Dear hormones

Dear Hormones,

What are you playing at? Seriously, I thought we, as a body, were all in this together; fighting against the odds of EDS and Heart Failure, beating them against all expectations and doing a pretty impressive job of it actually.  Then, you took it upon yourselves to go off-piste and take control in, frankly, a hostile-coup!  I have been kidnapped and need to be rescued before all the things I know about myself and who I am fail to exist!

Menopause, peri or otherwise, you need to take a long-hard look at your behaviour and attitude to this relationship.  You’re walking all over the rest of the bodily functions and just making decisions without consultation, or warning, and expecting the rest of us to keep up.  What about some instructions or case-studies to ponder before being taken down a path we did not choose?

Let’s start with emotions; I have always been an emotional person, driven to hasty outbursts of love, tears or anger, not one to hide how I feel about things.  I had them pretty much under control as a woman approaching 50 though, and could usually decide appropriate locations to share emotions that might impact others.  Now, however, you’ve decided that I need shaking up a bit and even the mention of a sad-pet-story or a child telling her dad she loves him, reduces me to a wreck, crying uncontrollably, with snot-bubbles and everything.  I heard Michael Buble singing this morning and cried for almost an hour.  When John innocently entered the room and asked what was wrong, I started all over again.

And let’s not even begin to talk about Politics or I’ll be ranting for hours about the injustices on the planet and whom I believe to be responsible for them.  This is often followed by me throwing things!  Seriously, I had to replace a whole set of glasses last week as we were down to our last three.  I go outside almost daily and throw something at the wall, just so I won’t do anything worse.  John is learning to spot the signs and has started suggesting we go and cut wood in these moments as I achieve so much more that physically I thought possible when filled with this overwhelming urge.

Night time seems to be your chance to really punish me though, with sweats that mean I have to shower at 2am and anxiety like I’ve never experienced before. I’m worried about everything at night; from our ongoing struggle to sort our accounts out from when I had my surgery to whether I will make it my 50th this autumn, to what might cause the house to burn down.  And each worry seems to real, so important, that I am totally unable to resolve any of them with a sense of my usual calm.

I am horrible to John, to myself and even on occasion to our pets.  I am ashamed to say I shouted at Branston (our dog) yesterday, just because he made me jump when he put his head in my lap.  He just wanted to let me know he’d picked up my mood and could help, but I shouted at him.  I hated myself for a whole day for that.  I cried over it every time I thought about it.  Thank you for that, dear hormones.

I tell myself every day that I will take control and “own” my response to your constant changing, and that I can get through this without being awful or angry or ridiculously sad.  And so far, every day, you do your best to scupper my plans.  Well, okay, I get it, you want my attention and you want to be noticed.  I NOTICED!  YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!  Now please, can we attempt to work together on this?

Yours, in hope,

Dinah

A bit more love

I’m not sure if it’s an age thing, a woman thing, an inner-hippy thing or perhaps just a human thing, but I find myself more and more recently contemplating how far from love and compassion society seems to be heading. With the influence of the freedom that was promised by the internet, there seems to have come an overwhelming amount of misinformation created and spread by those with agendas of hatred and greed.  As I attempt to quash the overwhelming desire to pick up my banners of old (when I marched in the 1970s and 1980s we believed we could make a difference) and remind myself that I’m not as fit as I once was, I can’t help thinking it’s time to focus on a bit more love.

I watch with fear and dread what is happening in the US as they approach their election; when President Obama was elected I was so full of hope, but Capitol Hill  soon put paid to any hopes he had for making change.  The Republicans destroyed any chance he had to make the real changes the US needed, and they, as a result, created the monster that is Trump.  I have listened to every debate with a growing sense that the level of hate that has built up, not just on those claiming a Trump vote is a protest vote, but also globally as shown by the Brexit voters who, likewise, claimed they were standing up to the corrupt and making a statement.  The hate everywhere is leading to the breakdown of communities, the blame-game culture grows, the circle continues…..

