Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Tag Archives: Change

What would you think is one of the most important books of our time?

Once upon a time, not so long ago….and so begins many a good story. What makes a good story?

important booksWe will all have different views on this of course. Themes that might emerge include strong characters which develop, grow and mature as the story progresses, continuity of plot with integrity in how the characters behave, and some understanding of the inner wranglings of the main character’s lives – the WHY of what they do, aka motive. We might enjoy twists and turns of a plot, but ultimately a resolution that shows how the individuals in the story have moved from where they started to the conclusion.

Let me tell you about a book that is all about character, one that contains truths that are based on timeless principles and not on fads, trends or the latest craze. A book that has been described variously as

  • life changing
  • transformational
  • a penetrating truth about human nature
  • pathbreaking
  • essential reading for anyone who wants to make a difference
  • one of the most important books of our time

A book that has sold over 25 million copies and is on the best-selling-books-of-all-time list, and one that is as relevant today as when it was first published nearly 30 years ago.

What am I talking about?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey.

Why all the preamble – why didn’t I just say that in the first place?

Because I wanted you to keep an open mind, as I seek over the next few weeks to muse on each habit, it’s impact and how we might learn to put them into practice.

The Seven Habits is a well known and well recognised book, and one that sometimes is put into a ‘management book‘ category. I opened a conversation recently about the book, and was met with some skepticism and the view that it was a book about systems.

There are systems in it, but primarily, it’s a book about character. The focus is on building character and not on seeking to have greater success. My favourite saying, oft quoted by my wise and long-departed grandfather is

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

The Seven Habits is a book about inner transformational growth that enables greater effectiveness and fulfillment in all areas of life because the book equips you with principles that not only work and stay with you, but serve as a framework on which to build personal effectiveness and growth.

Reading the book, you learn to fish rather than just enjoying a one-off fish supper.

What matters most is not what we do or what we have, but who we are. Just look around at the popularity of mindfulness, gratitude, the role of exercise for our mental – as well as physical – well being, and you see how relevant is a book that teaches skills to build inner character, rather than seeking external success and acquisition for personal happiness.

In the 25th anniversary edition of the book, published in 2014, there 17 pages of glowing endorsements from the great and the influential including this one from Arianna Huffington, that really struck me:

Twenty-five years after it first appeared, the wisdom of The Seven Habits is more relevant than ever before. On an individual level people are burning out, and on a collective level we are burning up the planet. So, Dr Covey’s emphasis on self-renewal and his understanding that leadership and creativity require us to tap into our own physical, mental and spiritual resources, are exactly what we need in this moment.

I am much looking forward to re-reading the book as I plan and write my musings here for the next few weeks. It has hugely influenced my team coaching material, what I presented recently as life-skills to the sixth formers at my daughter’s secondary school, and forms a solid basis to much of my coaching work.

If someone were to ask you what were the most useful habits you have in the course of your own life, what would you say? Pay attention to that, and to what emerges from these seven habits over coming weeks.

Introducing Team Coaching

Team coaching - what could your team achieve?

Team coaching – what could your team achieve?

I love how honest people are. I asked recently for some feedback and the folk in question, well….. they gave me some feedback. A couple of comments made me laugh out loud, and I so appreciated their candour and freedom to be that brutally honest. More in a mo, but let me fill in some back story first.

Team coaching.

About the most fun I have had with a group of people since I started this new venture of mine. Working with people who are committed to and passionate about what they are doing, and who are seeking to improve and grow in their effectiveness is such a joy.

Dynamic… inspiring… tons of creative energy… stimulating… mentally stretching.

And most definitely keeping me on my toes as I try to mentally marshal the comments, responses and views of up to 15 people all at once into some kind of coherent summary that will be of use to them as a team.

What is team coaching, I hear you ask? This is a good and valid question, and quite hard to answer in advance of the session, as the recent teams I have worked with can testify:

Usually these things are boring and samey. This was much better – it felt like five friends having coffee.” Martin, Just Trading Scotland.

More than met my expectations as I didn’t know what I was coming to.” Sharon, SSPCA Vet Dept.

The session was better than expected – I was dreading this but found it very useful and positive.” Laura, SSPCA Vet Dept.

