Thursday, 29 March 2012

I feel like I can tell you anything

Hands up anyone who wouldn't like to spend time with someone who they felt comfortable with? My guess is that there aren't very many hands up!

If you were to observe a coaching session, it would look very much like 2 people having a conversation.  That's exactly what coaching is- a conversation.  A conversation that is purposeful and designed to help you achieve your goals.

You could say that coaching is a series of conversations with a purpose.  If you wanted to bake a birthday cake, you wouldn't include pepper and leave out sugar, because that's not how cakes are made.  A coaching conversation without purpose or direction, would lead to some very dissatisfied clients.  The job of the coach is to make sure that every conversation remains focused on the overall purpose of the session.

Another thing that differentiates a coaching conversation is that it's all about you.  We all talk to friends and in most conversations people usually manage to have their say.  Most people would run a mile, if they had a friend who was only interested in talking about themselves!  The coaching process focuses on you and the issues you want to resolve.  That can be very welcome, but also quite scary, because the success of the sessions is only as good as the input you bring.

Finally, a good coach needs to able to deploy a number of skills in the coaching process.  I like to think of it, like a toolbox- a collection of skills that you deploy differently with each client.  Some of the most essential skills are empathy, the ability to listen well, good questioning skills, being able to give proper feedback and being intuitive.

I can hear some of you saying, "why should I pay a coach, when I have friends?"  As I said earlier, not many people would want to spend a lot of time, with someone who only talked about themselves.  Throw in the skills that are needed and you can see why friends sometimes only want to be friends, not coaches or counsellors.

I hope this has shed some light on what coaching is and how it can benefit you.  If you would like more information, visit the website and drop us a line.

Until next week, go well.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Smile and wave

This week, I'm pondering what has come to be known as 'bad wife syndrome'.  It's where a successful, high flying woman, is brought back to earth with a bump!  This is either because her husband's career is in the ascendancy or her relationship fails.  There are plenty of examples of this at the moment, ranging from singer Katy Perry, to the Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron.

It seems that in spite of all the gains women have made over the years, there is still a firm belief, that her primary role is to support her husband.  Now, before you label me as one of those 'man-hating feminists', I would hope that there were discussions and negotiations, in order to work things out for the good of the family. I am commenting on what is outwardly visible and that is usually that a successful woman, generally recedes into the background, when her husband's career takes off.

There are of course, some women, who refuse to play the game.  Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cherie Blair and Miriam Gonzalez are just three who spring to mindThey continued to pursue professional success and satisfaction, in spite of the fact that they are all wives of prominent politicians.  There's a heavy price to pay though, in the form of criticism from the media and other sections of society, who believe that the role of a politician's wife is to support her husband.  Katy Perry's father, appeared to blame her for the failure of her marriage-because in his words "her career got really busy and she did not get to see much of was just one of those things".

On the other hand, Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama, seem to have bowed to the pressure and are playing the role of the dutiful, supportive, politician's wife.  The commentary on these 2, accomplished, women in their own right, during the recent visit to America, seems to focus primarily on what they wore!

Is the message that we want to send to our young women "excel, but be careful, not to be seen to eclipse your husband?" or " you can have a successful career or a successful marriage, not both"?  Neither of those messages appeal to me and I think the better message is "negotiation and balance are key to maintaining a successful career and marriage".  The current status quo is both polarising and unhelpful in my view.  In an age, where there is a desperate need for positive role models for young women, shouldn't we be trying to find a better way?

Until next week, go well.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Hold on, change is coming

What would you say, if I told you that you already have the answer to every question you will ever ask? That you have the perfect solution to every challenge you will ever face?

I suspect some of you would think I'd lost my marbles and the rest of you might think, "I'll have some of whatever she's on".  Don't worry, I am completely sane, I'm just talking about how coaching can help you to unlock your potential.