I watch young people growing up in a place where they are taught to hate not just those who are different, but to hate themselves.  They are bombarded with messages that tell them they are not enough.  They must be taller, thinner, smarter, funnier, more cheerful, more positive, more successful…. And we wonder why they hate?  How often do we teach our children to love?  How often do we tell our teenagers that they are loved?  Which are the messages that are most shared on the social media they (and we) all value? Rarely the positive, most are either fuelled by hate or people feel they have the right to comment with hate.

I watch my mum-in-law in a community where we’ve been accepted with open arms, no judgement and a chance to prove ourselves, and she is thriving.  Thriving on love.  She tells me she has a purpose now, one she’d never felt before, her mission is a simple one, to make as many people smile as possible every day.  And she’s accomplishing her mission, by being part of a community and a volunteer in the local Red Cross shop.  People go in every day, just to get a cwtch (It’s a Welsh thing; more than a hug and all about love) and she’s filled with joy.

It is so very easy to get caught up in the negative tones and emotions that seem to be so fuelled by our media and in this society that is dominated by the hate-filled and greed-fuelled power of the few, I intend to stop listening to them and instead, spend more time on Love.  Love of my home, my friends, the amazing support network of family I have and new friends and community I love more each day.  Will you join me, and make your attention focus one of love.

Dinah

You CAN please everyone – if you want to be average

It is one of the conversations I hear most often as a Mentor; a client is feeling down, their confidence is at an all-time-low and they’ve just admitted that today, someone told them they didn’t like what they do.  “They said my style wasn’t right for them”, “She said my product wasn’t as good as their other choice”, “He’s told me he’s not renewing our contract”, all news that everyone in business has heard at one point, and is likely to hear again.  The painful truth is, you are not going to be everyone’s “cup of tea” and that is great news.  If you want to please everyone, you’ll have to be bland, middle of the road, non-controversial, happy to stay put and resist change, oh and more than anything else, you’ll need to be average.

I can say with confidence, that nobody ever wanted to run an average business, lead an average group, give an average service or teach an average class.  We have all encountered businesses who have attempted to be all things to all people, but without exception, they fail.  Take any brand, however well known, respected or credible, and you will find a customer who has had a bad experience with them.  Any brand.  One of the greatest challenges facing our Public Services is that they are expected to be exactly what we all need, at every stage of our lives, whatever our circumstances.  I must say, as someone who would not be here without our NHS, I am grateful that this remarkable group of people somehow manage to be anything but average, on the “shop floor” and it is thanks to these remarkable, way-above-average people that this service delivers miracles every day.

Accepting that you’re not going to deliver, or accept, average in your life, requires you to be clear about where you draw some lines:

  1. Say no to potential business
    We’ve all been in that place where work is at a low point and we’ve considered working with someone when our gut is telling us to walk away.  Perhaps the cash was just too tempting, or the introductions promised are getting you into a new market; as you’re saying yes, you know you should be saying no and sure enough, within weeks, you encounter problems.  Saying “No. This is not for me” is one of the most difficult and fantastic things you will ever do; overcoming the desire to make the wrong decision for a short-term gain, and having the confidence that something better will come is a moment you will look back on with pride and pleasure in the future.
  2. Decide what “above average” really means to you
    If you are going to set yourself up to succeed here, you need to set some guides in place for measuring your delivery as being “above average”.  A great place to start this is to ask previous  and existing clients what it is about your service or products that keeps them coming back to you.  Ask them what makes you unique and what they most value in what you do for their business.  These are your pointers for excellence and setting these as standards you will achieve for every customer will allow you to be realistic about the consistence and credibility of your services.
  3. Manage expectations with authenticity
    It is almost certain that it is the very things that some don’t “get” or like about you that will appeal most to others.  We have all discovered with experience that our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses when we are at our most vulnerable and with this in mind, being authentic about who you are, how you work and what it is that makes you different, is key to attracting the right clients to your business (and the same applies to attracting friends and partners too).  This means being yourself at all times, even when it is tempting to conform, or play-down your individuality, even if you’re finding number one (above) hard to master.  I remember the greatest compliment I received the first time I met someone who’d only conversed with me on line; “You’re exactly who I thought you’d be” he told me “You come over on Twitter and your blog just as you do on stage and over coffee.”  Being yourself, setting an expectation in advance, helps attract the right people and also helps avoid uncomfortable situations with the wrong ones.
  4. Refuse to accept average
    I always have respect for people who “walk their talk”, especially when I know it requires effort.  Accepting average service is a choice; if you’re regularly getting less than you believe you’ve paid for from a company or giving more than you get in a relationship or friendship, it is possibly because you’re prepared to accept average.  Perhaps you believe average is all you deserve.  When you’re serious about accepting above average, it does something to your level of self-esteem that is liberating and powerful.  When you decide that only above average is good enough, you’ll expect it, appreciate it, acknowledge it and enjoy it more than you do on an “average” day.  You will also enjoy the challenge of delivering that for others; there is no better motivation to deliver outstanding service than to experience it yourself.

