Reflections on Pride Month – embracing my own difference.

On pride month, I’ve been reflecting on what significance it holds for me. What feels important to me at this moment? 

Like most values-based organisations at The Wellbeing Collective we’ve been really immersing ourselves into what it means to work well with difference and diversity. For us, the content of our discussions has been mainly about race and culture; we do not want to shy away from, of be afraid of, difficult discussions at this important moment in our shared world history. That said, we’ve long celebrated difference and diversity in our team; the pride of having members of our team who are from the LBGTQ+ community has really enriched our shared experience of what it means to be different. We are part of our own diverse community. 

In this context, I’ve been personally challenged around the behaviours that I, as a gay man, have often displayed to meet heteronormative expectations. I’d never really thought about it a lot previously, in fact it probably has been something hidden from my immediate awareness. It’s only in our conversations around race that I’ve also noticed how I’ve often adapted to fit in, to perhaps hide away something of myself, that I have somehow felt oppressed. I notice this often when others are talking about their family life, and I have something that stops me from talking about mine. In fact, the intersection between the experience of those behaving differently because of their race and mine somehow feel closer than I expected. I know this is my personal challenge, many really value ‘me for me’, but it’s sometimes that feeling that there’s ‘something in the air’ that stops me from being really who I want to be. 

On pride month we have a lot to celebrate and value, but as I have reflected, I would encourage you to do so to. My goal is to work on actively being proud of who I am, proud of my own rich family life, to speak out about who I am, to be proud of my identity, to embrace my difference as I strive to do so in others. If there something I have taken away from this last year is that it is not good enough to say we embrace difference, we must actively do something about it and ‘call it out’ in ourselves and others when we see that this is not happening. That is my task and I hope it is yours too! 

Tim Coupland, Consultant, TWBC. 

On Learning Disability Awareness week TWBC’s Carol shares her perspectives on art and creativity.

Each year, during the month of June, we have a chance to celebrate the lives of people with a learning disability throughout a week of awareness activity and promotion. This years theme is on the arts and creativity, and is a great opportunity for us all to stop and think about the things that enrich our own lives and how we can use creativity and the arts to boost and enhance the lives of others, in particular those with a learning disability (as it is their week!) but everyone else too.

Without a doubt this last year has been a challenge for us all, but for those who have a learning disability, and for their families, the pandemic has presented a raft of difficulties that we have not had to face before including the closure of services, restrictions upon lives that have been hard to understand and comply with, loneliness, loss and bereavement, poor health to name but a few. The health risks faced by the learning-disabled population are already far greater than those faced by many others, and the Covid 19 virus has just added to those risks, increasing the vulnerabilities of this group hugely. It is estimated that the rate of people with a learning disability dying from Covid 19 is 3-4 times the rate in the general population.

Despite all of this, the pandemic has taught us all to be more appreciative of the simple things in life, and has encouraged us to be more creative with our time and our space. There are two particular things that come to my mind when I think about how I have tuned into my creative side during the lockdown. One is the creative way I have accessed exercise classes during this time, resulting in me exercising more in the last year than I have ever done in my life, and actually enjoying it! There is nothing like an early morning salsa or Zumba class to set me up for the day and make me feel good about myself. The second is the coaching qualification I have obtained during the pandemic, opening up coaching opportunities for me that were not there before. The development of my coaching skills has certainly tapped into my creative self in a way that has surprised me. And I am aware that both of these newly aroused creative streaks within me are being tapped into and used to good effect when I work with people who have a learning disability. This makes me smile, encourages me to recognise and appreciate my own creativity, and reminds me of the many ways that we at The Wellbeing Collective utilise our creative selves in our delivery of services to others.

If this is how I feel from a few moments of self-reflection upon the arts and creativity, just imagine the possibilities for people with a learning disability…

Carol Bailey – TWBC

Coaching – enriching the focus on the person

In coaching and facilitating, the desire to add value, help or say something useful can get in the way of actually doing those things. Without realising it, we can become focussed on ourselves rather than the other person, instantly undermining everything we hope to offer.

