requires masculine energy to thrive – you may need short specific orders or to leverage competitive natures. During scary times, especially emergencies a more masculine take on Warrioress’ JFDI nature or Queen’s preference for consultation can keep people safe. However, Mother’s nurturing, Lover’s compassion and their combined powers to meet others where they are and support them can also be a real boon.

    Whilst you may not be faced with the reality of the Ukraine, change happens to us all. It can be terrifying, triggering and tip us into the disempowering archetypes of Bitch, Martyr or Victim, my hypothesis is leveraging the Women’s Powertype will give you additional energy, effectiveness and a greater sense of resourcefulness and self-belief.

    Travel with an open heart and compassion this week, my friends – we are stronger together, when we lean in. 

    If you feel unsure of how to help, please check out Sara Price’s excellent advice on contacting your MP and if you have the ability, you could donate to the Red Cross’s humanitarian appeal

  • Nobody is perfect so why am I trying to be?

    Perfectionism comes in many disguises, yet is logically impossible to achieve. Whilst we all know that, we don’t necessarily believe it right into every cell in our body.

    We hear praise heaped on the “perfect” ones and wonder why we weren’t included. We see those with the perfect looks, figure or voice getting picked from the crowd, when we want to be the one. We watch other more perfect team mates get opportunities, promotions and bonuses that we crave.

    I know these stories. As a Pilates teacher, my story is the way I look as I demonstrate equals my credibility to teach – if I wobble or my tummy pops out, then my students will have less faith in me. As a daughter, my story is that I’m too sensitive to belong as that’s what has been said to me when I get upset. As a Coach, my story is I should be the example of the authenticity, vitality, joy that my clients crave or why would they work with me?

    None of these are true, but it doesn’t stop me trying to be perfect. Can you relate? What stories do you hold to be true about perfectionism?

    Perfectionism: Woman with her hand over her eyes, looking tired and frustrated with the task ahead of her

    Why do we believe perfectionism is important?

    It protects us by giving us a sense of purpose and control, as well as an excuse. It protects us from feeling big emotions like shame, failure or even joy. It protects us by enabling strategies like avoidance, fantasising or overworking. 

    We believe in perfectionism as an ideal, an absolute or right way, something to aspire to.  We believe it will allow us to fit in, to meet the standards and expectations of us, to satisfy those around us of our value or worth.

    Perfectionism pairs beautifully with over working and over giving. That bitchy mode we sometimes find ourselves in with ourselves and with others or the martyrdom we create to feel needed as we rescue people, tasks or events.  Let’s not forget it goes hand in hand with unleashing our critic’s irritation in our perceived slips or trips.

    Perfectionism: Mixed race woman, sested in front of a bright orange wall. She's looking at her laptop in frustration with her right hand raised.

    Where you try to be perfect?

    I’ve noticed my perfectionism shows up in differently in different aspects of my life and more strongly when I’ve not met my needs. Is it similar for you?

    Anything work related I tip into either do more and more depending on how confident and comfortable I am with the task to avoid negative feedback, judgement or disappointment. Or I avoid doing anything all together if things I am really invested in but feel unsure how to move forward.

    With my loved ones, I have tended to become all consumed with overgiving and burning myself out in order to feel loved and a sense of belonging. 

    Avoidance also crops up for me when I believe I can’t achieve my personal desires and thus risk feeling inadequate or like I’m letting myself down. It opens up a raft of excuses I can use to deflect decisions, avoid action and fake acceptance of my “lot”.

    Take a moment to reflect on the last week – where did perfectionism show up for you? What did you do or not do? How did your thinking and feeling change? What was the story you were telling yourself?

     

    Perfectionism: woman on white sofa, arm outstraetch across the back and her head hanging back.

    I’ve been reminded this week of the saying “done is better than perfect” as my desire for perfectionism before I launch a new idea has kicked in. 

    I’ve moved forward slowly last week – I’m nearly done and it feels good. My story of the “perfect” I should achieve isn’t true and I can play with new ways forward safely. Can you?

  • What would change if you defined success on your own terms?

    From an early age, we seek meaning. In our interactions with others. Things we see happen to others. The words we hear spoken by public figures. It’s a very normal human behaviour.

    We like stories. Those we create ourselves. Some we pick up from others around us. The stories of historical events and people.

