I realise that’s quite a bold claim — but here’s the thing, I can state it by virtue of the fact that we are human and because there are some pretty basic truths about being human that are true for us all.
Moods. I know a lot about them. Here’s the bottom line: We do all have innate wellbeing and resilience — and in reality nothing can keep us down apart from our own thinking in the moment. BUT. It really doesn’t feel that way sometimes. In fact it can be a bit annoying when people say things like this when we are gripped in the experience of a low mood.
The last time this happened, it hit me hugely and created a lot of doubt, over thinking and self-examination. There was an identity crisis. There was also a fair bit of outrage and how very dare they — and quite a bit of confusion ‘how could this have even happened?’ I had a little breakdown and was diagnosed as depressed. I remember I couldn’t get up off the floor some days. Literally.
This time when it happened — by midday I was fine (after a little weep) and after one day, the incident was reflected on, appropriate actions taken and most of all it was in the past and no longer affecting my present experience of life.
What were the incidents? And why was it different this time?
Although the details of both incidents are fairly irrelevant, basically both incidents involved some really unhappy clients. Not just a bit meh, but clients who were not expecting what they got and really didn’t like it. And they complained and they complained in harsh and vociferous terms.
As a professional educator and coach for over 25 years — this really is unusual as I aim to understand and serve my clients and always do my best — but it does happen occasionally. I’d say maybe three times of this memorable intensity and a handful of other times.
The last time it happened big time — 13 years ago, I felt so disturbed about it, it led me to question every aspect of my life and work. I took it personally. I searched for reasons, I angst-ed, I blamed myself, them, the set-up, the venue and the demanding nature of my work and life. I just could not understand it as I had given everything I had to this group and more — I had tried so hard. I had dug deep to create connection and bring about the transformation that they had paid and asked for.
It shook my world. I got sick with flu, I was told to take anti-depressants and my husband sometimes had to step over me to do the washing up. One day in amongst it all I had the thought; ‘We need to do our lives differently.’ And then pretty soon came the thought; “Lets move to Spain’ and with it the slightest, lightest feeling of hope — and so we followed that inclination and the rest is history.
It took a while for me to make sense of that incident and to understand it. In the end I left it in the past with the reflection that trying hard and harder is not what is needed to support people — letting go of how I think it should look might be better at times. This turns out to be a very useful lesson for me in both my life and my work.
Fast forward to last week, I ran a one day training that I have run for years to great acclaim and lots of happy customers. But this time some people really didn’t like it or me. And it was really personal. They hadn’t mentioned anything to me at the time, preferring instead to write to my colleague who had commissioned it. It was out of the blue — and a bit weird as I knew at least half the group had gotten the value I would normally expect.
It was shocking, upsetting and destabilising…. so for an hour or so (then in the background for maybe a day) I searched for reasons, I angst-ed, I blamed myself, them, the set-up, the venue and the demanding nature of my work. I just could not understand it as it seemed to me I had given everything I had to give to this group.
And then it hit me. It wasn’t personal. All people including me are all doing what makes sense to them — given their own thoughts. These unhappy clients and me just had some different thoughts (expectations) about what the day should be. And somehow on this occasion I had missed that.
This time there was no need for soul-searching or moving countries — as this time I now had a simple understanding of how life works — for everyone all the time.
People live in the experience of their own thinking and feelings in the moment (inside) not the world out there (outside). And who we are at core is not our temporary thought-feeling experience — it is something calmer and wiser that is untouchable by external feedback (inside). We work from the inside-out.
Now, does that mean that there wasn’t something for me to learn from both experiences? Definitely — we are always on a learning curve. But do I have to work hard to learn it or feel bad or spend hours in rumination? Not really. The act of rumination will lead to suffering, suffering to low moods and feeling bad, low moods to distorted negative thinking — which leads to more rumination — none of which is very peaceful and for me can lead to depressed thinking.
On the other hand, quiet reflection from a calm place of inner ok-ness however, will usually bring about clarity and insight — which popped into my mind pretty quickly this time as I was able to see that in addition to a mismatch of expectations, my own presence on this occasion was probably diminished down to grieving a recent personal loss. I could see clearly what had happened and why from all perspectives and offered some practical suggestions for the future. No drama. No guilt. No blame. No attachment.
I would even go so far as to say I have found the experience enlightening and enriching.
