Sunday, 31 July 2016

Let's talk sandwiches

So it's been a minute since I last posted anything. That's not to say that I didn't have anything to write, just that the panic monkey is on holiday and so I haven't had anything or anyone spurring me on. Actually, I tell a lie, the reason I haven't posted anything in a while is actually the subject of this week's blog.

This week we're talking sandwiches. Not ham and cheese, not peanut butter and jam. Not even Oreos (my personal favourite). Nope, we're talking about a 'commitment-passion-consistency' goody. Que? I can hear some of you asking. Stay with me people! you'll thank me when I'm done!

Anyone who knows me or listens to me for any length of time knows that I'm big on people discovering their passion. I can't imagine anything worse than having a passion and not being able to express it in some way. Some of us are fortunate enough to be working our passion as a 9-5 gig. Others are working it around their 9-5. The thing is though, that passion alone is not going to get you to where you want to be. It's a great 'filling' but we need the rest of the 'sandwich'

First up, 'commitment' aka, "let's get this party started". You know how when you first discover your passion, it's like all your Christmases have come at once? You are completely entranced by this fab new discovery and plan furiously what you're going to do with it. Until the time comes for you to actually do something. All of a sudden, the latest weird Facebook trend is far more interesting and requires your undivided attention! Yup, when it comes to actually committing to our dream, some of us have feet colder than Frosty the snowman. Seeing as I share this very same challenge, I've come up with something that I think can help us get over this particular hurdle. It's called "tomorrow is the new Monday". I like things nice and orderly, so I often say to myself, "I'll start on Monday" or "I'll do it tomorrow". The problem is that often, tomorrow never comes! I've decided that from now on, no matter what the next day is, it's going to be Monday, so I can get started on doing something, anything, that's going to move me forward.  Whatever your excuse is, find a way to shut it down as quickly as possible, by taking some action, as quickly as possible.

The other bit of the sandwich is 'consistency' aka, "the struggle is real".  So, you've got the passion and you've rustled up some commitment. How do you keep going through the bad times, the worst times and the "I really want to give up now" times?  The answer my friends is consistency. I looked up the meaning of consistency and it can be defined as "continuing to happen or develop in the same way". The truth is the struggle is very real.  Some days it's all I can do to get out of my lovely warm bed, never mind driving a vision forward. On those days, my advice is just find something, anything, no matter how small that will keep the vision ticking over. It's much easier to keep going with something that is still going, rather than having to start all over again.

And there you have it, my recipe for the perfect passion sandwich, to help you get started and keep going on your journey to your best you. If you have any other tips about how to keep it moving, let me know in the comments section so we can keep this conversation going.

Until next time, go well.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

I'm a magpie, you're a magpie, we're all magpies!

Magpies are funny birds. They seriously love, bright shiny objects. They love them so much, that they aren't averse to a little bit of pilfering when they find something they like! It occurred to me the other day that a lot of us are like magpies. I'll explain what I mean. In life there are always 'bright, shiny things' around us. Job opportunities, business ideas, people we meet and sometimes, even an unexpected windfall. Rather than check to see whether these things are a good fit for us and align with our purpose, we dive straight in, trying to take advantage of whatever it is.  If we took the time to look at things carefully, we might find that although we could take those things and succeed, with a bit of effort, there is actually a better way.  We could connect whatever opportunity it is, with someone for whom it is a great fit already.The question is: why do we do try to do everything that comes our way? Because actually, most of us are a bit selfish. We don't see why we should miss out on great opportunities, by giving them to someone else (or is that just me?) I saw a great piece of art a few weeks ago, by an up and coming young artist.  I could have tried to strategise about how to take advantage of this young man's talent, but luckily I recognised that this was an opportunity to act as a connector and not a magpie. So, I introduced him to an interior designer and they are getting along splendidly.
Behaving like a magpie, when you should be a connector is a bit like grabbing all the best stuff in the sale, even though it doesn't fit- very bad form indeed!

