Monday, 5 December 2011

Exploring success: the essence of great leadership

This is my third post on what it takes to achieve your dreams and the focus around building your own tribe Seth Godin style.  This week I want to tell the story of Sadler Heath, an organisation which is phenomenally successful.  This is largely down to the vision and dedication of two people, Jeremy Keeley and Gail Zolkwer who then got the support if many others.  As I share more about Sadler Heath and what it means to me I think what you will see is that real success can take many years to come to fruition and involves a number of factors.

I am moved to write about Sadler Heath this week because we met together last Friday to celebrate the All Saints Pastoral Centre which has been a home to Sadler Heath since 2002 and as of yesterday is closed to the public.  Sadler Heath started in 1999 and it took three years before it became what is known for today.  In 2011 there are over 300 people associated with the organisation and we had at least 60 members there on Friday.

So what is Sadler Heath?  It is a social enterprise for L&D professionals.  It provides a safe space for people to come together to work on their personal development and all who participate are encouraged to be at their learning edge, something that was definitely achieved on Friday.  We had some very creative and edgy performances at the end of the day that came out of the seed of celebrating someone who meant a great deal to each member of the group.  There is a whole section about the vision of the organisation on the website but the essence of the organisation is captured in what was defined as the need for the organisationour community members are facing a future of increasing:
  • turnover of roles, jobs and organisations themselves
  • adult to adult relationships at work
  • rapidity of change and therefore awareness and acceptance of impermanence, ambiguity, uncertainty and the possibilities that these bring requirement for self-sustainability, personal resilience, self-challenge and self-supervision and for building one’s own centres of support and nurturing in shifting sands
  • enablement of individual power through technology"
Sadler Heath is a magical place and at its heart is Jeremy who has excellent facilitation skills but that in a way is a given for OD specialists.  What sets him apart is the code which he actively lives by, also known as the five As.  Top of the list for me is acceptance of self.  The more we can accept ourselves and our limitations, the more time we have for others.  It is clear that he has done a lot of work on that part of himself.  He also talks about attitude, a belief in abundance and actively giving gratitude for the opportunities he gets in his life.  There was one other but I forget it now.  If one had to summarise it, he lives out what he asks his clients to do and through his gentle loving nature he draws other people to him.  They help him spread the vision for Sadler Heath and there are now satellite groups in London, Lewes and Devon.  To give you an idea of what I mean, he spent a great deal of time this year looking at ways to save the Centre from closing.  This involved convincing investors and developers about his dreams, which he did on top of generating new work and running a consulting/ coaching business.

What are the key themes here?  The ability to enthuse people with a vision which comes from listening to others and meeting them where they are at.  In other words at the heart of leadership is followship or in NLP terms it would be described as pace, pace, lead.  The qualities I most associate with Jeremy is a sense of modesty and great presence - vital in terms of getting noticed and creating a following.

I leave you with three questions and I am very curious to hear your responses to them.  How does my thinking resonate with yours?  What thoughts do you have about what you can do to create a greater following?  What will it take for you to be the leader of your own tribe?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Are you so absorbed in making a living that you have no time for living?

At the moment I am researching into what makes some businesses more successful than others and in the process redefining what success means.  My last post looked at how a community has been formed in North Herts based around a common interest, motherhood, and how that is now transitioning to a profit-making business.

In this post I want to talk about two very different people who have a similar approach to life and yet are achieving success in very different fields.  The first is Ted Leonsis and the second is Lynn Serafinn.  Both are American and perhaps more importantly both have strong values which drive their business.  In both cases their focus is on happiness or fulfilment rather than wealth as defined in the world’s terms and yet financial gain has been a by-product of their activity.  This is a subtle distinction but a very important one – the driving force in their businesses has not been around making money.  To explain further, let me give you the five rules that Ted lives by:

1) Active involvement in local communities – this is because as humans we are first and foremost social beings and need to connect to others.  He thinks it is vital to volunteer and support projects within our local communities because apart from anything it makes us feel better about ourselves
2) Allowing self expression – for Ted this has come out in two ways: the discipline of blogging on a daily basis and more recently filmmaking.  The latter has led to the coining of a new phrase filmanthropy to describe the power of documentary films to inspire, enlighten and serve as agents of change.  He has established to continue this work.  Another manifestation of this is found in employees and advocates....
3) Astounding levels of personal empathy – this could be likened to a reservoir of empathy to empower others.  Ted describes how he got alongside the cleaners in his current company and cleaned a stadium with them.  Although this happened some time back, they talk about it today more than President Obama’s visit to the stadium.
4) Acts of service – in his daily life Ted is constantly grateful and looking for ways to give back
5) Articulation of a higher purpose – it is not just about doing business, it is about being clear about your calling and allowing that to be transparent in the way that you do business

How does Lynn Serafinn fit into this mix?  She has been inspired to write a book called the 7 Graces of Marketing which goes into detail about what creates good marketing in essence.  She talks about how the current way businesses do marketing is making people ill and encourages us to follow the 7 graces rather than the 7 deadly sins of marketing.  She defines these as:

The Graces                          The 7 deadly sins
Connection                         disconnection
Inspiration                          persuasion
Invitation                            invasion
Directness                           Distraction
Transparency                     deception
Abundance                         scarcity
Collaboration                     competition

What really resonates with me is connection.  It is about remembering that everyone wants to be heard and to feel valued closely followed by collaboration.  When are we going to realise that we can achieve more by working with others?  Recently Lisa Pearson aka the mummy whisperer when talking about her new book explained that it had been road tested by 35 Mums.  It is her content and yet she checked out with those in her community whether her ideas worked.  I do a lot of work in the corporate environment and competition is still alive and well.  Looking at Ted’s five rules to happiness, I am reminded that most businesses fail because the owners become so absorbed in making a living that they have no time for living (Ralph Waldo Trine) and forget about the higher purpose and the big picture.

Going through Lynn and Ted’s lists, which of these concepts do you feel drawn to and what could that mean for your business or the way that you live your life?

For more details on how to buy Lynn's book go to 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How can you have failure and success in the same sentence?

