And a shout out too, to all the beautiful people out there (from E.D.and hospital, mental health and community services staff, to emergency services personnel and volunteers, to people in the armed forces, to the person pouring the coffee, the beer or handing us the receipt for the $50 of ULP or diesel, and anyone in between, who is working today and through the break, so that the rest of us get to have that safe and happy time this holiday season: can we join together in sending them a big thank you, we see you and big love to you for all you do.
Making the choice to share part of your personal journey with an audience for the purposes of either motivation, education or transformation is a brave one, and one that, no matter how much personal development work, or how much theoretical training you’ve done, the only way to know if you’re truly “ready” for it, is by getting in the arena and giving it a go.
Particularly when it comes to managing the emotional wellbeing of your audience in response to sharing emotive/personal stories, one question that I think it is really important to ask from an Event and Audience Experience Management perspective is : what support will that mean that myself or my support crew will likely be required to provide the audience in response to this sharing, to ensure that the attendees can have the best possible experience when attending and best be supported to achieve their goals?
Having been trained in and worked as a Counsellor and Group Therapy Facilitator, in addition to the experience I’ve gained as an Event Manager and Emotional Support Crew Member at various small to large scale Transformational events and festivals (later Business and Leadership focussed ones) and of course, as a Speaker myself, planning out the provision of emotional support strategy for participants has been a big part of my work over recent years.
A Counsellor, like most Coaches, Facilitators, Trainers and Educators, is trained to understand that the process of intellectual and emotional inquiry and transformation doesn’t just end when the segment of the event, or the event door closes. It continues on into life. So they know that, if they’re going to be bringing up questions, material or running a process that is likely to substantially trigger some or all participants in some way, about some area of life in which they’ve either previously or are presently experiencing major discomfort, then it’s good to have both crew support for this built into the event itself, as well a follow up process to both:
- get feedback about how effected audience members are going post event and
- offer additional support to them where might be required
That doesn’t mean that you personally have to be the one providing all of the additional support if some of it is outside your area of expertise. But it does mean providing participants with the following kinds of support IN event and POST event, like :
- A chance to debrief with an ESP (emotional support person) in private about what just arose for them
- A chance for you to ask any participants who’ve had a bit of a breakdown what support and action they can now take themselves to both access support, take care of themselves and further navigate this challenge (and having someone check back in, within a certain time period, just to check that they followed through/are ok)
- Giving them a phone number for a Counselling line, emergency or crisis support service
- Suggesting a referral to a service you or your team know of OR
- Suggesting a session or offering from within your own range of personal or organisational support services, as may be appropriate
So that they feel well loved and supported through and beyond whatever might’ve come up for them through attending the event. Particularly if they publicly broke down, we need to be mindful of the fact that that can feel potentially very embarrassed or worried that they just publicly humiliated themselves. In which case, just you or your crew touching base on the other side to let them know you’re still good and they’re still welcome, can really help people who’ve been through an ackward group event moment re-engage with your community, rather than disengage on the the other side.
Not to mention so that, as an Industry Professional, you’ve met your duty of care obligations to your attendees.
AND as a Leader, you and your team have also just publicly role modelled to your community how you treat the most vulnerable members of your flock, which creates ongoing safety and stability for the rest of the tribe too, to keep engaging with the tribe beyond the event.
The second reason you want to do this, is for your own benefit. Particularly if you’re just starting to put yourself out there and test sharing around your personal journey, it’s highly likely that there will be moments where people’s reactions to and interpretations of the information you’ve shared may well trigger additional layers of your own reaction and the need for deeper healing around your still vulnerable bits within you. Those moments when they happen in front of a crowd, can serve to knock us off centre a little bit. And that is when it pays to have friendly support people just for YOU in the room, to help you watch over the audience and help YOU re-find your groove in those moments.
This is actually just as important for business or leadership or industry events, as it is for personal development or therapeutic ones. Because anything from, for example:
-sharing a rags to riches story, to
-an illness recovery story
a loss story (unemployment, redundancy, relationship breakdown
-an instance of anxiety, depression or mental illness
-an abuse story
-an addiction story
-a coming-out story, or
even you sharing a happy family or work story
can and will often trigger a percentage of people in the room, who may also be directly or indirectly (through someone they care about) being impacted by some circumstance in that area of their life.
It doesn’t mean you or they are doing anything wrong by disclosing or reacting. It just means being mindful of the fact that being authentic and vulnerable and choosing to share a personal story, may, exactly as you might have hoped it would, indeed touch and initiate the learning, healing or transformation process in the very people you’re there to help. And having a crew support process and a follow up procedure for your attendees, I think, as well as support for yourself, is an essential add-on to consider for any event you might be running or speaking at, where personal stories might be shared.
