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

Welcome to the March 2024 Newsletter

A time of contrasts, February.  The black muddy decay of winter is still around, as well as many days of hammering rain ...but also bright bursts of daffodils, a couple of grape hyacinths showing themselves in my garden and tiny buds on the trees.  They know something is happening soon. Oh, and my first wild garlic - way earlier than usual. 

Due to hole where a client project was supposed to be, my work was still quieter than usual through February which meant I was able to say yes to some good things - a day in London with some friends of 40 years to see the Diva exhibition at the V&A;  trips to the cinema in the afternoon (radical!) to see All Of Us Strangers,  Zone of Influence and Wicked Little Letter; a walk with the Sussex Coaches group; meeting friends for lunch; getting up onto the (muddy, muddy) South Downs and to the beach a few more times than usual. I have to say I'm liking the space. And it might just be (whisper it very, very quietly) that I am (maybe) feeling the stirrings of some energy myself!

It's quite long, this one, apologies.  I kept wanting to add stuff in:

  • some podcasts - one of mine with Tom Hirons, and one where I'm a guest on someone else's talking about love and leadership - as well as two that I'm recommending
  • what gets recognised as leadership, and what sort of leaders it seems we really want
  • an experiment with Acts of Love for Tough Times 
  • some gorgeous workshops to connect us to (our) nature
  • a model of supervision that I'm finding useful
  • plus a poem and some good reads. 

I'll be back after Easter and please do take great care of yourself until then.

With love
Helena x

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Love, with Tom Hirons
So Tom Hirons and I got together again, this time on my podcast to talk about love. 

Have a listen - it's a really lovely conversation.  We dip into how poetry is a bridge-builder, how there's a difference between love poetry and poems that are loving, and you'll hear Tom read The Secret Heart, a surprising gift at the end.

And if you want to connect with Tom in other ways, here's a weekend poetry work in London on 27 and 28 April you might like (highly recommended, I went to the one he and Rozi ran in Norwich) , as well as an online men's workshop on 30 April that is a 'dynamic and effective approach to men’s vitality that’s systemic, generational, and cultural in ways that are too often missing or underemphasized'. 

He's also part of this poetry reading on 19 March, with Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha  to raise money for the Middle East Children's Alliance.  I'll be there, for sure. 

Acts of Love for Tough Times
To date, Acts of Love for Tough Times has been an ad-hoc-every-few-months kind of thing.  Having been asked a few times now 'how can we keep this work flowing'  and 'how might we create a sense of community around this work?' I've decided to experiment and make them a regular monthly workshop. 
  • I'll publish the dates on my website and here
  • they'll be 2 hours, online, and always free, with new content and different themes each month
  • and a combo of small and whole group discussion, some writing, a couple of poems with application to self, your work, and your work in the wider world.
The dates are below, if you want to hold all dates in your diary. They'll work together as a series, or as a one-off-drop-in. 

And you can book your place at the April one now, which will focus on how grief and joy are forms of love. 

  • Wednesday 17 April 1600-1800 BST 
  • Tuesday 21 May 0800 - 1000 BST
  • Thursday 20 June 0800 - 1000 BST
  • Wednesday 24 July 1600-1800 BST.  
Please do spread the word - I'd love to see this community grow. 
Leadership, with Keith Grint
In a recent Newsletter, I shared a new piece of work from Professor Keith Grint, on the ways that acts of care, when done by leaders or those in leadership positions, are seen as acts of leadership - but when done by others, including by women, they are not seen and valued in the same way (at all).

In this conversation with the ILA Global Network, you'll hear Keith talk about this, plus how we say we want caring leaders but the leaders we vote in or promote really do not seem to bear this desire out.
Love as anger
When I run workshops exploring love in leadership, something that gets many comments of recognition is that anger might be a form of love.  

For some people it's perhaps the first time they've heard anyone say it's a valid emotion or that it's normal and (more than) acceptable to feel angry.  In fact, it's essential we do and it's useful too.  And it can we seen as a form of love.

You can read a bit more about this here

(pic from Emanuela Meli on Unsplash)
Poetry, with Frank Skinner
I do love to be taught.  Actually, I think it's more that I love to be shown things that I might otherwise have missed.