I love that what I offer with team coaching is neither ‘boring and samey’ nor something that is potentially dread-filled. These were the comments that made me smile – it was such a privilege to work with these folk and to get to know them and to see them flourish within the team coaching session. Each of them felt listened to, involved, and inspired to be a participant – as much by the team themselves as by me. I was mostly facilitating – the team members were doing all the work and coming up with all the ideas and solutions.

To try and explain how this works involves using the very simple model that is the framework for sessions that I run.

WHY are we doing what we are doing (what is our vision), WHAT therefore are our top priorities, HOW are we going to achieve them and WHO do we need to do what.

But from this starting point, I tailored the sessions to fit the needs and expectations of the teams, with exercises and practical work that allowed everyone to contribute in a proactive way that worked for the size of the team.

I am hugely indebted to Nick Wright, psychological coach, trainer and organisation development consultant for this model, which I use with his generous permission, along with a lot of other wise writings on his site.

For me, it always comes back to that central question – WHY are you doing what you are doing? For a team, having shared ownership of and commitment to this vision is key to success. Only then can WHAT the team do, and HOW they do it grow from that passion and motivation.

So – are you part of a small team? Interested in team coaching for your team? Find out more here, and more to come next week.

 

Having a different mindset – building bridges

A different mindset

A different mindset

Imagine something with me. You walk to work each day. You know what time you leave the house, to get to work at the right time. Working back from this, your morning routine is tightly timed to achieve all that you need to and still have maximum time in bed. And then suddenly, your commute becomes 2 miles longer. Each way. And you never know if your normal route will be open, or if the longer detour will be required. Cheerio normal morning routine, hello to uncertainty.

Now imagine you are 10 years old, and walking to school. And on a regular basis, the swamp between your half of the community and your school floods and becomes impassable. Hence the extra 4 mile round trip.

Imagine too that you have very few resources, little hope for change, and face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to try and improve your situation. I can’t, things will never change, I have nothing to contribute.

And then someone comes along and says, you can, things can change, you have who you are. And we can help.

Last week I was talking about mindset, in relation to how we perceive what is going on around us.

I read the story above about a split community in Liberia in the annual report for Tearfund, a development charity that I have long been a fan of.

The end of the story is wonderful, and wonderfully simple. The local community, with support from Tearfund, were encouraged and empowered to change their mindset:

to believe that ‘change was possible, and they had the skills and resources needed to make change happen’.

They lobbied the local authority for building supplies, and worked together to build a bridge connecting the two communities. You can read more here.

There is so much tragedy and disaster in our world currently. This is one small, simple story of positive change. But it brings such hope – when we each decide to take a positive look at our situation, to see what we can do and believe in who we are, forward progress is possible.

Sometimes it feels like we are facing insurmountable obstacles in our own lives. Rarely will that be an actual swamp. But you don’t need me to name some metaphorical swamps that you, or someone you know, might be facing. It can be easy – and often very easily justifiable – to become mired in that swamp, stuck in hopelessness, unable to see a way out, slipping into utter overwhelm and eventually passive resignation.

But we can choose instead to have a different mindset, and take one small first step towards change. This is hard on our own – that community in Liberia had tried before to motivate itself to build a bridge, but without enough self belief, this proved impossible. An external source came and said – you matter, your lives matter, we believe you can, and we can empower you to do so. Change is possible. It often starts with a different mindset.

Sometimes we need someone else to come and give us that first wee boost to propel us to start building a bridge out of our own swamp.

My little mastermind group of fellow life coaches is a great environment of support and accountability. Each of us works alone and therefore has to be self motivated and self directed. Sometimes we get stuck and the swamp can look daunting or impossible. That is where we can be bridge builders for each other – I have committed to them to complete certain tasks and achieve certain milestones before our next meeting.

Without them cheering me on and asking me how I am doing, I might easily slip into the mire of procrastination….too daunting….impossible.

But they inspire in me a different mindset. Who can you do that for this week, and who do you need to come alongside you and cheer you on?

 

 

Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather

“I don’t think we should be complaining about our weather” was the comment Younger Daughter made in response to seeing some of the pictures of Hurricane Irma on the television.

Whatever the weather...

Whatever the weather…

Something of an understatement, me thinks. And quite an astute comment from a 12 year old.