Not just to ensure that they feel well loved and cared for and as an ethical consideration, but as a standard part of any world class event management, client relationship strategy and your speaking strategy.
If I can ever help you with formulating such strategies for your events or speaking engagements, happy to help, just let me know.
There are some moments where the internal drive to be seen, and the simultaneous desire NOT to be seen by our audience, are present in equal measure. Which kind of sends a mixed message to the world about what experience to bring back to you, in response to your wish.
And consequently, can have others responding to you or what you put out there in the world, in line with whatever force is more dominant in you within that moment. When we decide, "hell yes, I’m giving this a go!" DESPITE whatever fears or reservations we might have about doing so, “life” will start bringing you people who want to see you and are committed to showing up. And simultaneously, we are just that powerful that if we don’t really feel ready to be seen or show up, then the people around us can and will (whether unconsciously or knowingly) respond (or rather not) accordingly.
I first noticed the power of our intention in this back in 2010, after I left my longest term relationship and decided that, while I was healing, I was off the market for 6 months. As a little symbol of my desire NOT to be seen and available to single men in that moment, I started wearing my favourite ring as though it was an engagement ring, as my sign to the world that I wasn’t available for that time that I was committing instead to my growth and healing. Believe it or not, it worked.
Every day I would walk my housemate's and my 2 Short Haired Pointers together, past many men with dogs, through the local park. Every day I’d see many men in public. But it was a little like i’d just slipped on Frodo ad Bilbo’s one ring, or maybe Aragorn’s fancy Elvish Cloke of invisibility in it’s effect, if somewhat more pure in it’s intent. They hardly noticed me and I could seemingly move through a crowd without being seen if I wished, until the exact day I decided I was ready to drop the intention and take it off.
And then, my Goodness. It was tangibly, tangibly obvious the difference that first day as I went walking through the dog park, strolling through the train station and sat with friends after a devotional chanting/singing event that night. EVERY man I passed at the dog park was actively full of friendly smiles, his dogs would run over to greet mine and he’d follow for a chat. One of the charity fundraiser guys at the train station, who struck out on a sign up (that I was already signed up to) then thought he’d ask for my number anyway. Everyone at the evening event, seemingly gravitated in and out of our conversation outside the venue and I found myself tagging along with the dinner after crew. Where previously I’d stay after and chat for the length of a chai with a couple of people and then go.
That one act of shifting my intention to deciding I WANTED to be seen and be present again, made a massive difference to how I engaged with the world and what life brought me back, in terms of social engagement. And I would later discover that our true intent to be seen or not seen in our work, as we make the decision that we want to show up in service, can just as much impact our levels of engagement within our businesses and the size (or lack thereof) of our audiences.
Very often when I’ve Coached Practitioners or Business Owners on social media engagement over recent years, they’ll be telling me, on the one had, that they want more likes, views and engagement that converts to sessions, program or event participation. And they’re frustrated when they’re not getting interest or numbers for what they were trying to fill that day.
But when we dig a little deeper, it turns out that another part of them that same day, was actually feeling really exhausted, emotional and like the last thing they wanted to do was see and be present to listen to, let alone be seen by 10 clients. They didn’t have the headspace or the energy for it in that moment. Then “life” and others around them, on an unconscious level, seemingly, got the telepathic download and aligned with being or doing something else. If the client I was talking to had also started conversations with potential clients directly, to invite them to an available session/event, they’d hear a lot of seemingly out of character no’s or “excuses” back as to why the people they asked couldn’t be there for the session, the event, or the webinar that day too.
Sometimes it’s NOT that we failed on the value proposition. Sometimes it can be that you’re doing everything you’re “supposed to do” right to invite the desired number of people to be there. But you’re sending out mixed signals about whether you’re really ready and available to be witnessed by and engage with as many people as some other part of you wishes would attend in that moment.
So sometimes, if you’re feeling like your engagement, or the number of available possibilities open to you is down, it pays to ask the question, what am I REALLY committed to more right now? Showing up intending to be of service (and hence being willing to be seen)? Or NOT being seen? And what can I do to ensure that more of me is available to show up in service, at the times where I have committed to do so?
Until next time...
The other night at Sydney Leaders and Public Speakers, one of the themes that the wonderful Mandy Merrifield first opened us up to, was how "expert" we feel in our work and Leadership at any given time. People rarely talk about it, until someone raises the "Imposter Syndrome" card in a training or coaching session. But group consensus was that pretty much every Leader we've ever spoken to, has had a time where they wondered if they were "enough" for the work they were employed to do or were stepping into doing more of in their business and were scared that someone was going to come tap them on the shoulder and tell them the same.