A few weeks ago my orchid reflowered for the first time.  That was a major step for me because every time in the past, I have only managed to kill off orchids.  It has gone from one bloom to five in a month.  So what has that got to do with life and work you may be wondering?  There are lots of parallels.

Some of the best things in life and work have to be nurtured and tendered on a regular basis.  We need discipline.  Going back to the orchid for a moment, it flowered because I had a ritual of watering it once a week.  I had also discovered after killing off one of my early orchids that they are rather particular in terms of how they like to be watered.  Their preference is for water to be poured into the saucer and not added direct to the roots as I had done so they can suck up the moisture when they need it.  Running one's life and one's business is also a learning process.

I believe things come into our lives for a reason.  Last week I was very lucky to attend a Local Mums Network event.  I have watched this group evolve from the kernel of an idea in the head of one woman, Kelsie Wagstaff to something huge involving many women.  At its heart it was about providing a community-based network for Mums in North Herts where we could come together and socialise, share ideas, pool resources and flag up worthy causes to support.  In the 15 months or so that it has been running it has really gained momentum; so much so that Kelsie and her team are setting up a website and looking at ways to turn it into a business.  Why has it been successful?

  1. It was based on a genuine need - there was no space for Mums to get together en masse socially.
  2. Kelsie, as the founder, inspired many of her friends to come along to the initial events and to spread the word to their friends.  In fact that was how I heard of it - word of mouth through a friend of mine who is now part of the team running the group.
  3. Kelsie believed in what she was doing and for many months, she was completely dedicated to it and then as it grew she asked people to help her maintain the momentum it was gathering.
  4. The main intention of the network was to be in service of others.  Kelsie was not driven by making money, she wanted to offer a space for Mums to come together and share.
Finding Local Mums Network at this point has been illuminating for me because it has given me lots of ideas about how to position and grow an idea that I and others share and want to bring into the world.  It too will be heart-based rather than head-based.

I say a huge thank you to Kelsie, Rebecca, Justine and the rest of the wonderful women behind Local Mums Network (LMN) for what you have created and inspired in me. I look forward to seeing LMN transition into a new stage of its evolution. And so as you finish this piece, what are you/ would you like to grow, tender and nurture in your life?  What resources and inspiration do you have at your finger tips? How heart-centred is your intention?

Finally remember Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm - Churchill because Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement - CS Lewis.

Friday, 5 August 2011

I have just completed two weeks of an 11 week global leadership programme as a member of the faculty. It is the kind of programme that makes you realise the advantages of being part of a network of firms - the scale of the impact you can have is far greater than that achieved by small, entrepreneurial firms that are more fleet of foot. For example we have had some of the world leaders in their field come and share their thinking with us. There is so much I could talk to you about and below I have condensed all this into a couple of the insights.

I remember when I was 11 looking up to the six formers and thinking that they seemed so confident and wishing I was their age so that I would have that level of assurance. Now, many years later I realise that we all carry on learning if we are open to growing. However self-assured we appear this is largely a facade. Czikszentmihalyi wrote about this indirectly in his book Flow. He is the "father" of Flow and discovered it when researching into artists who got lost in their work. He then came up with the other mental states that we inhabit and suggested that there were two entry points into flow. The first is via control over emotional states; the second is via a state of arousal. The latter path is much more risky however because too much arousal can flip someone into anxiety! It is a fine line and my theory is that Genesis Park is deliberately a very intense experience because it wants to create the conditions where participants are more likely to experience flow. At the very least people discover that we all have limitations and hopefully let go of the need to be perfect!

I am glad it is now the weekend and that we all faculty and participants alike get some down time. Wednesday was the most intense day for me and I just took some time out and forewent the Chopin museum to spend two hours quality time with the girls. I had got beyond flow and needed space to regain my equilibrium. To be a good leader it is all about knowing our limits and having boundaries so we cope well with the pressure. Now I am looking forward to next week. I would love to hear about how you develop your resilience and your thoughts on Flow.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

re: first thoughts from Poland

I can't believe it is already Wednesday - the day we launch our programme and welcome over 40 participants!  It has been a whirlwind few days since Sunday and I feel I have already gone into my discomfort zone which means that I am learning stacks.  Let me share some of my journey with you.

The lead up was frenetic which is why I missed the email from my good friend Eileen offering to pick me up from Warsaw airport.  I did email her but only six hours before I was arriving so needless to say there was no welcome committee.  I was incredibly fortunate however because Tania, my girls' au pair, travelled with me and speaks quite a bit of Polish so we managed to navigate our way to the appartments.

One of the first things I realised was how important physical environment is to me especially when I am not at home.  It is something that I coach people on a lot and now I recognise its significance for myself.  Let me share a couple of examples of what I mean.  The first thing I noticed about the appartment was its newness and the size.  It is just big enough to fit my husband, the two girls and the au pair but it will be a squeeze when Mum gets here.  Now I reframe that first reaction and say it will be cosy.  The initial concern however was over the lack of cooking utensils for a three month stay with my family.  Luckily my husband has brought over some of the smaller items and with help from the fabulous Ops Team for Genesis Park, more stuff is beginning to appear.  We are in the process of getting oven-proof dishes so that I can cook for the girls.  It has taken a lot of effort from various people to get this sorted; and that's largely because they are service appartments used to people doing short-term stays and so eating out a lot.  We will be here for three months - an altogether different proposition.

What I have also realised is the importance of adaptability and flexibility.  At lunchtime on Tuesday, I found out about the local culture in terms of dress.  If wearing a skirt or a dress it is essential that women also wear tights - not something I tend to do in summer. Additionally whilst it is okay to have open toes, all shoes have to have backs which means I can only wear one pair of shoes on formal occasions because I mainly packed a selection of sandals.  An excuse to go shopping this weekend!

