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

Welcome to the July 2021 Newsletter

Hello there and I hope you’re well?

So we've tipped beyond the Solstice with shorter days ...but hopefully we still have plenty of summer ahead.  

Part by design and part just-the-way-it's-worked-out, I have a summer that's light on work.  It's lovely - room for walks and trips to the beach for swims, more holidays, more time to see friends.  But I also feel guilty for kicking back. Feels irresponsible to be saying I'm not busy with work. I notice the 'shoulds' about doing something (more) useful or productive. And my Inner Critic delights in telling me I'm lazy (she's hilarious!)  But I'm ignoring all of that mostly and enjoying a laid back summer.

Most of my work is coaching, and with such different things to explore - one developing themselves to move to CEO, another focusing on their wellbeing and a third exploring career options.  I think because I have more space, and am less rushed, I am also paying a new sort of attention to the quality of my coaching. I'm thinking more about who I am as a coach and how I can balance the core 'this is me and this is how I work' with adapting to the person, the issue, the dynamic that's unfolding in each moment, what the ICF calls 'dancing in the moment'. A new coaching supervisor, Simon Cavicchia, is helping enormously with that. 

I have a feeling that 'who am I and who do I want to be' is alive at the moment because I also turned 57y in June and feel very attuned to being just 3 years away from 60.  What kind of 60y old woman do I want to be?  I think I'm already becoming her ... but always worth checking in, I reckon!  Eugene Gendlin says 'currently the cultural routines and roles that used to connect us are insufficient. We have to innovate all day, find new ways to be a woman, man, wife, parent, teacher, executive, old person, young person'.  Maybe there's something about that for me at the moment. Which is also, no doubt, why a new blog (below) explores how we might deal with the losses that come with ageing. 

I also finished a few coaching sessions myself.  Well, not coaching exactly, but focusing. A specific practice based on the work of Eugene Gendlin, working with the 'felt sense' of something and using the body's knowledge, working with 'the body sensed from inside, where new things arise'.  For me, somewhat disconnected with my body and trying to deal with most things through my head, working with my eyes closed, 'speaking from far inside' and responding to what arises in the moment is both a stretch and also very powerful. I've been working with Peter Gill and am likely to book a few more sessions soon. 

So into July we go - wishing you a good one - and I can't believe it will be August when I'm next here ...
H x

'Deepened by diminishment' new blog

I mentioned this last month.  When I wrote about eldership and the choice we have as we age to intentionally also try to grow wiser as we grow older, I came across the phrase 'deepened by diminishment'.  It won't let me go - I keep thinking about it - perhaps because I feel rather connected to my own ageing at the moment.

And so I write about it here.  Well, start to write anyway.  More like 'thinking out loud'.  It was a piece of writing that refused to come.  But I've made a start and let's see where I go with it next.  I do know that I'll  be doing an interview with someone about it at the end of July - someone who's doing his PhD on this theme - am so looking forward to it - and I hope I'll have that ready for the next Newsletter. 

See what you think.  I'd love your views on where you'd like me to take this theme.

A conversation with Caron Bradshaw OBE
Let me introduce you to the fabulous Caron Bradshaw OBE.  Caron is the CEO of the Charity Finance Group and not only a senior leader who's comfortable talking about love in leadership but one of the rare people who puts what she believes into practice in the way she lives and, perhaps most importantly, the way she works and leads.

When I first met Caron, her boldness and clarity, directness, compassion and lightness was striking.  Here you'll get a feel for that and also hear how it was she came to lead from love, and the role that others can play in helping us be bold in living in a way that really matters to us.  You'll also learn how love is action, and how love is SO much more than compassion and nurture.  Caron also talks about how love in our leadership also starts with our ability to love ourselves ...

This is such a rich listen ... I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 
Writing practice
I would love to write more.  And I wonder what it would be like to be able to say 'and I'm also a writer'.  There is a school of thought that says if you want to be something, then you just start describing yourself as that thing.  'I'm a writer.  Yes, that's right, I'm a writer.'.  Mmmm.  Maybe.  I'll let you know how that goes.  But I'll never move one inch towards that vision unless I do actually write. Fortunately, this summer is allowing me more space and time for that.  And here's what's helping me.

Rereading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, both fabulous and practical books to dip into to get nudges about how to write.   I love her writing guidelines of 
keep your hand moving - lose control - be specific - don't think - don't worry about punctuation and grammar and spelling - you are free to write the worst junk - go for the jugular.

Also, a Solstice morning session with Julie Dryborough for an hour of writing together in a small group.  You might check out her Write Nights series of writing workshops.  And to protect the time to write, take a look at The Writing Hour, a one hour session at 8am each weekday morning, where sometimes hundreds of people are online and writing together.  Both effective and powerful.  And Moyra Mackie has a great 'get your journaling practice underway' programme if you'd prefer a bit of structure. 

Reading Judi Marshall's Living Life as Inquiry, James Pennebaker's Writing to Heal and also Richard Leider's Claiming Your Place at the Fire, all of which remind us to tell our own stories as a way to understand ourselves and our lives and our place in the world. 

And how I am I doing?  Well, I'm starting with the basics and Goldman's advice to set aside short bursts, as small as 10 mins, and just write.  A mini version of Julia Cameron's Morning Pages, I guess - but shorter and at any time of day.  And I'm really enjoying it. 
Some good reads
Earlier this year, I finally had some purpose-built shelves built for the office, getting rid of the ones we've lived with for years, that cost £5 from our local charity shop.  They did good service.  And not only do these wonderful new ones make for THE most stylish of Zoom backdrops, lol :-) but they represent a big part of who I am.  Someone who loves books. Who adores good fiction.  And a gift of this Summer of Space is that I'm hoovering up some great reads.  

I can recommend The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. a magic realism story about love and longing and loss.  The latest Lionel Shriver, The Motion of The Body Through Space, a very modern and quite close-to-home look at bodies and marriage and how they change.  Also about love and loss, as it happens. And Raynor Winn's The Wild Silence too.  And I can't quite believe I'm saying this, but this is also look at love and loss (maybe everything is...)

From more of a work angle comes Claiming Your Place by the Fire from Richard Leider, an exploration of what it means to live a purposeful and meaningful life as we age.  Some time ago, I was lucky enough to have some supervision with the extraordinary Josie Gregory.  And she said to me once, with passion: 'as you age, never let your life get small'.  I have never forgotten that.  And as I start to gently stroll into my 57th year, I hear her voice even more strongly and am increasingly interested in how I stay expansive when it's sometimes rather easy to curl up and make myself small. 

On Netflix, Dom and I are working our way through Fargo, and loving David Thewlis's great screen baddie!  And Call My Agent gets better by the episode. 
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 on my first podcast, 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.
Current work
Current projects include:
  • a number of Exec level coaching clients all exploring very different things.  One positioning herself for a CEO move, another exploring his well being resilience and a third taking space to step back 'onto the balcony' and review how he's managing his intense work and life pressures. 
  • part way through a Foundations of OD programme with a group who are new to Organisation Development. .  This has been great not least because it's made me go back to first principles of OD and think about what a 'new to the field' group really might need to know about. 
  • an in-house Leading from Love programme, the first that's for an organisation with a second one planned for the client in the autumn.
  • scoping out some diagnostic work for a long standing client to support a group of deep-dive technical experts integrate leadership into their work.
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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