Now granted, there can be good reason to be concerned if, say you're a 1st semester Med student, working reception in ED and someone just asked you if you could assist an emergency hip reconstructive surgery by mistake, and you wouldn't hire the person who just first year Engineering to be the Lead on a project to repair a section of the harbour bridge; professional training, registration and regulation exist for a good reason at times.
But there are other times in our careers, where it can be time to step up and face a challenge in our work that we're completely qualified to do, but we still feel insecure about whether we're enough. So then you might feel inclined to refer that work to a colleague or Mentor with 10-20 years more experience, who we might think can better do the job, until WE are that experienced ourselves. BUT, as two of my awesome Counselling Practice Mentors once pointed out to me in 2012, when I kept referring potential clients to them, and they then put it back on me that they thought I was more than ready to see them myself, sometimes, we ARE actually ready. We just need to step up. And more than that, we're already perfectly aligned with a whole portion of the population, who are just going through now, things that we might have already successfully navigated ourselves. Those people need our support NOW, not us 10 years from now US.
Is there some important work, or an important project that you feel called to bring into the world/be a part of, but part of you is scared of or worrying if you're really ready and have what it takes to get the job done? Here are 5 good reasons why the world needs you to give it go (or another go) NOW.
1- We're more tech connected, yet feeling just as depressed and anxious as before.
According to the Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2018, 9 in every 10 Australian's now owns a smartphone and more than 1/3 of the world’s population (35.13%) also now have smartphones . In 2018, the Household Use of Information Technology Australia, 2016-17 Survey showed that desktop or laptop computers are also being used by 91% of connected households and 86% of these houses had internet access .
We're more tech connected to each other than ever and there are more apps for improving and monitoring mental wellbeing and access to mental healthcare service providers than ever. And while it may be just as possible to achieve a hit of oxytocin during a phone chat with a loved one, as it is to receive it in person through a hug with a loved one or companion animal  the prevalence of mental illness overall, seemingly, has not decreased. In fact, mental illness in young people, in part associated with social media use, internet and technology addiction, and overall expenditure on treatment of mental health, are both on the rise globally  .
The acceleration of climate change, is also already having a major impact on mental health and predicted to continue to be a major source of stress on mental and physical health going forward into the coming decades, globally also .
The most recent ABS National Health Survey estimated that there were 4.8 million Australians (20.1 per cent) with a mental or behavioural condition in 2017–18 . That's as many people as there are in the entire city of Melbourne. According to Beyond Blue, 1 in 7 Australians are now experiencing depression in their lifetime and 1/4 will experience an anxiety condition . One in 16 Australians is currently experiencing depression and one in seven Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety condition. One in five people in the LGBTI[QA] community are dealing with anxiety and depression.  People in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities, in aged care or managing Disability are highly at risk of mental illness. Indigenous Australians are twice as likely at present to commit suicide than non-Indigenous Australians . One in seven young people aged 4 to 17 years experience a mental health condition in any given year and almost one-fifth of all young people in Australia aged 11 to 17 years experience high or very high levels of psychological distress . Frightening, don't you think?
Moral of the story, at this time of massive change, we need Leaders who can spread messages of hope, inspiration and joy like viruses and role-model for people how to live their best lives and contribute their unique gifts to the world, despite what's shifting in our insides and shifting and changing in the world around us. We need heart centred, innovative Leaders and role models in not just the mental health sector, but in every sector of society, now more than ever.
2- Lifestyle related illness is at an all-time high
According to the Australian Government's Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2018, 50% of Australians were estimated to have at least 1 of the 8 following common chronic conditions: cancer, cardiovascular disease, a mental health condition, arthritis, back pain or a back problem, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma or diabetes . Twenty three percent of Australians are estimated to have two or more of these conditions. 
Lifestyle Medicine and Holistic Wellbeing solutions, incorporated into and or delivered alongside Traditional Western Medical Care has never been so important as it is now. We need Leaders who can bridge the Complimentary and Western Medical Paradigms and Leaders who are living embodiments of Wellness in every industry, now more than ever.
3- The gap between poverty and wealth has never been so wide. It's time to stop fighting and start uniting.
And it seems to be getting wider . It only takes a quick look around social media, at the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram verbal wars between people of strong left or strong right oriented opinions to see that the gap is fast growing wider. More than that, the climate debate has completely brought to the surface so many old wounds around justice, fairness, abuse of power, abandonment, survival, human connectedness and the use of resources, that are in genuine need of both personal and public ownership, healing and resolution.