As you can see I have already learnt a huge amount and it is only day four.  It just shows how valuable it is to place oneself in new cultural settings and how important it is to appreciate difference and maintain a sense of humour.  So I am curious to find out if you have had similar experiences in new environments and how you coped with them?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Silent Sunday: experimenting with calmness and stillness

Today was a first for me.  For months we had been planning to go away for the w/e camping with some of my hubby's University friends.  They all have children so it would have been great fun for the young as well as an opportunity for the adults to catch up on a year's worth of news.  About two weeks ago, the Universe, God if you will, decided to remind me that I was not in control of my life.  I had a huge shock and had to make the toughest decision of my life to date.  It was something I would not wish on anyone.  Anyway the upshot of it all was that I ended up having a surgical procedure last week and was advised to take it easy for a week or two.

I knew my hubby would want to see his friends; that the girls love camping; and my body needed to recuperate.  I realised that I had to convince my hubby to do the trip with the girls and leave me behind.  In fact he was all for it and needed little convincing which felt like a result. 

Yesterday our au pair was at home and whilst I rested, walked as a way to clear my mind, picked fruit at the old allotment, cooked a very healthy dinner of spicy greens with chick peas.  However it was not a silent time.  Today from about 9.30 to 16.30 I had the whole house to myself.

It felt very odd and I decided it was time to take a leaf out of Brene Brown's book on imperfection and experiment with calmness and stillness.  Initially I felt as if there were a million things I needed to do and I went into human doing mode for a good hour or so, whilst tweeting and facebooking for inspiration.  The lovely Rachael suggested the fab idea of lying on the grass watching the sky, something I enjoyed in the middle of the day when the sun was out, and yes I did apply factor 30 suncream on my face and neck!  I used my neck pillow and practised my Alexandrian technique which felt really good to my back.

What got me into a place of stillness and calm was a 10 minute guided meditation using conscious embodiment techniques.  It was magical and the key was focusing on the breath and that led to so much more.  Later I topped it up with a practice which works with one's energetic field, also about 10 minutes which is as much as I can manage in one go.

I may not have had any life changing insights however I did realise I need to slow down in the run up to Poland.  I made the decision to take about 65% of the next two weeks off which is a big step for me and focus on my family and getting fitter.  The house is also the tidiest it has been in months which I find hugely pleasing!

I can definitely recommend the benefits of creating space and time for yourself as a way to revitalise and grow especially if you are a working parent!  I had complete silence for around 7 hours and benefitted hugely from it.  What small step(s) can you take to build more calm and stillness into your life?

Monday, 6 June 2011

What value do you place on being able to read?


A colleague of mine, Moyra Weston, was inspired to set up a campaign called We dare to Care which at its heart is a vision to start a movement supporting and enrolling coaches and leaders to give their time to those that:

  1. Will benefit from coaching and leading support
  2. Can make a difference in society
  3. Cannot afford to pay for our services
It is a response to the growing inequality within society and I and 93 others have joined with Moyra to make it happen.  The purpose of this post however is not to talk about that campaign per se because it has a momentum of its own; really it is to share it as an example of something else that I have been grappling with for a while and which has finally been birthed so to speak.

I believe that we are always receiving messages about steps and ideas it would be good to consider in terms of spiritual growth.  Quite often these ideas can seem preposterous to us and those closest to us, so it can take much longer for them to come to fruition.  I have been grappling with one such proposition for some time.

In essence, what I am talking about is money, how we manage it and our relationship to it.  At its simplest, it is about knowing our monthly outgoings and income.  Do you know yours down to the nearest pound or do you know roughly what the amounts?  I have been reading about through and other sources about some inspirational people of late where there was a common theme.  They each tythed a percentage of their income to the Church or charity or some other good cause and in the end they made much more money.

I realise that sounds counter-intuitive and one or two close to me enquired into what I had been smoking when I shared this idea with them.  However I believe that there is an energy around money and the more that we manage it consciously and give away what we earn, the more that comes back in return.

Curious to see whether there is anything in this belief, I have decided to conduct an experiment. I looked into my current level of charitable giving against my income and decided to double the amount that I was tything.  That was the first step.  The difficulty was in deciding to what to donate the extra money.  This evening I picked up an Evening Standard on the way home and the first three pages were all about the paper's campaign with Volunteer Reading Help to Get London reading.  The most fascinating part was reading Sue Porto's, CEO VRH, experiences in the prison sector where she ended up as Head of National Training.  Chronic lack of self-esteem often caused by an inability to read and write was a common trait amongst many of the country's most dangerous offenders.

As a child, I remember how being able to read opened up a magical world to me which I could enter at any time I wanted.  So supporting VRH which is the largest provider of 1:1 reading support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, seems like a good way to start my experiment of increased financial giving. 

The photo at the top of this post has been reproduced thanks to

Monday, 16 May 2011

How to get more out of life

Just under 150 years ago a wise soul appeared on earth - Marie Curie.  She is quoted as saying
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to understand more so we may fear less.

How much time do you spend worrying about stuff or fearful about what might happen?  Go on be honest.  We all do it to a greater or lesser extent and it is such a waste of energy.  This was brought home to me very clearly by Dave Ellis, a leadership coach, who came over to the UK and spoke to over 100 coaches about 10 days ago.

He reiterated the rationale for long term forecasting - ironic as I am currently reading a book by a renown American strategist that forecasts what will happen in 21st Century.  When I think about some of the successful local business people, they all make the same error which is to focus their energy on the next year to five years.  Naturally their goals tend to be very self-orientated.  When we start to look
out 50 to 100 years even 500 years then what we want to happen tends to be much more altruistic in nature.  Try it and see for yourself.

The magic starts to happen however when you spend say 15 mins a day writing down and considering your long term priorities/ goals.  It changes your attitude to life and you start to believe anything is possible which is different from a new age belief that if you manifest it correctly you can have anything.  I don't agree with that and I got the impression that Dave Ellis does not either.  There are two things to remember - be as specific as possible and make sure that you get a balance between these three foci:

  1. What you want to be;
  2. What you want to do; and
  3. What you want to have.
This is a challenge but is important to remember as you do it.  All that said there are two steps that come before that and they are:
  • Filling yourself up - what makes you feel good about life?  For me it is spending time with my kids and working on my allotment principally.  How about you?  If you think of a balloon, it has much more oompf if it is full and next to none if it's depleted; and
  • Living your life in love and service to others (hence the suggestion to focus on what you want to achieve in 100 to 500 years time.
Many within the coaching community of which I am a member have already commented on this.  For me the biggest thing is meeting someone who has become a multi-millionaire by being generous and living from a philanthropic perspective.  It's radically different to the prevailing paradigm in the world today but it is definitely one that I want to be part of.  I really recommend you try these ideas and I would love to hear how you get on.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Food for thought from a selection of Business Mums' Blogs

I have really enjoyed being the host for this month’s Business Mums’ Blog Carnival. What an amazingly creative and entrepreneurial group of Mums we have out there. Something to celebrate as we prepare to spend time with family and friends over the next 10 days with Easter and the Royal Wedding.