The next time someone tells you they’re less than thrilled with your service or product, ask them what they’d expected.  Ask them what would have made it right for them and thank them for their feedback and then consider this question: Was their rejection because I’m not good enough  or could it be that I would have suited them better if I had been more average?

The image at the top of this post was created by my wonderful friend and teacher, Amanda Rose.  You can see her fabulous art in Myddfai Community Centre, attend one of her art classes (with me) every Wednesday afternoon, or commission her to illustrate your Poetry or writing.  She’s the inspiration behind this blog; one of the most authentic, talented and above-average people I know who’s a real inspiration to me. And she makes me smile.

Brexit: much more than politics

It’s taken until now for me to feel ready to write about the results of the UK Referendum on our membership of the European Union.  I made no secret of the fact I was voting to remain, and while I stand by my decision, I am more in despair of how we seem to be reacting to the result than I am by the result itself.  I keep waiting for us to respond how everyone says we will “we always stand together when the going gets tough” and “Us Brits are great in a crisis” must be the most common phrases I’ve heard since the vote.  As I write this, however, I have yet to see signs of either of these being true.

When I was growing up, my parents were among very few adults I encountered who didn’t believe you shouldn’t talk politics or religion; they positively encouraged it and on more than one occasion I sat enthralled listening to heated discussions over their dinner table that went on into the small hours.  I got my love of debate from listening to them talk about the Israel/Palestine crisis, Socialism and how it was being diluted and manipulated, who had which part of our Press in their pocket and how we could change any of these things.  It drove me to want to be part of the change.

Currently, the trend seems to be that talking politics is a dangerous thing, to be avoided or shouted down.  Indeed, many of my friends, whichever way they voted, have received angry abuse aimed at them on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  It’s shameful how quickly we are prepared to pounce on the views of others and say they are wrong because they do not agree with our own. This, for me, has been one of the most unpleasant aspects of the Referendum.  Watching the language of people I know and respect turn from measured and thought-through to angry and reactionary and often down-right offensive.  Aggressive defending of a political position and the desire to say “Told you so!” are not only unattractive behaviour, they also show a lack of control, a limited vocabulary and a side of someone that can make many review connections.  I personally stopped following over thirty people on Facebook during the build-up to the vote as I did not want their remarks on my timeline.

Had we been living in a country like Syria, indeed anywhere in the Middle East or many of the areas to the East of our planet, then perhaps I would understand the anger that boils over to hatred.  Lives have been touched by politics and religion in many parts of the world that we, in the West, can only read about or imagine.  Images on TV and in the media do not come close to experiencing these awful situations first-hand.  In the protected, wealthy (relatively speaking), safe haven of the West, we are living lives than most of the refugees we read so much about cannot even imagine.  And yet instead of seeing hope, community, the chance to make change happen and express our opinions, we choose to create hatred, spread lies and call each other names.

