Is it your best?

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I keep thinking about the book… and wondering – Is it my best work?

At the moment the answer to that question is – YES, absolutely.  It’s the best I can do right now.  Which then leads me to my current dilemma…

What if I could do it better in 2, 5, 10 years?  What would it look like then and would I regret publishing too early?  Does JK Rowling look back at The Philosopher’s Stone and think it could have been better, or does she just let it be?  Because she then went on to write the others and her more recent crime stories.  Do they fill the skill gap for her?

Then I remember: It is the best I can do – now.  There will be other books and after all, I could do a re-write / update / revised edition.  Which leads me to circle back to, what is this book for?  Can I let it remain a path towards the community I want to support?  Can I let it remain an experiment in learning the art of writing and publishing?  Might it gain more relevance and recognition as I, as an author / creator, gain credibility?  Can I prepare myself and cope with it being a dud, because we all have those and the more we create failures, the closer we get to success?

Yes, to all of the above, and…

Enrolment is now open to become a Beta Tester for the Spring Division of the Creative Leap Bootcamp.

Just close your eyes and step

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Leaping Towards Creativity

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“Just close your eyes and step off the board”, were the instructions said to me the first time I was stood on that god damn diving board, all trussed up in a survival suit and life jacket, sweating my bits off and gazing into the watery abyss below, contemplating the fact I would be held back and separated from my friends if I couldn’t complete this test.

I was caught between wanting to jump off to pass the test, and wanting to do anything but. Paralysed!

Blimey, it makes my heartbeat quicken and my stomach wrench just remembering that day and typing it out. The best bit was, the instructors understood my fear and wanted to help me through it. They knew the score.

So they take me down to poolside edge and all I have to do is the same thing – Close my eyes and step off. And I did and barely got my head immersed thanks to the life jacket.

Confidence increased, they took me to the low diving board, same action – Close eyes and step. And I did it.

Then, as quick as a flash, they bypassed all the other recruits to get me to the front of the queue on the big diving board. Way up high. And all I had to do was – Close eyes. Step.

Some people can just trust themselves and go. For others, they need to build up that reassurance.

I gave myself until Spring 2021, and thanks to true grit and determination, and the support of a co-working group that held me accountable to this project, I’m ready early!

The best part is, I’m not done. A few months back I feared – is this my best work? Is this all I have? Because at time it was like my brain was this scattered, foggy, mess and nothing was emerging. It just crashed.

And when I hit that publish button… Wow! It was a huge release and the floodgates opened. It freed up all this energy, ideas and brain bandwidth. Which meant I could start jotting some notes for book two and getting excited about that one.

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Risk it for a biscuit

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We had a group discussion about problems and worries.  

Are we too attached to worry and problem solving especially when the more we think about problems, the more problems we create?

And my first reaction was to ask:  Is it really a problem, or merely a choice / decision point that makes us uncomfortable?  Getting to say yes to one thing and having to say no to another?

All of us are in leadership roles and have people in our care. This poses lots of dilemmas and thinking around offering the opportunities for growth and also the safety to fail in a controlled way. Where can we give the credit freely and where is there the assurance we will take the blame?  

I’ve discussed before about questions behind questions. So, what’s the problem behind the problem?

The underlying truth might be that we fear…. well anything. We all have out own particular fear flavour, and one might be very tolerable to one person and utterly stomach wrenching for another. 

So, what is your understanding of risk?  Is it really a risk or merely the potential for an undesirable outcome?  In the military, when shit happens, we stop and ask: did anyone die? No, ok well then let’s take a breath and think about this together. And when a death was part of the scenario, the reaction remained unchanged. Nothing was going to change that outcome, so large intakes of breath were taken and we worked together so ensure the next steps were the right ones.

I love a good question and here a few to get you thinking:

What really is in and out or your circle of concern and control?  

What / where / who is the source of worry?  

How might you break it down and unpack it more?  How might that make the problem more manageable?  

What are you hiding from and are you using risk to hide behind?  How might this be keeping you from the meaningful work you want to do?

Now it’s your turn to tell me…

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Winning vs PB’s

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It is tricky when you share good news and someone else is stuck in a funk.  I’d say curiosity usually wins out, but they might feel like they don’t have much going on and to start poking around may only serve to exacerbate the situation.  Unless you can seek to make it more future focused… what’s coming up for you?  What’s on the agenda?  What are looking forward to?  What is puzzling you at the moment?  