What was really incredible was how consistently the posts fitted into a theme when none had been declared. There were a whole clutch of posts that were full of practical tips. Ipshita from Minor Edition submitted a post about the five mistakes to avoid when running a small business. Erica Douglas and Antonia Chitty who are the faces behind ACEINSPIRE give valuable advice in their post on how to grow your business. In essence it seems to be about setting stretch targets based on what you need to live on and the little extras that would make life great. Joanne Dewberry, Dorset’s Business Mum of the Year, shares helpful insights on how to promote guest blogs. This month Candice, who is in the top 100 wedding bloggers, has a guest blog on how to choose a wedding photographer, advice I could have done with 9 years ago! Apparently it comes down to the following four ps - personality, prices, products, portfolio.

We have a couple of entries that focus on what happens as your brand becomes established.  KidsTravel2  are grateful for all their loyal customers and as a thank you they have now started a reward scheme.  Our very own Helen Lindop shares her excitement around businessplusbaby going international and how Mumpreneurs in different countries often face the same issues.

This leads onto the next theme which focuses on the interplay between the personal and business.  Becky Goddard-Hill in her post shared the top five blogs/ blogging platforms that got her through a tough spell and it was great to see a coach in the mix. Emma Burford recounts the fun that she had at Mumpreneur Idol.  I found Erica's personal account about how far she has come in a year very inspiring. It will appeal to all those wanting to find a way to work from home and bring up their children because it shows it is possible to make good money in a relatively short period of time. Is Carol’s success down to the law of attraction or due to the fact that she is living her life on purpose?

The last three posts are all about what else you need to be successful in business.  Cari Parker shares the joys of re-engaging with her playful child in her post, a key ingredient for success in business. Libby Hill, who is a speech therapist, invites us to watch twins talking to each other in their own language.  It is a delightful vlog.  And in a similar vein, my post reflects on the importance of creativity and educating the imagination from an early age and raises concerns about what is actually happening in the education system.

Enjoy these posts and do leave comments here or tweet me or any of the other contributors all of whom have given us plenty of food for thought.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday's musing: how to get in touch with your inner voice?

Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 1 of the Virtual Blog Tour of author Tina M Games whose book Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery (and its accompanying deck of 54 journaling prompt cards) is celebrating its 1st birthday on Amazon on Tuesday May 3, 2011.

Author Tina M Games is certified creativity and life purpose coach. She calls herself the "Moonlight Muse" for women who want to tap into the "full moon within" and claim their authentic self, both personally and professionally. Through her signature coaching programs, based on the phases of the moon, Tina gently guides women from darkness to light as they create an authentic vision filled with purpose, passion and creative expression.

Today, I'd like to share with you a recent interview I had with Tina when I got to ask her some questions on started to journal, advice on journaling discipline and from working to being a coach then writer. I hope you enjoy it.

Tina M Games: Thank you, Kate, for your interest in my book, Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery and its accompanying deck of 54 journaling prompt cards. I believe that mothers are a significant part of the "ripple effect" - that will transform the world into a more loving, more nurturing place. Imagine for a moment a "pebble thrown into a pond." It creates a ripple that goes on and on and on.

When a mother is living life with complete authenticity, she's subconsciously giving permission for her kids to do the same. She's truly at her best - creating powerful change for her family, her community, and for the world at large. It's all part of "the ripple."

It's my belief that "a happy mother makes the best mother" - and our kids really do want to see their moms happy!

Kate Griffiths: Tina, what is your advice about starting this process for Mums/ Moms whose schedules are such that they have no time for themselves and therefore no concept of an "inner voice?"

Tina M Games: As a busy Mom myself, I know the value of time. But I also know the value of prioritizing. As I mentioned earlier, moms are at the beginning of the "ripple effect." Each and every one of us has the power to create great change in the world. And this change has the most impact when we begin with ourselves - looking in the mirror and honoring the person who is staring back. This is WHO will create great change in your life. So why not honor yourself with the gift of time?

A journal writing practice can begin with only five or ten minutes a day. One of the techniques that I use with my clients is called a "five minute writing sprint." I invite my clients to close their eyes for a few seconds and ponder a question or a quote. What immediately comes to mind when they think about this question or quote? I then ask them to open their eyes and begin to write for five full minutes. No censoring, no corrections in spelling - just writing, whatever comes to mind. Then I ask them to go back and read it, paying close attention for little nuggets of wisdom, often hidden in rambling thoughts.

In my book, Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery, I offer a series of journal writing prompts (called Moonlight Musings) that follow a self-exploration process. Each of these prompts are designed to take anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how connected a mom might be with a particular question.

I've also designed an accompanying deck of 54 journaling prompt cards. Each card offers a prompt that guides moms on an inner journey to discover more about herself and how to honor her gifts in our external world.

Kate Griffiths: As a coach I notice that many of my clients like the idea of journaling but don't have the discipline to keep it up. I am sure this can be even harder for those who are mothers so what do you suggest for them?

Tina M Games: I can't stress enough how important self-care is to a mother. It makes her a happier, healthier person - all the way around.

As mothers, it's very natural to put our kids above ourselves. And while this may be necessary some of the time, it's not necessary all the time. As the airlines so smartly proclaim, "Always put the air mask on yourself before assisting a child or another adult passenger." In other words, "Take care of yourself, so that you can assist in the caretaking of someone else."