Now more than ever, we need Leaders who are willing to let go of their attachment to the fight and being "right", in favour of doing what is in the best interest of the people and creates both connection and unity. One of my 2 World's Top 10 Speakers (and Leadership) Mentors of recent years would say it's time to be compassionate over being clever. The other would call it's time to choose empathy over intelligence. Put another way, it's showing up with the intent to share in service, rather than for the purpose of seeking self validation, or to win for one's own agenda, at any cost. Every single one of us has got our stuff to heal, not all of us are always going to get it 100% right, every time, in a world that is relentless about us getting it right EVERY time. But the current challenge for Leaders is in having the courage and self discipline to be self aware and self responsible enough to NOT get pulled into the fear and the fight, and instead stay focussed on how to CONNECT and UNITE the people we support, coming into a time in history where we need it the most.
4- We're using a lot of our tech focus for prioritising and solving the wrong set of problems.
Why are we still funding and investing in the production and innovation of single serve solutions of convenience, the improvement of production of cheap plastic appliances programmed to die within a year for the benefit of the company selling it, cheap housing solutions built with non sustainable materials and innovating any number of pieces of material "stuff" we don't actually need? Or, at least, could be sharing?
From a biological and physiological perspective, as warm blooded vertebrates, we are not likely to stop needing wood, or clay or steel or aluminium (for example) for building houses or tools any time soon. And we can't stop needing raw materials for things like clothes or bedding or medical care, on a planet with such a vast (yet not, compared to our neighbours) diversity of temperature, atmospheric and weather conditions. We can't stop the need for food production, agriculture, clean water or completely eliminate waste production. Plus, having the advanced consciousness that we do, we are not likely to stop needing materials and tools for learning, teaching and creating enjoyment in life, through any number of activities, any time soon (as a few examples).
BUT we do have the choice to stop investing in non-renewal energy. We can be investing in creating housing, technology, appliances, tools, clothing, accessories, toys, commonly needed items etc from eco friendly, sustainably produced materials, produced in ways that are sustainable. We can be re-investing in ancient agricultural, horticultural, permacultural, land management practices that Indigenous cultures have known for eons, sustainably work. And hybridising them with additional new technologies as they arise. We could be investing in creating experiences, or resources that are virtual? We could be investing more in growing an economy that is less based on materials we had to dig out of the ground, that could now also instead be virtual. As a few additional examples.
What can each one of us do, how can we contribute our resources and gifts to contributing to the development of, and support each other to transition to, over the coming century, a truly sustainable economy and truly sustainable way of life? For those who will came after our time?
We need Leaders who feel passionately compelled to share their new ideas, who can stay resilient, no matter how many times they're rejected or laughed at by those who stand to lose from transition and change. Who will lovingly challenge the existing way of life and be role models of doing things a new way.
We need to to encourage each other to inspire and influence in new ways. Show us the photos of the new communal sharing system you just set up with the neighbours to share the leaf blower, the mower, the yacht or the jet ski, the bike or stand up paddle board you just got. Or the resources your company is sharing with those on the floor below, or in the shop next door. Show us the new suit you just bought, or your workout gear or the underwear or bikini that's made from some sustainable, eco-friendly new company or an existing one that's committed to innovating the industry and providing products now made from more sustainable materials, in eco-friendly, people friendly ways. Show us what you just gave back to an NFP environmental organisation. Or the book you just got published by a publishing house that prints their books on recycled materials. Marketing and PR gurus, it's your time to shine in convincing the world that "sustainable" is "sexy"!
5- Carbon and Climate Change is not the only environmental challenge we are facing and we all need to act now to bring things back into balance.
According to the UN study released in May 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), discussed in one of the world's 2 leading journals on Animal and Environmental Science, "Nature' (a report covering findings from nearly 15,000 studies and government reports, integrating information from the natural and social sciences, Indigenous peoples and traditional agricultural communities across the globe and approved by representatives of 132 governments globally) :
Our current way of life, agriculture and our means of food production, has already significantly altered about 75% of land and 66% of ocean areas on the planet, with the result of a current extinction rate of species across the globe, tens to hundreds of times higher than the average has been across the past ten million years. Whatever you believe to be the cause of the current massive shifts in climate, the report provides evidence that the loss of up to 1 million species and their habitats (including the vital to our survival, pollinator species') poses as much a danger to the future of life on Earth as any form of climate change or shift does .
You may not be able to see it yet, but according to IPBES chair Robert Watson, an atmospheric chemist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, our current way of living is "eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”  This is not new information, by the way, to many of us with family who've been working in local government all their lives or studied environmental or animal science, who've been aware that the 'sky is falling' metaphorically speaking, for decades. But Gretta was not wrong when she alluded to the house being on fire and it being time to act.
The preservation of biodiversity, through the implementation of massive changes to our way of life across all sectors of society, globally, as well as creating a way of doing life and business that is less single-use, more in sync with the natural eco-system of which we are a part and more long-term sustainable, NEEDS to be at the top of our priority list. The good news is that the report says that the world can still at least reverse the biodiversity crisis of decades to come.