Why does this even matter, I hear some of you ask? Because in my view, life is way simpler when you live it on purpose. Sometimes, it feels like my inbox is trying to kill me.  When that happens, I've learned to let good sense kick in and re-calibrate me.  I remind myself that no matter how interesting something looks, if it doesn't align with my purpose, then at best it's a distraction and at worst a major detour.  
These are interesting times in Nigeria at the moment, requiring some serious resilience and an ability to laugh in the face of tomatoes that are like gold at the moment! In my opinion, the most resilient people are going to be the ones who are able to realign and readjust themselves to the current reality and stay focused on their purpose. Whilst there are doom and gloom stories everywhere, there are also opportunities for the courageous visionary. Understanding when to be a magpie and when to connect someone else to an opportunity, is a valuable skill right now and not for the fainthearted.

So there you have it, my explanation of how we can all be magpies at times. That said, I have a few questions for you: do you know your purpose? Are you living it out? Would you like some help, navigating life right now? If your answer to the last question is yes, then contact us through the website or call on +234 706 335 0864 and let's get started.

Until next time, go well.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Me and Daddy O

My dad and I have a standard greeting. When I call him up, I say "hello daddy O" and he replies "hello daughter O". I have to keep reminding him that now I'm married, I'm technically "daughter J". Nevertheless, when I call him the next time, we do the same thing. I guess it's because for the best part of 40 years, I was in fact "daughter O" (in fact, truth be told, I still think of myself as daughter O- just don't tell my husband!). It's Father's Day on Sunday and what better time to remind us all of some of the things that make a 'daddy'.

Firstly, being a dad, involves being present and active in your child's life. Before I go on, I need to add a caveat. I know that there are some dads aren't able to be present or active in their children's lives. That being said, let me tell you about 'daddy O'. Growing up, my dad could only cook 2 things: rice and porridge. Not the most balanced diet clearly, but he made excellent rice and porridge (not at the same time I hasten to add). However, when I think back to my childhood, that's not what I remember the most. What stands out for me are the times he spent doing the Reader's Digest word game with me; our Saturday night dance parties that have left me with very eclectic taste in music ( Millie Jackson, with a Sam Cooke chaser anyone?) or the nights he would pop in to sing us to sleep after a night out. He wasn't perfect, in fact he still isn't. He also wasn't always as present as he could have been. In spite of all that, I knew he was there for me and was interested in my life.

Secondly, dads are supposed to help you set standards for yourself. As a young girl, my dad had a unique test for potential boyfriends. He would invite them to play Scrabble with him. During the course of the game, he would 'interrogate' them. At the end, he would send us on our way. When I got back, I would always ask him what he thought. He didn't give chapter and verse, but he usually had something insightful to say about the young man in question. The common theme was that he always made me think about how the young man had/would treat me, if we were in a relationship. I must confess that for a while, I thought he was a bit weird and scaring off potential boyfriends ( why couldn't he just threaten them with bodily harm, like other dads?). Looking back now, I realise he was helping me to set standards  for how I should be treated in a relationship. Of course, I didn't always listen and there were some epic fails because of that, but I am grateful for the standards he helped me set.

Lastly, dads stick up for you. I was reminded of this recently, by the father of the Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman. His dad wrote a letter to the court, talking about how the incident had affected him. As a woman, I was foaming at the mouth with rage ( he wasn't the victim here), but as a parent I totally got it. When our children do something wrong, it doesn't make them any less our children and our instinct is to protect them. The truth is, whilst we may hate what they have done, it's really hard I imagine to hate your own child.
My dad has supported me in many an adventure, even when other people were sure I had lost my mind! I remember moaning to him about being single and asking if there was something wrong with me. His response to me was a daddy O classic. He said "darling there's nothing wrong with you. There are lots of men out there, but not so many you'd want to marry!"  Considering that I was practically in my dotage by society's standards, that was unusual advice to say the least.

In my limited experience, being a parent is possibly the hardest thing I've ever done. There's no instruction manual, no holidays and no sick leave either. As a mum though, I do get some appreciation for what I do (usually very sticky hugs at the worst time possible). Dads, not so much. As we celebrate Father's Day on Sunday, let's appreciate all those dads out there who want to do more and be more for their children.