For the last 8 years I have been working with some fundamental human principles for how life works that help us all have less stress and more wellbeing and resilience in the face of life’s inevitable ebbs and flows. They seem to be working.
Author’s note: When I originally wrote this blog I posted it on my Facebook page and received lots of loving support from people who know me and have experienced my work in the past which really touched me. But this got me thinking about whether or not to send this blog out on my newsletter — as it might give the impression that I was not ok in some way with what happened recently.
The incredible thing and reason why I wrote the blog — is that it astounded me just how Ok I was this time in the face of difficult feedback — and difficult life circumstances — a double whammy. I have always tried so hard to get it right that any negative feedback always felt personal. This time it still felt personal — I am human — but for a lot less time and those feelings ebbed away really quickly. I can only put that down to a deeper understanding of the nature of how the power of Thought works in us all and by seeing it’s nature as temporary it really had less of a hold on me.
I am left grateful for the experience, grateful for the support, grateful for this understanding about human nature. All in all — just grateful.
If you’d like to find out more about the bounce back-ability we were all born with chck out www.wisdomandwellbeing.co.uk
Or you can work with me
As you may know, I have spent over 30 years training in a myriad of problem solving, process improvement, creative, coaching and leadership techniques. I have had a career as a group facilitator and leadership coach working with over 10,000 people to help them liberate their potential and shine. Everyone from CEO’s of multi-million pound businesses to Start-up Founders and the homeless.
Having had so many varied experiences and connected with so many human beings from all walks of life, I feel qualified to say what I know to be true. Everyone is creative. Everyone – no exceptions.
Let’s first understand what we mean by creativity. There is a difference between WHAT we create, the thing created, and the act of CREATING itself. You might think that creativity is the domain of the few talented artists, musicians and actors. The creative industries. But no, each of us is born with our own connection to the source of creativity and resourcefulness and we are all creative in our own unique ways.
Here are some things I know to be true about the creative power of the mind:
Just be you. Everyone else is taken
We all live in our own virtual reality headset (called our brain) we are all experiencing our own personal version of reality. We all have different bodies experiencing different things and different thoughts in our heads. We’ve all had different cultural influences and experiences. It’s possible that as a group you can all go to the same party or movie and have a completely different experience. There is ‘something’ happening out there but it only exists for us through our own thinking. Therefore we each live in our own separate realities and we all relate to that reality as the only true reality. So that means we all have our very own unique voice - and that voice is worth hearing.
We are more alike my friends, than we are unalike – Maya Angelou
Everyone wants to give and receive love and feel connected in their own unique way. Everyone also gets scared sometimes and when we get scared we are a bit of a dick (in our own unique way). What’s really going on is insecure thinking. People are doing whatever they are doing to try and get home and feel ok – and those things might look crazy to us – like counting buttons or cutting skin – but actually it makes perfect sense to that person in their world and by the way, you have your very own version of trying to feel ok. When we are doing our own insecure thinking thing – it’s like we have a snowglobe in our head pinging like a Whatsapp Group with more and more cray. Lots of circular rumination, negative thinking and over-analysis and no room for fresh creative thought. The good news is - that left alone, the snowglobe of the mind will settle all on its own and reach that natural calm, clear state of peace, at home and ok-ness – and that is where new ideas purpose built for us will pop in with no effort at all because….
We can trust that we all have access to the same unique creative force
We are all resilient and we are all equally connected to the same universal source of pure creative insight. The untapped potential of the Mind – the place where ideas come from - we all ARE it and have access to it.
We have brains but they are not who we are, we have our thoughts & feelings but they are not who we are, we have bodies but they are not who we are. We are energy beings alive with the creative force of life. The source of creative potential. The source of everything. Formless energy from which all things of form are created.
A member of the audience at the launch of our series spoke movingly at the end how she had had a huge insight that it was ok for her to be her - different was ok. Being true to herself was ok. She said everyone should know this - it would change the world. She’s right - they should. It would.
When we truly get that we are already the sun and not the temporary thought created clouds; we shine. You cannot become creative – you already are.
Elizabeth Lovius has just finished co-hosting with Art Studio Acrylicize - the The Creative Power of the Mind Series. Each event featured a selection of creative thinkers from artists, writers and musicians, to experts in creativity and those who make a living selling creative ideas. Elizabeth hosted each event and introducing some fresh ideas about the power of our minds, after which Elizabeth interviewed our guests and join the dots that will help us all unlock insight into the source of our creative potential.
