The audacity of hope……

Yesterday saw a new chapter begin for Estela after years of planning. As she explained herself…..

“I will be mostly teaching Breathwork, Yoga and Meditation in different locations, an activity that as you know I have been doing for over twenty years in my spare time. So, with a cocktail of mixed feelings ranging from sadness to excitement, I took the decision to leave my corporate role today. To say that you have made an amazing change in my life is short of reality. Your teachings, your energy, your passion, your belief  have always been with me. May your light shine for many years to come. Thank you for being such a fantastic vision leader.”

Joining Growing Talent in March 2019 on the 20th programme, Estela had a passion for yoga, meditation and breath work and a dream to one day run her own business with international retreats.

Recognising bills had to be paid, Estela was successful in securing a front of house role with a leading corporate in the City. For three years she kept nurturing her dream, planning the steps needed to attain it. whilst working full-time. Earlier this year she used annual leave to investigate overseas retreat locations finding some perfect spots.

Finally, yesterday was her last day in her corporate role. Today is her first day as a full-time business guru!

The power of hope. The audacity to dream. The tenacity to follow your own path.

What makes this even more powerful for me, is the 29th Growing Talent is about to start.

What awesome journeys lie ahead for those involved?

I’m inspired!


Day 7 of #MHAW22 – Avoid!

Today sees the final day of Mental Health Awareness Week. This week long event has run for 21 years.

Most of my tips this week have been around self care.

Today, I end with an indirect tip to enhance our wellbeing by reducing our negative impact on those around us.

How often do we automatically start a sentence with ‘you’? Examples: ‘you didn’t put the rubbish out’ or you are late’ or ‘you didn’t meet the deadline for that project work’.

I don’t doubt we’ve all been on the receiving end of a ‘you’ statement. How did you feel? Angry, frustrated, sad, defensive, worthless – none are positive feelings.

My final tip of the week is something we were taught as children. ‘Think before you speak’. I’ll add something to that. ‘What is the possible impact on the person you are going to speak to?’ If there is any chance it will be negative, can it be said a better way?

Absolutely. First, can what you are about to say be said in a better way? Second, play it in your head and check how you would feel if it was said to you. Thirdly, try to NEVER use ‘you’ statements.

Usually, when we think about it, we can say the same things in a kinder way. A way that doesn’t automatically make someone feel they’re under attack.

Example for lateness:

“I felt so frustrated when you didn’t arrive on time. I made your favourite meal. Now it’s ruined’.

As #MHAW22 draws to an end, let’s think about the tips shared this week, the importance of investing in our own daily self-care and our impact on others before we speak every day of the week. Every week of the year.

Be kind to yourself is a strength that enables you to be kinder to those around you.

Day 6 of #MHAW22 – Self Care – Do You Prioritise?

Don’t get self-care confused with hobbies – i.e. going for a walk or a run a couple of times a week.

Our minds are powerful tools that have to be trained and nurtured or they can become destructive.

Looking at the segments in the picture above, are you really doing your best every day in all these areas?

We can only run on auto-pilot for so long. Prioritising daily, non-negotiable self-care is the only way to thrive and be there for everyone around us at home and work.

Day 5 of #MHAW – Top Tip

Empathy not Sympathy….. Is there a difference?

Yes, and it’s a big one in my view. Sympathy makes everything worse. Why?

Sympathy is about ‘fixing’ someone’s painful emotions. Actually, it does the opposite:

  • It devalues someone’s emotional pain
  • Makes them feel no one hears their voice
  • Deflates them – it takes massive courage to overcome self stigma and ask for help

Empathy means ‘feeling with’ someone and is absolutely the right tool to use because:

  • Enables the person to feel valued
  • Shows the person their voice has been heard
  • Feeling with someone enables them to identify their own solution – not your solution
  • Creates a cohesive environment to build honesty, trust and confidence
  • Empowers you as you see the positive impact made on the person that really helped them

In ‘Sympathy’ sentences usually begin with ‘at least…..’ or ‘I know exactly how you feel’. These and similar examples are completely unhelpful, shuts the conversation down and may prevent the person reaching out to get the help they need elsewhere.

The conversation’s spotlight should only be on them. You cannot know how they feel. Everyone’s experience of emotions are unique and individual.

Validation, identifying, collaboration – key elements of ‘Empathy’ that deliver a more positive outcome for all.

“That must feel overwhelming”. (validation) “I see your strength and courage sharing this with me “(identifying) “I’m here to listen to you. Can you tell me more about this? Maybe together we can consider some options?” (collaboration)

Next time someone shares their pain with you, remember how much courage and strength that took before answering with EMPATHY.

Day 4 #MHAW 22 – Challenge – Are you Up For it?

How often do you challenge your thoughts?

Do you ever ask yourself “is this feeling or fact”?