Happy Father's Day. Until next time, go well.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

...I used to have a little, now I have a lot...

I'm still feeling my musical references and the title of this week's post is from the J-Lo song; "Jenny from the block". I've been feeling a little tested recently, concerning my complicated relationship with food and money. I know what I'm supposed to do. I've read the books, been to the seminars and been on the receiving end of a fair few lectures about how to handle my relationship with both of these things. Somehow though, in spite of my best intentions, I still end up ignoring all the good advice and circling back to the beginning. Very frustrating I must say! These are the 2 areas that trouble me the most. For you, it may be other things. This post is for anyone who is at best puzzled and at worst frustrated by their self defeating behaviours and wondering what's going on.

The first thing to know is that our beliefs drive us.  It doesn't matter whether they are conscious or unconscious, our behaviour is informed by our beliefs. It's a bit like driving and why you have to keep looking down the road and not at the car in front of you. What you focus on, you head towards. When I was learning to drive, I could never understand why chanting "do not hit the kerb" led me inexorably in the direction of said kerb! The most challenging beliefs are actually those ones that we are no longer conscious of. Those beliefs are so entrenched, because we are no longer even aware that they are dictating our behaviour. When it comes to money, my belief is "feast or famine". Actually it's worse than that, it's actually "I'm afraid of money, I don't know what to do with it and if I don't have any, then I don't have to learn how to handle it". It's taken me ages to work out that is a belief that I have around money. It's taken me even longer to be able to admit it. There's a real feeling of shame about how I relate to money and not wanting anyone to know about it. I know it's not logical, but that's how I feel. So, when you've done the work to identify what your belief is, what do you do then? Well, that's my second point:

You've got to expose that sucker to the light! A lot of us, are operating from our own beliefs, our parents' beliefs, our friends' beliefs and society's beliefs. That's a lot of baggage. Worst of all, the vast majority of them are unhelpful to us and only serve to keep us running around like headless chickens!  Monsters live in the dark. Expose them to the light and they begin to look far less scary. It works the same way with our beliefs. Once we start really looking at them, we begin to see them for what they really are and have the option to come up with ways to deal with them. Once we change our beliefs, our actions change. If we are serious about changing our lives, we have to think about what we are thinking about and make the necessary changes. Depending on what we are dealing with, we could do the work on our own. However, some beliefs are so entrenched that we need help to surface them and to tackle them. Exposing things to light is a powerful thing- just ask Dracula! Whether you enlist the help of a friend or a counsellor or a coach, the key thing is to get the help you need.

Finally, buckle up for the ride. It will take time and there will be setbacks along the way. The key thing to remember is that these beliefs may have been there for a long time and it's always going to be easiest to take the path of least resistance. The question is how badly do you want to change? If it's less painful to maintain the status quo, than to change, then that's what you're likely to do. You will find a way to live with the situation, no matter how dysfunctional it is. However, once change becomes the less painful option, that's usually the starting point for most people making the changes they need to.

So I've shared mine and now you get to share yours. What's been challenging/frustrating/perplexing you and you don't seem to be able to get a hold of it? Would you say it's a belief or something else? Have you successfully managed to overcome a negative, limiting belief? Either way, I'd love to hear from you.  You can call on +234 706 335 0864 or reach me through the website.  Be sure to leave a comment below and let's keep the conversation going.

Until next time, go well.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

...keep on moving straight ahead...

Phew! So it's been a minute since I last shared anything with you (about 7 weeks to be precise). What can I say, except that life happens. It's been a busy time. A time to reflect, a time to learn new things and a time to consolidate and come back stronger. Whilst I was doing all that I came across a quote which captured exactly what was going on for me. It's simple, but like many simple things, it's not the easiest thing to do. It says "accept what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be"

Firstly, what does it mean to "accept what is..."? There have been a few times in my life when I have needed to do exactly that and I have resisted with every fibre of my being. Why? Because in my mind, to accept what is, is to be okay with the situation and I was very far from being okay with any of those situations. What I've since come to understand is that you cannot change anything you
don't take responsibility for. And taking responsibility involves acceptance of the current reality of the situation. Not as it was, not as you'd like it to be and not what it might be in the future. Only when we do that, do we have any hope of changing our circumstances. And if it's change we're after, then that it is in no way being okay with the situation.

