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

Welcome to the December 2021 Newsletter

Hello folks and I hope all's well with you.

It's been lovely and also an intense and varied month for me.  There's been: 

  • the first 3 days of a Systemic Constellations programme with Ed Rowland of The Whole Partnership.  I've dabbled in constellations work for some years but this is the first practitioner training I've done - and it was wonderful.  It feels less like a training and more like a set of experiences that I'll learn from.  And I can already feel the difference in my coaching and ways of looking at things.
  • the continuation of a demanding and fascinating client project - advising, designing, delivering. It's really challenging me on so many levels and that's stimulating and humbling but (and I know how corny this sounds) so full of learning. 
  • My first experience of a Schwartz Round, a form of reflective practice used in the NHS and in some educational settings. 
  • the final Faculty meeting of the Roffey Park MSc programme I've been involved with for 8 years which has come to an end. It has been some of my most challenging and rewarding work and I'm forever grateful I got the opportunity to be part of that programme. And this meeting, as well as a few other events this month, has reminded me about the importance of ending well. 
  • I'm also now working with the good folks at yWe Media to record my Leading from Love podcasts. The content of the conversations stay the same, but the look-and-feel is all so much more professional now.  I'm delighted with how it's turned out!  You can find all 6 episodes, including the most recent one on my podcast page and also on Apple and Spotify. 
And on a personal note, Dom's almost recovered and now using sticks and not crutches; I'm loving the Wild Ways to Writing programme; I said no to something and held a boundary which felt great; had a horrible ear infection; LOVED being in London for a few days; and my weekly swim in my local pool plus plenty of yoga is counterbalancing a huge amount of time on Zoom ....

Wishing you a lovely month ahead and I'll see you on the other side ...
H x

And if you find something useful in this Newsletter, I'd love it if you could share it on social or forward it to someone in your network so that it can reach more people. Thank you!

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Love in Organisations - new programme dates
I'm so pleased to confirm new dates for the next cohort of my Leading from Love / Love in Organisations programme.

This is a 6 week online programme, and we meet for 2 hours on a Friday morning.  The dates are March 4, 11, 18, 15  and April 1 and 8. Come and join - it's sure to be a great group of people committed and curious about how we can put deep humanity at the heart of our work. 

People in previous cohorts have described it as:
  • a deeply thought-provoking examination of what it means to be a leader and the mission to bring more love (and thus humanity) into the way we lead and organise our teams.  
  • this is most thought provoking and action oriented course I have ever attended and I can see the impact in my organisation already after just a few short weeks
  • Leading from Love is the single most profound self-learning experience I’ve ever been a part of.
Over the 6 weeks, we explore:

Why does love matter – and why does it matter now, in our organisations and for your teams? Do we need a business case for love and what might that be? 

How love is problematic.  In what ways is it tricky or problematic to bring love into the workplace?  And why? What blocks or enables love in you, and in your organisation?

What do we mean by love?  What does it mean for you personally, for the team you lead or are part of, and for your organisation?

Your leadership, through the lens of love.  What has your personal social history taught you about love and what it is, and how does it show up for you today?

How might we create the conditions for love in the workplace.  What would a ‘field guide’ for love in organisations contain?

Full details are here
A new podcast episode - Karen Blakeley
in my new format podcast, do take a listen to this wonderful conversation with Karen Blakeley

Karen was the Head of the Centre for Responsible Management at Winchester University for many years.  She also wrote Leading with Love: Rehumansing the Workplace, a wonderful book I've mentioned a few times in recent Newsletters.  Karen had got in touch with me a few months ago, when someone she knew recommended my work on love to her.  Little did she know that I was in the middle of reading her book when I heard from her.  Such a lovely bit of timing!

Karen talks about the sacred responsibilities of leadership; shares practical ways that show how love can be in the simplest and most everyday actions; says love is the key to delivering performance and talks of how research is showing us that power does something strange to our brain and gets in the way of love. 