    Not all of them are grounded in truth or factual evidence. I mean the best bedtime stories as a kid were the most imaginative like when we trampolined on the moon and ate marshmallow pies whilst our pet dog played the guitar. how cool was that story, right?

    Our brains are wired for spotting potential risks and clusters of data that suggest that risk is likely to occur. It’s our Protector’s way of shielding us from the risk of disappointment, failure, rejection, judgement, complexity, success or conflict.

    Perhaps even reading that list makes your toes curl or your stomach cramp up. 

    We’re asked to define what we want to achieve quite often – by our managers in appraisals or development conversations, by our families with regards to our careers, marital or parental status or financial circumstances, by our peer group as we grow up and even by society through the news, magazine and social media contributors. These are all foundation for stories we tell ourselves.

    three women smiling and walking towards you after suceeding in the meeting they just left

    I’ll never meet their expectations.

    I’m not good enough to do that.

    It will never happen for me.

    I’m not worthy of that.

    They’d never forgive me if…….

    None would consider me that way.

    So, what do our stories tell us about how we define what success is? Well, the stories above are pretty skinny – the former consultant in me wants to shout “where’s your evidence?”. “Eek you got me”.  That story is likely based on few data points. 

    Let me give you an example. A client I’m working with struggles to set career intentions. Why? A teacher once told her “You’ll come to nothing”. and it’s stuck with her. It is a story her Protector whispers in her ear when new roles or projects that are perfectly suited for her talents and strengths – just in case the risk of rejection, disappointment and yes, success might happen.

    She has other stories that tell her success is likely to cause further risks. It simply isn’t safe to try to become something.

    Yet, she is a well respected senior leader in a well known blue-chip company, with a supportive, diverse culture, she has a loving partnership and is a fabulous mom to a little one. Hmmm, perhaps there is another side of this story her Protector fails to take into account. She is someone and she has experienced successes.

    Working together, she was able to change the story she was telling herself, along with the protective belief and its associated feelings and actions. She’s chase down her ideal role within the company and launched a huge strategic programme which will significantly change the way her department functions. Her relationships with her partner and child are liberated as she’s doing them on her terms and as a side effect, her stress levels are down, as she’s sleeping more easily and enjoying looking after her wellbeing. You can see her radiating a new found self-confidence and faith in herself.

     

    Woman in blue jumpsuit standing painting on an easel. Lots of blue tones of swirling sea

    I’m curious – do you have stories like this one and would you like to change how your Protector is  telling it?

    Grab yourself paper and pen. Select one aspect of your life that is important to you right now – eg career or work, intimate relationship, finances, wellbeing, learning or growth, friends, spiritual, fun, travel, volunteering, community, creative outlet.

    I want you to imagine that you are fully resourced, everything you need is available for you. For that aspect, define what great would look and feel like as well as what you’d be doing with ease and the outcomes you are getting. Try to be as specific as you can. What do you want deep down inside for yourself? (Top tip: if you get stuck on how it feels, why not look at an emotions wheel? Here’s one I shared previously.)

    You can repeat this for other aspects of your life.

    Now you have your definitions, do check in with the stories your Protector is telling you. Are they yours? Or did you hear them told in your family, workplace or community? Maybe they are memories of others’ experiences you witnessed and stored away.

    One final question: what other stories could be true? (If you need to find new evidence – why not experiment? It’s a brilliant way to challenge your library of stories.)

     

    Black multi-generational family gathered around kitchen island, celebrating with a feast and cake

    I’m excited to be launching a new standalone coaching session – it has 3 parts: a questionnaire, a 90-minute session and a 30-minute accountability call about 4-6 weeks later. These will specifically help you tackle your difficult stories and bust them – you’ll leave feeling liberated, confident and motivated to make change happen. 

    These sessions are based on the in-depth, research-backed training I’ve been doing with Sas Petherick, Master Coach and founder of the Self-Belief School – having been coached by her and my practice pod in exactly this, I can tell you the difference it has made to my stories is immense!

    If you know your stories block you from achieving your success, revealing your true authentic self or finding more joy and want to be one of the first, drop me a line at sarae@saraepratt.com

  • How to make decisions when you feel uncertain

    At the start of any year, there are lots of articles, blogs and social media posts talking about new year resolutions suggesting you become a new you, a thinner you, a better you…….. Resolutions create feelings of self-doubt, anxiety or failure. Often they are reliant on negative motivations – ie away from what we don’t want, rather than what we do. They tend to induce “black and white” thinking when life is mostly filled with a variety of shares of thinking.

