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

Welcome to the July 2023 Newsletter

I do love June.  And not just because it's my birthday month.  Although that was interesting this year because I turned 59, and that means I'm already into my 60th turn around the sun.  And I'm liking that.  I'm curious to see what sort of 60 yr old woman I'm turning into.

Delighted too, to have protected several half days from work which meant I got down to the sea a decent amount (never happier than when I'm in the briny, as you know), and onto the Downs.

And was mighty tickled and chuffed to be included, for the first time, on the HR Most Influential Thinkers List, from HR Magazine.  And to be ranked #15 was deeply pleasing - to see the work I do on love getting noticed.   

Mid month, Matt and I had an excellent day running our Systemic Constellations workshop with a great group of people exploring how the complex issues we deal with as OD and change practitioners can really benefit from some of the approaches from systemic constellations.  More of these workshops to come, for sure. 

I also started an online course, Inside Coaching, with Coaches Rising.  I love many of their podcasts and this course is self paced, with a video released each week.  The videos are of live coaching session with a 'master coach', with a debrief with the coach and client to watch afterwards.  I'm liking this way of learning so far - and I think you can still enrol until 9 July. 

And here this month, there's:

  • a wonderful new podcast episode with Joshua Abramson, who starts all his emails with, 'I love you Helena'.  How can you not listen, on that basis?  Scroll down ...
  • some events coming up that look terrific and I know the people running them which means they WILL be terrific
  • a reminder about the need to rewild our self, in whatever way we need to
  • a compassionate lens on boys and men these days
  • a leadership retreat for women
  • a gorgeous poem and some great books ...

Dive in!

I'm hoping July gives me plenty of opportunity to get to the sea.  And I hope it gives you plenty of what you might need.  And love too.  Lots of love. 

Helena x

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I love you - with Joshua Abramson

Ooh, a seriously good episode, this one.

Joshua starts all his communication - in person, emails - with 'I love you, Helena'.  In this conversation we learn about why and what impact that has had over the many years he's been doing it, including in a big corporate like Hitachi where he works.  We look at the Ho'oponopno practice and how that helps to move us into a space of non-duality. Why love matters more than ever.  And how it's an act of negligence to not say 'I love you'.

Take a listen.  And then let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear. 

Blocks to love

Many people thing love at work is A Good Thing, but find it difficult to put into practice.  Some say clearly that love doesn't belong in organisation - it's not the place for it. Others are up for it but find a difficult to enact.  

And that's right, in many ways it's not straightforward at all.  It's tricky and problematic.  And we do need to talk about why that's the case.  Not least because it allows us to look under the bonnet of how we work these days and what (often invisible) dynamics are influencing the ways we do things in our organisation.  We can't change something until we understand it.

So let's take a look at some of the things that get in the way of love in our leadership, in our organisations.  And maybe when we can see them more clearly we can find ways to work with or around them.  

This half day online event that I'm calling Blocks to Love is running on Friday 15 Sept and details are here.

We'll be exploring trauma and the impact that has on the way we experience and show love; how love is gendered and how our hyper-aroused society can make it hard to us to connect with love. Among other things. 

Rewilding myself

So I took myself off to a workshop called the Tent of Seven Doors, part of Martin Shaw's Summer School.  4 nights on the edge of Dartmoor exploring myth and legend and story. From time to time I have to do something like this because it's so easy for me to let my creative juices dry up, and to get so caught up in modernist ways of being. And perhaps it's no surprise that it got me back into writing poetry again. 

Sometimes I think of this as rewilding myself.  It also reminds me of Nick Petrie's recent post on the importance of creating an 'opposite world' to the one we spend most of our time in.  

I need to do things like this often .  It's so easy for me to let the waters of emails, obligations, corporate work and my 'good girl' parts to close in over me and drown the more creative and free parts of me.  

There was a downside, though, for this roaring introvert.  A group size of 60 that meant I never quite found my place. It was odd.  It didn't matter though and it was pretty interesting to watch myself deal with it. 

Otherwise it was wonderful.  The man is, for sure, a master of his craft

From stories like Tatterhood, The Half Girl and The Handless Maiden through to Gawain and the Green Knight and The Woman Who Became A Fox (and more) we explored:

  • where are you in this story?
  • what does this story tell us about how to live now?
  • how does this story become a story of Us?’.

A solo ‘medicine walk’ on the moor gave me plenty to think about. It gave me questions rather than answers, all of which resonated and had echoes of the stories we'd been immersed in all week:

  • what would it take to leave the village?
  • why are you carrying so much?
  • why are you still climbing?
  • what is in the forest for you?
  • where can you find rest?

And I've started writing poetry again. How could I not!

Best way to explore Martin's work is via The School of Myth, and links to his excellent podcasts and books are there too. 