And if you study population ecology and the evolution of life on Earth long enough and look at what is already shifting within the human population, i personally think there's indicators that "life" is throwing up it's share of adaptations (as well as human interventions) to slow down our exponential population growth and restore a more symbiotic, than the current, i'm sorry, completely parasitic relationship we have right now with the planet we are dependent upon for our existence. A way things have been done that so many people who've dedicated their lives to building it, and who's job and financial security are currently tied to it, are hanging onto for dear life, out of what they fear to lose, and hence not trusting and ALLOWING it to do the necessary break apart it NEEDS to do and transform into something infinitely more sustainable, as it NEEDS to from an evolutionary perspective. And that right there, is a HUGE part of the problem.
When the solution seems so unbelievably simple- start spending on a sustainable way of life, stop working for companies and hiring services or service providers that support the destruction of the planet and start working for and hiring ones that are investing in saving it, start working and start investing in sustainable resources and technology.
In other words, it's time to put the actual "eco" into our economy and ecosystem. And we need courageous, resilient, passionate Leaders, not afraid to go against the status quo, with the courage to take a stand for pioneering a way that is infinitely less self-interest driven, and infinitely more focused on doing what humanity requires to continue to thrive, in better balance, for both us AND the future generations to come.
My point? There has never been a time on this planet, where the unique message, the unique wisdom and the pieces of the global puzzle that you hold, are needed more. Where courageous, compassionate, heart centred Leaders, like you, are needed more. Whatever the stuff we are holding onto about putting ourselves out there, whatever our fears, doubts and our perceived weaknesses in our abilities to connect, to lead, to inspire, whatever our perceived differences, it is time to put them down, for good. It is time to focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us. To channel our frustration into taking action to do something about it. To focus on what we are creating, not what we are losing. And if we must compete, let it be to collaboratively spur each other on to greatness, in creating a new way of life, that better supports the thriving, not just surviving of us all.
 Deloitte Mobile Consumer, Survey 2018, https://www2.deloitte.com/au/mobile-consumer-survey
 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2016-17 https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8146.0
 Harmon, K, A phone call from Mom reduces stress as well as a hug, Scientific American, May 11 2010 https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/a-phone-call-from-mom-reduces-stress-as-well-as-a-hug/
 Technology in 2017: What impact does it have on mental health?https://onlinedegrees.bradley.edu/blog/technology-in-2017-what-impact-does-it-have-on-mental-health/
 Technology and the future of mental health, 5th March 2018 https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/news/news-detail/2018/03/05/technology-and-the-future-of-mental-health
 Hayes, K, Blashki, et al., Climate change and mental health: risks, impacts and priority actions, Int J Ment Health Syst. 2018; 12: 28 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984805/
 National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Psychological%20distress~20
 Beyond Blue, Statistics https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics
 Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, Australia's Health 2018 In Brief https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/fe037cf1-0cd0-4663-a8c0-67cd09b1f30c/aihw-aus-222.pdf.aspx?inline=true
 Ryan, P, Tax Office updates Australia's widening income gap, AM Full Episode March 29 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/labor-announces-jan-1-scrap-of-negative-gearing-if-elected/10951938
 Wade M, Gap between rich and poor a $247 billion drag on our wellbeing, Sydney Morning Herald, July 21 2019 https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/gap-between-rich-and-poor-a-247-billion-drag-on-our-wellbeing-20190721-p529bc.html
 Tollefson, J, Humans are driving one million species to extinction, Nature, 6 May 2019 https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01448-4
There are many things I love in life, but If there is one thing I love in particular, it is the world of live events. Whether it's from the front of the stage, or the back of the room helping manage the experience that IS the event, or it's as a participant sitting in the middle OF that experience, there is a magic that happens at live events, when you gather together a group of people, that has the power to light up the room…and it lights me up like a Christmas tree. I love it. And whether you’re the one who has a message to speak or perform, the one who wants to run the event, or the one who wants to attend, I kind of live for for those moments where I can be of service to helping people realise their greatest potential through any of those 3.
That magic, the level of connectedness, the raising of energy and consciousness that happens in such spaces, has the power to heal the world. And it’s needed at this time on the planet, now more than ever.
Yet, when someone who has a fear of public speaking is feeling their heart start to race, that feeling in their gut and that tingling in the base of their spine, as you mention the possibility of them speaking at something to them, and their mind runs wild, recalling a memory of that one time when (x) happened, when I tell you about that magic, while it’s maybe reassuring for a moment, it can be a little hard to BELIEVE in it, I know! (Speaking from experience.)
Speaking, though, is a bit like exercise in that there’s a zone you have to push through to get to the magic. When you’re running, or swimming, for the first 5-10 minutes, as you get moving, your mind is like “What the hell? I think we’re DYING!”…..then after that, a beautiful rhythm, followed by a beautiful euphoria, starts to kick in…and you’re in your zone.