    You can probably guess I’m not a fan of the whole new year resolution thing.

    We often face a mix of certainty and uncertainty in our lives, our careers and our many relationships, which gets me to the point of today’s musings: how to make decisions when you feel uncertain.

    I want to share 3 ideas to help you make decisions when you feel uncertain.

    Stop the going round and round

    Picture this: you’re at the supermarket, looking at the shelves filled with things to go on toast: jams, marmalades, peanut butter, almond butter, marmite and vegemite, all kinds of honey, chocolate spreads, and on the choices go. What do you pick? Something familiar and certain but not aligned with your needs or something new, which you might not like yet provides you with extra goodness. You go round and round in your head – which one!?!?

    The fancy name for this is analysis paralysis, or to you and me, overthinking. We try to think of every possibility, concern, bump in the night that might occur given the right circumstances – however unlikely, improbable, or even untruthful.

    Of course, I’m not saying decide something without considering the reasonable impacts – absolutely mitigate any risks or potentially negative impacts but then just pick the best option. Spread it on your toast and there’s your feedback: if you like it, great and if not, move to your next best decision. By elimination, you’ll hit gold.

    Become an explorer

    Do you remember the advert where you were told to “suck it and see”? By reframing your decision into a series of adventurous experiments, you benefit in ways beyond creating certainty around your decision. You also build momentum and motivation as you progress through.

    Making experimentation part of your journey towards achieving your experiment can reduce the stress and worries about making the wrong decision. 

    Let’s say you’re enjoying your current role and know you’d like further promotions in the future and then an offer comes along before you’re ready.

    By adding in regular career adventures, you can better understand your potential future directions and work out whether the offers, companies and bosses who come your way are the ones you wish to work with. Perhaps you read up on trends or from gurus and influencers in your field. You could take a broad range of training courses to dip your toes in new skills and new arenas or maybe you can work shadow leaders you admire. 

    Each adventure adds new certainty to your career path, so when decisions are required, you can do so from a place of knowledge and experience.

    Involve others

    I’ve often talked about the value of your connections, both your formal and informal networks and communities. Who are your advisors, your listening ears, your wise women? 

    As part of my coaching and training, I use a tool called One of many Conscious Network Design – by actively looking at the pillars of our lives, we can identify who has a back in each area, as well as our sponsors, experts, mentors and practical supporters.

    Do an audit of your connections and the role they play in your decision-making area: let’s say you want to make a change to how you meet your physical needs you need to know:

    – who is an expert in nutrition, sleep, exercise? 

    – who can hold your hand to try new things or go new places?

    – who can provide help to free up your time or cheer you on? 

    – who will hold you accountable on the wobbly days?

    and so on. Expand your thinking: your network can also include people you haven’t met. I value Dr Rangan Chattergee‘s wellbeing books, as much as Fearne Cotton‘s podcast on it – I don’t personally or professionally know them (yet?!), but they form part of my network.

    There you have it 3 ways of how to make decisions when you feel uncertain. Have you set resolutions or intentions this year and how are you dealing with uncertainty? Which of my suggestions might you try?

  • Dream, create and plan your new year

    The horizon with the new year on it is tantalisingly near. Just a few weeks away after the festivities and all they bring. Then beyond are the hopes, expectations and perhaps also some doubts about what the new year holds.

    For me, I’m enjoying wrapping up this year and dreaming about what could be on and beyond that first horizon. I’m preparing to start next year strong and this week, I hope to inspire you to consider how you want to approach your new year.

    You’ve heard me say it before – start by replenishment first. I’m planning extra early nights, long walks by the river, extra greens and fluids (not including bubbles or Baileys!). I’m dancing and singing my way through Christmas tunes (This playlist is my current wintery favourite) with my gals, the five One of many Women’s Powertypes. I’ve got time with loved friends and family planned in, as well as time just for me on my own.