You can find that episode here ... 
A Love Poem

I'm using poetry a bit more in my leadership development work and read out a section of this poem to a group of people recently.  Ed Rowland read it on the Constellations training, and I thought you might like it too.    

Yes, it is true. I confess,
I have thought great thoughts,
and sung great songs—all of it
rehearsal for the majesty
of being held.

The dream is awakened
when thinking I love you
and life begins
when saying I love you
and joy moves like blood
when embracing others with love.

My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.

Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.

We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.

we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.

Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.

There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
we can do everything
and go anywhere.

Accepting This, by Mark Nepo

Some great reads
Well, not so much here this month as all available space has been taken up with work.  And that's not so good!

But the final two books in the Old Filth trilogy were wonderful. Don't be put off by the title - it's a wonderful exploration of the relationship between three people who are connected through the law and their personal histories with Hong Kong.  Deeply human and all about love, I think. And a William Boyd is always a treat.  Plus I keep dipping into the systemic coaching book - also a lovely read. 

I'm taking a 3 week break over Christmas, finishing on 17 December, and so hopefully there'll be plenty of reading time and more to share in January. 
We read a lot about The Great Resignation and it's true that turnover is up and many people are leaving their organisations.  But it's also been referred to as the Great Reassessment, where people might stay put but use this time to get much clearer on what matters to them.  For organisations, now is the time to really ask people what they need and want to feel fulfilled at work. 

This feels about right.  I spoke to so many people during lockdown who said the pandemic had brought what mattered most to them clearly into focus.  

I'm having a bit of a reassessment myself. 

I had a couple of intense weeks weeks - many hours on Zoom each day with some complex and demanding work - that left me feeling like I'd been hit by a truck at the end of the week.  I also have a piece of client work that looked like it would be small and turned out to be ... er, not small and has expanded hugely.  

I'm saying yes to so much work that it inevitably means saying no to the things that nourish and resource me.  It's great.  But there's a but. The human body and soul is not meant to work in the ways many of us are currently working. Have you heard the phrase 'we give away first the things that nourish us the most'?  It's a reminder to me to really focus on what nourishes and sustain me and protect the time for that. 

About 10 years ago, I had 18 months of Chronic Fatigue and it meant I had to radically redesign my life.  I'm nowhere near that happening again, but it does feel like it's time to make some wiser choices for myself. 

I know what I need to do, of course. Say no. Block out chunks of white space for deep work.  End my day at a sensible time.  Book in things that nourish me.  Send more time in nature.  But this is what's known as an adaptive challenge.  I know what to do but I don't necessarily do it. 

What can I say, other than I will keep this front and centre and continue to work on it. 
My work stuff
Small embodied shifts can make a big difference. And I'm finding that's certainly true in my coaching practice

Much of my work is as a coach. And many clients come to the sessions having ricocheted from several meetings beforehand and will bounce straight into another one afterward.  Sometimes, it's a bit like that for me too. 

The pace and intensity of their work and also of mine, means that I try and do a couple of things to act as a counterbalance.

First, I put my feet up. Literally.  I have the sort of desk that means I can lean back a bit in my chair and put my legs and feet up on the desk. But in a way that isn't obvious on screen.  I've noticed it makes a big difference.  Just shifting my posture so that it's more relaxed and informal rather than upright.  I notice I am more likely to let silence do its work.  More likely to pause.  More likely to ask a question that connects to the bigger picture.  that more relaxed way of sitting, definitely makes for better coaching, I feel. 

I also increasingly ask my client if they'd just like to sit together in silence for a few minutes as we begin.  And they usually do want to.  I put a timer on for 2-3 mins and we just sit together.  Most people say it's the only time that day they have had a moment like that.  It doesn't always feel comfortable to them - it feels so radically at odds with their usual rushed way of being.   But they generally say that it resets them.   And I find it does the same for me too. 

And if you think a conversation about how I might support you, work-wise, 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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