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

Welcome to the April 2021 Newsletter

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

March saw the Spring Equinox, the clocks going forward and the first tulips in my garden starting to show themselves. I also had my first jab (with no side effects!) and I started to feel my way into the slow unfurling of life as we come out of lockdown, cautiously and tentatively - in my case, at least. 

This is a time of hope every year, but this year so much more so. And daring to hope for things that have been lost to us is one of the reasons that this has been the main exploration for me this month.  It's not the only reason.  I'm hatching a plan for a possible workshop with a colleague based on hope and have also started the first online training based on Joanna Macy's Active Hope.  I'm also making the link that offering hope during tough times is an act of love as well as an act of leadership.  It's the theme of my new blog, which you can see below. 

Workwise, it's been a good month, with the launch of a women's global leadership programme for a global car company, two programmes exploring organisation development and design (OD&D), and two new coaching clients  -  both senior women - that I'm excited to be working with.  April is quieter and that's an usual position for me but am planning much-needed walks on the Downs and time by the sea. You'll see from the book I'm recommending how that's a good plan :-)
Thanks for reading and for being here.  If there's anything you'd like more of or less of, please do let me know - it's always good to know how this is landing with you.  And please do send this Newsletter on to anyone you think might like to subscribe. You can find the buttons you need for that just below.  

I can't quite get my head round the fact that by the time you see me next it will be May.  But there you have it!  See you in early May :-)

Helena x
My own learning

I have three things coming up, all supporting my own learning and playing, and you might like the look of them too: .

This one not until September (and face to face!) but already looking forward to it.  It's high time I did some practitioner development in systemic systems / constellations work and having done a short online programme with Ed Rowland and his team at The Whole Partnership at the start of lock down last year - and finding that you could do good constellations work online - I was really keen to do more.  There's something really key for me about the connection between our ability to keep widening our perspective that really links to our capacity to love.

In the book review below, I mention how despite years of yoga and talking about the connection between mind and body, I'm still a bit disconnected in some ways from my own body.  So I'm thrilled to be starting a movement based class based on 5 Rhythms and Open Floor with Sarah Davies, who I met when doing a Women in Power workshop a couple of years ago.  Should be juicy :-)

Inner Critic
And also online, a chance to work in more depth and creativity with Steve Chapman and Simon Cavvichia exploring my Inner Critic.  Mostly, she doesn't bother me much now but I still notice how she likes to keep me small and caring too much about what other people think of me.  I also do a lot of work with the inner critic in my coaching practice.  So this feels like it will be both fun and useful. 

Leading from Love: programme + podcast
I'm part-way through the third group on the Leading from Love programme and we've been exploring how love shows up in our lives and work and what could be possible for ourselves and our organisations with more love.  This coming week we're looking at why the idea of love in organisations is so flippin' tricky and problematic - and what blocks it from being more present.  And with the group including a coach from Singapore, an OD Director in the NHS and an D&I specialist, the conversation is truly wonderful. 

And I'm delighted to say that I've started the podcast / interviews I've been talking about for ages! You can find the first three wonderful conversations on my podcast page, but below is Episode 1 with Naysan Firoozmand, Global Head of Exec Coaching at Ashridge, to get you started.  We explore how bold we might be in using the word love, how the relational aspects of coaching are loving aspects – and as we explore shame and fear, we hear the sound they make
Love as hope - new blog 
As I've mentioned, a theme for me these last few weeks has been hope and in this blog I write about how hope:
  • insists we look at our difficulties, pain, crises, fears, struggles and despair squarely in the eyes and don't turn away
  • is an active daily practice towards something we want to see happen, even if there's only a small chance it might happen
  • is so very different from optimism
  • is a strong thread that can motivate and keep our heads above water 
  • lies like a tiny flame within us all and we need to learn to fan that flame for ourselves and for others
  • can feel radical and bold when many people prefer to keep connected to despair
  •  ...and how hope is an act of leadership and also of love
Here's the full piece ...
Book recommendation
I'm not the best at using my body as a source of data.  I rely on my head and my emotions, mostly.  But I'm slowly getting better at seeing how pretty much everything starts in the (my) body.  In technical terms, I'm getting better at neuroception. 

So this book is interesting to me on two counts: first because it makes simple and accessible the theory behind how our vagus (pronounced vegas) system is the key to resilience and wellbeing.  The book walks us through three states - one of collapse and withdrawal, one of fight and flight and one of ease, connection and safety.  Finding ways to manage ourselves in these different states - and finding ways to spend more time in the third - is the key to wellbeing.   

So it's super practical, and although it's written for therapists, I can already see how I can integrate some of this work into my coaching practice.  And it's been a really helpful personal diagnostic for me too.  I have a good friend who is working her way through all 50 exercises.  I'm nowhere close to being that diligent (she is awesome!) but I'm already noticing how my awareness of my bodily / internal state is different, just from reading it.

But the other reason this work interests me is the connection between safety and love. In the 2018 research I did, one participant when asked why love matters in organisations said: 'love helps us feel safe and when we feel safe we’re able to be ourselves and take risks.  We can do what needs to be done rather than what we need to do to keep safe’.  So feeling loved helps us feel safe - and feeling safe helps us connect with love. 

And Deb Dana makes it clear that the qualities we can access when in the third state (called 'ventral vagal') of connection, compassion, gratitude, awe, playfulness, joy and stillness ... are available to us when we feel safe.  And so if we can find ways to access that state - and support others to do the same - then we are likely to be able to connect more with love.

So take a look: here's the link to the book on Hive
Upcoming Events
If you liked what Naysan Firoozmand, Global Head of Exec Coaching at Ashridge had to say when I talked with him about love recently, you might like the look of the 6th Relational Coaching Conference on 'Love over Fear' at Ashridge, exploring how we create the conditions for love to emerge in a coaching relationships. It's often said that the opposite of love isn't hate but fear - and that generally feels true for people I speak with.  The event is on 14 October - 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
Typically, my work involves:
  • designing and running leadership development programmes sometime for big multinationals brands and other times for a small UK Housing Association. 
  • helping teams take a good look at how they're working together 
  • coaching and holding a safe space for conversations and deep exploration that there's no time and space for otherwise
  • and of course, my on-going work with love - researching, running workshops and programmes that explore the role that love could/should have in organisational life. 
If you think a conversation about how I might support you in any of those areas might be useful, please do get in touch.  You know where I am 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
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