And don’t try to fix it without asking.  Offer help and expect it to be rejected so they don’t feel obligated to save your feelings. 

The other flip side is, you can’t be responsible for their feelings either.  Or get sucked into the drama triangle with a “victim” and slip into “rescue” mode.  Especially when you are not causing harm or being hurtful.  There has been caution around some of that during Covid. Some networking groups have said in the past they would big up their success and hide the failures.  Now it’s almost like you don’t feel right sharing your success during these times when so many others are struggling.  Some are dumbing down their success for fear of making someone else feel inadequate or a failure. 

So, I suppose my question is, why does this situation trigger you?  What’s more uncomfortable for you? Their discomfort because of inadequacy, or your discomfort because of success?  How might you be feeling bad or guilty that you have grown, and they have been left behind?  

Just as you are telling yourself a story about how you’ve embraced change; how might they be telling themselves a story about why they didn’t?  Might they be feeling sad for missing out all this time?  Might the situation be more overwhelming for them, than it is for you?  Might they be entering the conscious incompetence phase – remember how that made you feel?  And now it’s your turn to guide them through to competence – if they will let you.  

Because it’s important to ask them if they want your help.  They need to be enrolled in their own development and for their own value.  Not as a way to level up to you, through fear of comparison.  It’s much better they are enrolled into raising their own bar and stretching their abilities. When it becomes less about winning the race, and more about the personal bests. 

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100th Post!!! – FAQ’s

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In my line of creative work I get asked lots of questions. Some are seeking the direct answer. Most are seeking another question from me. I learned from the book – The Coaching Habit – what’s the question behind the question?

So, someone might ask:

How easy is it to publish on Amazon? The real question is, how can I make this a barrier, or a path, to accomplishment? (Depending on their mindset)

How do you find the time to write and do so much? This might be masking questions around, can I do that too? What will I need to sacrifice to be able to pursue my dreams?

What if no one likes it? Is a question of, do I have the resilience to handle a rejection? Or, am I good enough? FWIW, it means the work produced is not for them. And given the number of people in the world, I doubt “no one” is a high probability. There is always your Mum, and that counts in my book.

For me, the best questions are answered with another question. And the best answers a rarely the superficial ones on the surface.

Genuine curiosity and interest goes a heck of a long way, and will lead to a valuable and worthwhile answer. If you take the time and effort to find it.

Creative Leap Bootcamp

Coming soon!!!

More on enrolment and the application process in due course. Full details and info will appear on the Campfires page. And I will let you know via this blog.

The earlier you leap, the greater the reward.

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Self-Limiting SMART Goals

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During a virtual coffee call, the host asked for help with SMART goals. And it’s that time of year when we start to think about what we want to accomplish in the New Year.

I had some thoughts on this subject…

SMART goals were rammed down my military throat for 15 years and didn’t mean a thing to me.  In fact, we were advised (because our line managers hadn’t prepped us properly) in the run up to our annual appraisals to set our SMART goals for the year just gone, so that our reports aligned. We did them retrospectively, so that everyone look amazing!!!  

What a crock of shit??? I my honest opinion.

SPECIFIC – Ok I am down with that.

MEASURABLE – Ok, sometimes, I’m a bit on the fence on that one, time and place for me.

AGREED – Ummm, they are my goals so yeah that’s a given. More appropriate elsewhere.

REALISTIC – Says who?

TIME bound – Really? I don’t think Possibility keeps a schedule.

SMART is ok, but I believe it’s important to acknowledge it has its limits. It can only be applied to one thing at a time and may be more appropriate in teams or big organisational settings.  But I still think there is a better way and one that can be more appropriate for you and your aspirations. There’s loads out there to choose from if you search. And

I was introduced to a framework that feels much more instinctive to me.  Particularly when you have multiple project going on.  And this framework enables you to connect the dots and create your Huge Unbelievably Great Goal (HUGG), from the ground up. Credit to the Art of Brilliance for that one.

If someone is asking or even insisting you create SMART goals, it might be worth asking them why?  Are they trying to steer their own agenda? Keep you thinking small, because when you do hit a SMART goal – is it validating you, or them?  How might they also fear HUGGs and don’t know any other way?  

The great thing about HUGGs is you can make them infinite.  That pinnacle might not even be possible in your lifetime, so does that mean you can’t try?  Hell’s No!!!  Because along the way you will meet others, have an impact on them and the goal persists.

I do get the frustration.  some people love structure and would be lost without it.  Others find the structure most off-putting and it causes them to feel stuck.  So how might you find what works for you?

