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

Welcome to the April 2022 Newsletter

Hello lovelies and I hope March came and went gently for you.  It seems there's more than enough tough or horrific stuff in our lives right now - so we do need much softness as a counterbalance, I feel.  These are very difficult times.  And I notice how often I move between feeling sick at seeing a picture of an atrocity in Bucha and deciding whether to buy Greek yogurt or ordinary. 

COVID finally caught up with me (as it did Dom too) which was 10 days of not being able to do much at all.  There's nothing quite like a good opportunity to practice patience and acceptance. And I'm also planning to take it easy for a while yet as many people say it's a virus that we have to 'rest our way out of'. 

But it was also a month when I got to see Cabaret, an all time favourite, and it was wonderful.  Had another good Systemic Constellations module. Spent too many hours in Bridgerton.  Came late to the party to the excellent Top Boy and Derry Girls.  And welcomed back Grayson's Art Club. 

You have three new pieces of writing from me this month, plus another wonderful podcast episode.  And sharing more opportunities for shadow work with some practitioners that I really rate.  A bold new leadership programme you should really check out. A couple of great books.  Read on for more on all of these ...

And I got some new headshots done and so for those of you who've never met me in person - or not seen me for ages - scroll down to see what I look like these days (well, when I scrub up, at least, because most days I'm wearing tracksuit bottoms and a jumper covered in biscuit crumbs).

And these gorgeous magnolias are by the artist Beth Whittaker.

Helena 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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A conversation with Meg Peppin

It was a true pleasure to talk with the wonderful Meg Peppin in this month's podcast.

I met Meg via Twitter (a gem of a place for meeting amazing folks ...) and I soon signed up to work with her on a Thinking Partnership programme, based on the work of Nancy Kline.  It was a deeply humbling experience and taught me there were hidden dimensions to listening that I barely knew about.

In this episode, we talk about how listening is a very active form of love; how giving people space to think for themselves really matters and is a form of activism; and the importance of 'letting the loving parts of ourselves out a bit more'. 

There's also an introduction to the work of Humberto Maturana and his belief that 'the ethos of love implies that we really see the other'. 

You can listen here... Season: 2 - Episode: 4

If you like my podcast, please do share with other podcast listeners you might know - and let them know they can subscribe via Apple or Spotify.  As can you, of course :-) 

What if this organisation was just like me?
The learning I'm doing around systemic constellations is helping me see that the systems we're part of are perhaps more like me than I realise. 

When we can think of an organisation as a person, and as an entity (even as a someone instead of a something ...) who might be 'just like us', then how might that help us when we try and create change?  If, in coaching, learning more about a person's background and history can really help, then why wouldn't that be the case for a system or an organisation?  Thich Nhat Hanh says that we love by understanding.  So how can we develop greater understanding for the systems we are trying to change?  And how might that understanding help us take a more compassionate and even more loving approach to the change itself? So I put my Organisational Development hat on and imagine what that might be like. 

You can read that here. 
Detach, with love
The poet John O'Donoghue said:
'I would love to live like a river flows - carried by the surprise of its own unfolding'. 

So would I.  

Part of my challenge, both personally and professionally, is learning to let go. Of my expectations. Of my attachment to certain outcomes. 

My work is to be open to see what happens next.  To let myself be surprised by what arises when I just wait and see.  To sit back and watch and wait.  To detach, while still staying fully present.  

So here are two short and new pieces exploring how I find ways to help me do that.  The first one looks at some of the wise-things-from-other-people I say to myself when I need reminding of the value of living more 'loosely'. Snippets that make up my own personal day-to-day manifesto, maybe.   You can read that here.  

And the second talks about the practices that help me get 'up in the balcony' and maintain perspective in my life and in my work.  And that one is here

Let me know if any of this resonates with you too...? 
Blocks t0 Love - free event 17 May
Just a reminder for this workshop exploring what blocks love in organisations.  I have just added more spaces as there's a lot of interest.

Designed for anyone in a change role, perhaps an OD role or a senior leadership position... those who: 
  • want to build in more humanity in the workplace and wondering what's getting in the way of that
  • lead change in organisations and wondering why it's stuck or sticky
  • wonder why (the heck) it's so hard to talk about love (or even care and compassion) at work
  • want to understand the hidden aspects of their organisation so that they can influence change.
We often limit ourselves by looking at change as an technical challenge - that if we do x or y well than change will happen. But we also need to consider change as an adaptive challenge and explore the competing energies and forces that are in play in organisation that make change so difficult. This workshop does just that. 

