Helena Clayton Newsletter - View this email in your browser



Leadership Developer • Coach & Facilitator • Writer



Welcome to the June 2024 Newsletter

I'm just back from a week at Rhossili beach, in South Wales, my probable all time happy place. It's somewhere that takes me back to factory settings. No wifi to speak of. Books and beach walks. Much needed. I'd be tempted to describe the weather as four-seasons-in-one-week. But as we had no summer at all, I really can't!  No matter - it was wonderful. 



Otherwise work has picked up a bit and so I'm fighting (myself) hard to protect time during the week to get out for a walk on the Downs or head to the sea for a dip.  Things that keep me sane. 

This month there's: 

  • a new blog, another solo episode, looking at why love is such a tricky subject for organisations and leadership and one of my favourite parts of exploring love in organisations
  • two powerful forgiveness practices, simple and also mighty
  • the gut-gnawing question of what to do when we don't know what to do
  • the final Acts of Love for Tough Times workshop until the other side of the summer
  • and a way to get to decisions while honouring conflict, tensions and difference

I'll be back in July, and in the meantime I wish you a few weeks free of cold winds. 

With love
Helena x


Blocks to love - new podcast episode



A new solo podcast episode, this time exploring some of the ways that talking about love in relation to organisations and leadership is problematic, and understandably so.  And also the ways that love is blocked - or rather, the ways that we block love.  How we lack a shared understanding of what we mean by love, the ways that trauma and ACEs have an impact, how love is gendered and how our 'extractive capitalist system' doesn't allow space for love. And more. 

You can listen to that HERE


Acts of Love for Tough Times - June



'Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced'.

Said James Baldwin.  Sometimes when we're finding things difficult, stressful, overwhelming, unbearable  - and whether that's personally, in our relationships or family, at work or even when we think about what's happening in the wider world  - it helps to name it, and to put it on the table in front of us. To be heard in our feelings.  And to do that with others. 

So each session of Acts of Love for Tough Times starts that way.  People say it was a difficult but important and deeply helpful thing to have done. Then we move into exploring acts of love that support us through tough times. 

In June we look at joy and presence as forms of love that counterbalance the tough stuff.  The link to book onto June is below and it will be the last one until we reach the other side of summer. 

Thursday 20 June 0800 - 1000 BST


Hope to see you there. 




'Being heard is so close to being loved that, for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable'

David Ausberger


Deep Democracy



I have always wanted to do some learning in the field of Arnie Mindell's 'deep democracy', a process, as far as I understand it anyway, about reaching decisions in a way where everyone has had a voice and feels heard, even when a decision goes in a way they didn't want.  A deeply inclusive and relational approach to doing things that works with group process and dynamics, conflict and tensions, elephants in the room and ways to say no. 

If that's true for you too, then here's an opportunity for a 90 min Taster Session on 14 June, as well as a 3 day training between 3-5 July (online) with the wonderful Francesca Pagni.


'The land is a being who doesn't forget'. 

Joy Harjo



Couldn't resist including a second joyous drawing from Pat Foreman, this time of his Irish wolfhound, Rashty. 


'I thought we'd have more time'



It was a gut punch this month to read some of the articles in the Guardian about climate collapse, and hear from many scientists who work in the climate field about their conviction that we will easily overshoot the hoped for 1.5C degrees of climate heating, and we are highly likely to hit 3C degrees, if nothing radical happens within 5 years.  That means we - and it's a very uneven WE as many populations are feeling it right now - will really start to experience the impact of this crisis within 10 years or so, some scientists think. The news itself didn't shock me,  I've assumed it was heading that way.  

And then I was at a session with Jem Bendell and Katie Carr, an alumni gathering from their leadership programme Leading Through Collapse a few years ago.  Working in Open Space we moved between small groups exploring questions that the group members were interested in exploring.  I facilitated a group around 'how DO we convene groups to talk about what's happening and how we might respond?'.  And other I spent time in was 'I thought we had more time - what do I do now?'

That's the question that's been on my mind for ages and is increasing in its demand for an answer.  If this is the case, what DO I do now?

(And as I was writing this, I was reminded on LI that the wonderful Lee Chalmers is running a workshop in Cambridge at the end of July to ask exactly that question.  'How do we grapple with the state of the world today and our place in it?'   Take a look ...)


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

Tricia Hersey





In workshops exploring love, we often get to talk about how we can love people who have harmed us, or others.  People we really dislike, or have great difficulty with.

I sometimes introduce the group to the Buddhist practice of Metta Bhavana - the meditation practice where we first say to ourselves, in our minds eye: 'may I be well, may I be happy, may I live with ease'.  Then we bring someone we know or love to mind and say the same: 'may you be well, may you be happy, may you live with ease'.  Then someone we're having difficulty with, and say the exact same thing: 'may you be well, may you be happy, may you love with ease'.  It's not often easy or comfortable.

I also introduce people to the Hawaiian practice of Ho'oponopono, a practice of forgiveness.  Here we bring to mind someone we're in conflict with, say, and in our minds eye, we repeat: 'I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you'.  Over and over.  Wow.  Difficult.  But if I can hold the belief, even as a thought experiment that 'all the barriers are on my side', then it's something worth practicing with. 






Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.

Sylvia Plath


Good reads



Victoria Hislop's The Return was someone's Book Group choice and it was good - and always interesting to get a bit of history education (the Spanish Civil War, in this case) and then Paul Murray's The Bee Sting which started as just ok and then got deeply, deeply gripping. Superb.    And then Intervals, from Marianne Brooker, about her mum's death through VSED (voluntarily stopping eating and drinking). Very good. 



And at work



Heaps of project admin, some of it pretty frustrating and massively time consuming, but some lovely delivery to balance that out including a session with a women's leadership programme, some powerful action learning sets and regular clients in coaching and coaching supervision.  

Still seeing the pattern of clients asking for proposals and detailed costings, and then changing their minds about the work.  Just the way it is, at the moment.  And I'm hearing the same from lots of other colleagues in my line of work too.  I'm rolling with it. 

(thanks for the pic, Kim)


Do get in touch and let me know how you're finding these Newsletters, or if you'd like to see more info or 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

07771 358 881

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