If you’d like to hire Elizabeth to do the same for you and unlock your leadership wisdom and creative capability - get in touch!
Yesterday Trump said he would pull out of the Paris Climate agreement. I wasn’t shocked. And although I am no Trump fan and personally feel increasingly connected to the wellbeing of the planet, I wasn’t horrified either.
You see, I have come to see Trump as a necessary force for good in the world. Stick with me here, I know it's a stretch.
I remember the day that Brexit happened. And the day Trump was elected. I reacted with a great deal of disbelief, sadness and anger. Despair. I followed every article, I voted on every petition. But when the clouds in my mind disappeared, I also saw something clearly – there is an opportunity here right now for us to go beyond our individual beliefs on right and wrong, good and bad and look to a greater truth. The truth that we are all connected.
I notice that when I am in a low level of consciousness – some kind of judgementleading to anxiety, fear or rebellion – my thoughts, feelings and actions are dictated by that. They come dripping with that feeling. I can feel driven, urgent and busy. Increasingly I also see that this state of mind can also cause fall-out for both me and those around me.
But it’s also possible to act from a state of neutrality, clarity and acceptance of what is. To see things as they are and allow actions to unfold from that place. From a place of hope. I notice that my minds gets really creative and insightful in that space. And I see helpful actions to take that benefit the whole. And it feels better.
For me, that looks like helping people understand how the human mind works. Which in my own experience naturally leads to more love and understanding. And creates natural positive shifts in perspective and action.
It seems to me that today more people are engaged in politics and the planet than ever before. More people are taking action and speaking from their inner knowing of what is good for the whole. What if we each woke up to our own part – the simple awakening to that we are all connected?
What if Trump’s purpose was to wake up the world? Wouldn’t that make him a force for good? What if each of us were to see what was happening around us and choose to make it a gift and a call to find a better way. The possible outcome being a global shift in consciousness? What would be a possible for the world then? That looks hopeful to me. And makes Trump, for me, an Agent of Change.
Just imagine if the challenges and issues arising for you right now are actually opportunities for a shift in your own perspective and are agents of change in your own life, organisation and in the world.......
‘There is a field beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing – I’ll meet you there’
If understanding more about how your experience is created makes you curious or you’d like to find out more check-out out what we are up to: www.leadershipwisdom.info
"Life-changing' Nicky Fisher Head of Pret Foundation
I woke up a bit grumpy and bleary eyed yesterday. For some reason it made sense to me the night before to stay up til 1.30am and watch the Voice on catch-up on a school night. I think I was hankering for a little 'me time' in the whirlwind that is my life. Funny what we *think* we need.
So in the morning I had that feeling around my eyes where tears felt one insensitive comment away. I then got some fair feedback on a talk I had given (that I had done with a full heart and given my all to )that maybe my attention and been a little bit more on me than the audience. Ouch (it was probably true) - tears sprang up. Then I loped to my next appointment - a coaching session with all sorts of gloomy feelings, trying (and failing) to ignore them.
I was starting a new coaching relationship with a business woman. She really reminds me of me. She was all - 'So, what is this coaching thing, how does it work and what will I get out of it. Exactly What are we doing!? (The sub text seemed to me: I am busy - is this worth my time.)
Luckily I had previously had a chance to do a deep intake with her and spend two days with her on a team training - so I knew we had a connection - but in that moment I got her no-nonsense impatient self. (She wanted to work on her patience.)
I noticed how inadequate I felt (although I have been coaching busy business women for 25 years) I suddenly didn't know anything about anything. I was my mood.
And I kind of gave up. Not as in defeat but as in, myself. I gave up my ''me-ness little me' mood. And I just showed up present and attentive and listened and said what whatever made sense. By the end of the session we were so deeply in a state of peace and presence that felt timeless. And she finished with 'that was a really valuable use of my time.' And her eyes were shining.
I had my mood, but I was not my mood. Giving up my little mind can leave space for the big Mind to come and carry me where we both needed to go. And that journey was so much nicer than wherever I was headed.
‘Instead of seeing the rug being pulled from under us, we can learn to dance on the shifting carpet.’