    Next, I’ve created a wall of flip chart papers. I’m trusting in Source to help me add, build and create what could be in my new year – for work, for fun, for love, for my continued growth, for the causes I care about and so on. Every time a possibility, idea, or carryover from this year (and last if I’m honest) I make a note on the left hand side. At this point, I leave any critiquing or validating out until I’m all poured out. You might not need a whole wall – a life of being a trainer and writing on flip charts means my handwriting is pretty large and a tad messy – you might find a couple of A4 sheets or a favourite notebook works for you. You might like to write, draw or use images from magazines or photos from your phone – you do you ☺️

    I have two half days booked to explore, refine and plan from that wall of potential pieces of my new year. I stock up with my favourite tea, wrap up in my cosiest comfy clothes and select a soundtrack. Again, you may need less time or prefer to do it on one “sitting” and do it in your favourite coffee shop or  coworking space (I like the window seats at the top of the Royal Festival Hall or the cafe in Tate Britain or Tate Modern)

    The first half day is feeling into what could be – read through it all and tuning into what emotion comes up. Fear? Excitement? Uncomfortable? Itching to dig in? Anger? Committed? Understanding how each item makes me feel helps me judge it’s importance and value to me – I know the best intentions needs to include some stretch, as well as some easy wins for me to grow. That said some journaling or a belief challenge and release can be helpful (I teach these tools as part of my coaching programmes if you’re curious)

    Anything that hits my mark gets a circle around it to “prioritise” it for the next step.

    Then I bring my Queen’s clarity, structuring and discernment to bear. I prioritise again – this time for work, for life, for me. The questions I use is “will this bring me joy?” and “how is this aligned with my authentic self’s desires and needs?” My top 3 priorities for each area answer those two questions completely and without hesitation.

    The second half day brings up the Warrioress’ playful planning, tempered with a helping hand from Mother and Lover to ensure I put me at the centre of my choices and plans without risking overwhelm, stress and burnout. I sketch out a rough flow by month, adding anything that is time-specific first – such as a birthday trip or an exhibition I want to visit. Some prioritises may need chunking up into manageable chunks or detailed considerations to work out the “how” of the “what”.

    I also include regular review time where I can sit back and focus on how I’m travelling on, what is working well, what I need to adapt or ditch based on new, more current insights and “is this bringing me joy?” 

    Lover’s mindset helps me to consider who I want and need to support me – my coach, my peers, my friends and so on. If I can’t put a name to it, I add the “job title” or purpose of that person. She also sprinkles regular self-care practices that go beyond my usual day to day practices and habits. For me , that include my annual mammogram, osteopath appointments and time outside on water (show my the way to the paddleboard!!)

    Mother brings her sense of nurturing and nourishment to the plan, by adding any learning, reading or personal growth I need to enable me to complete my priorities without sacrifice or exhaustion. I’m pretty good at overestimating how much I can tackle – thank you corporate career for that false belief!

    For the coming year, I’m keeping my habit of using my Passion Planner‘s structuring of months and weeks to me on track and intentional. I highly recommend them – if you fancy trying it out, you can download free pdf versions to play with. Oddly, most notes and writing I do on my iPad apart from my Passion Planner, which I prefer in paper form – each purchase also makes a donation to an essential charity, making joy from value of purposeful spending.

    This is my process – keep what works for you and flex what doesn’t. Do also explore other people’s process – ask your friends, mentors or colleagues what the do and take what appeals to you.

    Let me recap the whole thing as simply as I can: Dream all of the what could be things for your 2022 with Sorceress. Bring Queen’s serene decision making to consider and prioritise and then Warrioress’ “make it happen with fun” vibes to your year’s flow. Lover and Mother offer the people, supports and additions to enable you to achieve your intentions with compassion and joy.

    If you’re curious about how you can leverage the Powertypes to create your plans for the new year, why not buy a discounted Powertypes assessment, personalised report and 90 minute debrief with me with the END21STRONG code – you get 21% off the usual price! I’m always amazing at the lightbulb moments these bring in such a short time and how much clarity and direction clients find in them.

  • Authentic presence and presents

    Thanksgiving just behind us and with the countdown to Christmas getting shorter and shorter, your attention might have gone towards gifting and celebrations. 

    We want to bring our authentic presence to all aspects of our lives and in the holiday season. With it, we can be in the moment and fully experience what’s going on around us in every way, but can we bring our authentic selves?

