Brene Brown does Vulnerability

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Last week a friend recommended I watch a new Netflix documentary by someone called Brene Brown entitled ‘the Call to Courage‘. I didn’t recognise the name so I looked her up. Brene Brown is a Research Professor and best-selling Author from America, she works at the University of Houston and for two decades has studied empathy, courage, shame and vulnerability. Having now watched the documentary I should also add that she’s an incredible public speaker, she’s engaging, funny and likeable.

The documentary is actually her talking about the content of a TED Talk she was invited to do at TedxHouston and how she went off piste with what she decided to discuss. Instead of giving one of her more academic and rehearsed presentations she talked about her experiences of vulnerability and what she’d learned about it. Essentially the message is this, you cannot be courageous without being vulnerable. Period.

I won’t give anymore detail away as I think you’ll get so much more from watching it for yourself, so please do!




What’s In My Head

On Monday evening I attended a show by Katie Piper at the Duchess Theatre, London. ‘What’s In My Head’ is the name of her debut UK tour, which began this spring. You may have heard of Katie Piper for a number of reasons: She’s a British TV presenter, author, philanthropist (she runs a charity called The Katie Piper Foundation), and she’s a survivor of a horrific acid attack, which has altered the course of her life.

Katie is an inspiration to many (including myself) because of how she’s dealt, and continues to deal with the extreme challenges she’s faced. She’s not just survived, she’s thrived; turning the horrendous experiences she’s had into opportunities to support and educate others, and build a career for herself.

Katie’s show is more of an inspirational talk than anything else, where she opens up about what happened to her when she was attacked, the impact on both her physical and mental health following the attack; as well as some of the things that helped her to cope at this really dark time in her life.

Katie talks about affirmations and how these don’t just have to be quotes shared on social media, these can be anything from images or words to tattoos with personal information about a loved one, for instance the date of birth of a child. An affirmation is simple something encouraging and/or meaningful. I won’t go into too much detail so no spoilers here, however I will just say that she encourages you to write down any affirmations you have that are in word form and stick these up around your home. The idea being that in seeing these regularly you are reinforcing positive messages for yourself. I was encouraged to write one by the Life Coach who hosted the vision board workshop I attended a little while ago. She suggested the whole group write one each and carry this on their person moving forward, as she does. Mine is ‘Trust yourself, you’ve got this’ which is just a reminder to me that I can rely on myself and that I won’t let myself down.

2:1 breathing
The 2:1 yoga breathing technique is demonstrated by Katie as she said she finds this useful to calm her nerves at times. This kind of breathing is the opposite to ‘Fight or Flight’ and is apparently referred to as ‘Rest and Digest’. She explains that the technique is simply used to relax us and take us out of our anxious mode. You need to sit up straight, inhale for say three seconds, then exhale for say six seconds, or inhale for four seconds and exhale for eights, hence 2:1.

Although the subject matter of the talk was very serious, Katie delivered it in a way that made it moving and in some places, lighthearted and humorous. She’s a naturally engaging speaker and if there’s one thing I took away from the talk it’s that you will only move forward if you truly learn to accept your circumstances. Wishing things were different or making comparisons with other people isn’t useful. I would highly recommend the show and there are still some tickets available for her final tour date on Thursday 31st May in Camberley, Surrey so now is the time to get one!


Full Circle

Joseph Grech

Today I’ve been at yet another coaching introductory course! This one was one run by Full Circle, a coaching provider than focuses on transformation coaching. Transformation coaching is deemed a more holistic approach to coaching clients, offering long-term, sustainable change when compared with transactional coaching, which is a more structured and goal orientated approach, often relying on clients coming to sessions with specific challenges or goals.

Today’s introductory course was a little different from the others I’ve attended. It was far less showy and the focus was very much on giving attendees a real opportunity to learn about the coaching industry. Trainer, Joseph Grech didn’t put on a big performance for his audience, instead he came across as being down to earth, simply explaining Full Circle’s approach to coaching, giving a breakdown of the course structure, as well as candidly answering all our our questions about both the course and the industry.