I’d love to see a change, to the way we “do” politics in this country.  I’d love to make it compulsory for every single adult in the UK to vote and for it to be a subject taught at school not simply as an A level of choice but as a subject of real pride; we are living in a country where our voices are heard and listened to and where they can make such vast change than our entire government has had to be changed to deal with it.  I’d love to see proportional representation where every single vote matters and the opinions of every member of our society is heard.  I’d love, more than anything, to see our Politicians held to account for their promises and actions, meaning they would leave behind their shouting and hatred-fuelled words, their words that incite violence and anger.

Do I believe that this vote will lead to these?  No.  Sadly, with what I’ve seen, I don’t believe Brexit will be the “holy-grail” that the Leave campaigners are now claiming they’ve handed us, if only it could be.  Sadly, however, I have seen only evidence that the people’s vote has not been seen for anything else than a mis-guided decision and almost without exception, the remain campaigners are responding by saying “well you got us into this mess, now deal with it”.  Hardly the in-it-together approach I was hoping for.  Even our new Prime Minister has appointed people to roles which seem to be saying “get in there and sort this mess out – if you can” rather than appointing talented politicians who might negotiate a deal for our nation that we can be proud of.

We voted to leave; and yes, I do include myself in that, because above being a “remain voter” I am a British citizen.  I want my country to succeed.  I watch the Olympics with pride and wave my Union Jack flag and wear my Team GB T-shirt because I am in love with my country and hope to always be.  I want the very, very best people in charge of our exit from the EU and  I want new, inventive and creative people in charge of our negotiations with our nearest neighbours to ensure they still want to work, visit and play with the UK.

The people of my nation have spoken and I have to accept and embrace what they have asked for in a way that sits with my values.  There have been times I have struggled with this, and I suppose that is part of the reason it has taken a while to write this post.  I came across so many angry, hateful posts filled with words that I cannot embrace; racism and patriotism should not be seen as the same thing.  I am British because the people who brought me up chose to live here, no other reason.  As an adopted daughter, whose birth mother came from Egypt and birth father from Denmark, who had adopted parents with families that had been refugees from Poland and Russia, fleeing from oppression because of their religion, I believe I am a typically British woman. I am proud to be British, to be a melting pot of humanity, a mix of cultures and faiths that have produced me.  I’d confuse most racists, who would never see me as anything but a white, middle class woman.  Racism is just a load of fear, tied up in ignorance and nasty language in my opinion.  I am one of the lucky ones; unless I tell you my history, I go under the radar of the haters. Only when we accept there is a huge problem with racism in the UK can we begin to beat the fear behind it.

The racists will always be here, and their fears will not be tackled by any vote or distancing of our nation.  They should not be the voice we focus on.  Spreading their message just gives it air-time it does not deserve.  It was a shame for the people I know who voted to leave the EU, that racists hijacked their arguments and that our media was so fast to tar them all with the same brush.  Time to move on.

I choose to focus my positivity and belief in the future we can choose to create if we continue to be involved, empowered and engaged, if we continue to take part in our political futures and if we turn up in the kind of numbers we did this time round, for the rest of our lives.  I see it as a duty to encourage the future generations to vote whenever they get the chance and to ensure they do their research before they do.  Don’t depend of the words of the media for that insight that will help you make your political choices; listen to conversations over dinner tables, go to debates, visit museums and read books.  Above all, express your voice and right to make change in a country we will all be responsible for shaping, only if and when we admit we all “do” politics. It’s in everything we do and every decision we make for our country.

 

Letting go of letting-go!

A few years ago, I had a series of heart attacks.  From out of nowhere they stopped me in my tracks and made me reconsider everything about my life.  You could say they were a major crossroads; I’ve spent a great deal of time since focussed on “letting go” of the feelings I was left with, that I’d been deprived of the future I’d been planning, a brief example of what lay ahead enjoyed, the perfect business collaborations and friendships formed, all to be knocked back, all to be no longer available in my new life.  I think it was only yesterday that it hit me, I’d been so busy trying to let go, I had forgotten to look forward, to plan a new way, to explore what I have now that will shape a new path.

