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

Welcome to the November 2021 Newsletter

Hello lovely people. I hope all's well with you and that October was good to you.

A wonderful feature for me was meeting several people IRL who I've known online or been connected with at a distance for a few years - or are close friends I haven't seen in person  ...  Annei Townend, Caroline Guibert-Pavilet, Emma Lowe, Clair Fisher, Simon Cavicchia ... thank you, all, for your wonderfulness!

I did a cracking couple of sessions with Susanna Katsman from Minds at Work exploring my 'immunity to change'.  This is a great framework that I use with clients but it had been a while since I used it to look at some of my own patterns.  Some new stuff came up for me around why I seem so compelled to be busy and take on so much.  Fascinating (and ouch!) and helpful. 

My husband, Dom, was knocked off his bike by a car and ended up with a broken hip.  An operation to pin it and he was back home and walking very gingerly on crutches.  It meant I became carer for an intense week as he could do so little.  It's given me new-found empathy with single working mums who have a toddler, that's for sure, and for anyone with caring responsibilities who also works full time. That said, he generally asks so little of me that it really is a privilege to be in service to him.  I find I really enjoy it (mind you, knowing it's short term probably helps with that!).  He's now able to stand long enough to do the washing up, and bend enough to put his own socks and pants on.  Great progress!

This month I also wrote a piece for HR Zone  which allowed me to talk about some of the things we can do to create cultures that are kind, compassionate and inclusive and help people feel that they matter. Thanks, Jess and Perry from PTHR, for giving me the opportunity to write for you. 

In terms of my own learning, I've signed up for this Wild Writing course to develop a ‘co-creative writing practice’ inspired by the natural world and our ‘wild self’ starting on 15 Nov, and so looking forward to it.  I also start my Systemic Leadership Coaching & Constellations (COLPI) training the same week. Having already done some work in this field, it feels like love is right at the heart of it so I'm really looking forward to doing more.  

As you can tell from the pictures, I'm loving the colours around me and the way things are so wet and mulchy.

And finally, read on for more details of a delicious event that's coming up on 22 Nov and a new blog piece.

See you in early December and wishing you a good month in the meantime.
H x

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It's been a good month for love.

I started a new in-house Leading from Love programme with a group of clinical and managerial leaders in in an NHS Trust.  I love how this work seems to facilitate depth and connection between people. True, they're a self selecting group.  But still, there's something about exploring love that just seems to unlock the deeply human in us. 
I also went along to the Ashridge Relational Coaching Conference. The theme was Love over Fear and there were over 100 people up for exploring that subject.  The keynote from Marina Cantacuzino from The Forgiveness Project was a deeply powerful session exploring forgiveness as a radical alternative to vengeance and conflict. And Robin Shohet was inspiring on the way that he recognised that fear is a driver for so many of us and so we have to face that and learn to work with it.

I ran a workshop session myself.  It was a joy to run and many people found it powerful.  It was almost all experiential,  exploring 'can we create love between people who have never met before?'.  The answer seemed to come back a resounding yes!

And then, with Renee Smith, of Make Work More Human, I ran a workshop session as part of Evolve4Change Conference.  We explored the 'map of love' and I ran an experiential session and again it landed so well.   This time it was virtual and we learned that we can cultivate deep intimacy, connection and love over Zoom too.


And if you'd like a taste of those experiences yourself, I'm running something similar for the Mayvin community on 22 NovA one hour session exploring love, as part of their series of Artful Knowing gatherings.  Come along - plenty of great people already signed up - and I think you might really enjoy it!
This is  mine.  This is not mine. 
I mentioned a new blog ...

One of the things I see time and time again in organisations is people taking on too much of the responsibility to make things better, to fix things, to make things ok for other ... and thinking that the way to do that it to work harder at at fixing themselves.