Why is this important? Our minds are powerful tools designed to protect us but there’s a key flaw.

The flaw is this. Our mind amplifies risk without any rational on whether the risk is real or not.

Example: Think of the last time your were in a car driving on the motorway and another driver cut in on you. What were the thoughts within the car you were in? Calm or angry?

99% of people would say anger.

There is no reflection about the intention of the driver who cut in. Were they being a thoughtless driver? Or did they have a sick child in the car they needed to get to hospital?

How often do we challenge our thoughts and ask ‘is this fact or feeling’?

What would happen to the emotions in your car if when a driver cut in you challenged your mind and said “is this thought or fact”?

We have the power to train our minds to challenge our thoughts and not accept feelings as fact.

Are you up for the challenge?

Prepare to have that conversation….

My 3rd tip for 21st Mental Health Awareness Week ‘prepare to have a conversation’. Think about where your head is at – are you emotionally in the right place to start a conversation?, have you got time to focus? location – somewhere private to talk, body language, words, tone, empathy NOT sympathy, how will you set your boundaries ion the conversation veers into an area you feel uncomfortable with? listen to understand NOT REPLY & ALWAYS reflect back to make sure you heard correctly.

Make sure you act on fact not feeling.

Business can learn so much from this school….

38 minutes long – but worth it.

There are 24 hours in a day. Invest 38minutes watching this amazing film funded by #EdgeFoundation filmed by #SchoolsOnScreen featuring #XPSchool in Doncaster.

Question: Why would you on this business platform be interested in a film about a different type of school that gets results?

Possible Answer : You might want your children to go to such a school and start lobbying for one in your area.

My answer: imagine if your business followed the same ethos of bonding, compassion, challenging, believing, trust, integrity, reflection # #business#work#teachers#school – how awesome would it be?

XP School in Doncaster is oversubscribed – how many people want to work in your business?

XP School in Doncaster has made no exclusions since 2015 – how many staff has your business lost since then?

XP School has no budget to cover teachers – no one is ever off – what’s your absence rate within your organisation?

Spend 38 minutes watching this awesome film and ask your self – what changes could you make? what would be the potential outcomes?

Day Two – #MHAW22

My tip for today is raising your awareness of change in you and those around you.

Before we can support others, we need to check where our head is at. Taking a moment to think ‘how am I feeling today?’ is important for our own self-care and critical to increasing our resilience.

When it comes to those around us – family, friends, loved ones, neighbours, community as well as workplace connections – peers, line management, senior management, support staff, customers – raising awareness to notice the subtlest of changes in someone enables us to start a conversation which could literally save a live.

The earlier we start a conversation, the earlier someone can get the help they need.

Day one – Mental Health Awareness Week….

It’s amazing to think it was 21 years ago the Mental Health Foundation introduced the idea of an annual week putting the spotlight on raising awareness of mental health.

Here we are 21 years later with many people still:

  • living in silence
  • self stigmatising
  • hesitating to start a conversation when they’ve spotted a change in someone
  • not practising non-negotiable, regular windows of wellbeing everyday
  • learning proactive tools to maintain their wellbeing and increase their resilience
  • not seeing how critical self-care is not only in preventing mind ill health and also in recovery plans

In recognition of Day One of this important week, I share one of my favourite wellbeing windows for self-care that I teach.

When brushing your teeth, set the timer on your mobile to 2 minutes, play your favourite dance tune and cut some moves in the privacy of your bathroom. It gets your blood pumping, clears your mind AND IT’S FUN!

Try it.

Loneliness – Mental Health Awareness Week….

9-15 May 2022 is the Mental Health Foundation’s 21st awareness week on a particular mental health theme. This year’s theme is loneliness.

Not to be confused with being alone, a choice many make and flourish working remotely, living alone, shopping and banking online. It suits them completely. They are not lonely.

Loneliness is not a choice. People can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely. Over time, this feeling can grow and the noise of feeling lonely overwhelms and can impact all areas of someone’s life. The consequences can be devastating for the individual and those closest to them.

Recognising our body’s reaction when loneliness starts to intrude, enables us to do something about it – make arrangements to see friends, do something different with others – an art class maybe. Whatever our self-care toolkit is, we need to move quickly. The mind is a powerful tool designed to keep us safe. To do this, it overthinks negativity to such an extent we can become completely numb and unable to move if we ignore it.

Having our own, bespoke self-care toolkit ready for use when we need a bit of maintenance, in the same way we keep a toolkit for DIY repairs on our homes, is vital. It enables us to be proactive about our mind’s wellbeing which in turn enables us to be aware of any changes in those around us and be effective in guiding them.

Next week I will make a daily post on a specific area of mind wellbeing I’ve practised and taught over the past 15 years on my Twitter and LinkedIn pages in celebration of this vital awareness week.

What will you consider doing to honour this week?