Although perhaps not the most engaging introductory day I’ve attended, it was informative and felt entirely sincere, which was refreshing! The most valuable part of the day for me, in terms of my coaching development, was having the opportunity to observe a full coaching session between Joseph (an experienced coach) and a willing participant (a volunteer from the group who came along with a genuine issue). I’ve seen (and been involved with) coaching demonstrations at other introductory days, but until now I hadn’t witnessed a full coaching session. It was invaluable to see the full process from the coach welcoming the client into the space, explaining the remit of the service and outlining things such as the confidentiality policy; right through to the coach wrapping up the session and asking the client for feedback.

A few specific observations I noted about the coaching session were the engaging body language, tone of voice and pace Joseph maintained throughout the coaching, the in-depth listening he demonstrated and the amount of reflection and questioning he used to both challenge the client and encourage her to open up. He also used a technique I’d encountered before, which coaches use when clients don’t feel they can offer an answer when questioned on a particular issue that’s personal to them. The technique is essentially to get them to utilise their brain to come up with a solution to their own problem. Often clients can do this is they think a question is just hypothetical, or if they don’t really see that it’s them coming up with the solution.  For instance a client may say “I don’t know what I’d do if I quit my job” to which a coach may respond “But what if you did know, what might you think about doing?” or if a client were to say “What do you think I should do about my boss?” the coach may offer “What do you think I would suggest?” Another strategy is for the coach to use rhetorically questions. The client may  make a statement like “I feel that I can’t get on with people” or “I think that no one will employ me” to which the coach may ask “You feel that, or you know that?” allowing the client the opportunity to really reflect on whether something is actually a fact, or rather a limiting belief they hold.

Something else I found useful, which may be of interest to any aspiring coaches out there is the concept of Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR) – This refers to when someone (in this case the coach) has a positive bias towards another person (in this case the client), which may cloud their ability to be objective. For example, if you (the coach) had worked as a nurse in a past life and had a very negative experience of working incredibly hard, over long hours and felt you hadn’t been sufficiently supported, you may assume your client (who is a nurse) also works incredibly hard and has been unfairly treated, which may not necessarily be the case. In instances like this Joseph advised referring the client onto another coach, one who can offer a more impartial service.


She Almighty: Women’s Coaching & Empowerment

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Last night I attended a coaching event for women in central London, hosted by Personal Performance Coach Mikaela Jackson. It was an intimidate affair, a coaching workshop made up of eight women including myself, who were encouraged to share our thoughts and experiences, particularly those which led us towards coaching.

Mikaela gently facilitated the workshop, which started with the group discussing some of our limiting beliefs (beliefs we have for ourselves, which may be holding us back from achieving our full potential). Examples of these can be things such as: ‘I fail at everything I do so I’ll probably fail if I try to start my own business’, ‘I can’t afford to make my dream happen’, ‘I’m not smart enough’, ‘I don’t have enough time’ or ‘my ideas aren’t good enough’. We also discussed our understanding of how our beliefs are formed and what evidence we are using to convince ourselves that these are true.

Looking at the evidence is interesting because when you start to unravel what this actually is and where it has come from, this often reveals how weak the evidence is, demonstrating that the belief has no real basis. Let me give you an example, if you believe you fail at everything, so will probably fail in your next venture, you are likely to have evidence to support that belief. Perhaps a mental list of all things you believe you’ve failed at. However, if you take the time to write down a list of all the things you remember ever accomplishing, you’re likely to find that you’ve actually achieved a huge amount and the belief you are choosing to hold (that you fail at everything) is actually wildly inaccurate. It may also be worth considering how you determine ‘failure’ but that’s another issue… I highlight the word choosing because Mikaela reinforced what I’d learnt previously, that despite what we think, we do have a choice about the beliefs we hold of ourselves.