Yes, of course, there are sometimes plenty of ways we can look at how we're getting in our own way.  But this is only part of the picture ....and I write more about that here in a new blog on the importance of working out what is and what isn't my work to do. 
Quotes worth quoting
When I talk about love either in workshops or at events, we generally get onto the subject of how love is quite a tricky topic to raise with other people.  One person on a recent Leading from Love programme told how she was mocked for coming on a leadership programme that had love in the title.

And so I often use a quote from Steve Coogan, which generally gets lots of nods and laughs:

 ‘the edgiest word to use at the moment isn’t f**k, c**t, piss or shit. It’s love. That’s what really makes people’s buttocks clench.’

 ...and then later follow it up with words from the environmental campaigner George Monbiot who says, when it comes to raising issues that people find difficult:

‘We need to get embarrassing about it - overcome our own reticence and risk upsetting people. We have a duty to break the awkward silence and talk about the subject other people want to avoid’.

And if I think the group can bear one more quote, I might also add something that's said to come from the Hopi Indian tradition, which is:

'you are the one you've been waiting for'. 
Some great reads
This month, not so much reading but a couple of good ones...

One is Factfulness by Hans Rosling.  I've always resisted reading this book and when it came up in my Book Group, I was a bit grumpy about it.  I didn't want to be told that everything is good in the world when I tend to go along with Jem Bendell and his thinking on Deep Adaptation, and think that we're heading towards the edge of something pretty cataclysmic - and that there is so much wrong in climate and social injustice that needs addressing. 

But reading it was a fabulously humbling experience because I had to let go of a way of seeing the world that was limited and partial. It got my critical thinking muscles firing - checking the way we use and see data - and felt like it filled in a gap in my education.  I noticed how reluctant I was to let go of some hard-baked views but it really did change something in me.  I found a way to see that some things were very bad, and also getting better. 

And fiction - another book I'd never have read unless my good friend Sam had recommended it is Jane Gardam's Old Filth.  Rich and moving, it's the first in a trilogy and so you imagine what's already on its way from Hive. 
Upcoming Events
As I mention above, I'm running a short session for the Mayvin community on 22 November between 1000 and 1100.  A space to explore love together, as part of their series of Artful Knowing gatherings, I've described it like this:  
For many people the world of work feels loveless. But if as human beings we are hardwired for love, then it can’t be so.
Perhaps it’s more that certain things get in the way of us connecting with that love while we’re at work.
Some people feel that love has no place in the world of work at all. It’s for the private domain, they say. And love is often associated with romance and religion, sex and sentimentality, which doesn’t help.
So what might it take to bring more love into our work? What might be possible if more love was present between us? How might we gently create the conditions for love?
This session explores two ways we can connect with the love that’s already here, and suggests that doing so could help us start to cultivate the conditions for more love in our organisations and wider lives.

Come along - plenty of great people already signed up - and I think you might really enjoy it!
Details and sign up is here
My work stuff
I'm currently spending a lot of my time working alongside an in-house team in a global manufacturing business and luxury brand to design a leadership development programme to support a massive organisational change.

It's such a privilege to get to do this work right from the very early thinking - and where the client says: 'bring everything you know'.  It's wonderful.

For years I've been running programmes supporting in-house OD and LD practitioners in:
  • working in complexity and ambiguity when the stakes are high
  • when new information about what's needed is coming in all the time
  • the work is high profile
  • the ambition is huge and resources are finite
  • you're trying to balance the consulting roles of pair-of-hands, expert and collaborative partner
  • the organisation is traditional and hierarchical but is wanting to move to a more modern ways of working and organising ...
.... and so I always love to put money where my mouth is. 

I'm doing the work with a colleague I know but we've never done this sort of work together before.  And that's testing me too - in a good way! - and I'm learning heaps about myself, my practice and my personal triggers. 

And alongside that, a rich mix of coaching including some with a fascinating international  group, some gender allyship workshops, and prepping for a CIPD webcast exploring ethics in our field. 

And 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.

Thank you
Helena x

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