I will always champion testing and trying things out to see what works for you. Charlie Gilkey might help here with Start Finishing. Or Atomic Habits form James Clear.  

And another one I know is to make a list of 20-25 things you want to do.  Pick the top five and go do those.  Everything else on that list becomes the Things to Avoid List.  And I mean AVOID – leave them alone.  If you want one them in the top five, something else has to drop off.  Only when you finish one can another take its place.  I did this and from time to time review it.  One thing I noticed was there are somethings on the avoid list that have not made it to the top five. And more importantly, never will make it to the top five and have now been relegated to the trash because they became irrelevant.  Imagine how I would be feeling now if I had spent a butt load of time on something that now serves no purpose!

Equally, if someone had said to me this time last year, you will make a video explaining an idea, you will say kind and insightful words and then send it to the folks at Simon Sinek, I would have laughed until I fell off my seat.  I would not have seen that goal coming… It hit me square in the face and I had the balls to hit the send button.  It hasn’t amounted to anything tangible yet… But I will always have my pride.  Pride in my work and pride in my self, just because I had the guts to do it.  And that is the best thing I can ask of my self.

Shipping Nowcast update

The other celebration is the publication of my fiction novel. I had given myself until Spring 2021, but thanks to the support of my coach and the allies in my network, I got it finished. Wahooooo!!!!! And not a SMART goal in sight 😉

Now it’s your turn to tell me…

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It’s Christmas Jim, but not as we know it.

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December 2020 marked quite an astonishing milestone for British TV.

On the 9th December 1960, the first episode of Coronation Street was broadcast. Originally, it was only supposed to be for 12 episodes…

Now, 60 Years later, it’s still going. Airs multiple times per week and has become the biggest soap in the UK. Who would have thought it? Way back when. And it has endured all the ups and downs of life and change. Whilst Corrie, as it’s affectionately known, isn’t quite my cup of tea, I can’t ignore the accomplishment.

And isn’t how all the best success stories start?

“Well, it was only supposed to be…”, and before you know it, something remarkable has been established.

This sounds like starting small has its rewards. See how it works out. Test and adjust. And be open to the opportunities you never thought possible.

For 2021, how might you seek out the smallest thing to start? And see where it leads you…

As the year comes to a close and the final push to get everything in some sort of “done” state…

(Oh, because it’s worth mentioning that the second part of starting things is to finish some of them too ;-D )

I am feeling rather bittersweet about 2020.

So many things started. Some really good. And some really awful.

And here we are. Still. Riding the crest of change.

It’s a good time to look back and remember all the things we did achieve this year. Even through all the adversity, challenge, disappointment and zoom fatigue – because those really are the wins.

The accomplishment that was sought through committed work and hard emotional labour.

Resulting in mastery that you own, and no one or no thing can it take away. It’s yours now to nurture, stretch and grow.

Learning the value of rest and gratitude, I am taking a break for the festive season and bringing in the New Year with renewed passion and courage.

I wish you all the very best and look forward to seeing you in 2021….

There might be something interesting there, just out of sight, a bit blurry and on the edge of the horizon.

Best go check it out 😉

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No tea and sympathy around this campfire…

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A sneak peak… Shhhh, don’t tell my publisher XD 😉

“…So, the only one flapping over Alphie, was Alphie. In her new found appreciation for what was right in front of her, when she did get to write this all became obvious and the nerves were calming as each day passed and her self-awareness grew. She even breezed her Bridge Watch assessments which were followed by the well-deserved stop in Malta. Once they sailed again – Alphie would be a fully qualified Bridge Watch Keeper. And whilst she felt like Scott had dragged her kicking and screaming into this new lease of life, and it still sent her stomach into a turn from time to time – she could see the good in it. She had started to find some sort of meaning to her existence on this tin can.

And being around a small group made her feel at home, like she belonged and she had purpose. She had been searching for this feeling since the day they sailed, or may be even before that. From when she joined the team at bootcamp, she bonded deeply with them but still didn’t know where she fitted into this bigger picture which, for the most part, she could not see. And when they joined the ship, she was lost again.

Her buddies had all dispersed to their respective departments and responsibilities and it was like that happened every day.  They would meet for meals and then disappear and Alphie would just tag along again.  Going through all the different shapes, trying to make her peg fit.  And now, it was like purpose found her.  Once she stopped looking, and let it.”

Join the club. You are all invited. And it’s not for everyone.