If we can take 30-45 minutes to have a pedicure, we can journal write. I do it all the time. The ladies at my local nail salon know that I will come in with my journal - and I will sit and write while getting a pedicure. They honor my time and they give me the space to "be" with my thoughts while taking care of my desire to have a nice pedicure. And I feel so much better afterwards, having taken that time for myself.

If we could all get in the habit of scheduling time for self-care (which includes journal writing) - with the same priority that we give everyone else in our lives, we can create an even stronger ripple effect. Not only are we honoring ourselves, we are modelling a great habit for our children.

Kate Griffiths: How long did it take to move from knowing that you wanted to work to becoming a coach and then a writer? What were some of the key steps along the way?

Tina M Games: Shortly after the birth of my first child, and after making some fairly significant life changes at the same time, I fell into depression - a place that felt so foreign to me, a place where I felt like I had fallen into a black hole with no way out. It was during this time, a period that spanned over two years that I had disconnected from everything that made me happy. Because my son suffered from chronic illnesses related to serious colds and severe ear infections, I made a very difficult choice to give up a successful career in order to care for my son full-time. I hadn't realized until this experience how much of my identity was tied into my career. I really enjoyed working. And without that opportunity in my life, I felt very lost and very unhappy.

It was during this time that I fell back on a great passion of mine - journal writing. And as a mom of a baby who did not have a normal sleep schedule, I found myself exhausted and emotional much of the time. So night after night, after I'd get my son settled and after my husband went to bed, I'd grab my journal and retreat to my favorite chair - beside a big bay window where I caught a glimpse of the moon. It was the moon that taught me the meaning of transition. I'd watch this beautiful lunar goddess, night after night, move in and out of her various phases. And before long, I began to connect her phases with my own emotional tides.

I noticed that the moon always began in darkness and gradually, she'd move into full light - and cycle back around again. And I noticed the contrast between dark and light - the darkness of the night sky against the beautiful full moon light. I started connecting to this - as if I was being divinely guided through my own transitions of dark and light. I began to notice the ebbs and flows of my emotions. There were good days and bad days.

And then one day, two years later, I had an ah-ha. After several conversations with my own mother and other mothers whom I had encountered along the way, I began to wonder, "Are there other moms out there who may be having a similar experience?"

I decided to create two focus groups of mothers where we could have honest discussions about motherhood, careers, and life purpose - and how they all fit together. These dialogues eventually led to a series of articles and then to the creation of my coaching practice - where I could work with moms on a deeper level.

This is when I decided to write my book. I wanted mothers to realize that every human transition begins in darkness and gradually moves into light, where we get a glimpse of what is possible. And then we retreat, to ponder the many ways we can manifest these possibilities into reality. This requires deep work, where we step into our own truth and into our own power - and where we can emerge in the most authentic way possible. This is what I call the Blue Moon phase - when we finally realize that we are here on this Earth to be WHO we are, to put our personal thumbprint on the world in the most truthful, most authentic, most unique way possible. Each one of us are individuals being divinely guided on our own purposeful path.

And looking back on my motherhood journey over the past 12 years, I can now say that everything I experienced along the way has factored into my bigger life purpose. Each experience, as painful as some were, led me to the point of where I am now.


I hope you enjoyed this interview with Tina M Games and that you’ll check out her book and card deck Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother's Path to Self-Discovery this month at

Here's why:


When you visit the page at the link above and request a "launch reminder", you will automatically receive a FREE pass to Tina's 3-day "I’m a Mom… But Who Am I Really? Telesummit" with 11 creative writing moms and grandmothers speaking on how to use intuition, journaling and creativity to explore life purpose. You can listen to the telesummit online in the comfort of your own home, and even ask questions during the broadcast.

This telesummit is a completely free "no purchase necessary" gift from Tina, to celebrate the 1st birthday of her book.


When you buy Tina's book or the card deck during its birthday celebration on Tuesday May 3, 2011, you can ALSO receive a complete library of beautiful personal development gifts from authors, speakers, coaches and other enlightened professionals from around the globe.

To claim your 3-Day Pass and read about the free gifts, go to:

Thanks for reading! As usual, please feel free to share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

AND… be sure to follow Tina tomorrow when the next stop on the Virtual Blog Tour is Glenn M Smith who will be interviewing Tina on her love and understanding of the moon, intuition, revealing your inner truth and support systems. To visit that "stop" on the tour, go to 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tuesday's thought: the new superfood

Photo provided by Glutnix
If you know me well then you will know that one of my passions is food and that it is part of my focus on wholeness.  Recently there has been a bit of a revolution going on in our household following the results of the OH's well man's medical test in which it turned out that his cholesterol was higher than it should be.  This has led to an increase in the consumption of brown pasta, brown and wild rice and recently we sourced brown self raising flour.

This last acquisition was particularly important because weekend breakfasts feature pancakes on a regular basis.  We make the drop scone variety and the girls cannot get enough of them.  They are also a good vehicle for ensuring the consumption of fruit generally bananas and blueberries which are a well known super food.  Recently however we were delighted to find out that another staple of our breakfasts both with pancakes and porridge is claimed to be the new super food.  Yes maple syrup.  In a study just reported at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers analyzed the various compounds in maple syrup. They found 54 antioxidants, including five new ones.  And they found polyphenols that appear to interfere with the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, which leads the m to think that this might be a good sweetener for diabetics.

Some are less convinced by these findings because the same kind of polyphenols are found in fruit and veg.  However we use it in moderation and I have to say that I am delighted that its natural properties have been recognised and I am sure that this has something to do with the fact that there is very little processing involved in the production of maple syrup.  No need to feel guilty about your children eating maple syrup any more.  Enjoy and spread the word especially with Easter round the corner.

Monday, 28 March 2011

What's education got to do with it?

If you ever get a chance to do a workshop with Caroline Myss then grab it with both hands.  She is one of those people who say it how they see it which is quite refreshing in spirituality circles where one can be smothered by too much niceness.  Her mind is razor sharp and she does not suffer fools gladly.  It has given me plenty to think about.  I want to share one of those jewels with you.

