Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser
Leadership Developer • Facilitator • Writer

Welcome to the February 2021 Newsletter

Hello everyone, and especially new subscribers to this Newsletter. I hope you like what you find here.

How are you doing? Have you been like me, and found this past month a bit tough?  Maybe it's been the mostly miserable January weather, and the ongoing impact of restrictions and lockdown.  Also, I started the process of selling my dad's house (and my childhood home) by bringing in a team of house clearers which has felt impersonal and brutal. But whatever it is, it's been hard to find my mojo.  I've spent most days wondering how many hours it is before I can go back to bed with my electric blanket and a book or Netflix ...

But 1 Feb was the ancient festival of Imbolc, with its symbolic snowdrops marking the start of Spring.  It's the midpoint between the two Equinoxes and a reminder that whatever else is going on, nothing will stop Spring :-)

It's been busy though, with:

  • a fierce and powerful 4 day leadership programme where we did some bold stuff - working with poetry, masks and childhood photos to find ways of shaking off the stories we hold about the world and about ourselves that keep us stuck.
  • doing some training in 'vertical development' which looks at ways that we can grow the capacity of our minds to better deal with complexity and ambiguity.  This approach has underpinned my work for some time and it's great to hear from a very experienced practitioner in the field to understand both theory and practice a in more depth.  See the book review below for a bit more on this.
  • feeling my way into some work with a new consultancy and learning so much from peers who bring a lot of the qualities and experience I want more of.
  • a lot of coaching and noticing the theme of overwhelm and people feeling close to burnout. In organisations there's a lot of pressure to be always 'on it' and there's guilt and self-reprimand when we're not.  I've spent a lot of time these last few weeks telling clients that whatever they're feeling is normal-for-now and encouraging a gentle acceptance of feeling a bit under par.
And on that note, a new blog in the section below. Last month I wrote about love and how it calls to us to be generous, and even to sacrifice something.  This month, I write about how love also demands a focus on self and how self love and self compassion have to be part of the picture, otherwise it's not love.  And it's also not leadership.   

So thanks for reading and for being here. And plea
se do send this Newsletter on to anyone you think might like to subscribe. You can find the 'share' buttons just below.  

(And if, like me you love that painting of snowdrops, have a look at Beth Whittaker Artist to see some more of her amazing work)

See you in early March ...
Helena x
Things I've loved this month
In the depths of these winter months there are a few things that I've found really comforting: 

I keep reminding myself of the words of John O'Donoghue who says 'this is the time to be slow, to lie against the wall until the bitter weather passes'.  His work is always a source of great solace and inspiration -  and it really doesn't yet feel time for anything more than he suggests. 

And I hum this track from Karen Drucker when I need to remind myself of what I most need to hear. 

I've mentioned before, the wonderful podcast from Compassionate Communities and this punchy episode featuring Gary Crooks is a cracker and left me with such a sense of hope and optimism and belief in the goodness of people. 

If you want some great TV with love at its heart, then I'm sure you've already devoured Schitt's Creek.  And the recent All4 It's A Sin had me gripped and, of course, in tears.

And more people are getting interested in love.  There's a great event coming up (see below) exploring the idea of Concrete Love - because 'whatever love is, it must be concrete' - and you can read all about the idea from Tim Leberecht here.  

Leading from Love programme update
I have just three places remaining for the next Leading from Love programme.

This starts on Friday 19 March and runs for 6 sessions. Dates are Friday 19 and 26 March. Then a week off for Easter. And back for 4 more weeks Friday 9, 16, 23 and 30 April.

Full details are here and if you think someone you know would be interested, please do pass it on - I'd love for word to spread about it. It's been described by previous participants as inspirational and soulful and 'a deeply thought provoking examination of what it means to be a leader and bring more love and humanity into the way we lead'. 

Remember too, that I'm looking for leaders in organisations who'd be up for a 30 min recorded conversation with me, exploring how they see and think about love in their workplace. You don't need to be doing amazing things with love - you just need to be a senior role in an organisation and have an interest in exploring love in the context of leadership.