We serve up neat bourbon and hard emotional labour.

BYO MM (Mischievous Mindset)

Ding ding… Time at the bar please. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

The December Edition of Gather & Share is: Success Stories. You need only bring your story and curiosity for others.

Enrol via Eventbrite here>>>

And there is still time to submit your Ask Me Anything Questions to mark the 100th Blog Celebration.

For email subscribers this link will take you to the AMA form>>>

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One Year On…

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Something came to my attention today…  

I realised I missed a milestone.  How did that happen????

A couple of days ago I remembered I have surpassed my first anniversary as a veteran.  It was 23rd Oct 2019 that I left the confines of a military establishment for the first time in 15 years with the plan to not come back (never say never, right?).  And the moment completely passed me by.  And I wondered why that might be?

Is it because I have given up counting the days?  Maybe I am adopting a more infinite mindset and the time has become irrelevant?  Or am I so caught up in all the new and exciting stuff I have going on, that to stop and consider when something came to an end wasn’t required?  Maybe I don’t feel the need to be nostalgic about that time anymore?

But…  I thought it would be good to have a look back to see how far I have come and give myself a big old fashioned gold star for effort.

Completed TMS7

Completed my coaching qualification to make my skill official.

Was unsuccessful at an interview for a role at Exeter University, and learned much more about my narrative and interactions with the outside world.

Got a job as a kitchen assistant… lasted 6 shifts because I moved my ailing grandmother into my home and there she stayed.

Christmas came and then I went to Tenerife for NYE and had a well-deserved holiday.

Did a vision board for the first time and took more of interest in the networking groups.

Got the writing bug and joined the Creatives Workshop.

Delivered a workshop about mentoring for the Naval Servicewomen’s Network and met Princes Anne.

Almost lost my little old doggy to old age…. Then the time came in September to say goodbye for the last time.

Wrote a fiction novel.

Volunteered to mentor for the Princes Trust and helped Exeter University with an online summer school. 

Been in a 6 month lockdown and continue to semi-shield because of the risks to Granny.

Renovated the garden and planted up a whole bunch of veggies – they were yummy!

Have been part of a mastermind group for over a year now and I would not be who I am today and will be tomorrow, without their support and keeping me focused.

Interviewed for a podcast for the first time. And I would like to do more.

Found my WHY, and started living it.

Recorded a series of videos for my YouTube channel about creativity.

Working on building an online community, without all the terrible social media distractions. “Online for the greater good”

Met wonderful, brave and inspiring people. 

Now editing aforementioned novel and plan to self-publish, the one thing I couldn’t do was the cover design and that is being outsourced.

Host weekly group discussions for the Akimbo Alumni Community and host GoGoDone Productivity Sessions.

Host my own Gather & Share Digital Campfires, so that we can feel belonging and less alone in our ambitious quests.

Was selected for an altMBA scholarship to start in Feb2021, I have wanted to do this course for two years, and now, it is time.

Sent a pitch to the Simon Sinek Team. It didn’t matter what the outcome was, it was the act of creating it and sending it that was important to me. Learning to set aside the attachment to outcomes and leaning in to the possibility and the Practice.

Where I am now doesn’t quite look like I expected it to a year ago…

It was necessary to lean into fear, doubt and uncertainty, and navigate that at a whole new level when the Global Pandemic effected all our lives.

I have learned A LOT. And I know I made an impact on someone’s life and helped them make an impact in theirs and others around them. 

And for that, the actual outcome is waaaaay better than I anticipated or even planned for. 

Gather & Share is back and this months topic is: Success Stories. And we would love to hear more about those.

As this year draws to close… Thank F… ully! It’s a great time to look back on your success stories.


What did you do well and why? And how might you leverage those skills / opportunities and do them even better?

What’s on the Ta-Da list for 2021? And how might you get there?

Enrol here and use promo code: WIC2020

Enrol via Eventbrite here >>>>

Now it’s your turn to tell me…

Baking in Legacy

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When grappling with knowing my self-worth as a woman and setting my own bar as opposed to obeying to someone else’s sliding scale of potential / success / pay, I have been led to these questions:

Where do I get my sources of validation?  And do they value intellect and contribution, as opposed to physical attributes and money?  And what’s the climate I’m marinating in?  