— Thomas Crum
There is no doubt the world is changing at a rapid pace right now. We are facing seismic shifts in Europe and the US. And some of it unwished for. I know a feeling of uncertainty about the future is affecting a lot of people and businesses. I too have undergone a huge amount of personal and professional change in the past year.
And it is perfectly human and understandable when we are facing the unknown to feel anxiety, pressure and stress; experience a sense of urgent, driven tension and feel compelled to focus on securing the advantage at all costs. The only problem with this way of being is - it doesn’t sustainably work, bring out our creative best or get us in the performance zone. And I know, because I’ve tried it. I have also discovered that in times of change whether welcome or unwelcome, there is only one thing you need to lead yourself and others resourcefully through change.
We are all operating in unknown territory. The only thing that seems certain is uncertainty. Uncertainty can make us want to batten down the hatches, to find ways to cope and manage to feel more in control. To look for things, ideas or techniques outside of us to hold on to that will make us feel secure. Although approaching change in this way may temporarily help you feel better, it won’t help you in the long term.
The one and only thing you truly need in good times or bad is - resilience.
Definition of resilience: ‘an ability to adjust easily to change or recover from misfortune’ – Webster Dictionary
Why does resilience matter?
When faced with change: ‘Resilient people, possess three characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three’.
Diane Coutu in her research based HBR Article – How resilience works
So when the proverbial hits the fan, in times of change or when we are operating in the deep unknown, the only thing we can really count on to see us through is our own resilience. And as human beings, it was ever thus. When Darwin talked about survival of the fittest – he was not talking about the toughest or the strongest, he was actually talking about the most adaptable. Those with resilience. Or in other words bounceback-ability. If you know you can bounce back from something, it means you can welcome anything. And resilience enables creativity. In her new book In your creative element (to which I contributed as Creative Coach) – Claire Bridges MSc conducted extensive research both academically and in practise to identify the key elements for creativity and innovation. There is no doubt that the creative elements she identified of openness, an insightful mind and the ability to be with the unknown are all hallmarks of resilience. And useful to remember too, that innovation is the single biggest differentiator when it comes to business success.
So when it comes to leadership, it’s useful to reflect on what a resilient approach looks and feels like - as well as it’s opposite – which I will call a rigid approach.
Here’s how they operate and the impact they have on others.
A rigid mindset is fundamentally motivated by Fear. Anxiety, urgency, impatience, frustration and insecurity are all a form of fear and at their source is the belief ‘there is something missing, something wrong that I need to fix.’
A resilient mindset is fundamentally motivated by Faith. Trust, acceptance, inspiration, ease and flow are all a form of having the faith to know that ‘we all have innate well-being and wisdom to draw on, and no matter what happens around me, I can trust in the flow of life.’
One of these is fundamentally true and the other is a made-up story we tell ourselves. And we often get these mixed up – I know I did.
So, what do you think? From your own experience:
Which approach do YOU think creates better working relationships, helps innovative performance to flow and enables sustainable business results?
But an even bigger question:
Who would you rather work for?
If you take an honest look and you realise as a leader you associate a bit more with a rigid than a resilient mindset - it’s quite human and popular to go in that direction. As an employee, you may even in times of anxiety wish someone else who seems to be more ordered, organised and in control would take all your problems away and take charge. As appealing as that may be at times, if you take a look – you will know too that a primarily rigid approach in a leader limits your own freedom, your own creativity and your own accountability. Which are all connected to your own performance.
The industrial revolution has had a big influence on how we work today. With the best of intentions, we decided that the best way to improve things was to treat everything and everyone like an assembly line so we could be more productive. Including us. Fixed job descriptions, 9-5 working, offices, cubicles, unmoveable targets, complex planning, process and project management systems. The only problem is, as you may have (or may not have) noticed, we are not boxes of widgets. We are human. And as Yuval Noah Harari points out in his brilliant book Sapiens - the history of human kind - biologically and sociologically we are still hunter gatherers, who operate best, when we are in small collaborative tribes, taking care of each other and responding to the moment; what is here and now, able to intuitively ‘sniff the wind’ and resourcefully adapt to circumstances. I’d call that resilience. And in a changing world – that quality is needed now more than ever.
Now lets be realistic, as leaders we will all find ourselves from time to time being unnecessarily rigid (especially when we are under pressure or feeling insecure about the future) – trying to control things that feel out of control – because that’s all we know how to do when we feel afraid. That fear response is human.