What we often hear from people coaching and facilitating is the desire to ask, ‘brilliant questions’ or say something ‘very clever with huge impact’. The desire to add value, help someone, and say something useful in conversation can get in the way of actually doing all those things. 

Without realising it we can become focussed on ourselves rather than the other person, instantly undermining everything we hope to offer.

The counter balance to this is to let go of all our expectations of being clever, or asking brilliant questions, to quieten down that inner voice that doubts us, and instead focus totally on the other person or people, hold them entirely in mind and allow yourself to respond authentically to them with curiosity and compassion.

At The Wellbeing Collective, we have accredited, skilled and experienced coaches and facilitators. To learn more about our coaching and facilitation offers and how we may be able to help you as a coach, or provide guidance in your coaching journey, please check out our website using the link below or contact us via info@thewellbeingcollective.co.uk

Note taking – how coaching helped changed the way I approach my anxiety at work

My ability to recall information, is, quite frankly, laughable. Ever since I was little recalling information has been something I have struggled with. Academically, even during my degree, I scored highly in my essays knowing my exam grade would pull me down. The exam wasn’t reflective of my learning, I knew the content – it was reflective of my recall skills. Even now I have a very strong anxious reaction to anything that requires me to be in an ‘exam style’ situation. 

As I entered the workplace, and during my career, I realised my anxiety around trying to ‘remember’ was stopping me from being able to recall important information when I needed to. And this is where coaching came in. My coach helped me find the root causes for my heightened anxiety in the workplace, and also discover a new way of working that reduced that anxiety. Note taking – or as my coach and I like to call it, putting things in my back pocket. Note taking has saved me in countless situations because it removes the pressure. 

I have taken notes into interviews, with examples written down so that I could concentrate on applying my answer to their question and not panicking of thinking of an example first. I take prep notes before and during meetings for the exact same reason – and when I do this, it allows me the headspace to recall because the pressure has been removed. 

Over time I have honed the confidence and skills, with the support of my coach, to not rely on note taking as much, which includes being confident to say “I don’t know” or ”let me find out and come back to you” or “I will just look that up now”… we can reach information so quickly thanks to technology, that we no longer have to feel like we need to retain everything. And that freedom allows me to concentrate on what I need to, to be able to apply it and be more creative in a thinking and meeting space. I am now able to listen, be involved and respond. I have been able to achieve this because I had a coach who asked exactly the right questions, so I could explore the issue myself and form my own conclusions. This empowered me to undertake activities I already had the answers to – I just didn’t know I had them. The coach created a safe space.  A space to think. A space that allowed me to find the answer myself.

Do you also struggle with the ability to recall information? You may have another burning issue on your mind? Coaching for me was a powerful medium to help me discover something that worked for me.  For me, coaching helped me to reduce the pressure on myself, and opened up a creative thinking space to recall the information! I won’t ever be able to state exact numbers in a meeting for example, but my notes can, and that is one of the most powerful tools in my work toolbox and no longer something which holds me back. 

For more information on how The Wellbeing Collective can help you via coaching, please get in touch info@thewellbeingcollective.co.uk

Something for the week ahead…

We may have had some well needed rain this weekend but I’m seriously hoping for sunnier weather in the week ahead. I’m also hoping for an enriching week at work. For me I’ve been doing things a little differently.

With days filled with meetings or emails I needed to make a conscious effort to do something away from my desk, something for me. Go running I thought? Try a new exercise class perhaps? … but the more I thought about them the more I couldn’t bring myself to find the time or inclination. So instead, I started to think about the natural full stops throughout my day that had disappeared, that chat with a colleague whilst grabbing a coffee or the thinking time that my commute used to provide…so I have decide to start small. 