Secondly, "let go of what was.."  In my wardrobe I have 2 sets of clothes. One from when I was smaller and the ones I can wear now.  The only thing that the smaller clothes do is remind me of when I was in fact smaller and depress me because I can't fit into them any more. If I were to talk to other women, I'm pretty certain that I would find that I am not the only one who does this. Whatever our reason for keeping these clothes- and we have many, they represent only one thing; the past. Even if I did get back to that size again, chances are that I still wouldn't wear those clothes. Either because they are dated or because I'd be euphoric over my weight loss and be out shopping for a whole new wardrobe! My point? Let go of the past, because it's not that perfect thing that you keep remembering and it's never going to be that exact thing that you remember nostalgically now. You're different, circumstances are different and the 'past' will be different too. It's a bit like eating something as an adult that you loved as a child and thinking "yuck, this is actually quite nasty!"

Finally, "have faith in what will be". I don't know how you feel about that statement, but when I read it, I feel so hopeful. Like I have a clean slate, on which to write whatever fresh start I need.  It's the place where you believe that you can do things differently and be different. That place where you can be the best version of yourself. It's also a bit of a scary place though, because you don't know what it holds or what it will look like. And because it's so scary, it can feel safer to hold onto the past. The thing is though, if you stay stuck in the past, you will shortchange yourself. You will never know how truly amazing you are and what excellence you are capable of achieving. That my friend, is like having a top of the range BMW and only ever driving it at 20mph. Kind of defeats the object of having it I would think.

So that's me done, now I have a few questions for you. What do you need to accept, so that you begin the process of changing? What do you need to let go of, so you can get unstuck? What step of faith do you have to take to discover how amazing you are? 

I'd love to continue our conversation, so drop me a line in the comments box. If you'd like some help answering these questions then you can contact me on +234 706 335 0864 or through the website.

Until next time, go well.

Friday, 26 February 2016

...What's the meaning? What's the meaning of life?...

I never realised how much I see my life in terms of the music that I love, until I looked back at some of my old posts. The title of this week's piece is from a Soul II Soul 90's classic and it just seemed so appropriate at this time. It's still quite early in the new year and people are still trying to work out what they are about this year. Do I continue on the path I set sometime back or do I forge a new path? What do I stand for? What should I be doing with my life? are just some of the questions I hear people asking.  I came across a phrase earlier last week, that made me stop and go "hmmm". I'd like to share it with you and hear what you think, so be sure to carry on the conversation by commenting.

"Money never replaces purpose" is the phrase. When I first heard it, my first instinct was to rephrase it to say "money should never replace purpose" or "money can never replace purpose". The thing is though, that no matter how it's phrased, it is deep. I'm sure we all know at least one person who is working a 9-5 gig that is not satisfying in any way and certainly doesn't inspire them. I think of the people I know who are living with a dream deferred, planning to start their real life, sometime in the future and I think what a waste!  Lest you think I am judging them (I can assure you I'm not), I understand that there is a reality that people are dealing with. There's rent to be paid and bills to be settled. When you think of it like that, you can understand why people are not living "in purpose" (forgive the grammar). So, I can hear some of you asking: what do we do when we know we are not living our lives in purpose? I don't pretend to have a perfect answer but the next point is my attempt at answering that question.