The Fear Factor
Fear is a very helpful survival response that helps us flee or fight danger, REAL danger, tigers-and-bears-type danger. We need our fear response to stay alive. But PERCEIVED danger still triggers our fear response in the very same way. Once we sense a potential danger, our body releases hormones that slow or shut down physical functions that aren’t needed for survival. We also become hyper-alert and in this over-active state, the brain perceives events as negative. Living under constant threat weakens us physically, emotionally and mentally. Source: University of Minnesota - Impact of Fear
Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that enable us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues, absorb information presented to us, reflect before acting and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately and fundamentally leave us less resilient.
‘Fear affects the nervous system, the immune system and the chemistry of the body. Fear is contagious.’
- David Hamilton, PhD
The trick is not to expect yourself to be perfect, but to catch yourself in the act of operating from insecure thinking and attempting to rigidly control the uncontrollable. A good barometer for that is noticing your fearful feelings as they are a reliable barometer of the state of your thinking.
The good news
Everyone has resilience available to them at any moment – nothing outside of you can ever take away your innate resilience. To experience your own resilience more reliably, more often - we need to clear up some misunderstandings about how our minds work and our experience of life (and our fears) are created.
1. We think things outside of us can make us feel mad, bad, scared, sad or glad. False: Our experience of life only works one way – not from the (very compelling) circumstances that are occurring outside of us. 100% of our felt experience of life is created inside our own minds. Through the power of thought. Our thoughts create our feelings which give us our moment by moment experience – not the outside circumstances. And our thoughts and feelings can change – and they always do.
2. Deep down, we think there is something wrong or missing that needs fixing. False: Because we don’t realise and connect with who we really are, we think we are our personality, identity or body. In fact, who we are is so much more – we are animated by a life energy that is also constantly connected to a source of creative potential, well-being and inspiration – the intelligence of the universal life force itself. As human beings we are, in fact, designed to thrive. We have available to us at all times a source of innate well-being and wisdom (and if we don’t experience that at times – it’s because our own thinking that has temporarily gotten in the way - see 1.).
Realising for yourself with conscious awareness and insight the truth behind these misunderstandings can and does lead effortlessly to a sustainably resilient mind-set and knowing for sure that ‘no matter what happens you will handle it.’
Ground-breaking academic studies on resilience after trauma, show that when people insightfully understanding the principles of how their mind really works they access their own innate resilience and:
• realise the “reality” they see in any situation is made up with their own power of thought
• transform their relationship with their thinking so there is no need to take it (traumatic thoughts) so seriously
• see how well-being and wisdom naturally appear and are always available to them when their minds clear and their thinking quiets down
• realise there is no event, no matter how traumatic, that cannot be overcome when seen from a higher level of consciousness.
We need a world where acting from fear, generated by chronic insecure thinking does not win out and wreak havoc and destruction on things we hold dear – the planet, our freedoms, harmony, peace and prosperity. Now more than ever, we need leaders of wisdom, courage and resilience.
Bounceback-ability – remember - you were born with it.
If you are interested in experiencing more of your own wisdom and wellbeing or you are curious and would like to find out - pleamore check-out out what we are up to:
- Angie Wiles
Co-Founder Virgo HealthCommunications, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor
Here’s a sneak peak inside our last training in October:
My definition of love in business is ‘a powerful positive connection’. When you create a powerful positive connection with something, you could say you have a BIG relationship with it.
For big relationships (or love) to thrive in a business, there are four elements that need to co-exist: unity, appreciation, accountability and wisdom.
When we are at work, how we think about the cultural environment impacts how we feel. How we feel at work impacts how we do our work, deliver our product or service and interact with customers. We transmit our mood to our customer, which in turn impacts how they perceive our product or service, which then has a bearing on the profits of the organisation.
Let’s just get a few things out of the way. I know that the words ‘love’ and ‘business’ aren’t usually uttered in the same breath. And you may be thinking that it’s all a bit hippy, huggy and touchy-feely. If so, I’d like to challenge you to think again.
This has been tested this past year and never more so than when I was sitting with my sister who was dying.
‘We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all of our exploring, will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.
- TS Eliot
So having spent quite a long time (circa 25 years) and becoming a bit demoralised by restlessly searching for answers for how to help (me and others) be more perfect and never quite nailing it…
‘We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all of our exploring, will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.
- TS Eliot