Monthly Archives: January 2014

On Wings, Wands and Wisdom

“Where are your wings” he asked; he was about seven and quite serious, not at all trying to be funny.

"Where are your wings?"

“Where are your wings?”

It was just before Christmas and I had gone to the nativity play at the school where my Goddaughter is deputy head. She writes it and she conducts – I love watching her. The Head had introduced me to the audience by saying that they all had someone there to watch them and enjoy their performance; and that Miss Burton had someone too “this is Miss Burton’s Godmother and she has come to support her”. The whole point was to make those whose parents hadn’t made it feel better about having grandmas, sisters, cousins and aunts there to support them instead. So this little boy came up and said “if you’re Miss Burton’s Godmother…where are your wings?”


Wings, Wands and Wisdom

Someone else called me a Fairy Godmother last week but she didn’t want to see my wings.  She was talking about how I make things happen.  In reality not only do I not have wings; I don’t have a wand either.  But these two lovely comments made me think, perhaps I do spread a little magic, and I love the thought that I might be sprinkling a little stardust on the way.

My oldest Godchild is now 39 and all this talk of fairy godmothers made me start to think about what I have made happen for her and the other six? I hope lots of things. Mostly I have tried to be there when they needed support; there to answer questions; there to be a sounding board; there to believe in them; there to offer wisdom – if wisdom is sought and only then.

Rowing in the Rain

Rowing in the Rain – blink and you miss it

I have shivered on cold tow paths year in and year out watching the two who rowed; Henley Royal Regatta is all very well but you’ve got to get through the rest of the season first. Mostly watching rowing is cold and wet, and woe betide you if you blink and miss the boat going past. Watching rowing involves yelling a lot, clapping a lot and administering a great deal of hot soup and sympathy.

Then there are the rugby players; watching rugby involves getting cold too. And as I am in a wheelchair it also involves seeking out a place where I can actually see what is going on – easier said than done – fences are always at the wrong level.

Cold, windy and very muddy

Cold, windy and very muddy

Watching rugby involves lots more yelling and clapping, less soup, more sympathy, more mud (and a lot more beer).

Sometimes there is a phone call “Auntie Liz can you do a mock interview for me?” Well yes, I can and yes I did and yes he got the university place he wanted.

Sometimes they turn up on the doorstep “Auntie Liz my A’ level results are rubbish I need a plan before I go home and talk to Mum and Dad.” More tea, more sympathy but we were warm and cosy and we crafted a plan. My godson survived the wrath of his Mum and Dad and is now a successful company lawyer.

So yes, I have to admit I do make things happen, but I can’t conjure up glass slippers or golden carriages appearing in puffs of smoke. The person who called me her Fairy Godmother this week valued the time and space I gave her to think about her business and the help I gave her to explore her ideas in a positive and creative atmosphere. Then she went and made things happen for herself….  I’m pretty sure she didn’t see the sprinkling of fairy dust following her out the door….

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On five pounds of blubber and knowing what to do about it

5 lbs of blubber

5 pounds of blubber

It’s that time of year again. I know that I didn’t need all that chocolate; I know that it wasn’t absolutely necessary to taste everything on that buffet table and I know I should have thrown out those leftovers.  But I didn’t. I ate too much; I didn’t exercise; I enjoyed the Pinot Noir; and the consequence is 5 pounds of blubber. Add that to the 7 pounds I have been procrastinating about losing and I have a whole stone of trouble. I need to lose it: I don’t like the look, my trousers don’t fit and my wheelchair does not like the extra load. I know what has to be done.

In fact I know most of the things I need to do in order to be healthy; to be happy; to run a successful business, but knowing is not the same as doing.

Life is busy, work is furious, my business makes constant demands, my clients’ needs are more important than mine, watching what I eat comes way down my list and by dinner time I know I shouldn’t eat the comfort food I am craving, but that doesn’t stop me doing it.

Over the holidays one of my Godsons asked me “So, do I need a coach?”  My answer was “Only you will know if you do”.  If you are not happy with how things are going in your life then a coach might be able to help BUT remember 3 things:

  1. If you engage a coach you will be paying for someone’s time and objective expertise.  Embrace your decision, value your decision, think of it as a gift to yourself, a special treat, an indulgence.  Enjoy the freedom your decision will bring and celebrate the successes that come your way.
  2. Once you have made the decision, ensure you know exactly what you are looking for in a coach. We can all buy on a whim and regret it – that bargain you bought in the January sale that you have never worn! Do your due diligence.  Think about your specification; who should this person be, what knowledge and skills do they need and is the chemistry there that will allow you to share your innermost thoughts?
  3. Only invest in help if you really want it now and if you believe in what you are doing.  If you are not totally committed to this new partnership, it will not be effective for you.  But if you are resolved, invest in the expertise, to coin a well-used phrase – ‘because you’re worth it’.

So why say all this?

I strongly believe we are all better people, more likely to reach our own potential if we find our coach, our ally.  I know that I need someone to help me stay focused, to help me explore options to get where I want to be and to encourage me. I think we all know we need this type of support in different areas of our life but we do not always go out and find it. We either try to go it alone (and inevitably fail); or we make a New Year’s Resolution to seek help that is broken by the end of January (if not before).

As an executive coach, a critical friend, I am an ally for my clients but I practice what I preach.  I know about me. I know I too need support.  I know when the blubber (physical and metaphorical)  threatens to engulf all that is good.  And I have invested in my very own skilful ally who offers me encouragement.

My ally - Rosie Wright

My ally – Rosie Wright

My ally is Rosie Wright, brilliant yoga teacher but much more besides. Rosie comes to me once a week and helps me keep my body in shape and my mobility good through yoga. I love her to bits because she works with who I am and what I can do.  She applauds those things I manage, and encourages me to do the things I find hard.  She never lets me be complacent and rewards me when I reach my goals.

Rosie is my very own ‘coach’ in every sense of the word.  She does not yet know about my 2014 objectives and when she does she will embrace them (heaven help me), applaud them, encourage me to realise them and reward me when I do.  I intend to get back into shape by Easter. Watch this space.

And until then, think about what you need to focus on. What are your goals? Who will be your ally? And, please, let me know if I can help?