Speaking is kind of similar. If you can just stick it out through the first 5-10 mins, where part of you might be wondering if you’d RATHER die, while the adrenaline starts pumping. This time, instead of running or swimming, you’re staying present to the chance to be of service and following the flow of the backbone of what you prepared and starting to surrender to, to trust in the flow. Then after 5-10, just like exercise, it starts to feel synergistic and even a little bit euphoric. And then the magic starts to happen and you could stay up there all day.
But, just like running or swimming, you won’t know it, until you’ve pushed through and done it. Then once you’ve found the zone, you’ll never want to STOP doing it.
Having a performing arts background, some of you might think I have a kind of not-so-hidden advantage when it comes to that, and in one respect, you’re right. But in another, at a couple of others, when it came to professional speaking, I struggled. Because, once upon a time, way back when, I went through some moments in life that had some pretty violent consequence when I had stood in my truth and said no to both individual people and groups of people close to me. So that when it first came to putting myself and “my expertise” out there as a public speaker in the Wellness and later Business Industry, and potentially triggering and challenging some people’s world views too, I suddenly found myself all kinds of panic attacking terrified of doing it.
Given that this was blocking many more areas in life than just my speaking (and I flat out refuse to run away from this thing I love doing so much) for the next several years, I then went on a bit of a bender of learning everything i could about HOW to overcome that fear and those responses, to be able to then find my groove on stage again.
To have now spoken at numerous industry events and trained on high end business coaching programs, to have spoken at and run lots of my own events. And while, like some of my world leading speaking Mentors, I may not (yet) be the one you want to go to if you want to get paid 5-95K to be a Professional Conference Speaker, they are and I’ll happily point you in their direction:
-After several years of helping literally thousands of entrepreneurs and, at times, organisational Leaders overcome their stuff about putting themselves out there, and start using public speaking in their businesses to connect better with their audiences, help make a bigger difference and create successful commercial outcomes, and
-After helping others of them who were also in social enterprise and NFP get better at connecting and presenting, so that they could both make a bigger positive impact through their speaking and generate more support for their causes
If you need help with either of these things, my friend, I’m your gal. If I can help, just let me know.
P.S. Would you like to Join us in Sydney at the October Leaders and Public Speakers Practice Evening? And bring a friend or two for free?
From time to time, I am reminded of the importance of the first, when an aspiring entrepreneur I’ve recently spoken to about how adolescent to middle aged womens’ monthly cycles effect their productivity, energy levels and mood throughout the month, returns to me to thank me for how much of a difference the knowledge has made to her productivity and her perception of her capabilities and hence self worth, since she found out.
In Western Society, regardless of gender, we often have this expectation (or at last hope) of our bodies and beings that they should be able to run flawlessly and endlessly like machines, to help us meet the demands of the many roles we have to play in work and life. But in reality, our bodies, and what we’re physically, mentally and hence spiritually capable of achieving, is impacted by the cycles unique to our (genetically speaking) sex, within each phase of the life cycle.
Once we understand what they are and what our strengths and weaknesses are at each phase within these cycles, we can both start being a little more gentle on ourselves for not being able to be “better” than we are at any particular time in life, and then both start to better plan our work (and life) activity around our unique set of holistic health needs for that phase and plan to take better care of ourselves at the moments when we’ll need to.
What are some examples of some of the phases each of us might need to navigate in our working lives (just to be clear we’re on the same page)?
- There’s learning to work with our daily circadian rhythms and cycles as (genetically speaking) either females or males.
- There’s learning to work with the flow of our menstrual cycles and the 4 distinct phases within each monthly cycle
- There’s learning to work with the flow of a pregnancy, each trimester within it and preparation for birth
- There’s then learning to work with the flow of being post-natal and for new parents of all genders, the early demands of being a parent
- Then there’s learning as parents to flow with the demands of every new developmental phase their children will subsequently grow through
- There’s learning to work with the flow of becoming peri-menopausal for a woman
- There’s learning to work with the flow of menopause for Women
- There’s learning to work with the flow of andropause for Men
Think each as being a boat that goes past you while you’re on a surfboard in the water. A couple of those boat services, might not be relevant to you (but may impact people you work with or manage). Others, like ferries, whether we like it or not, are scheduled to be coming past at some point. And they’ll make waves of various sizes when they come past. Think of the range of holistic health, pharmaceutical (or worst case, surgical) choices and interventions you can make as being the means of asking the Captain of the boat to drive at a speed and in a way that makes a minimal amount of waves from each boat, for you to have to navigate. Think of you learning to surf them and work with their flow as being how you better manage your stress levels, become more productive and able to perform at your best throughout each phase.