Caroline is someone who is very fond of History which means she is able to show the links between events and how History repeats herself.  I was struck by her observation about Plato, an old favourite of mine when at University, which was on education.  What was recognised back in Greek times was that the key to a good education was to educate the imagination first.  Think about that.  Where does your mind go when you are relaxing.  Does it dream about wonderful futures or does it create Bosch-like nightmares about what might happen?  We can harness our fears by developing our imaginations.

If that sounds too fantastical then take a look at Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk in which he argues that education kills our creativity.  He shows how the focus on literacy and numeracy in the education system is equivalent to working on children from the neck up.  We educate them out of creativity when what we need to be doing is educating the whole person.  That means placing much more emphasis on movement and dance.  The picture he paints shows why children of four or five go into the education system full of curiosity and often as not come out the other end frustrated and bored.

All these reasons point to why so few people today feel fulfilled and why so few are unable to think outside of the current Newtonian paradigm that for the moment continues to hold sway.  If you are a parent and any of this resonates with you, what can you do to ensure that your children develop a rich and vivid imagination, a tool that we need to solve the challenges that we have created on earth?

Monday, 21 March 2011

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

I feel incredibly grateful that I have two wonderful girls.  They say amazing things and are funny without meaning to be and best of all they have the ability to keep on loving me however I show up.  The reason I have started this post with those sentiments is because it reminds me of a phrase from the famous passage in Marianne William's book A return to love in which she states "We are all meant to shine, as children do."  My girls are a living example frequently of what we are called to be.

Tonight I was privileged enough to hear Marianne Williamson speak live at St James Piccadilly.  She was forthright in her views saying that the time of data collection on the validity of spiritual perspectives is over.  Rather it is about having faith that the true currency in today's world is love not money.  Far too often we are still ruled by fear and give power to the material world and its focus on economics.

Marianne's challenge is that spiritual people do not have the same degree of commitment to their ideals as terrorists do to their world views.  She urges the sleeper cells full of light workers to wake up.

In many respects there was nothing new in her talk.  Many of us are aware of the universal spiritual laws.  For her the key to unlocking greater understanding came with the knowledge that learning came through the relationships and/ or situations that she found herself in.  There was no sudden unveiling of her ultimate purpose.

It was powerful and inspiring stuff and has given me plenty to reflect on. In my own life, I have found the more that I articulate my own ideas, the more often I find common ground with others. That is even true of the most recalcitrant and cynical. How about you?  Does any of this resonate with you?  If so how are you making it more of a reality in your life?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Events in Japan: a tragedy or an opportunity?

The news has been saturated with commentary on the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Over 70 countries have responded to the request for help; the Japanese premier has mobilised 100,000 from their armed forces to support the north east; and today there was further concern as six months of radiation was released into the atmosphere in one hour due to the destabilisation of one of Japan's nuclear reactors.  However we look at it, it is a natural disaster of epic proportions.  I want to share with you two  perspectives on this disaster.

The first is an article that I read in today's Evening Standard which suggests that we have become immunised to the horror through watching disaster films so treat it like entertainment when actually we should be giving to one of the many funds set up to aid those affected by the recent disaster.  How does that fit with your take on events?

The second is more challenging and is one that I heard voiced at an event on Friday.  The individual's view was that the people caught up in this nightmare had chosen to be there a long time ago - part of their sacred contract before entering this world - and therefore it is important to see the disaster as leading to opportunities to a new way of being.

When I first heard that, I took a double take but then I reflected.  For some time now I have been having a dream in which the world is burning up on the one hand; and is being destroyed by a tsunami on the other.  What has happened in Japan is not new.  Look at what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand recently and if we go a little further back Queensland, Australia.

These are signs that nature is more powerful than anything we humans create.  It offers credence to the view that the impact we are having on the earth is fastening climate change and all that could entail.  From this perspective, it is a wake up call.  We need to sit up and take notice and really look at our relationship with the earth.  Part of the answer is about becoming stewards of this planet and its resources.  What's your perspective on the events that have been unfolding over the past three days?

Photograph provided thanks to this site

Monday, 7 March 2011

Monday's Musings: traits of the leaders of tomorrow

I wanted to share thoughts from A New Kind of Leadership (ANKLe) conference on the future leadership trends in the current generation of young people.  At a conference on Friday the main speaker, Barbara Harvey, shared her insights into Generation Y (those aged between 10 and 30) and the impact the main traits of this generation will have on the workplace.  Below are some of the key insights.

1. It is a generation that has grown up using IT technology from an early age which means that for the most part Gen. Ys prefer to make new connections online rather than face to face.  An example of this is that when they are getting ready to go up to University, they make contact with other freshers via facebook as a way of working out who they will go to dinner with on their first night!  This is borne out by the results of a recent meeting between ANKLers and Progressive Women.  Progressive Women found the techniques that we shared with them on how to build rapport quickly in face to face meetings really helpful.

2. Gen Ys appear to be keen to collaborate and in organisations this manifests itself as a need to be consulted about the strategy of the department/ organisation even if they are not part of the decision-making process.  It is a way to keep them engaged which is vital because they tend to be become disillusioned with organisations much more quickly than previous generations and have little loyalty.

3.  Interestingly because the education system Gen Ys have gone through has involved huge amounts of assessment from an early age, there is a tendency towards needing and wanting regular feedback.  This is everything from the boss checking in with them every morning through to regular comments on their performance.  It is fascinating to note that some companies have started to do a daily pulse to respond to this need, asking staff to indicate what kind of day they have had using smiley faces and following up personally with those who have not had a great day.  It is a great way to keep engagement high but the implications in terms of the bigger picture are that companies are going to have to revisit their annual performance systems and change them to reflect the way these people operate.

4.  Also this is a generation that has for the most part accomplished multi-tasking.  For example they are likely to have facebook open so that they can send instant messages to their friends whilst they are working and are listening to music at the same time.  This means conducting conference calls as part of work is an opportunity to do many other activities at the same time.  It also means that organisations are going to have to re-evaluation their protocols around the use of the internet if they want to keep these people.