We love to talk about the weather in Britain. In Glasgow, where I live, it is something of a national obsession. We get a lot of weather. And a lot of it is fairly rubbish.

However, what underlies this are both perspective and mindset.

If the only perspective I had on our meteorological conditions – the only frame of reference through which I looked at our weather – was that of our own local situation and recent history, I could have grounds to grumble.

(Although I am acutely aware of my own musings on the importance of personal choice and responsibility – I choose to live here after all).

But look at our weather and compare it with what is affecting others and suddenly my perspective on how grey and wet it might be here is somewhat challenged. Any complaints I might find myself giving voice to are silenced, in humble recognition of how little we have to complain about.

So too with mindset. When we choose a mindset of what isn’t, what we can’t, what is not working or going the way we want it to, often we find ourselves living in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I think therefore I am” proclaimed Rene Descartes an astonishingly long time ago.

What we think, and the way we choose to view our circumstances, will have a huge bearing on our own personal sense of well-being.

Another oft quoted adage is

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

This is attributed both to Alfred Wainwright and Ranulph Fiennes – both of whom certainly knew what they were talking about.

Now I believe that a hurricane stands most definitely as the exception to this.

But the point is a similar one – external circumstances can only spoil my inner well-being if I choose to let them. I can sit inside and grump on a wet, dreich and miserable day and complain about what I can’t do. I can allow this frustration to tip me into a bad mood and become irritable with those around me.

Or I can choose to dress appropriately in outdoor gear and go out and embrace the wilds of our amazing country, to look for beauty even in the rain. And on my return, I can choose to be thankful for and celebrate a steaming shower, dry cosy clothes, hot chocolate and a good book by the fire in my warm, dry house.

I may not always view my home circumstances with such dewy eyed warmth, but compared with those in the aftermath of recent hurricanes, just having a roof over my head is grounds for celebration indeed.

When we look around us, no matter our circumstances, there are always things we can find – when we choose to look for them – to be thankful for. Including the weather.

What are the triggers for a perfect storm?

perfect stormThey call it a perfect storm. (Whoever ‘they’ are.) A series of events all coming together at the same time to produce catastrophic results. At the time, it can be hard to see the connections. It is often only in the aftermath that one can look back and see all the different jigsaw pieces and triggers that all worked together to cause such devastating fall-out. This is the fodder of disaster movies.

But imagine instead the perfect storm to be an emotional melt down, and you are the meltee.

The question is, would it have been possible to avoid the storm? Identify the triggers, remove some of them or remove yourself from their path, and hey presto. Storm prevented.

Or, in other words, wouldn’t it be great to have hindsight in advance?

To proactively prevent the perfect storm by diminishing the destructive potential of the causative elements.

In my work as a physiotherapist (physical therapist for you across-the-pond dwellers), I would sometimes treat patients who sustained a sudden injury that seemed to come out of the blue for them. But unpick their stories a little, dig backwards into the preceding sequence of events, and often there were clear indicators. Triggers to set off a chain of events that led to injury and incapacitation (might have made that word up).

Postural problems + chronic weariness + over busyness + muscle imbalance + a sudden demand on the body is likely to lead to some kind of system failure. In the physical dimension, this is likely to be pain and incapacity.

Imagine if we were better tuned in to the triggers, and thus were more able to prevent the physical problems and pain. If we stepped back and saw the implications of continuing with each element unresolved, and decided to take action instead. Change our posture. Take some time off. Exercise to strengthen, stretch and restore balance.

The physical realm has much to tell us about the realm of our emotional and mental well being.

Imagine that the perfect storm, rather than a physical breakdown, is an emotional outburst instead.

Events combine and contrive to cause us to combust, and we disintegrate and unravel. I talked about this a little in the series on burnout recently – the importance of letting our souls catch up with our too-fast-moving-bodies.

Triggers are important here, and in this case, the triggers are often our emotions. I am a stuffer – talked about this here before too. Just deal with it, get on with the next thing, pay no heed to the rising tide of anxiety/fear/stress/irritation/numbness that is threatening to swamp me.

Triggers are like red flags along the pathway, yelling at us to stop,

pay attention, take action now to avert disaster.