The gorgeous thing for me about having originally Practice Managed Mental Health, Holistic Health and Birth Focused Wellness Clinics, having originally, in my own Private Practice, as a Counsellor and Human Biological Science graduate, specialised in Stress Management and Holistic reproductive health for mainly 18-40 something Women and Men, and later, having Mentored and Trained so many thousands of people in the Wellness Industry in their Business, Leadership and Pubic Speaking development, is that I have both come to have an amazingly knowledgeable network of health professionals I can refer to, who can help you (or those you might work with) better manage every single one of those “boats.” But I also have a great understanding of how to account for them, as it comes to managing the Inner game (your state) as a part of helping you (or those you work with) reach your/their, highest potential as a Leader and Public Speaker.
How on earth does that relate to your Leadership and Speaking you might ask? Are you one of the folks who rates Public Speaking as being about as appealing as death, yet you still have to do it for your work? Or are you someone who enjoys or aspires to do more of it, but experiences varying degrees of fear and anxiety still about any given presentation that you have to give? Would you like to be better able to stress less, both before you go on and while you’re on stage?
Doing so is in part about the routines you do pre, during and post speaking. But it’s also about increasing your awareness around what is cumulatively adding to your general stress levels throughout your working and personal life prior. The more sources of stress you’re dealing with, the less your tolerance of and ability to potentially cope with the challenge of stepping in front of any given audience, when you’d like to.
Which is why, at the upcoming October Sydney Leaders and Public Speakers Meetup Group event, one on the things I’ll be introducing attendees to is 12 of the most common sources of stress you need to be mindful of managing in your holistic wellbeing routine, to help you stress less and perform at your best as a Leader and Public Speaker. There’ll also be a complimentary download on how to better manage them for everyone who attends.
Until next time
Have you (or you and your team), in review of the current state of play with clients (e.g. while looking at the most recent touch points, missed payments, or reviewing progress or outcomes of projects or programs they’ve engaged with) ever had a client or clients just seem to disappear completely off the radar and wondered what exactly happened, or where they went? Have you ever then found yourself wondering what (if anything) you should do to get them re-engaged? Or how you should handle reaching out?
You’d not be alone in that if you had. For decades, people have employed and more recently contracted my business to help get to the bottom of what is going on when a client has gone MIA or not paid. So over the years, I’ve found myself having, many, many conversations about exactly this.
- Especially in bigger organisations, where multiple parties are handling different aspects of service delivery, there has simply been a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line.
- Responsibility. a- Someone on your side of things dropped the ball in the line of service delivery and responsibility needs to be taken for that. Or b- depending on the nature of the business, the client is not delivering on their end of the service agreement and responsibility needs to be taken for that. Or
- No invitation for reengagement, or further engagement has yet actually been made or created, discussed and agreed upon by both parties.
1- The Need for Reconnection
Very commonly, especially in organisations or businesses big enough to have multiple parties responsible for different functions in the chain of service to the client, a simple breakdown in communication has occurred, that has not yet been recognised or addressed. The reasons why that has developed can be numerous. Whatever the reasoning for why either party has not been in touch though, one of the first steps in world class customer service, maintaining a relationship with the client and (for you) retaining their business, is to have a representative of your organisation reach out to the client to touch base and find out where they’re at, by asking them how they are or just where they’re at.
Best case scenario, maybe they’ve been flat out and you were literally next on their list of things to do and you just got in first (which makes you look like you care and are proactive), worst case scenario, maybe there was just a family, life or financial crises (and they haven’t yet been able to reach out…and possibly feel a bit awkward or embarrassed about doing so). Or very commonly and far milder in severity, maybe a new need has arisen for them and they’re presently in a state of reconsideration of wether the existing service agreement and service is still a fit, and or considering what they need to communicate with you in order to adjust it. Or whether they might need to go elsewhere.
My point though, it’s not weirdly stalker-ish, or overzealous, “chasing” or inappropriate for someone from your organisation to reach out and ask how the client is doing in such an instance. It’s actually high quality customer service, that shows that you genuinely care and you see it that you are in this together. And it’s so often the simplest of all first steps in getting things successfully back on track.
2- The Need to take Responsibility
Secondly, very often when I have been that person reaching out on behalf of an organisation, I’ve found that the service provider has, somewhere within the chain of service, or in communicating information between the links in the service chain, dropped the ball in delivery of the promised service in some way. In which case, as the designated representative of the company in that moment, it becomes your job to be the front face taking initial responsibility for acknowledging the potential occurrence of a mistake, ahead of connecting the parties directly involved in its investigation and, ultimately taking action towards its resolution, in line with the expectations laid out by both parties in the original service agreement. At this point, there might also be a revisiting of how you can improve upon the original agreement and, ideally, you throw in some more value to make amends for your organisation’s part in this
Alternatively, it might come out of a chat that the party receiving the service is not yet delivering on their part of the deal, depending on the nature of the service you provide, and what is required of them. Whatever the reasoning behind this, they too may need to step up and take responsibility for their part in the service agreement.