When life changes mean we have to make new choices, we have to allow ourselves a period of time to learn to adjust; that time required for acceptance to replace anger and frustration, time that heals initial pain and confusion and stops us asking “why did this happen to me” and replaces it with “what can I do no that this has happened?” and finally “I’m ready to see a future, how ever different it looks to the one I imagined.” When I was 26, I had a car accident that left me in a wheelchair for almost 12 years and one of my key learnings from this experience was that we have to mourn things we loose, not just people. I lost the use of my legs at 26, I had to mourn all the things I had lost from my independence to my joy of mountain climbing to making love with my husband.  I had suffered a loss, a bereavement, the death of my life the way it had always been.

The last few years have been my time to adjust, to come to terms with my latest loss, the belief that my heart was strong and would work, without me thinking about it, for many years to come.  Once you’ve lived through the heart attacks, the surgery, the physical recovery, the news of heart-failure, the difficulty breathing and total inability to do much of anything without help from others, you start to accept.  Acceptance that you are a different person, physically, and that means mentally too.  Acceptance that life is not going to look how you imagined, or planned. Acceptance that every day is rather special, precious, too important to waste on worries and concerns.

Now, I’ve reached the point of planning for a future; that feels amazing.  Seriously, when you’ve spent a few years not knowing if you’re going to make it, you see every single day as a bonus (even the ones where you feel negative and scared and less than great) because it’s been such an enormous effort, on the part of so many, to make it here.  Planning can take on a whole new meaning now, not just something I’m told to prepare for my business to thrive, but instead, a plan for my life, to live every day as though it might be the last chance I get to enjoy feeling this good.  I’m reminded of a song by Tim McGraw called “My next thirty years” and the lines speak to me of making every moment count.

My focus now is changing, from letting-go to letting-in; I’ve pondered enough times to last me a long, long life, what might have been if I hadn’t had the heart-attacks.  It is time to let in the new, embrace the opportunities starting to come my way with my new focus, my new goals in place.  It can so often be the case that we’re not open to new opportunities because we’re so focussed on the past, the ones we think we missed or messed up.  Not for me, that time in my life is through; I know I have limits, that my heart is depending on me to look after it and make sure I stick to those limits and behave.  And it’s also telling me in a loud, strong, clear voice “I trust you. Go get ’em girl. It’s time!”

And it is time. Time to move forward.  Time to let go of the letting-go and time to get on with the next chapter of this remarkable life.

Dinah x

 

The secret is….

…There is NO secret.  Honestly.  There is no answer that will be revealed when you’ve learned enough, or suffered enough.  There is no Secret to happiness, success or lasting contentment.  AND THATS GREAT NEWS!

Great news for all of us; there is no secret to any of the things we all strive for – happiness, success in love work business relationships parenthood…The list goes on.  There are plenty of opportunities, new things to learn, choices to be made and some of them may be painful.  These things will all be in your control and you are capable of deciding which ones you want to put effort into, which ones will lead you where you want to go.

The idea that you can read a book, take part in a programme or work with a Coach and suddenly you’re going to have all the answers is a myth.  I’m not sure where it started, and I know the idea of a secret was around long before people started to talk about “the universe delivering” or even “What goes around comes around.”  I have to say that, in my opinion, these are two of the other great myths of our time.

The one truth that does apply to all the really happy, successful people I know is a simple one:  they’ve all worked really, really hard to get where they are.  Did they all believe they were going to succeed?  No, not always.  Did each of them have amazing support behind them? Again, no; neither financial or moral support were particularly relevant to their success.  Each of them has a very different journey, a unique story of their life.  And not one of them believes there is a Secret to their success.

I had a client a few years ago, who spent the best part of 20 years going from training programme to retreat, to mentor, to coach and most recently, back to University (in her 50s).  While I’m all for personal growth and learning, there is a time when you have to actually put what you’ve learned into practice.  So what’s keeping her so engaged in learning?  She’s searching for that promised Secret, and she’s not quitting until she finds it!