I'll be drawing not only on my research into love but also on years of teaching and working with OD consultants and leaders who are seeking to create change in their organisation.  We'll look under the bonnet of organisations and take a good look at some of the usually invisible forces that are at play - and make them visible. 

I'm so looking forward to sharing some new thinking and work with you. 

You can find details and sign up here.
Your own personal development
Two offerings to share with you here, both of which represent some of the most important and powerful learning I've been part of.

First, a weekend of Shadow Work, one of the best ways I know to explore the 'parts of self' as a way to get more insight into an issue that you're dealing with, or find a way through a situation that's bothering you, or to explore a pattern in your life you can't seem to escape. These weekends - select from May, July or September - are run by people I know personally, and wholly recommend and rate.  

Secondly a workshop for folks in HR, L&D or OD who know they're looking for some powerful leader development for their organisation - and who also want to experience it fully for themselves first.  I have been doing deep-dive personal growth work outside of my professional development for years - and have yearned to be able to do that sort of stuff in organisations.  And now I can and do with the consultancy Inuous.   This 4-day workshop takes some of the boldest and most powerful experiential learning about Self and puts it in the context of us in our work.  I'm part of the facilitation team and so l know first-hand the impact this work has in the organisations where we currently run it. . Detail on the Immersion itself (first one in May) and Taster events are here

And if either of these offerings look tempting but you want to know more, just block the time in your diary and then let's find time for a call and I can tell you more about them, if that would be helpful.
A new poem: 'To Katya ...'
I came across this last week.  A new poem by Ben Okri, written for Ukraine.  Here are some excerpts from 'To Katya, aged seven, in a bomb shelter, in Kyiv'.  A link to the full poem is below. 

A time comes when
You stand and say
My future’s mine to dream
My land is mine to till
My life is mine to imagine
You will not break my truth
You will not distort my
Dream. You will not
Destroy my future, who
Ever you are.

I am with
You there in the bomb shelter.
I am a bomb shelter child too.
This will end. It will pass.
So drink the sweet
Waters of the Earth.
Sing songs to one
Another in this time
Of darkness. 

Katya, you
Who live in the slip
Stream of empires,
Wake up fast. Grow
Deep, strong and brave.
Join the greater river
Of human destiny.
You can’t fight injustice
And then be unjust to others.
Every day you survive
Brings your liberation
Closer. Spirits
Of the dead will you on.

And you can read the full poem here
Books and Podcasts
You know I've been interested for a very long time in the ways that our personal social histories shape us.  Julia Samuels's latest book Every Family Has A Story explores this theme, taking the stories of several families and helping us see how the unseen dynamics at play really do shape the way we live together.   Specifically, she looks at love and loss, both areas of interest for me.  

And when I was laid low with Covid, Light Perpetual was a such a beautiful read that kept me company.  

Podcast-wise, I'm still loving my almost daily dose of the magical and inspiring Poetry Exchange.  And I've also just discovered The Way Out Is In, from the Plum Village community of Thich Nhat Hanh.  It feels like good medicine for me as I try to find my own ways to respond to what's happening in the wider world.  How can I stay steady and centred, balanced and loving in the middle of All This.  
And at work
Still happy to say my workload is still reasonable!  Long may that last. 
  • Lots of coaching work.  Lots of it. 
  • With a colleague, getting into the detail of designing and running a 2 day module of a leadership programme for a global client exploring Self-as-Leader.  It'll include poetry and music as well as embodied and somatic practices.  It's for 300 of their most senior leaders running through May - July.  It's bold.  Should be good!
  • And with a different colleague, a piece of diagnostic work for an NHS team to reflect back to them what might be going on beneath the surface. A really hard hitting piece of work sharing some tough messages back to the organisation.  It takes courage for an organisation to commission something like that.  
  • A session with a Board exploring 'modern leadership' and what excites them about the shift towards great autonomy - and also what fears they each have about letting go of control.  And when we talked about what it felt like when others shared their fears, and showed that level of vulnerability, they were so aware of wanting to 'move towards' that person and connect more deeply with them.
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 for reading
Helena x

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