    Authentic presence is a combination of feeling, doing and being your true self. Others will see, hear and feel your presence – the human brain is tuned to detect authenticity through congruence in our words, our actions and our body language. It’s why children can spot a liar a mile off. It’s why our skin crawls when we sense someone isn’t quite ok to be around. It’s why we worry about being  our true authentic selves and how others will react.

    Having authentic presence means showing up as you, honouring your values and needs, setting your boundaries clearly and making decisions aligned with who you want to be.

    It also requires you to honour the values and needs of others, respect your boundaries and decisions, and meet them where they are on their journey.

    The holiday season can throw up some challenging moments. Family meals and visits. Company or team social events. Gift buying and giving. Here are some tips on maintaining true to yourself:

    1) Tap into your Sorceress Powertype and envisage yourself, showing up as you want to using all of your senses. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? What words are you using? How does your voice sound? What are you feeling emotionally and physically?  The more specific you can make this, the better it will enable you to achieve your desired outcomes.

    2) Avoid surprises – check the guest list, understand the outline of events and know your options in advance. “Forewarned is forearmed” – you create your personal tactical advantage by doing your preparation.

    3) Get clear on what is fixed for you and where you might choose to flexible. Perhaps someone who is toxic might get temporary membership to your Hearth for the good of wider family well-being. Fix how you wish to be around this person and how you will mitigate their impact on you.

    Or it might be around sticking to routines and practices that support your authentic life, such as eating and sleeping habits, or things and activities that don’t bring you joy.

    4) Practice saying no and setting boundaries from Queen. Rehearse conversations with a trusted friend: prepare your words and practice fully embodying Queen. 

    5) Make space for you – plan your replenishment, your self-connection time and your………whatever it is that gets you to ok, connected to your joy.

    6) Stretch your joy spotting muscles and up gratitude routines. Being intentionally aware of the small things like a corny cracker joke or a heartfelt greeting in a card to the bigger things like making snow angels with your family or friends. Pause to absorb the moments, the emotions and the physical sensations. Remember to complete your gratitude routine with thanks and asking for more.

    7) Bring your authenticity to your presents – nope that isn’t a typo. Shopping with authentic presence can mean making different choices. Choices that match who you truly are and gifting things that create joy for you and the recipient. Maybe it’s supporting small, local businesses or opting for things that are more environmentally friendly. Maybe rather than things, you pick out experiences to share or donations to charities. Maybe it’s giving the gift of knowledge through books, lectures and courses.

    8) Being authentic also means exercising self-compassion and self-acceptance. You might allow yourself to out on a mask hiding your true self away, bend to someone else’s expectations or let a boundary be crossed. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time to process and recognise what you can learn from.

    Having authentic presence for me this last few months has been putting my coaching skills onto paper and publishing the Feel more joy journal – a self-directed exploration based on my coaching process. Perhaps it’s the authentic gift to give yourself, a sibling or a colleague?

    It’s available in print and for those conserving trees, in digital format for tablets all for under a tenner! 

    And until 31st December, I’m offering a perfect part to it in the form of a Powertype package at 21% discount – yep for less than £120 you or the recipient get a One of many Powertype assessment, personalise report and a 90 minute debrief. It’s a great way to end your year strong and begin the new year with clarity and confidence. Use code ENDD21STRONG to get your discount.

    You can buy the journal and book your package here.

    Happy Holidays! 

  • Using your authentic voice

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a number of conversations around using your authentic voice. What is it? How will others react at home and at work? Where will your courage to use it come from?

    Curiously, anxiety and concerns around finding and using your authentic voice can be both an enabler and a blocker to greater alignment and more joy. As we discover how we want to filter our experiences through our values, gain certainty in our vision and develop our inner wisdom and strengths, we want to use our authentic voice.

    We crave new conversations to set or reestablish our boundaries. We want to share our needs in order to have them met without guilt. We know how our brilliance can make a difference if spoken.

    Yet, we stay quiet, speaking them only in our heads.

    Our concerns can block us through fear of judgement or rejection, as well as self-doubt.

    If you use your authentic voice, you share an intimate, vulnerable part of yourself. It can feel too raw, too exposing to use. Yet in doing so, you deny yourself the aligned life, work and love you yearn for. It feels like a huge risk. Better not to try, right? Or to wait a bit and see first?

    This inner dialogue is a type of self-protection by our subconscious, whose role is to keep up safe. Safe from pain and hurt. Safe from ridicule or embarrassment. Safe from guilt, shame or anger.