My most scathing criticism and judgement came from other women, whilst I was working in a male dominated work environment.  Who, for whatever reason, may have their own flavour of reduced self-worth from the way they were formed as girls growing up and as women in a finite career driven culture.  Maybe they were trying too hard or they thought that was the way they were supposed to do it.  Who knows, that’s a psychological conversation between them and their therapist, and not for me assume.  I have also heard that swagger in women is generally rare and most often they question whether they are ready for the next promotional opportunity.  

So how might you learn to be a better editor of your own life? A great place to start is with the book Necessary Dreams by Anna Fels. A striking reality of how and why women devalue ambition and shy away from recognition.

Which was a nice lead into the weekly prompt discussing single stories.

What do we assume about a person from a story about a group of people and what do they assume about us back?  If we share all in the first meeting, that’s very vulnerable place to be and we might not want others to know some things about us just yet.  We intentionally place the mask / filter / censor there to protect ourselves.  And others might do the same.  

Or do we impose that filter on others because it’s easier to assume a stereotype, instead of doing the hard work and emotional labour to get past the mask.  And what do we take as gospel from public figures who may be only telling the single story about others?  What assumptions do they make and for what purpose?  How might that single story better leverage their point and prevent us from further questioning their rationale?  Where are the plot holes and gaps?  And do we fill them to fit our worldview and make our version right, or do we seek to find the right answer?

At the women’s networking, the speaker advocated Women’s Studies so that we have other stories to go on.  Then I watching a programme on TV, Alison Hammond was discovering the Black History that is stitched into British History and has gone unrecognised.  She met with a group of women who visit the grave of a prominent black nurse who pioneered a hospital during the Crimean War, and there is a memorial to her on the bank of the Themes.  What struck me about this group of women was their age, 50 upwards.  So where are their daughters, granddaughters, nieces and aunts?  Where is the legacy to keep this annual pilgrimage alive? 

If we were more intentional in our values and beliefs, and sought out other stories to define and explain our culture and discussed this openly, would there be a need to embark on a formal period of study? Particularly, when our time is such a scarce resource. How might we foster a place to hand down our stories and encourage the next generation to learn and appreciate the history and strive for better in the future?

Instead of making the decision to learn on purpose and the need to carve out the time and energy, which might create more problems than it solves and wonderful hiding places and rationale for not doing something, I believe in creating a more natural space for learning and curiosity, so that it becomes an instinctive and more unconscious competence or skill.

I utilised coaching to tackle my blockers around self worth and validation. Previously working in a larger organisation it was easy to accept and adhere to the definitions as per that organisation – “It’s the way it has always been and how we do things around here.”

Now I’m freelancing, I’ve not really established my own “Appraisal Policy”, so to speak. I’ve not set my bar or how and when I’ll raise it.

And to do the hard work of figuring out my metrics, going beyond monetary values, number of clients or books sold. Taking a more qualitative approach to measure the impact maybe ???

Also looking at the “who’s”.
Do you continually seek the validation of a person who’s never satisfied? Like a parent or friend. And maybe repeatedly returning to these people because they simply confirm your fears and you keep yourself from stretching and succeeding. They might even have their own fears and a single story they tell themselves and imprint on you, because they can’t even imagine another narrative is possible. They keep you timid because they think timid.

How might they feed and enable you to hide? And what’s the consequence of challenging them?

Who might be better placed to challenge you with more care and mentorship? Who can cheer you on or provide a leg up as you stretch for that next bar? Are they someone who is coaching you for your development and allowing the space for you to grow bold?

This is something I’ve asked myself as well, and I am also finding it hard to assign a measurement metric for it.

What if we replace “measure” with Chequered Flag? :checkered_flag:

What are your Chequered Flags?

“Today someone said (insert sentence), and it made me smile.”
“I was complimented for… and it made me super happy.”
“One of my clients told me they achieved…, and I felt really proud for them.”
“I spent less time doing… and more time doing… so that…”

The scathing criticism from the past might have left a scar on my self-worth. But, the joy brought about from the generous support and gratitude of others created a beautiful tattoo just beside it.

How might you incorporate a daily practice of gratitude and joy in the work you achieve?

Help Me Celebrate My 100th Blog!!!!

I am grateful thiiiiiiiiiis much (arms out-stretched to the sides as wide as they can go) for all your support for this blog and being dedicated subscribers. I really hope they have sparked thought and curiosity into your life. And I would be overjoyed to continue the conversation with you more directly. To help me mark this wonderful milestone, submit your questions via the form and I’ll answer them on the 100th blog. For email subscribers click the link below.

Ask Me Anything Here

PS – No, no one should eat yellow snow and I don’t know where babies come from.

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