Please drop me line at
helena@helenaclayton.co.uk if you think you might be interested. I'd love to talk with you.

Sacrifice and self-care 
When it comes to work overload in my clients, one place that gest my attention is the system and the role of leaders in perpetuating the culture that's causing harm.  I also start to work with the individual from a compassionate place, seeking to find ways to counterbalance the harshness of the working environment with some form of nurture.

But sometimes that's not enough.  Sometimes we need to ask ourselves some really hard questions about how we've got ourselves into this position.  And how we're still stuck here.  And what we are willing to do to get ourselves out.

Last month, I wrote about sacrifice and how giving up what we wanted or thought we needed so that others could have more was a form of love.  This month, I write about the dangers of sacrificing who we are - and sometimes the best of who we are -  in ways that aren't sustainable, good for us and can feel akin to self harm.

Because you matter. 

You can read that piece here
A good read
Vertical development (and love)

It used to be thought that we stopped developing when we reached adulthood.  That our capacity for change and 'upwards' growth in our bodies was mirrored by the growth of our minds.  So when we focused on teaching or helping adults to learn new things, our focus was more on lateral or horizontal development where we simply added more new material into the mind that was already fully developed.  But recent thinking is changing that view. 

Theories of 'adult constructivist development' are now suggesting that we can further develop our capacity to think and learn - we can continue to grow 'vertically' and that we can not only add more things into our mind but grow the capacity of our minds to hold more.  The key idea behind vertical development is that if we are to handle and respond to the increasing complexity of the world, then we need to develop our mind to handle that complexity.  And if we treat the world as if it is simple and not complex then we are likely to put in place solutions that are no way near appropriate or effective. 

I've been 'working in the shallows' of this world and work for several years now mostly for my leadership development practice but also because, in my work with love I'm curious to explore the links between a greater capacity for complexity and for seeing the bigger (biggest) and a greater capacity for love. You might remember a blog from a few months ago exploring eldership and the links to leadership which has some related thinking. 

And Upgrade, by Karen Ellis and Richard Bostock is one of the best I've found for making the theory and concepts of vertical development practical and clear.  I've just started some training with Karen Ellis which is why I read it - and so I'm recommending it here for those who might also be interested in this field. 

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Upcoming Events
As I mention above, I have new dates for the next Cohort of Leading from Love, starting in March.  Full details are here.  Previous participants said it was inspirational and soulful and 'a deeply thought-provoking examination of what it means to bring more love and humanity into the way we lead'.  Take a look for yourself or for someone else you know who might be interested...
There's still not much happening in the world of events but in June this year, you might like the 6th Relational Coaching Conference on 'Love over Fear' at Ashridge, exploring how we create the conditions for love to emerge in a coaching relationship has now found a new home on 25th June 2021. That should be safe enough, we hope! Do add the date to your diary - and I hope to see some of you there.

And do you already know The House of Beautiful Business?  Take a look - they do some wonderful things.  Their next big conference in the Autumn - both live and streamed - is on the theme of Concrete Love and you can read founder Tim Leberecht's take on that here.  It's full of lots of other great links to 'love in action'  so definitely worth a read. And maybe you might like the look of a conference place too?
Let's Connect
If the idea of love in organisations interests you (or maybe more interestingly if you think that love doesn't have a place in organisations...) come and explore it with me. You could hold a Learning Lunch session for your team on the role love might play in leadership - or run my 'Leading from Love' survey in your organisation. You might welcome a 1:1 session to explore your own relationship with love. Or take part in one of my Action Inquiry groups, exploring love in the workplace. Whatever, please do get in touch as I'd welcome the chance to explore this with you further.

Beyond that my leadership development work is all about conversations and relationships and building programmes that really open participants' eyes to new ways of seeing and working. Yes even virtually.  So whether you're interested in finding out more about that, want some good books recommendations, or can share your own experiences of developing leadership, it would be good to hear from you.

I'm social too so you can follow me on
Twitter and LinkedIn or connect via Email. Or call me of course, whichever suits.

Helena x

Email: helena@helenaclayton.co.uk
Call: 07771 358 881
Join me on social media
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