    But also safe from an unknown future. One which you would bring joy, new connections and a sense of vitality in all that you do.

    And it’s in this way that finding your authentic voice can enable you to step into and further create your future as you wish.

    I teach 3 habits of self-connection in both my coaching and workshops. First, the practice of joy spotting throughout your day and expressing thanks for it each evening. Second, journaling each morning to clear your head and set your intentions for the day ahead and third, solo dates – time by yourself doing something that stretches your comfort zone at least a little. Each helps discover, explore and embed your authentic voice.

    Each allows you to gain deeper insights and self-awareness of your fears, your strengths, your allies and your future vision and purpose. Joy spotting “trains” your brain muscle to recognise and value the smallest of joys to the grandest, where planned or coincidental – Thank you Source, this please and more rounds off your evening gratitude practice as you set the cycle to continue and expand. Journalling is a private way to distil our inner thoughts, wisdom and doubts before our Ego wakes and we step into the day ahead with clear intentions. 

    Lastly, solo dates provide us with ways to safely explore being and voicing our authentic voice. For example, in a climbing class, you can bring out your Warrioress’ playful tigress as you make your way to the top of the wall. Or perhaps you have a luscious body treatment to awaken your self-love. Or you join a Toastmaster event, allowing your Queen to speak her truth.

    It’s in the manner that you can test, embody and feel what it’s like being your whole true self without fear or judgement. Only yourself. It’s also where you can experience others’ reactions to this new you. 

    Like you, I’ve been finding more of my authentic voice and wondering how I can share it with you. Yes, I’m feeling fearful – what will you say? How will you react? 

    But there is also excitement, hope and joy in my anticipation……more on that next time.

  • What stops you from being your authentic self

    Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could just be myself?” Where were you? At work? At home? At a party? Or maybe someone offered you the “Just be yourself and you’ll be fine” piece of advice ahead of a job interview, client pitch or first date?

    I know I’ve said it to myself too many times, trying to bolster my courage and ignore the voice in my head saying “You gotta be kidding yourself, Sarae”. You, too?

    What stops you from being your authentic self? That’s a big old question and worth of more than one article. It’s going to take all of this month’s in fact. So let’s dive in…..

    Being authenticity is held up as a sort of ideal – a kinda of blissful nirvana of full aligned living, where every thought, feeling and action is as your whole authentic self. Yes, all things at all times.

    Research tells us the opportunity to be authentic increases our wellbeing, physically and mentally. Our head, heart and body sync up positively with our authenticity. We sleep better, we think more clearly and we find our emotional agility increases. Oh and it’s essential for experiencing and creating more joy in our lives, work and relationships.

    Authenticity is seen as one of the foundation stones to great relationships – romantic, work, friendship, parenting. You can fill a wall with books on the topic.

    So if it’s so good for us, what stops you from being your authentic self?

    Brené Brown said in her book, “Gifts of Imperfection” that “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” and that’s the first reason we avoid authenticity. We create a bunch of rules for who we should be, what we should feel, how we should act on top of the rules that our families, communities, workplaces and society hold up as appropriate or acceptable….or even “normal”.

    Letting go of those rules can be hard. Really hard. Especially when we’ve experienced or seen others go against them or seek to change them with negative connotations. Judgement, rejection, shame, guilt, fear……and there is the second reason.

    Being authentic can require us to deal with big emotions that are uncomfortable, super uncomfortable. Feeling the feels can be physically painful. It can stop us in our tracks. Make us question our logic, our clarity and our deepest sense of self.

    We need to be willing and open to looking into those darker corners to reflect and learn as we feel our way forward. It requires us to find compassion towards ourselves – usually more than ever before – in order to keep moving towards greater authenticity.

    Compassion to recognise and forgive our past. Compassion for our outcomes regardless of how they go. Compassion for the energy and efforts we need to find courage for what our lives, love and work can be when we’re authentic.  

    And that last need for compassion links to the third reason we stop ourselves from being authentic. Courage can have lots of enemies. Self-doubt, self-belief, self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-hate, self-judgement, self-sabotage and self…….the list goes on.

    Finding ways to remove, repair or reduce these enemies are the core of my own journey to greater authenticity and for many of my clients, as I suspect it might be for you.

