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

Welcome to the October 2023 Newsletter

So the weather has shifted and I'm liking it.  I've really enjoyed late summer, but I'm also very ready for the turn towards autumn and all that brings. 

September has brought heaps of good stuff.  The month started with a wonderful holiday week on Gower with amazing weather for walks and twice-daily swims, many of them skinny dips.  There was also the start of a year-long coaching supervision training with CSTD.  And the launch of a the next module of some powerful leadership development work with a client.  

But as I write this, I am also in the middle of an intense 4 weeks of mostly being away from home - and with long drives - which I don't love. I don't get to eat, sleep or move in the ways my body needs to - and I'm looking forward to 12 Oct when that period comes to an end. The things that take me away from home are all stimulating and good work.  But still, I'm noticing the price I pay in my body and mind when I work and live that intensively.

I'm experimenting with ways  to do that hard work more gently though.  And I do think it's helping.  Maybe more on that next month...

And this month, a slightly shorter Newsletter (maybe no bad thing) which might even be part of working more gently, I now realise!

So, wishing you well as we slowly move into autumn,  and I hope October allows you to let go in ways that will create space for what's needed. 

With love

Helena x

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Coaching Supervision

So yes, I finally dipped my toes into the water of coaching supervision.  It's taken me a while.  But when I saw Robin Shohet speak at a conference at Ashridge a few years ago, where I was running a session at their Love over Fear conference, I knew that I wanted to work with him.  Not least because he talked about love.  I had to wait 2 years before I could make the schedule of dates.  But I have begun.

A wonderful 3 days, focusing on who we are as supervisors before diving into any models and such, with a fabulous group of mostly therapists.  It was great to be with people not from a corporate coaching world (a few of us were) and the diversity in the group was also different from many settings I spend time in.

Also really interesting to have both facilitators, Robin and his wife Joan Wilmot, both in their (maybe?) 70's.  It brought a different energy, for sure, and one I enjoyed. 

You can find more about Robin and Joan and the work they do through CSTD London here, and the book that goes with the course is In Love With Supervision

'The ability to sit with mystery and explore the dark but fertile realms of infinite possibility is crucial to the work of inhabiting a meaningful life'. 

Sharon Blackie
Tempered Radicals

This month, I have found myself, on two different leadership programmes, running sessions on 'tempered radicalism'.  

The term comes from the work of Deborah Meyerson and Maureen Scully who found themselves working in a traditional context - a US academic institution - while also holding radical feminist beliefs.  How could they be both OF the organisation and assimilated enough to be able to belong - but also be different enough FROM the organisation so that they could create change.  

At the heart of this is: 

  • having a bold/radical vision (being a 'cathedral thinker') for the future but tempering that in order to get things done within the system
  • moving to change the status quo whilst also being part of it
  • working to effect significant change in moderate ways  -  'your ends are sweeping but your means are mundane'
  • having some thing about you that means you not a 'full member' of the dominant culture and using that as part of the change effort
  • managing the polarity of being an insider and also an outsider - and risking being different enough but not too different

A good short HBR article on this is here and a more comprehensive one the gives more context  is here. 

''We need to learn to reopen when our fear responses have us shutting down'' 

Laura Schmidt

There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him. I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you.
There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he's in there.
There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him. I say, Stay down, do you want to mess me up? You want to screw up the works? You want to blow my book sales in Europe?

There's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there so don't be sad then I put him back.
But he's singing a little in there, I haven't quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it's nice enough to make a little man weep.

But I don't weep, do you?

Charles Bukowski
G00d reads
So only two books this month, but what two books they are!  I'm quite a fast reader but both these made me slow right down.  In part because they just couldn't be read fast.  This was the equivalent of eating very dense German bread - deeply nutritious but requiring much chewing. And worth it.  Gems.

Lessons, from Ian McEwan, I've had on my bedside table for ages.  It's fab and for anyone with an interest in how our lives (and how we) are shaped by our past and our contexts, it's a cracking read.  And Niall Williams's This is Happiness ... wow.  I almost reread every sentence it was so stunningly written.  And funny.  And sad. I don't think I have ever savoured reading something as much as this.  
And at work
I have one (very) big client at the moment and that means my days (my life!) now includes a LOT of project management, a lot more Zoom and phone calls and emails than it used to. So getting offline and into real rooms with people is so wonderful.  Specifically, this month:
  • The launch of a new senior leadership programme for said client.  When we begin in a tipi with a fire, and move on to poetry, parts-work, time in nature, body scans as well as some more traditional approaches to learning ... you know that you have a client who trusts you to bring some of the best of what you and your amazing team can do. See main pic for the wonderful tipi from the first of 10 workshops. 
  • A day with a group of senior women leaders working in Defence, exploring how strategic networking and career development applies in these times and for women.  And then thinking about how they might create their own Closing  Day in a way that helps them end well and also make new connections to the wider world.
  • Coaching someone who is neurodiverse who, as a result, knows how her mind works so well.  I'm really enjoying working with her and it's teaching me a lot. 

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 could 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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