My new virtual commute is a 5 mins stroll in the garden with my cup of tea before I sit at my desk, booking myself a protected 30 mins in my diary for a some lunch away from emails and monitors and squeezing in those 10min buffers of time for a coffee break before joining the next meeting. They may seem like tiny insignificant changes but I can tell you that their impact is a huge positive on both my well-being and on my working day. Sometimes it’s the little things that can impact the most.

As you go into the next week take time to reflect on how the last week has been, is there a little thing you’d like to change, a little goal, is there something that would make next week even better for you?

When Monday comes try it out…let us know how you get on.

Max – The Wellbeing Collective

Discrimination – what conversation do you need to have this week to actively challenge your assumptions – short blog

To help us understand each other, human beings develop the ability to make thousands of micro assumptions about the way people look, sound, behave and live their lives. These assumptions can be incredibly helpful and are perfectly natural in navigating our world, however, they aren’t always accurate, can lead us into stereotyping and unconscious bias.

This seems like a simple notion, but how readily do we explore the beliefs we hold, and truly challenge the assumptions that our beliefs lead us to make?

Take a moment to think about some of the assumptions you may have made this week?

How have these assumptions been linked to your beliefs about a person, a Team, a group or a situation?

What conversation do you need to have this week to actively challenge your assumptions, who would they be with?

It is enormously beneficial for all of us to look beyond our cursory self-reflections, and truly tune in to understanding what underpins the quick judgments and assessments of people we make. This deeper level of self-awareness helps us ensure that discrimination is never something we inadvertently promote.

At TWBC one of our core values is that every single action can add value, and that we need to mindfully do our part. Our learning over the last year has been to avoid the sidelines or the commentary box, but to actively engage in discussions around difference linked to our assumptions. This involves challenging our own beliefs, assumptions and actions first and foremost, in order to meaningfully value the individuality and worth of all human beings.

A reflective moment in time…something for the weekend

The following uses walking as a metaphor for understanding how our we use the present moment to evaluate the past and consider the future. It teaches us that self-awareness, which is a fundamental pillar of emotional intelligence, can be developed in all sorts of ways including poetry, art, stories, movement, embodiment and as we see here metaphor.  

As I walk the hills I always find I am in a reflective space. It’s always time to think and explore the here and now, gain some perspective but still allows space for the past and time to think about the future.  We know we cannot predict the future; we always know there will be some tough times, no doubt some of these sad, but there is something important about enjoying the moment, of experiencing today and the feelings it brings.  

As I trudge up the hills, feel my heart beating and am outwardly panting, I feel alive for the moment and drink in the sights and sounds around me, the curlews flying around, the lambs bleating and frolicking, the wind that is quite chilly, the skies which are constantly changing above. I have no idea of what will arrive next around the bend in the path (I haven’t looked at the detail of the walk!) but it reminds me of life, we don’t know what is around the next bend or over the next brow – will it be a steep drop, a gradual decline or are we only part way up the hill, will the terrain turn from easy grass to a stony track or a boggy moor – it doesn’t matter, we will deal with that when we get there, but let’s just enjoy what we have now.  

As I reach a point in the walk, I take a moment to look back, again what I see relates so much to life. I can see part of the path that I have walked but some is obscured by the contours of the land, the woods that I have walked through, the stony walls that zig zag across the hills, the fog that has rolled in since starting out.  I remember what I choose to remember of the walk, however the whole walk is what has led to me reaching the point I am at. It has presented challenges, I have chosen how I respond to this – whether they becoming a defining moment of the walk is my choice. We cannot change our pasts, but we choose the elements and learnings from our past that we take forward. Sometimes it’s important to be reminded of the challenges and to know what motivated me to continue and how I overcame these. Looking back has importance in life, but choosing how to use this is of greater importance.

It’s now time to trudge on. I do know that I am as prepared as I can be for what is around that next bend, I am carrying what I need to be safe however I am always on the lookout for additional knowledge or tools, that will increase my ability to deal with that next bend however there will always be a new learning either from looking back, or dealing with something that happens in the future. Again such a parallel with life! 