Let’s learn from her experience and from the truly successful people around us (however we choose to measure that) and spend less time looking for “the answer” and instead, start creating our own results, which we can take credit for.  It’s no secret that’s got to feel good!

Have an excellent day

Dinah

 

If the hat fits….

When I launched my first business venture in my late 30’s, I wanted to be the best International Event Manager in my field. I wanted to run superb, memorable events that people were clamouring to attend. I was clear about the hat I wanted to wear; I knew it fitted and suited me and that I felt good in it.

I did not anticipate the many other hats that came with running a business and I certainly had not anticipated the need to wear many of them at the same time. I was overwhelmed by the expectation that I would willingly wear them, having never so much as tried them for size or made a choice about colour or style. Indeed many of the hats were ones I had consciously avoided and had been only too pleased to leave behind on the hat stand for someone else to wear.

When a business starts to grow, the hat we chose spends less and less time on our head each day. The joy we had in creating something and delivering it with pride to a client is overshadowed by the constant demands that we serve our business needs and not just those of our customers. We have to “work on our business not in our business” investing time in planning for the future and creating a legacy. With every success it is easy to be moved further away from the very passion that inspired the business to be born.

I think it helps to be clear about our identity and how we see ourselves. I remember speaking at a networking group several years ago, and I referred to “sole traders” as being self employed people and not businesses. A member of the audience took offence at what I said and asked me “what’s wrong with being a sole trader? Not everyone wants to build an empire you know”. My answer to him was that I had not explained myself clearly – there was nothing wrong with being a sole-trader, far from this. To have recognised your core strength and deliver that to clients with focus and passion was a gift. A conscious decision not to work on your business, but to work in it. Clearly the right decision for him as he was highly successful.

This conversation gave me clarity with several of my clients at that time (and since) as they struggled to wear the entrepreneur hat, which did not fit them and would never feel comfortable. They had left behind their real passions in order to build a business and lost touch with the thing that drove them and kept them engaged and inspired. They believed success meant wearing all the hats regardless of whether they had the skills, or the inclination, to do so effectively. Many of them did not see the possibility of others wearing some of the hats.

The successful entrepreneurs among my clients were happily trying the hats on for size and then actively seeking out the right people to wear them. They worked hard at building relationships and making connections with people who had the skills that they lacked. They were happy to pass the hats around and spend time in the hat they had selected for themselves from the beginning. They trusted those around them and took risks with the hats when it was called for. And they knew their strength lay in wearing one hat.

The main reason people give me for wearing all the hats is that the business isn’t ready for them to take someone on yet. “I would happily pass over that hat if we had more business coming in” “I would love to give that to someone else to do, but I know they’d need my input so it’s quicker to do it myself.” What I hear is that they are not ready to hand over the hat. They haven’t yet got the people they trust around them; or perhaps they didn’t give the people around them a chance to try on the hats.

One team I worked with in 2009 was a business that had started with three friends and had now grown to a team of 19. The three founders were wearing all the hats and were, not surprisingly, frustrated with their results and lack of team engagement. We purchased a hat stand and the team placed all the hats on the stand – between them the three men were taking 12 hats away from the team. For one month, each had to wear just one hat a day, and the rest of the team shared the remaining hats between them. The results were significant and the hat-stand remains to this day.

Try taking a couple of hats off and hanging them out on your hat stand. Let others know they can try them on for size without commitment or fear of failure. If the hat fits – wear it and if it doesn’t then take it off and share it.

I originally wrote this blog for virgin.com as one of their featured VIBs (very Important Bloggers). 

Is there anybody out there?

Running your own business can be all absorbing, exciting, challenging and – lonely. It can feel like nobody knows what’s happening in your world; how important it is that the next stage of your website is ready or that your followers went up by 30 this week. Sometimes, when you are running your own business, it feels like you’re totally alone. The good news is, there are lots of business owners in the same position, feeling isolated and frustrated, questioning their commitment and ability to succeed on their own, every day.

