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Do you too, need to let go to let come?

It’s the beginning of 2024. I imagine you too are resisting New Year Resolutions; they seem a little out of touch now. For me, this is because they are:

  • either too big or aim too high. With such a large goal our progress can feel miniscule and we can get discouraged quickly
  • somebody else’s goal or expectation for you; for example losing weight or exercising more; fundamentally, not your own.

And so they don’t usually work.

Nowadays it seems much more relevant to talk about PURPOSE. It’s all about knowing our own purpose, and using this as our guide for decisions and action.

Simon Sinek’s approach, “Start With Why“, works for me:

It took a number of years for mine to crystallise, but I do feel that I know my purpose now. It is short and sweet; it is to help others stretch and grow.

The feedback I gain from those who attend the leadership programmes I create and engage in the executive coaching I deliver, suggest I am on track.

Their feedback makes me happy every time.

Even so, it can be difficult working out how to adapt and evolve my purpose, to know what action to take, as my circumstances, aspirations and opportunities grow.

In recent years, I have felt at my best and adored delivering international and cross cultural training, including face to face in Uganda, Russia, Ukraine, Malaysia and a number of European countries.

Obviously, face to face work paused with the arrival of Covid 19, and shifted to virtual delivery.

Post pandemic, this yearning, this itch for more work abroad is back.

Consequently I have spent much of 2023 working out how to grow my international work again.

I have been busy, very busy, talking with lots of people with many thoughtful, helpful introductions to new people; finding out what requirements are now and working out my best approach.

However, with doing too much of this I got tired. Constant exploration wore me out. It felt like nothing was happening.

My UK clients started wondering if I still wanted UK work (in case you need an answer to this one, I do!).

I started to feel discouraged and despondent. Then one day I found that, even without answers, I needed to take a break, reduce the pressure and for a while, put my aspiration down.

Whatever was happening in the external world, it was time for me to stop and breathe.

There are many theories to help understand and put language around this sort of change process.

One is the Fertile Void with Gestalt. Another is the Neutral Zone with William Bridges’ work on transitions. There is Theory U – which includes the process of letting go to let come.

In all of these theories, this in-between place, between old and new, is not seen as a comfortable place..

Certainly for me, this place does not feel fertile, neutral or easy at all!!

Yet it seems impossible to avoid this place when we want to move on or arrive at a new place. Although we always want to, don’t we? To avoid discomfort when we can 😀

So what is helpful when we are at this stage of the change process?

My top tips are as follows:

  • Although it takes courage, talk with everyone about what you want, what you yearn for, what is inside. However, as you progress, learn to be less rigid, definite or one dimensional about what the right answer might be. Your language will emerge and shift.
  • At all times, reflect. Take time to notice the patterns in relation to your aspiration. Watch out for subtle changes over time about what feels right. Your answer may be more complicated; it may draw together more threads than you think.
  • If someone comes up with an idea for you, say “yes” rather than discount it and think they don’t really understand what you are after. Give it a go, and see how it all fits together (or not!) afterwards.

I am entering 2024 with a range of interesting work which supports my aspiration.

This month I am:

  • delivering a face to face leadership day for Women in Rail Malaysia
  • coaching ten accountancy professionals globally, stretching my skills with cross cultural challenge
  • working with an international team to develop their mentoring skills.

My emerging, new model seems to be about starting small, often with virtual work, then moving to face to face work from there.

I am feeling held by others, working with them, to bring my expertise to their business challenges.

Which is my final point.

Part of the letting go for me, has been that I needed to let go of being a solo. To allow myself to be held by others, to put myself in their hands (the first point in the pencil video above), and not to take full responsibility to create my new business model on my own.

I am enjoying working with others to “let come”.

So I’m wondering, is there an idea in my blog which might help you with your thinking, your hopes and aspirations for 2024 too?

Gill How loves to deliver work globally and internationally with managers, executives and professionals to help them to evolve, grow their leadership capability and stretch their strengths. She is a Fellow of the Association for Coaching, an Innovative Leadership Developer and avid walker in beautiful parts of the world! If she can help you in developing the potential of the professionals in your organisation, get in touch!

EDI Bookclub this month: Revolting Women by Dr Lucy Ryan. Join us on Friday 26th January at 12.30pm GMT or Monday 29th January at 5.30pm. Contact me for the zoom link!

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Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

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