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

Welcome to the November 2023 Newsletter

The clocks have gone back.  My heating is on. I've swapped a 1 tog for 4.4 tog.  And I'm making a lot of soup. 

This last month, in the middle of a lot of tough stuff in the world, there was much joy to be had: the delights of being home-based after a month on the road - in my own bed; a wonderful poetry weekend with Tom Hirons and Rozi Hilton; a weekend in Margate to celebrate Dom's 65th; taking some half days off for autumnal walks with friends; starting monthly reiki sessions and really feeling that they're helpful in some (unknown) way; seeing the remastered film of Stop Making Sense ...

And I hope you like what I have for you here - elderhood and Stephen Jenkinson, a new  Acts of Love for Tough Times workshop, the idea of 'hospicing' as a way to imagine leadership, how generational trauma shows up, and more.  As ever, please do let me know what resonates - I love to hear from you.    

I'll be back in early December and in the meantime,  let's ease ourselves slowly towards winter, hold hands and don't let go.

With love
Helena x

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Acts of Love for Tough Times

I'm angry and fearful and sad about so many things in the world.  From the conflict in Israel and Gaza, the dramatic changes in our climate, through to the daily struggles more locally with poverty and hardship. I struggle to know what to do, to work out what my contribution might be in all of this. But I'm starting with this - running a few more online Acts of Love for Tough Times sessions.

When the world is on fire, how might we gather together to talk about how we feel about what's happening in the world - and explore the ways that different forms of love, whether anger and activism, grief, compassion or joy, might support us.

The session is on 20 December between 0800-1000 and details and booking is here.  It's free.  I'll set up more in the New Year. 

(On Saturday, I posted this workshop on LinkedIn, announcing a session on 19 Dec, which filled within 3 days, so I have added an extra session the following day, 20 Dec)


Some time ago, I wrote a blog post called Deepened By Diminishment, as part of my ongoing exploration of elderhood.  The phrase comes from Stephen Jenkinson, someone I could listen to for ages - someone who feels the right kind of teacher for the times we find ourselves in.

I've just finished a series of 3 talks with him, online, exploring how:

  • In the same way that love is a skill, grief is a skill. It has a repertoire, it has its languages
  • dying well is a spiritual obligation, and a moral obligation
  • the work of elderhood is dictated by the troubles of the times. Elders are the end of ‘be all you can be’.

Really interesting.  You can find the recordings here, over on Jung Platform, along with lots of other great stuff. 

'Health is an expression of a total life lived'

Gabor Mate

Leading from Love

In 2019, I tentatively submitted a new piece of research into Love and Leadership to Roffey Park's Research Competition.  I gather it split the voting panel - love at work is quite a tricky topic.  But nevertheless, it won. And if gave the confidence to go an do a lot more with the subject

Back in the summer, the Head of Research at Roffey Park, Jan Moorhouse, asked if I'd be up for updating the report for 2023.  I sure was.  

It's now ready and you can get it here on Roffey Park's website or over on my site shortly.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  And I'm looking forward to updating it again in 2026...

'Hospicing' as a form of leadership
'I want decisions made by people with the courage to be ruthlessly honest about the state of the world, yet co-regulating enough to remain calm and empathetic. I want leadership motivated by love, not fear or aggression.'

So says Katie Carr, in an excellent piece of writing that explores how we are now living in systems that are dying - collapsing and unravelling.  Our ecological systems as well as social systems.  But dying can take a very long time. And so Katie draws on the work of Vanessa Andreotti who takes the idea of hospicing - accepting mortality and approaching it with compassion, care and respect - as a way to explore what forms of leadership we need now. 

A few years ago, I did a leadership course with Katie and Jem Bendell which is definitely worth a look.  And Vanessa Andreotti writes more about her ideas in Hospicing Modernity (that I'm part way through myself).

'Rest is not a luxury, a privilege, or a bonus we must wait for once we are burned out'

Tricia Hersey

It's normal practice for me to buy a book I know I really must read and then not read it.  So it was with The Myth of Normal, from Gabor Mate - exploring the mind-body connection and how society is shaped by generational trauma.  A big fan of his work, I'd enjoyed this talk where he introduces the key ideas in his book. I also really wanted to read the book.  But yet there it was, several months later, still on the shelf.

Then I discovered that the wonderful Wendy Robinson was reading it with a small group of other people.  A book group, if you like.  I managed to get one of the last places in the group - and we began a few weeks ago, with the first of a fortnightly meetings.  We read only a few chapters at a time - which means we have manageable chunks to digest and discuss when we meet.

It's a great idea, to structure a book group like this, and something I'm including in a new leadership development programme I'm designing. I really don't know if senior leaders have time to read books these days - but I'm going to try this way as an experiment and see what happens.

'We need a politics of tenderness.  Tenderness as in the nurturing of grace that allows something different, something even beautiful, to be born in the midst of the fires.'

Bayo Akomolafe
From 'The Cure at Troy'

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term.

Seamus Heaney

G00d reads
It's a rare event for me to read a crime novel but my step mum gave me A Winter Grave, by Peter May, and so I felt a bit obliged. I read it lying in bed over a weekend and it wasn't bad, actually, not least because it was set in 2051 and factored in the impact of the climate crisis.

But the gift for me this month was poet Maggie Smith's memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful. A gorgeous read.  You might know her poem Good Bones?  And also the choice for my local Book Group was Less from Sean Greer - and I loved that too.  Funny and poignant. 
And at work
A good if intense month, with a bit too much travelling for my liking these days, but some really good work in there...
  • this pretty full-on carpet was where a colleague and I ran the final module of a women's leadership programme with the MoD.  It was fab and we get to do it again with another group of women as Cohort 2 starts later this month (and they'll be having that carpet, too)
  • chunks of time in Leicestershire and Warwickshire, running leadership workshops with JLR.  Joyous and impactful
  • a few days at the College of Policing for the Launch module of a leadership programme for senior Civil Servants, this time in partnership with Mayvin and the Blavatnik School of Government.  It's not always easy co-delivering with another organisation but we're learning to do this really well.
  • and delighted to be developing a bespoke version of Leading from Love, in collaboration with a new global client. 
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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