Over 30 years ago I had a boyfriend, an architect who was much older than me, who loved the work of Paul Rego.  At a tiny exhibition in the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff he stood me in front of some her paintings and taught me howI  might 'see' her work.   And so began my own love affair with her. 

It's in part why I love 'close readings of poems.  Someone holding a poem up to the light and pointing out what they can see so that I might be able to see that, and other things, for myself.  Which is why I'm sharing my new love affair - Frank Skinner's Poetry Podcast. I thought I'd discovered a rare gem. And have since found out that it it's been award-winning for years and years ...
Future of Coaching

Another podcast, this time on The Edge of Coaching, from George Warren.  I listened to the episodes with Simon Cavicchia and Robin Shohet (both great listens) first because I know them and work with them currently.  And also the one with Myles Downey, who really got me thinking when he wonders if coaching has moved too far away from a focus on performance and slipped too far into development. And if coaching has become too nurturing, lacking challenge and provocation. 

A burst of love

I saw this on Facebook, shared by a friend of mine.  From the Chap's Choir, a few moment of joy for you ...their cover version of Steve Windwood's Bring me a Higher Love ... 

'I am more and more convinced that true revolutionaries must perceive the revolution, because of its creative and liberating nature, as an act of love'

Paolo Friere
Wild Well Being
I often read that our healing and journey towards wholeness is less about fixing broken parts of ourselves but more about reclaiming the lost parts.  

I don't know about you, but my wild(er) parts, the parts of me that fully know themselves to be OF nature, are a bit buried and abandoned. Despite my time in nature, my connection with nature isn't always so strong.

Which is why I'm sharing the wonderful workshops (and more) that Naomi Wilkinson and Laurie King are running, with Wild Well Beings, in Stroud and online, around nature connection.

I was so hoping to make the June workshop, but don't think I can. Hopefully one of the other dates. If you get to go, let me know how wonderful it was and that will encourage me to get a date sorted. 

'Love is the only emotion that expands intelligence'

Herbert Maturano
A podcast with Banangkur Mustafa 
Sometimes from out of the blue and from over the sea - this time from Canada, from an ex-news anchor from India - will come a request to be a guest on a podcast.  This conversation - exploring love and leadership - between myself and Banangkur Mustafa was one I really enjoyed. 
A framework for supervision
I'm doing my coach supervision training with Robin Shohet and Joan Shohet at CSTD London. I waited 2 years to be able to do this training, in part because they put love at the heart of their work, and also because it's aimed more at therapists than coaches and I like learning alongside people from other disciplines. 

One of the models they use is the 7 Eyed Model of Supervision, originally from Peter Hawkins and Robin way back, and since developed further. 

I love a framework or model, as long as I can hold it lightly, and this one has proved really helpful.  It opens the doors to lots of exploration - from the body intelligence of the supervisor, the stakeholders and ghosts that might be in the wider system, transference and parallel process, as well as the interventions used by the coach.  

There's more info in Robin and Joan's book In Love With Supervision as well as in Supervision in The Helping Professions by Peter Hawkins and Robin.  Or a short version here that I came across when googling for a summary. 

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Good reads
Anne Enright's The Gathering was a chewy read.  I was never quite sure I knew what was going on, which I think was the point, but it was excellent. It was my choice for Book Group and resulted in on of the most passionate and engaged discussions in ages.  Then In Ascension from Martin MacInnes, bought because the staff in Waterstone's pretty much insisted I did - and was definitely one that I looked forward to picking up each night.

And in an online reading group, we finally finished the tome that is The Myth of Normal from Gabor Mate. The final few chapters left me a little cold but the first three quarters of the book should be read by everyone, I think, to understand what impact the systems we've set up to live within are having on our individual and collective health.
And at work
Some gems this month: 
  • a module in London with a group of senior women leaders in the Civil Service - a day when you just know you're doing good work
  • action learning sets, still one of the most powerful forms of adult learning I'm involved in  and these were no different
  • several coaching supervision clients, work I'm discovering I really (really) like, as well regular and on-going coaching clients
  • the most wonderful first module of a Leading from Love leadership programme, run with a global charity where we also explore love and leadership from an African perspective. 
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 LinkedIn, or connect via Email. Or call me of course, whichever suits.

Helena x

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