    Whether you tell yourself “to just be yourself” often or in one or two parts of your life, abundance joy is waiting for you when you can think, feel and be authentic across your whole life. 

    Revealing your whole self brings more self-trust, confidence and a sense of spaciousness in how you achieve your intentions, meet your needs and honour your values. It brings new people and new opportunities your way that further your joy, wellbeing and vitality.

    What would it take for you to start being your authentic self?

  • Connecting with purpose

    How are you travelling at the minute? I’m hoping you’re enjoying the transition from summer to autumn – for me, it’s about putting on jumpers, orange and red leaves on my walks and big mugs of hot drinks to snuggle up to. It is also a time for more decluttering, sort of like a spring clean but 6 months later. I’ve attacked my cupboards, wardrobes and filing – shredding, recycling and my local charity shop are all doing well out of it.

    I’m also digging into my purpose and how I can achieve it with as much spaciousness, ease and joy as I can. Perhaps you’re also looking to shed some old leaves beautifully so you can be connecting with purpose looking ahead too?

    What do we mean by “purpose”?

    The VIA Institute on Character links purpose to the strengths of spirituality – saying specifically:

    Spirituality has many dimensions. Some of these include meaning, purpose, life calling, beliefs about the universe, the expression of virtue/goodness, and practices that connect with the transcendent.

    They also link it to an appreciation of beauty, gratitude, honour, hope and humour. 

    I quite agree – there is a sense of unfolding beauty in our intentional efforts and impact on the world, our families and our work. Holding them in that light, with hope, a giggle and practising gratitude for the results we see, the support we receive and our abilities to grow and use our abilities for our calling, vocation, purpose feels like a wonderful place to be.

    Why is having purpose important?

    Simply put it gives you greater meaning in life – greater than yourself. It gives us courage and drive, as well as creating a means to experience more self-acceptance, self-trust and confidence as we see our purpose take shape, find meaning with others and become nearer to our reality.

    People with purpose tend to have better well-being; both physically and mentally. They have lower numbers of issues with chronic issues, obesity and premature morbidity. In addition, they are likely to score higher in life satisfaction with lower rates of depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders. Having a clear purpose can also mean a developed emotional intelligence, especially around self-awareness and self-management – which is a fancy way of saying more “even keel” approach under stress or pressure with positive levels of resilience.

    Still not convinced?

    Sometimes even the phrase “connecting with purpose” is enough to trigger us. We tell ourselves it needs to be enormous, earth shattering or impressive to others. We tell ourselves we couldn’t possibly be the “that” person. We tell ourselves we’re not enough to be a force for good in the world. We tell ourselves we have too busy. We tell ourselves no one would help or nurture us along the way. We tell ourselves it’s simply too hard.

    Yet once you alight on an inkling of what your purpose might be, it itches at us.

    How do I do this “connecting with purpose” then?

    Finding meaning or purpose can take many forms. We might have multiple related forms or directions it takes. For example, my purpose to create a world where every woman realises the joy of living, working and loving as her whole self, without the fear of rejection or judgement is a golden thread carrying through a number of different paths.

    Obviously my work – I coach and train women (and some men) around their sense of self and what they wish to do or be bringing the brilliance of their whole self to the front. But also with my many goddaughters, I want them to grow up knowing to their very core that they can thrive and find happiness for who they really are. I bring that principle to my friends – I love, adore and treasure them for all their wonderful selves – with all the quirks, twists and scars that make them amazing.

    I bring it to my own personal growth and self-connection: how can I approach life realising joy, just for being me with utter authenticity. (Note this weekend, it involved clearing out my undies drawer of pants I wore for others and not for me. No more….be gone!)

    More practically, go looking at what brings your joy, when you light up in a situation or group, where you feel so in flow you skip time and for who would you give your time and energy for free to make a difference. Leverage Sorceress’ universal wisdom and playfully explore the wisdom of others through books, podcasts, talks or events. 

    And why not talk through what has meaning for you with someone who can accelerate your thinking and quash any of those “we tell ourselves” beliefs and blocks.  Someone like me in fact – I’m part of the WLA’s Coachathon 2021, raising money for the Microloan Foundation and support entrepreneurial women in Africa. You have a 45 minute coaching session and feel connected to a bigger purpose for a donation – interested? Go here, select Europe, UK and AFrica. You can then find me under Confidence Coaches.