Coaching has been around for ages.  I googled the word 'coaching' recently and it came back with 293,000,000 hits!.  As you would expect, there are also many definitions of coaching.  My favourite one is by Julie Starr and she defines coaching as " transporting someone from one place to another".  I love this definition, because it speaks of going on a journey.  It reassures you that you don't have to stay where you are, that by making some changes, you can get to where you want to be. In short, coaching can change your life.

The thing is, change can be scary- even when you made the decision to change.  For example, how many of us have decided to change our eating habits, but find ourselves eating the very things, we decided to cut out?

Sometimes we find ourselves repeating the same unhelpful behaviour, over and over again.  The first step in changing those patterns, is to really become aware of what we are doing.  For some of us, this plays out in our personal relationships.  For others, it's about difficulties in the workplace.  Being willing to examine ourselves and increase our self awareness is the first step to making a change. 

Self awareness on it's own isn't enough though.  We also need to be courageous enough to take responsibility for our own part in the situation.  I'm not talking about guilt or blame, just an acknowledgment that we have made a contribution to the issue.  We cannot change what we do not accept. It's the combination of self awareness and responsibility that help us to bring about change.

Even though change is scary, isn't it worth taking that chance, in order to fulfil your potential?  Take that first step, no matter how small and see the wonderful opportunities that are opening up for you.

Go well.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The right kind of victim

Today is International Women's Day and it's got me thinking about women, violence and the response to violence against women.

It seems that in today's society, women are only portrayed in certain roles: mother; wife; life partner; sexually attractive & available, bitchy or as a victim. Even though, we are so much more than that.

Women are often viewed through those limited lenses and never more so, than when they are the victim of violence.  When the average person hears the word 'victim', they think of someone weak, defenceless, someone oppressed, who can't fight back.  Someone, who's behaviour has not contributed to their misfortune.  It's precisely that type of thinking that can affect the response to violence against women, for the worse.

When a woman is raped, the questions come thick and fast- where was she? what was she wearing? did she lead him on? had she been drinking?  We filter our responses through the labels that are applied to women.  At the heart of all these questions is a desire to find out, if she's the 'right kind of victim'.  Because in the society we live in today, there is only really sympathy for a 'proper' victim.  It's almost as though there is a hierarchy of victimhood and only the most deserving get to go through.

Although there is almost no discernible difference in levels of domestic violence across the various socio-economic divides.  When an affluent, professional woman discloses violence, there is often an air of palpable disbelief.  As though domestic violence respects professions and post codes! There are plenty of abusers who wear smart suits and go off to well paying jobs, just as there are many who dont.

I'd like to add one more label- 'survivor'.  To go through any type of violence against women and come out on the other side, is no longer about being a victim, but a survivor.  To be able to acknowledge what has been done to you, but not let it break you, is most definitely about being a survivor.

So today, as we celebrate International Women's Day, I applaud all the organisations who support survivors of violence against women.  I applaud all those who speak out and condemn violence against women.  Most of all, I applaud the women who may have started off as victims, but who are now most definitely survivors.     

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Never can say goodbye

Welcome to the very first blog by born2beautiful.

We're all about empowering women and girls, so we'll be posting on everything from make up to violence against women.  If an issue affects women and girls, then we'll be talking about it.

This week, it's all about Rihanna and Chris Brown allegedly getting back together.  Who can forget those horrific pictures of her, 3 years ago?

In the coverage, the focus is all on Rihanna and why she's taken him back.  But there's a very large elephant in the room.  Why isn't this being named as domestic violence? if it was, I would like to think that there would be a more nuanced understanding and discussion of why she would reconcile with him.

For those who have never experiened domestic violence, it seems quite straightforward to leave an abuser and never look back.  For a survivor, it's a completely different thing.  He says he loves her, yet he abuses her, he says she's 'good for nothing' but he blames her for the violence, he says he can't live without her, but he regularly tries to kill her.

What does she do? where does she go for help? who can she trust?

Rihanna's got to make up her own mind about this relationship, but instead of judging her for her decision, how about educating her about domestic violence and the fact that for some women, it really is 'until death do us part'