The key thing – as always – is awareness.

What am I feeling?

What do those feelings indicate?

And therefore – what do I need?

What will happen if I ignore this and continue down this path?

And – ultimately and of course – what is most important here? What therefore do I need to do?

When we tread the same path often enough, we recognise the signs. When we know ourselves well enough to know the kind of emotional storm we are likely to end up in, we can then start to identify the triggers. And then – the key stage – we can choose to do something about them.

The benefit of hindsight in advance – spotting the triggers to the perfect storm, paying attention to them and changing course.

And here’s a lovely thing about being authentic….

Going from being caged in by your life to being free and able to take on anything….becoming fully alive again….

Free to be fully aliveHow exciting is that!

Would you like to be able to say that about yourself, about your own life? Maybe you are there already – yippee! Maybe not quite yet. Read on..

Last week, I was talking about being authentic, and what it means to start with who you are – living as the person you are rather than the person you feel you should be or are supposed to be.

The starting point for this is knowing who you are in the first place. You cannot begin to accept yourself and start living as that person until you know yourself and what your own, unique life means.

What are your skills, strengths, values, dreams? What are you passionate about and motivated to do? What have your life experiences taught you, and what do you uniquely bring to the world?

Yes you – not the person next to you. You are not them. That is the whole point.

This then enables an unpicking and an untangling. I often describe the work we would do together in coaching like this:

Your life is like a treasure chest, and what we are going to do with coaching is take everything out,

look at it, keep and celebrate the good stuff, and ditch the unhelpful stuff.

The unhelpful stuff, as it were, can take a little longer to unearth, and includes negative self talk, lies we believe about ourselves, bad habits, to name the commonest. But by far the most significant thing for a client to work to remove from their life is negative self belief: I’m not, I can’t, I’m worthless, I’m a failure, I’ll never be able to….

This week I received the most lovely and affirming review from one of my wonderful clients. It fits so well with this theme of being authentic and starting with who you are and what you can do. Confidentiality is central to my work, and anonymity for some clients is important – people don’t always want their world to know what is going on internally, so no name. She is a teacher, she and I had face to face sessions over 9 months, initially every two to three weeks, and then much more spread out as she implemented and lived out her new habits and way of being. In a bit of shameless self-promotion, this is what she wrote.

When I went along to my initial taster session with Catriona, I instantly knew that working with her was going to be a great thing. I instantly felt at ease, and that feeling has increased as time has gone on.

She is truly an amazing life coach and person, who really cares about what she does. She is so skilled at helping you identify where you need to do some work on yourself.  There have been so many times when I have had ‘aha’ moments with her when I have thought… I have never thought about that that way!  Those moments have been transformative for me.

I truly have changed my entire life by going to see Catriona. She is totally forward thinking which I particularly loved. No dwelling on the past, more making a plan for right now and the future.  I have gone from someone who was caged in by her own life to someone who now feels free and able to take on anything! And that is thanks to Catriona!

I cannot recommend her highly enough! I even have people across the Atlantic Ocean talking about how marvellous she is!  Truly, everyone should have Catriona as their life coach! Without a doubt, the best thing I ever did!

Shucks. This is why I love what I do, why it is such an enormous privilege. This lovely, transformed and exuberant woman got to where she is now through a lot of hard work, along with my questioning, listening, support and accountability. But for her, the results speak for themselves. For everyone, the process is different as the starting point is different, and the time involved for everyone varies hugely. Change is rarely easy. The question is, is it worth it? What is the cost of not changing, of staying where you are?

At the top of this post I asked if you could describe yourself as ‘free and able to take on anything….fully alive’.

If you read that and something stirs in you that thinks, I want a bit of thatget in touch. I would love to hear from you!

 

Start with who you are – to be authentic.

My word of the week this week seems to be Authentic.

Living as your true self and not your false self.

Being yourself and not trying to be someone else.

Honest and real.

These are all different ways of saying pretty much the same thing – being authentic.

Being where you are when you are there – that is a weird one, but read it over a few times and it does make sense. How often are we doing a task or engaging with someone but our mind is not really present. We are thinking ahead to the next thing on our list, or wishing we were somewhere else, or worrying about what we should be doing. And therefore we are not being authentic to the task or the person – we are not being fully present toBe authentic - start with who you are the situation we are actually in.