5. Another key feature, in part due to technological advances, is the blurring between work and play.  Gen Ys are much more likely to be working on a Saturday morning or a Friday night if they are really engaged.  It makes one wonder about the impact on the divide between the personal and the professional.

6.  Finally they tend to be very values driven.  They want to see that the organisations they work for are actually making a difference in the world by having schemes that improve literacy and numeracy amongst the poorest in society for example. Unlike Generation X they do not just conform to the rules and buy into the idea that if they do that they will be successful and gain status.  That is meaningless which enables them greater freedom to be creative.

In conclusion the future looks exciting.  Everything seems to indicate that this generation has the potential to work together creatively to solve the ever increasingly complex problems that the world faces.  Of course it could become the ultimate me generation but I am hopefully that it will be a force to be reckoned with and like many of the delegates on the day, I found the findings that the speaker shared with us very refreshing.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Monday's Musing: how can green issues have meaning in a recession?

Photo courtesy of
Recently Lori Shook co-facilitated a fascinating discussion to illustrate the deep democracy process.  It left me with a burning question how can we make green issues funky?  There have been well researched articles on the decline in interest in environmental issues in this country.  At around the same time as I was reflecting on that question, I found out about The People's Supermarket and am very excited about the concepts that Arthur Potts Dawson is promoting.  Most recently this was supplemented by my discovery of freegans.  Let me continue by unpacking this further.

I have long been concerned by the amount of waste that we in the West produce as those who know me well are aware.  In a small way my family does what it can to counter that through recycling, using freecycle, tending an allotment, shopping as much as possible from smaller, local retailers rather than the monopolies such as Tescos and Sainsburys.  That said my concern is that we do not go far enough and that was brought home to me by reading the Evening Standard today in which it was quoted that British households throw away a third of the food they buy and supermarket waste adds almost 25% to that.

If we consider that the world's population is to grow by another 2 billion to 9 billion by 2050 then we need to change how we live.  It is clear that in the UK we are conditioned into believing that we need loads of choice when we shop.  We expect to see supermarket shelves groaning with fresh produce.  This is brought home by the experience of The People's Supermarket which has struggled to make money because it is asking consumers to shop in a different way.  The idea is that we need to base our shop around the fresh fruit and veg in season and where necessary add meat for flavour.  To that end the People's Supermarket has very little choice of meat and fish available and it is all sustainably sourced so appears far more expensive then a battery raised chicken from Tescos which costs £3.

I really hope that Potts Dawson's social revolution is successful because he, like freegans (who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources) is challenging the way we live.  He suggests we can eat well without the level of choice given to us by Sainsburys and Tescos.  Furthermore he is endeavouring to implement a zero food waste policy by cooking up produce that is about to go beyond its sell by date in the People's Kitchen which is then sold as ready meals to customers of the supermarket. 

The People's Supermarket is offering us another model for life because it is a co-operative so all members have an equal share in the business and give four hours of their time to work in the shop thus cutting the overheads and so enabling Potts Dawson to offer produce at a much reduced rate.  This makes the produce affordable to a greater range of local people.

So what can my family do? My pledge is to stop being seduced by the two for one offers and just buy what we need for our weekly consumption and be more creative about how I use stuff that is coming up to its sell by date.  And what are you inspired to do going forward?  I would love to know.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Monday's Musings: what's love got to do with it?

We all know that love is an over-used word to the extent that it can have very little meaning. So from that perspective Valentine’s Day, a commercial take on that quality just compounds the cynicism or does it? We don’t have to respond as expected by going out for a romantic dinner or sending cards. Elaine Gast Fawcett has written a fabulous article which gives a very different slant to it all. In it she mentions Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK), something I came across about two years ago when Jessica Chivers a fellow coach and colleague wrote about it on her blog. RAOK are celebrated for a week in February, however my view is that we don’t have to be conscious of it for only one week of the year but can practise it more regularly.  That said I want to share with you my approach to it this year as an example of another way we can look at 14 February.

Love can begin at home and perhaps ought to when we have a family.  What follows is my take on Valentine's Day.  On Saturday, I went with three of the women in my extended family to the Melting Pot. I had organised and paid for us all to do a chocolate making workshop for  Christmas. I did it because I thought it would be fun but also because we all celebrated the marriage of a close family member to a person from another country and in both cases our relative has decided to make his life in their partner's country. What better way to mark this change than to bring other members of the family together. I also love to support local businesses where I know the owner and love what they do. As you can see it was a win:win on a number of levels.

What I did not foresee even though it was the Saturday before Valentine’s Day was how it would have further ramifications. I was able to give those close to me and those who support the Griff/ Mac household a special treat: handmade chocs by me. Our au pair got some, our cleaner got some and my OH got a bumper lot as well as the girls. It was lovely to be able to share out what I had handrolled or covered in cocoa dust on Saturday!

And yet there was more.  Before getting out of bed this morning, the girls brought me some pressies: delicious expensive chocs and what was best of all, a beautiful heart mug. It had taken the OH ages to find it because he wanted one with loads of hearts on the inside so that I would be able to see them as I drank my morning coffee and know that there were people in my life who loved me.  I realise that at this point some may be saying pass the sick bucket because in some ways it seems so cliched. However I maintain it is very important to receive daily doses of affirmation and appreciation. This is not only important when we have dark times in our lives. Nancy Kline who wrote Time to Think has said that one of the ten qualities we need present to ensure quality thinking is acknowledgement by others. In other words when we receive recognition, the quality of our thinking increases. So as you go through your week, think about how you can affirm those around you.  It may just be with a smile, through listening and/ or a comment.  I would love to hear how you get on or about stories of what has worked for you.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Inspiration can come from the most unlikeliest of sources

This story starts several months ago when I was sitting round a room with other members of our Hitchin book club and volunteered to put together a list of books to decide by vote what we would read next when we met in a month's time.  I have read quite widely and have often been the member of the group that had read a particular suggestion in the past.  So it is fair to say that the other members expected some interesting, possibly stretching choices.  At a loss as to what to put forward I asked my followers on twitter who came back with a whole host of suggestions, one of which was The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis.  When I read the synopsis of the book, it sounded intriguing so I put it forward.  On the night of the vote, I had the casting vote and plumped for The Necklace.  As it turns out, the book is not very well written and it became clear at the book club's Christmas party that it had not been a popular choice.  I could not attend the January meeting where it was discussed because I was at a family funeral but I get the feeling that it was panned unanimously.  I share that partly to give you a laugh because it is funny how things turns out sometimes and also to give you some context to what follows.