We were then invited to consider what the impact may be for us in holding onto these limiting beliefs and how we might overcome them, in order to achieve what we want in our lives. I think we were all in agreement that the impact is a negative one, blocking us from taking action and Mikaela stressed that having an awareness of these beliefs is the first step towards overcoming them.

We discussed our personal journeys in more detail in pairs and I know at least a couple of us had ‘penny drop’ moments, which was a great reminder to me of how sometimes a fresh perspective can open your eyes to something you think you’ve already explored every angle of.

Although I have attended some introductory life coaching sessions previously (and therefore had already explored some of the content we covered), I still found discussing this in more depth valuable. Another reason I wanted to attend is that I’m keen to build up experience of working with different life coaches, understanding their styles etc. I feel Mikaela asked some really valuable questions, interjected in discussions at useful points in order to give feedback or reflect on something said, and she has a natural warmth about her. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was great to meet so many like-minded women and I’m looking forward to the next session.

Life Coaching: The Manual


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As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, I’ve started listening to Brooke Castillo’s Life Coaching podcasts and am now working my way through these on a daily basis. Not only do I feel I’m understanding more about life coaching by listening to these, but they are also providing me with opportunities to practice life coaching techniques on myself.

In Episode 11, Brooke discusses the unwritten rules we set for the people in our lives, referring to the rule books we create as ‘manuals’. These manuals can be for our partners, parents, friends or even our colleagues or managers, and are made up of the expectations we choose to put onto these people about how we feel they should behave. She argues that we often invest huge amounts of our emotional happiness in our rules being followed. An example might be your partner regularly leaving wet bath towels on the bed. Your expectation is that this shouldn’t happen and when it does, you’re angry about it. Sound familiar?

Not only have the people around us often not agreed to follow our rules, but much of the time they are unaware that we even have these expectations of them, so inevitably they fail to meet them. Brooke explores how we use these manuals we’ve created, the reasons they don’t really work and why (by putting our energy into trying to implement them) we are focusing our attention in the wrong places. She explains that these rules are our way of trying to control other people, which isn’t realistic and will only leave us wanting. She goes on to suggest how we can try to move away from using these manuals and in turn, change our relationships with those closest to us for the better. This one’s definitely worth a listen!

Podcasts by Brooke Castillo

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Some time ago I told you about Brooke Castillo and her life coaching podcasts that I stumbled upon. I promised an update on what I discovered so here it is…

I decided to go all the way back, starting with the first episode Brooke recorded. I’ve now listened to five episodes: Why You Aren’t Taking Action, How to Feel Better, How to Set GoalsHow to Fail and Overcoming Fear. These podcasts are my new ‘go to’ listening for my journey to work, gently nudging me into a positive frame of mind for the day ahead. I’d highly recommend sticking one on when you get in the car or hop onto your train in the morning. Some of the philosophies and strategies in the podcasts support what I’ve learnt previously (through my own reading and through the self development and life coaching courses I’ve attended), while others were new to me and have already started to get me thinking a little differently. How to Fail is my preferred episode so far. Avoiding challenges and opportunities for fear of failure is definitely something I can identity with. Brooke discusses how our fear of failure affects us and the importance of re-framing the way we view failure by… failing, regularly! Yes, she actually encourages failure. Listen to the podcast to find out why. I’m now working hard on failing!


Brooke Castillo: Being Coached

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In my quest to find out as much as possible about life coaching (through all means possible) I have been searching online for podcasts and happened upon The Life Coach School’s website. Master Coach Instructor and Co-Founder of the school Brooke Castillo has released numerous podcasts for the site, the most recent of which explores some of the benefits of having a coach, her experiences of being a client and how those experiences have, in turn impacted on her approach to coaching her own clients.

The first of Brooke’s podcasts dates back to April 2014 so catching up will keep me busy! If there are any podcasts on the website which really stand out I will highlight these for you, so you can listen to them for yourselves.