Getting strong foundations in place to support you, at every stage of your business, is a great way to ensure you can build and stand strong in difficult times – like now. It is never too late to start; we can put foundations in place at every stage of our business, for the next stage.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Be honest about where you are, right now. Are you isolated because you choose to be or because of genuine restrictions? Are you creating opportunities to meet new people, people who are also building a business.
  • Be clear about who you are looking for. This is not about hunting for clients. This is about building a “tribe” around you, a group of people you can depend on. Like-minded people who are there to support and encourage each other.
  • Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to get “touchy-feely” this is about letting people know when you need support. Sharing those challenges and being prepared to say “I’m not fine right now.”
  • Ask for help. Sounds simple – so why don’t we do it? Usually because we believe we should know something already, that we should have the answers or be able to find them ourselves. We are concerned that our credibility will be damaged; in truth, credibility is often built when we have the courage to ask for help and to take the action required to resolve an issue or learn something new.

When we feel isolated it is easy to forget that we can start a conversation too. Taking the initiative can be a step into the dark but it’s worth taking. I was asked by a client this week whether to stop tweeting as he had not been getting much response. I suggested that he stop tweeting statements and start asking questions; he had his first reply within four minutes. He started a conversation. You don’t need to wait for someone else to break the silence, you can take the first step – and don’t be put off it takes a while to get a response, people have to get to know you.

I often joke that my commute is around 30 seconds – from my home office to my sitting room. I enjoy a little gloat when my ex-colleagues talk about their 90 minute daily journey, squashed on the tube, getting up-close and personal with a stranger’s armpit. And then I remember how many people I would smile at on my journey home, how many people I said “Good evening” to, how a small group of us used to meet and share our day on the journey home. Even that brief interaction was an important part of my day.

Without a commute, it is important to create time with others. If leaving your office is not an option, there are a plethora of tools available to allow you to hold on-line meetings with cameras allowing participants to feel more connected. If you are able to leave the office – then do it. Take a look at what is on locally that is of interest and go. It may not be a business related event and that’s great; business people have lives and interests too! Schedule an appointment ever y week; an appointment called “Time with others” or “Finding out who else is out there” whatever works for you and stick to it.

There are plenty of people out there, all it takes is “Hello” to start the conversation.

I originally wrote this for Virgin.com when I was a VIB (Very Important Blogger).  Since then. we have moved to a tiny village in Wales, where our closest friends are a number of miles away. It would be even easier now to become isolated.  I’m finding new and fun ways to get out into the community as I can and loving the connections it is creating for me.

 

you can choose your story

What’s your excuse?

It’s February!  Yes, it really is. January has passed and along with it go so many ‘best intentions’ and ‘new goals’ and ‘I really mean it this time’s; yes, the dreaded resolutions that are set, year after year, in some inane attempt to become someone else.  It reminded me of this blog I wrote during my time as a blogger for Virgin and I believe it’s worth sharing here.

“As we rapidly approach the end of another year and start winding down for the festivities, many of us will reflect on the past 12 months; some with more satisfaction than others.

Some will take a contented, almost smug look at their list of achievements for the year. They will review the goals they exceeded, the new projects they embraced along the way, the challenges they overcame and the crisis that became their best client of the year. They will celebrate those successes and learn from the journey.

Some will ponder the lack of progress towards their goals and consider whether they were simply overambitious. They will cite the obstacles that were placed in their way and the general bad-luck that prevented them achieving their targets. These same people will undoubtedly be setting new-year’s resolutions before Big Ben has finished chiming on December 31st, only to start the same process in motion for next year.

It is easy to set goals, to create a list of business-like targets that show we are serious about our futures and see potential in our product or service. Achieving them is another matter, and stems fundamentally from our own commitment to the outcome. In a blog I wrote earlier this year, I talked about setting goals and how the language we use impacts our results. Creating a list of goals / dreams / targets requires clarity and takes time; much more time than most people put in. And before you can start on a list, I recommend taking the following steps:

1) Step a year into the future – you’ve just had a fabulous year; one that you will never forget. One that you are really proud of. If you were to write about your achievements over the past 12 months, what would you write? Do it – you may be surprised by what you write.