I want to spend the rest of this post exploring with you what resonated for me in the book, not as a defense of my choice, more because I found it inspirational.  All that in spite of the execrable writing style.  In essence it is about 12 to 13 women who led by the vision of one decide to buy a $20,000 necklace between them and share it, which in itself is an amazing example of collaboration.  They each have the necklace for a month before passing it on to the next person.

What was so powerful was the symbolism of the necklace and the different values each woman placed on it,  which sometimes led to situations that they had to confront and resolve in order to move on.  For example one woman realised that there was very little joy in her life and over time she found a way to open up within the group and participate.  There is a lovely scene towards the end where many of the group come together to support her in hosting her daughter's wedding by offering up their many talents to ensure the day runs smoothly.  In the end the Necklace took on something more than had ever been intended.  It became a vehicle for fundraising in the area of the US in which they lived and in different ways brought light, love and laughter to many women's lives outside the original baker's dozen.

What it revealed to me was our ever present need to find community and meaning in our lives and how the power of an idea can go much further than was intended at the outset.  For these reasons alone the book is worth a read. Now you have heard from me, I would love to read comments about what has inspired you recently.

Photograph courtesy of Federico Stevanin /

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Calling all parents with a special announcement

Who doesn't love a secret?  We all do don't we.  Secrets can unlock puzzles and give us understanding.  Just like this phoot which represents discovery of the earth. 

I am thrilled to be able to give all you parents the opportunity toshare a secret.  When you hear it, it will seem simple as many truths do.  It has the potential to enable you to support your child reach their full potential.  Who doesn't want that?  You can discover the secret out by signing up for a FREE one hour webinar with the lovely Lisa Pearson by clicking here.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I rarely ever do a sponsored post like this.  The reason I have agreed to do this is because I have known Lisa for a few years now and I trust her.  She is genuine and is one of those few who have found their purpose in life and are living it for all to see.  I know that whatever the secret is it will be of value and so I too have signed up for the webinar as anything that helps my girls grow up to be shining lights in this world gets my vote.  Find out more about what the mummy whisperer is offering by watching a short video by Lisa herself

Do come back and tell me what you thought of it afterwards.

With thanks to Filomena Scalise / for use of the photo.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Moving from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit

Today as I took the train up to Leeds, it occurred to me that it was almost Chinese New Year - 3 Feb - and I was curious to see which year was coming up so I got out my smart phone and did some surfing.  It was also the first step towards stuff clicking into place.  2010 was the year of the Tiger.  I don't know how much you know about the characteristics but I think the following characteristics have proven to be themes for the year - mood swings, honesty and hard-work. Tigers are reknown for their passion and there have definitely been huge vicissitudes in the energy levels this year.  For that reason alone, I am looking forward to the year of the rabbit which will be calmer and where there will be a focus on diplomacy - much needed in certain parts of the world right now.  As it happens, it is unlikely to be one of the best years for roosters albeit one with a very different energy to the current one.  I shared those thoughts with you because they give some context to the first month of 2011 which seems to have been a challenging one for many in different ways. 

It certainly put certain things into perspective for me and for that I am grateful.  The other big learning came through a major setback.  As alluded to in a previous entry the main thing I have been working towards over the last six months has failed to come to fruitition.  Naturally I was pretty shaken up about it for a while and what helped were the words of a wise woman, Pamela Mattsson.  Her comment was that it is important to give space for the disappointment and then to reflect on what I wanted to create.  This seemed illogical initially as all I could do was think what's next and even when I had peace and quiet nothing came to me.  My patience and persistence was rewarded (thought of your words at this point Michael) and a vision came which links many of the things that I am passionate about and builds on what I am good at.  It is so exciting and Nigel Botterill, the founder of the Best of Franchise and multi-millionaire, would approve because it is big.  This is so key to finding the energy to move forward because the vision is compelling and provides a focus in which to frame the next 12 months which will be my planning phase to put all the pieces in place so that it happens. So watch this space for more info.

Remember if you feel that the world is going to end, take a breath and try to see it from the perspective of opportunity.  Yes the destruction of all that could have been or that was is painful but in death there is rebirth - the phoenix arose from the ashes.  I had to let go much of what I had considered important for many years but in so doing cleared a space to allow what I really want to manifest.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

As one door closes, another door opens

It has been 20 days since my last confession.  Of course what I meant to say was since my last post.  Why the silence you might ask?  Put briefly it is because my life was turned upside down on 4 January and putting it bluntly it has been messy.  It's curious though that there is a perception that we need to present a professional image at all times and so I struggled away in silence.  An observation: birth is incredibly gory with blood, guts and fluids everywhere as are other parts of nature.  Put another way manmade people appear plastic and it is hard to relate to them.

That said we are multi-faceted and so whilst one part of life can be chaotic, another can be blooming.  As members of the local school PTA, we were faced with the possibility that we would have to cancel our next event.  This seemed crazy.  A lot of hard work had gone into finding an Indian chef to do the food and an actor to be the compere for the quiz.  Initially I thought oh no here I go again and then there was a voice in me that said no I was not going to take this lying down.  As a team we needed to believe it was possible to get a successful outcome.  It required pulling together through leadership and direction.  Everyone on the PTA needed to believe we could do it.  As a new Mum at the school, I know very few of the parents but I have a wide range of contacts outside school.  Relying on the dogged determination that has been a trademark since childhood, I took 30 tickets, plugged the event like mad and sold most of them.  It is not going to change the world, it's an event at a small rural school.  However I am pleased with the result because it is a living example of what leadership means.  It shows that we need to keep open minds when we are observing others as we rarely know what they are fully capable of.  At the time the decision to act was taken, we had sold two tickets.  The event is now sold out.