Explore your 'meaning making' with me

So with an ongoing interesting in adult development, which these days generally means vertical development, I finally (and enjoyably) got myself accredited to use Harthill's Leadership Development Profile

This is one of a few tools out there to help people explore their capacity for meaning-making, for responding to complexity, and for considering their own growth and development. And now that I'm over my allergic reaction to the ways that it can look rather hierarchical, I find it a very generous and spacious framework for a conversation about development, and one that fits well with a systemic and also a loving lens. 

If you have a curiosity about 'vertical' and would like to explore this through the LDP, do let me know as I'm offering some 1:1 slots over the summer at reduced fees for the first 5 people.  Just drop me a line. 

And for a good, practical look at what vertical development looks like in leadership development, you might like this paper and also this one, from Nick Petrie of CCL. 

Leadership Retreat for Women

For senior women leaders, this Leadership Renewal retreat based in Broughton Hall, looks amazing.

When Paul Crick, who's running it with his colleague Asha Singh, ran me through the design, I fell a little bit in love with it. I would happily sign up, it looks to interesting and helpful. And the sort of things that's sorely needed today. 

And to my delight, it turns out they are working with Broughton's Forest Therapy Guide, Liz Dawes, who's a friend of mine from a long time past.

Worth a look, for sure. 

Boys and men
When I run workshops for men in the corporate world exploring how to be a male ally for women there's something I always do.

I talk about the ways that I am 'for' men, in a similar but different way that I am 'for' women.  I say that the way the world is set up - the patriarchy - doesn't serve women well, but that it doesn't serve men well either, in many ways.  I say I'm sorry for that. And that I'm sorry for the way that they might have been treated badly by women in their lives.  I apologise for hurt caused.

I know, I know.  Many of you will be reaching for the Unsubscribe button at this point. I really get that.  

It always feels bold.  But it always feels important. And as far as I can tell, it's a surprise but it's well received. 

The reason I'm saying that here is that last week's Guardian has an excellent piece by Caitlin Moran about the trouble boys and men are in.  It's a really good read. I think it's the first one I've seen in the mainstream press, and written by a woman. It also invites compassion and bit less judgement than we often see in pieces about toxic masculinity.   And it goes quite a way to explaining some of reasons I say what I do.  

Here's a short extract: 'Boys underachieve at school, compared with girls. Boys are more likely to be excluded from school. Boys are less likely to go into further education. Boys are more likely to be prescribed medication for ADHD/disruptive behaviour. Boys are more likely to become addicted: to drugs, alcohol, pornography. Men make up the majority of gang members. Men are the majority of the homeless.  Men make up the majority of suicides.  Men make up the majority of people who are murdered. Men make up the majority of the prison population. Men are the majority of the unemployed. Men are the majority of those who die at work. Men are the majority of those who die in wars. Men are the majority of those who lose custody of their children in divorce cases'

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Jack Gilbert

G00d reads
Because Into the Forest was so wonderful, I read a second from Jean Hegland.  Windfalls was not quite so arresting but still very good.  And then The God of That Summer which was recommended by the manager of my local Waterstone's.  Dom also read it and it's rare we get to talk about the same book - loved seeing it through his eyes too.  Natalie Haynes's Stone Blind took a while to get into but I always love a feminist retelling.  And Memphis from Tara M.Stringfellow was excellent too. So a great fiction haul. 

For Book Group, it was the non-fiction Under a Zambian Tree, about a young woman's journey/work in setting up a school in her local community.  Not the best written book but if you also find Dora on social (Tik Tok in particular) you really do get a much richer feel for her extraordinary story. 

Also my wonderful friend Pat writes books and I loved his latest, about two dog detectives solving a county lines crime.  I know both dogs - which which was so cool. Pat is also a amazing artist and it's his crow you can see with the poem.

And for work, I finally got round to reading Cal Newport's Deep Work.  About time, too!  I talk about it with coaching clients or in leadership development but had never read the book.  It's fab.  And has really strengthened my commitment to putting boundaries in place to limit the 'shallow' work that I seem so addicted to. 
And at work
So with a week on Gower and then a second week with Martin Shaw, there wasn't so much space for work.  Mainly it's been costing the next big phase of a leadership development programme now in its second year, and starting to get that project up and running with our merry band of 7 consultants. As the work grows and we grow with it, we're learning all the time and that makes life very interesting. 

And to counterbalance all that project management, started some work with a Council, helping them look at the management culture in the residential children's service.  This month a series of interviews.  Deeply sobering to get a glimpse into the world of young people with very complex needs. 

Do get in touch and let me know how you're finding these Newsletters, or if you'd like to see more info on anything I include.   I love hearing from you.  You know where I am on Twitter and LinkedIn, or connect via Email. Or call me of course, whichever suits.

Helena x

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