"Find your calling, what you were created to do". I realise that this is a theme that I keep returning to but it's so important that it bears constant repeating. Life is so short, that to never discover your purpose is like being given a beautiful present that you don't unwrap. Even if we're not flowing in our calling, most of us know what it is. We know that thing that makes us feel so alive that we lose track of time. The issue is that most of us take an 'all or nothing' approach. We decide that if we can't earn a living from our passion then we won't engage with it all. I think that shortchanges us. My suggestion? Find a way to express your calling, no matter how small. Volunteer; start a group, write a blog. Whatever it is, your gift is too important to keep to yourself. It may start as a side gig and remain a side gig. It may turn into your main gig. The important thing is to share your gift. However it turns out, your life can only be enriched by using your gift.
Lastly, "the purpose of a thing determines it's form". A teapot is meant to hold and pour tea. That's why it has a spout and a handle. Imagine if it had 2 handles instead of a spout? With the best will in the world it could never fulfill its purpose.  That's exactly how it is with us. We are uniquely designed and put together to fulfill our purpose. No two of us are alike and there's a reason for that. We are meant to birth our dreams in our own unique way. What happens to a lot of us is that we try to emulate other people, ignoring our wiring and our passion. All that leads to is a lot of frustration as teapots try to act like buckets. They both hold liquid, but their form is different because they have a different purpose!  When I spoke about my life's journey to a group of young people, someone told me that "all who wander are not lost". I have tried my hand at a few different things in my life and whilst I have enjoyed my journey along the way, working as a coach feels like I've finally come home to myself.  There is a peace and contentment on the inside of me that I have found the place where I can be completely and authentically myself.  Who knew that all the things I thought made me weird are the exact things I need to be a good coach?

So, enough about me. It's over to you now. Do you think that money never replaces purpose? Are you living your life in purpose? What's stopping you from pursuing your calling? Are you embracing your uniqueness and how it helps you to live out your purpose? I hope I've given you some food for thought. If you'd like some help answering any of these questions, contact us on +234 706 335 0864 or through the website.

As I said earlier, I'd really love to hear from you, so let's keep the conversation going through your comments.

Until next time, go well.

Saturday, 6 February 2016's good to talk...

As much as I love a great tv show, I like a good advert too. The best ones make you laugh or cry or just think a bit more about whatever it is they are advertising. I have a particular soft spot for M&S ones and definitely the John Lewis Christmas ones.  The title of this week's post is taken from a series of 1980 BT adverts, fronted by Bob Hoskins. For those of you who know me well, you know I love a good talk or 2 or 3 or 4 even! You might even say that as a coach I have found my true calling- talking to a captive audience (more about that later!) This week I'd like to share 3 reasons why I think it's good to talk. Many thanks to Tara Mohr for this week's inspiration.

Firstly, talking can help us to clarify an issue that we are struggling with.  I don't know about you, but sometimes I have to talk, just to stop the thoughts running round in my head, with nowhere to go. I know it's an odd image, but when I talk in those circumstances, it feels like I'm hanging laundry outside to dry. There's something about seeing my thoughts as laundry being aired that just helps me to see things more clearly.  What I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, seem that much sharper after talking about them.

Secondly, talking about a challenging situation can help us to resolve it. Sometimes the act of talking brings a fresh perspective. Other times it helps you to crystallise the situation and the solution in your mind. At other times, talking helps you to put the situation into context. Whatever it does, the important point is that vocalising a problem is often the first step in dealing with it.

Lastly, talking, especially to someone else can help you learn valuable life lessons from challenging situations.  The truth is that we never grow in our comfort zones. However, I don't know many people who venture out of their comfort zone looking for a problem to help them grow. That's where challenging situations come in handy. They come along, kick us out of our comfy armchair and if we let them, they teach us some really important things. Instead of fretting about the challenging circumstances in our lives, how about purposefully talking to someone about them- with a view to seeing what they have come to teach us? I'm convinced that there's a little bit of alchemy involved in turning something that you thought was going to ruin you, into a life lesson that moves you to another level in your life.

So, back to me and my captive audience...just kidding. Talking is just one part of coaching. The other important components are listening, asking the right questions and giving useful feedback are the other parts. All of these things work together to help you identify the solutions you already have on the inside of you.

As I end, I ask you a couple of questions: do you have an issue you need to get clarity on? Are you trying to deal with a challenging situation? Or are you struggling to see the life lesson in a trying situation? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then why not schedule a coaching session with us? The first session is complimentary and there's no obligation to buy. Contact us on 0706 335 0864 or through the website and book your session.

Until next time, go well.