Earlier this week, through the astonishing wonders of the internet, I enjoyed a marvelous Mastermind session with a dynamic and exciting group of fellow life coaches. All of us in different parts of the world, and in five different time zones (that bit was quite complicated!).

The theme of being authentic ran through the conversation like an anchoring thread, bringing each of us back to key questions like – who am I, what am I passionate about, and what do I bring to what I am doing.

As we talked, it became clear that we all faced similar real and very human tendencies. We find it easy to see what we are not doing well, and where we have got it wrong – especially compared to others. Easier to spot and try to cover over character flaws, rather than acknowledge and celebrate what we are good at.

How often do we live trying to be the person we think we should be?

Burying aspects of ourselves that we don’t like and don’t want others to see. Playing down what we are good at, or not seeing it at all. Stubbornly refusing to acknowledge what we can take responsibility for about ourselves and therefore choose to change.

Getting stuck in I’m not… I can’t… I don’t have… I’ll never.

Not only is this not authentic, but it is exhausting. I have written here before about the dangers of the comparisons game. The choice we have is to see who we are and what we can do.

Last week I was musing about coming back to what we know to be true, rather than relying on our feelings which can be flaky and unsettling. What do we know to be true of ourselves? What do we know of what we are good at, and what we can bring to the events of today?

Be authentic. Start with who you are. We can get up in the morning and tell ourselves –

This is who I am. This is what I can do. This is what is most important to me. This is what I am thankful for today. I can be me today – bring who I am, with acceptance and grace.

If that all sounds too far removed from your reality to be do-able, and you feel a bit floored trying to think of what you are good at and can do, get in touch! I can help you see and enjoy being you, and build that confidence and self belief.

What do we rely on in times of change?

Times of change

Change is in the aaaaaaair….everywhere I look around….

A misquote I know, but it seems fitting.

Change seems to be the lowest common denominator for many just now. In my own small world, there are many facing huge change. Starting school for the first time (I remember well the first day tears and the stomach-clenching-knots of anxiety, and that was just me). Leaving school and heading off into the adventure that is university. Graduating and moving onto work or internships. Illness – there is a lot of that about, sadly. Moving house. Getting married – love is in the air too, which is lovely.

Times of change are often associated with changing routines.

Last week I was musing about how we can get stuck in certain ways of thinking, and that climbing out of the box altogether and walking away can be inspiring, stretching and freeing.

So it is in our house. My weekly routine is changing as youngest Nearest-and-Dearest starts secondary school. And thus, my 10 year association with our local primary school comes to an end, and the routines that have book-ended my day all these years stop.

That opens up more possibilities for my time and my work. But more than that, it opens up mental space for change and the new. Sometimes this can be scary – many and varied emotions run turbulently below the surface of change, threatening to derail us and swamp us with their force and intensity.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing what has gone before. Anxiety about being able to cope with whatever is ahead. Sadness or regret at loss of what was.

There are also upbeat emotions that can lift us out of the mire and propel us forward – excitement, anticipation, fun, enjoyment, relief, satisfaction, achievement.

The tricky aspect to this is that emotions – our feelings – are flaky and unreliable indicators of what is going on. How we feel can change with the wind, and this can have a huge impact on how we perceive what is going on at the time. I know this to be true all too well and all too often. As MB will observe wryly, I don’t do ‘even keel’ – extremes of emotion are my normal way of operating, which I know can be exhausting to live with.

But in the times of change, when there is such a huge range of emotion that threatens to completely destabilise us just as we need to be strong and courageous, what to do?

We can choose to rely on what we know to be true. External facts that we can see. People we know we can trust. The knowledge that we can choose our own response. We, and only we, have responsibility for ourselves and therefore we can be proactive rather than sliding into passive victim mentality. We can make good choices based on our value system and priorities.

For me, the foundations of what I know to be true are my faith. In times of change when emotions can be overwhelming, I can ask  –

what do I know to be true?

Irrespective of how I feel, and even what is going on, what do I know to be true?

What am I thankful for – always a good question for building a more stable foundation in the face of change.

What times of change are you looking at? And in the face of how you feel, what do you know to be true?

 

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