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

Welcome to the Jan 2022 Newsletter

Hello folks and I hope you had the festive season that really worked for you?

Around some wonderful family time, I've spent an inordinate amount of time curled up in bed eating porridge pots and digestives & cheese, and reading or watching episode after episode of Good Girls.  It's been bliss and I needed it. 

I ended the year packed to the gills with work - and feeling really clear that's not how I want things to be in 2022.  Like so many of my clients, I'm one of those undergoing a Great Reassessment and am really thinking how I can be more planful about when I work, how much work I choose to do, and the nature of what I do. Plus how I want to spend my time when I'm not working.  Which is mostly on the South Downs. In the sea. With friends.  Reading.  And exploring poetry... making a start in Feb with this short course as well as some work with the poet Helen Moore...

So no New Year resolutions.  Only the commitment to keep checking with myself about how much is too much. And whether I'm doing what I need to make my soul sing. 

I'm starting the year well though.  When you get this Newsletter, I'll be starting 4 days in a little shepherd's hut halfway up a Welsh mountainside, with no phone signal and no wifi.  Balm for my soul :-)

I hope January is kind to you, and I'll be back at the start of February.

H x

I'd love to hear from you, by the way.  You can email me using this link.  I read everything, and always reply.  And if you received this email from a friend, and would like to subscribe, please go here.

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Love - and how it shows up in our work
One thing that's sometimes said of our purpose is that it's the sweet spot between what brings you alive, and what the world needs.  Or to put it in the more poetic language of Frederick Buechner, our purpose is found where 'our deepest gladness and the world's hunger meet'. 

As we face into a world that's looking more fractured and fearful, it seems we are each called to make tough choices about whether put ourselves or others first.  I know I am.  One way that helps me navigate this polarity is to keep exploring love, and the relationship it has with how and why we do our work. 

For me, that's about supporting people and teams to create organisational and workplace cultures that are healthy and not harmful or fearful.  Places where 
people can develop a fuller embodiment of their psychological, emotional and spiritual health and maturity - while doing their day-job.   And helping leaders and people to create ripples around them in their workplace systems that are regenerative and healing. 
And my research shows that love is core to that.

Which is why I've decided to run another cohort of my Leading from Love / Love in Organisations programme.  Finding ways to put love at the heart of what we do in our organisations (and wider) feels one of the most important things that I can do. And as far as I can tell, is very much part of my personal purpose. 

So come and join me .....and bunch of other curious, committed and engaged people who also want to build organisational and workplaces that are fit for people to work in and thrive in. 

It's a rich and dynamic 6 week online programme that balances exploration with practical action. We meet for 2 hours on a Friday morning.  The dates are March 4, 11, 18, 15  and April 1 and 8.

Over the 6 weeks, we explore why love matters and what difference it makes to each of us and all of us, and the impact that has on our innovation and creativity.   But love in organisations is also problematic - and so we take a long look at why that is and explore the blocks to love in the workplace.  And yes of course, we look at how we define love in a way that is both pragmatic as well as generative (how anger is a legitimate form of love, for example).

We can't look at love in organisations without also looking at our own relationship with love - and we certainly do that.  And no exploration of love can take place without also considering self-love and how we can develop greater self compassion and self care.

Full details are here. It would be great to have you along.  And if someone you know would like the sound of it, please do pass it along. 

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.
In the deep midwinter

I always mark the winter Solstice, on the morning after the longest night - to welcome the return of the light.  I love that moment.  I tend to go for a walk - this year to the beach - and I light a candle. 

But this year it felt that the most important aspect of that ritual is that it also marks the beginning of deep winter.  

I say that because I'm feeling a strong pull to hibernate more this year.  A question I've been sitting with for a few weeks is 'how can my natural rhythms have a stronger presence while I also live with the rhythms of the world?'.  And one thing I notice is that when I really tune in and get beneath all the Shoulds, in the dark times I mostly want to withdraw and retreat.  No surprise. I'm a mammal, after all.  But I override that instinct.  And one year I might find enough courage to do that completely for a month or so. 

And this poem by John O'Donoghoe is often what comes to mind at this time of year:

 'This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning'.

From 'To Bless the Space Between Us

Some great reads
So a 3 week Christmas break is a great chance to read more. 

I picked up Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture as I wandered Waterstone's shelves.  I'd forgotten how much I loved his deeply lyrical way of writing from Days Without End.  This was beautiful. 

From a work angle, Deborah Rowland's Still Moving reminded me that the best way I can help clients when they are moving so fast is to connect to my own stillness.  I know this deeply.  And yet I find myself moving much faster through my days than I would like. This is an ongoing practice for me.  Be slow.  Be still. be silent.  And then see what arises from that place. 

The phenomenal Nature and the Human Soul from Bill Plotkin not only got me further under the skin of the ideas around vertical development but also helped me connect with some of the neglected parts of myself and got me thinking about soul, nature, purpose, eldership and what it means to truly develop and mature. 

And the lovely thing about a Christmas list is that I always ask for a couple of hardback books, which feels such a luxury. One was Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr and I could barely put it down.  I love stories where different character's stories are threaded together and this one was wonderful. All about history, mystery, memory, stories and our changing world. 
Endings and Beginnings
Even though I'm not one for making resolutions at this time of year, there is a ritual that I always complete and that's the process of looking back at the year and acknowledging it for all that it's been.  Looking at what happened and seeing what sense and what meaning I make of it all.  I tend to do that with Tiu de Haan

Walking through my calendar and diary, scrolling through all the photos ... to remind myself of things I had forgotten, memories that had faded, events that kicked me hard in the ribs, joys that lit up my world. 

If you're not already off the starting blocks of 2022 by the time this reaches you, you might also fancy it.  And if you've hit the ground running and there's no looking back, only ahead, then you might like the Creating 2022 class that Tiu also runs.  

The live classes have now passed, but you can buy the recorded versions for both classes here

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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