Creating Space for Growth

“Making change, moving towards who you want to become, to being your best self, requires us to give up something that has kept us safe for a long time”

                                                                        Jennifer Berger Garvey


Many of my clients talk about the importance of development, growth, wellbeing of their team but many struggle to create the space for their own growth and wellbeing. Sometimes taking on a rescuer role or simply being over responsible, always prioritising others needs over their own. With the movement to leading in a hybrid world many of my clients felt depleted at the end of 2022.


In all honesty so was I. A sense of depletion and feeling a little out of sorts in the December madness made me stop and think about the sabbatical I took in 2019 and the importance I then placed on self care and practicing what I preached. But something happened. I am not sure whether it was the busyness of life after 2 years of lockdowns, the shift from online to face to face and regular travel again (and the constant delays!) or was I being seduced again into being the servant, rather than a shaper of the system that is corporate consulting.


I had to ask myself, was I practicing what I was preaching and was I at my best to help my clients make progress on things that were important to them. When we are agents of change, exercising leadership and mobilising others to make progress on issues they care about then we need to be conscious of how we deploy ourselves. This means being very aware of our individual system plays out particularly when you are outside your comfort zone. Our individual system includes all our wonderful strengths but also the limiting core beliefs, our emotional triggers, our shadow side, our non productive habits and our inner critic. Jennifer Garvey Berger, who I have quoted above, refers to some of these as mind traps.


If we are in the grip of our individual system it can set us up for failure and even dilute our personal brand. As an aside, one of my coaching clients was trying to navigate complex change across her organisation whilst at the same time carrying around this strong need to be right. You can imagine the challenges she had as others resisted her efforts much to her frustration.


Not only was I depleted and to some extent in the grip of my own individual system but I was also grappling with the relationship that I had with my work. As many of you would know any relationship has joyful moments and moments of frustrations and I had come to a place where I was more in a trough than a peak.


I knew I needed an intervention to create some space to do some work on myself and to find that love again for my work.


I know I live a privileged life. I can create space in my life to step back and do the work I needed to do. I can put work on hold. The universe was also speaking to me as my diary was quieter than normal in early February. So I decided that I would go to Ubud in Bali for just over 2 weeks to do the work I needed to do to fall in love with work again but also identify how my individual system was holding me back. To quote Jennifer Garvey Berger I needed to identify those things holding me back that that have been keeping me safe for a very long time.

What did that look like? For me, it was joining a co-working space (Bali has amazing co-working places), connecting with other like minded people, reading (a couple I highly recommend – Nicole Lepera who recently wrote Doing the Work and Gabriel Mate who wrote The Myth of Normal), journaling every day, digging deep on core beliefs, patterns, habits, boundaries, getting clarity on my work and life purpose, writing (lots of writing!), meditation and yoga classes, running and eating healthy food.

It was simply the best 2 weeks I have had in a long time not just on terms of gaining clarity and insight about myself and my needs but also the importance of having a daily practice and making empowered choices about how I want to show up in this world. I don’t like to use the word transformation because growth happens over time rather than through some event based experience but I will say the experience accelerated some of the healing and growth I needed to do.

Towards the end of my 2 weeks I thought of every one of my own clients who want to break habits, develop a health relationship with their limiting beliefs and show up differently. I am reluctant to offer advice, ultimately it’s up to each of who want to grow to find the space to do the work. To prioritise ourselves a little more than we do and to show ourselves a little bit more kindness. Whether that’s through coaching or chatting to a therapist, walks in nature, meditation, connected conversations, self reflection or simply time to just be, we all need to find that space. I am reminded of the ‘put your oxygen mask on first before doing your children’s’ analogy. If we want to make a difference in the world through the roles we play then we need to ‘put our oxygen mask on first’.

I am excited about work again. I am about to head to Sydney to run a workshop and I am feeling energised about meeting the participants and creating a great learning experience.

I am also embarking on a project that I hope leads to another book. The project which includes some action research to identify how to make leadership development more self directed rather than just event based. If you’re interested in chatting about this project please reach out. I will be reaching out to some of my network over the next few weeks as I kick this project off.

If you’re interested in the process I took whilst I was away to get a better understanding of your individual system and how can you deploy yourself more effectively please reach out for a no obligation chat.

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