Sharon Outhwaite – Consultant, TWBC 

Consciously engaging with my emotions – latest blog

In these ongoing times of Covid-19 most days do not deviate from the normal pattern of things, some aspects of life really do go on, the day-to-day interactions with all those mini tensions or frustrations still surface. Is it right that I still find some aspects of my relationships with other challenging at times? A year ago I started to develop some ideas about how I could work better with my emotions. I have often found it an extremely difficult area to navigate, today ‘here and now’ I’m continuing to learn how to have a healthier relationship with my emotions. What have I discovered through my own personal journey? 

  • I take a step back, take a breath and settle my mind – there is something about consciously engaging with an emotion or sensation when it arises, taking control of it, rather than it of you. 
  • I try not to judge my emotions as good or bad, I accept them for what they are without judgement. This has been a massive breakthrough for me – emotions are clues for us, they help us to be curious and explore further what may be going on. 
  • To really pinpoint the emotion I feel. I often use an emotions wheel to help be more specific about how I feel. In doing this I often find the underlying value driving the emotion 
  • For more unpleasant emotions I try to work creatively – going for a run, gardening, or just talking with a trusted friend are my normal go-to activities. Sometimes I journal or in an extreme situation have a conversation with an empty chair, taking various roles (believe me it helps). 

It is so important to invest in emotions in order to understand them, to take time, ground yourself and calm that part of my brain, to activate those higher functions of reasoning, logic and judgement – to bring about some deep reflection… the ‘what?’, ‘’so what?’, and ‘now what?’ (Rolfe’s model of Reflective Practice).  I do love it when deeper reflection and the cultivation of new habits brings about something unexpected… they often reveal an unconscious judgement about something that made me emotionally react as I did. I’ve learned also my emotions are shaped by unconscious bias, this is the common term for the implicit assumptions or quick judgements we make about others in the context of our values and background. They are often about deeply hidden stereotypes that surface unexpectedly and shape our emotional responses and/or behaviour.  

To capture these, in the moment is difficult, I am only human, but creating the right personal environment to notice these is so important. I’m gradually cultivating habits to help me, but also aware that here at TWBC we are also embarking on that journey of becoming more acquainted with bias and judgement and sharing some of those ideas with you. I hope they help in some small way… 

Tim Coupland – Consultant, TWBC 

Earth Day 2021

The Wellbeing Collective spent Earth Day 2021 focussing on our pledges at a personal and professional level.

This year’s Earth Day theme is “Restore Our Earth”, with participants urged to focus not only on how we can reduce our impact on the planet but also on how we might actively repair ecosystems.

The Wellbeing Collective pledge to reduce our impact on the planet and actively repair our ecosystems by:

  • Buying second hand clothes and make gifts as a norm, not just today but for always
  • Being even more self conscious of our carbon footprint
  • Not just focussing on recycling but reducing our waste as a whole
  • Growing our own veggies (The Wellbeing Collectively shared veggie seeds last year between the team during the first lockdown, and gained some brand new crop growing enthusiasts – so this year we have our second crops underway – an exciting discussion point for our team)
  • Keeping our ‘weeds’ – especially our dandelions
  • Growing bee encouraging plants
  • Learning – we pledge to read ‘Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy’ by Daniel P Goleman for example

Did you make a pledge? We would love to hear from you.

TWBC

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Authentic Leaders: 4 key components

I spend my time working with leaders who build and maintain healthy and effective work relationships and it is my observation that Authenticity is at the heart of those who are most are successful. I created this chart below for my own learning and to share with others. It breaks down 4 key components as defined by Dr T Fusco in 2015 – Authentic Leaders are Conscious, Confident, Competent and Congruent.

I have been working on these four components and it has really helped me to think about what each component means, how I might practice enhanced ways of being and what the impact might be as a result.

I would be really interested in your thoughts and experiences of how these four components of Authenticity and what the impact is when all four are present.

I know that I am able to build trust much more easily with those I work with when I am exhibiting behaviours that show I am Conscious, Confident, Competent and Congruent.

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