2) Imagine that one month in your life was represented as a 24 hour day. Think about how you would want to spend that 24 hours. Who would you spend it with – and how much time would you give to each person or activity? Fill in your ideal 24 hours – a 24 hours that reflects the perfect balance for you. Now fill in your current 24 hours – how are you really spending your time and it is serving where you want to be in 12 months time?

3) Think big – no bigger than that, I’m talking real no-box-thinking. If anything was possible, who would you call? If there were no limits to your capacity and energy what would you achieve? Think dreams, think “yeah right!” and make a list. Then, with total honesty (remember this is your list) write what is stopping you achieving each of the things you’ve written on that list. Then cross off any reasons you have written that are simply excuses.

The truth is that you are the only reason you cannot achieve your dreams. You and your excuses. Far safer not to start than to start and fail, right? Wrong. Every excuse we create, every justification we make, we are simply reinforcing our own belief that we are not going to succeed. Pioneers, trailblazers, risk-takers and successful entrepreneurs don’t make excuses, they make connections. They involve their networks, their trusted contacts and they come up with solutions. They take a different approach and challenge the limiting behaviours that hold others back from success.

If you decide to make one change this year, one significant change that will increase your enjoyment and success, make it this – “no more excuses”.  ”

I originally wrote this blog for Virgin.com where it was published as one of my VIB (Very important bloggers) posts.  I have amended it slightly to share with you again.

 

You can have it all ladies….

I am happy with my lot. I know in my life I can have it all; motherhood, success, a happy marriage (27 years and counting), exotic holidays, a wonderful home, time with great friends, fabulous car, a wardrobe full of clothes I love, immaculate house hair and nails….. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

Many women ask me “how can I have it all?” and I have the same answer for every one of them…..

You can have it all – just not all at the same time.

My wonderful list is not all about now. I have had times where about half are happening for me together; I’ve had times where I have chosen to squeeze too many in – and lost sight of the really important ones. Why does “having it all” have to mean right now. Like spoiled children stamping our feet, are we simply throwing a tantrum? Is our perception of other women so warped that we believe we are failing if we aren’t juggling a million balls at once? Do we really believe there are women out there doing this single-handed and effortlessly? Get real!

The truth is they are all making choices; not all of them ideal. Compromise and patience may not feel comfortable alongside ambition and determination, but without them you are setting yourself up for failure on so many levels. We can choose to beat ourselves up for failing to vacuum, we can choose to berate ourselves as appalling mothers for missing swimming club or we can choose to acknowledge what we achieve each day and celebrate it.

So where do you start? A reality check would be a good beginning. When you talk about “having it all” what does that really mean to you? I’m confident that “beating myself up regularly” isn’t on there, so what is? No box thinking here – what does it really look and feel like?

The second step is more challenging; ask yourself who are you doing this for? Do you want others to speak about you as the woman who “has it all” ? Are you still attempting to make your father proud of his little girl? What exactly are you hoping to achieve? Being honest about this can be hugely liberating. My own experience showed me this clearly in my mid 30’s when I finally stopped trying to impress others and made my achievements simply for myself. I got so much more satisfaction and a huge sense of achievement and I saved all that energy and time!

The third and biggest step of all is to find juggling partners. Put people around you with the right skills and juggling becomes entertaining. Asking for help and trusting others are big obstacles for many of us. Asking for help can feel like failure – if you want it to. However, asking another to bring their skills to the party, to be a part of your team, is a compliment to them. If they value you they will be chuffed that you asked; they will understand it is a big deal for you. Do something totally non-selfish today and ask someone to be part of your juggling team – you’re inviting them on tour.

Over a life-time we really can have it all. We can appreciate every part of it more if we stop and take a good look in at our own lives. Those women you believe have it right are juggling too, they just realised they didn’t have to do it alone. They shared the load – and the balls!

Dinah x

I originally had this blog posted on virgin.com as one of their  VIBs (Very Important Bloggers)