Yes, that might be a bit “totes awks” as a discussion to have. But getting past “totes awks territory”, back to clear expectations of what is required of each party ongoingly (or not) next, in the actualisation of the service agreement, is the goal and the kind of stuff long term client relationships need to thrive. So resolution part 2 involves addressing and re-assigning responsibility.
3- The Need for a Pathway of Re-engagement
The final place where disengagement can occur is around “what next’ and simply creating a clear invitation and opportunity around further engagement. Very often, again, one might not have been discussed. Maybe one does not yet exist. But could, if someone from your organisation uses the information gained from the before mentioned chats to create a new pathway of service/delivery of something of value to the client, or continued organisational, or even industry level engagement, that benefits you both. At the simplest level, by asking what do you need now, and how can i/we help you achieve that? And, if they have someone or something in their network, that might also be of benefit to you too, it’s about creating opportunities for discussion in which such possibilities can emerge.
However it looks, even if your initial business is complete, it’s about finding clever ways to stay in touch with the people you genuinely really like working with or supporting (and vice versa) over the long term.
While it can be easy, when the pressure is on, “survive” kicks in and things and people need to be paid in the short term, to end up chasing our desired outcome, at the risk of losing site of the clients. Or, when you’re overrun busy, it’s very easy to get busy serving the people in the group that yell the loudest and then realise weeks or months down the track that no-one has made time to swing back around to check on the parties that have been more quiet, as to why.
My best advice to you though is make sure you always keep the reasons your clients came to you and their needs front and centre in everyone along the chain of services' minds. Plan out a schedule of touch points, keeping managing the above 3 mentioned points in mind. And when you do have to do those "totes awks" AR (accounts receivable) or follow up type conversations, be mindful of the following two questions:
How can we do what has to be done for business, in a way that simultaneously demonstrates love, care and genuine concern for the client, as well as shows our commitment to delivering them a world class level of quality service?
In the end, people who feel well respected, honoured and supported in having their service needs well met are inclined to stay and want to further grow and keep engaging with you. People who are worried that this might not be it, or that they treat me/us like sh#t, are more inclined to want to withdraw or walk away.
And dare I say, question no 2: what do you want your business/organisation to be known for in terms of the client experience and quality of service? How, in action, can you demonstrate that?
Every touch point you have along the way is your opportunity to create that. Make sure you make them count.
Clearing up the Confusion About What We Actually Really Want From Each Other (& How We Can Love Each Other Better)
Call it at least 10 years in particular of watching out for this (and doing a whole bunch of work trying to work out my own "stuff" getting in the way of ME being able to show up "fully self-expressed") but what is so completely obvious to me right now is just how confused so many people seem to be about both how to recognise what other people want and how to communicate what THEY actually want. That a huge percentage of society only tell you what they want as an abusive, blame-loaded tyrade of how you failed to meet their needs AFTER the fact. Or another percentage are busy chasing around, longing for, lusting after people in work and love, who, as Justin would put it in the movie "He's Just Not That Into You" well, quite frankly, just aren't that into them and silence and absence really DOES mean what we don't want to admit it actually means. Or maybe occasionally, are too afraid to show it, or say it. And maybe they really ARE just all up in the head about it. But that is to be taken more the exception, than the rule, generally speaking.
As one walks about the busy streets, or sits (or stands, sardine sandwiched) on a train in peak hour these days, alongside a culture in which it's suddenly normal for every single person to be sitting/standing there with EarPods/Earphones/Headphones on, eyes and focus down on their phones. Doing their best to escape from the unpleasantness of the present moment, into a reality where the people they're really wanting to be spending it with exist/might be waiting. In this day and age, interaction is increasingly becoming more digital and our relating reality becoming more "phygital" than physical.
Ask any Relationship or Dating Coach or Psychologist this too and they will tell you, they're seeing it constantly, that we're starting to forget and becoming incredibly anxious about how to relate with each other in the "real": spontaneously, where we have to come up with responses LIVE, over (while in the digital reality) being able to take however long to think it over and then post or send a highly considered, calculated and well constructed answer. (Not to mention, have the illusion of complete and total control over blocking and removing any interaction we don't find 100% to our liking.)
As one of the World's most well known Dating Coaches, Matthew Hussey, put it this week, relating seems to happen mostly in short sentences in instant messages now....and it's literally killing our ability to make meaningful new connections and have chats that actually go anywhere meaningful, beyond coming to feel like you're perpetually the modern day virtual equivalent of "pen-pals". His suggested solution- make an invitation and time to pick up the phone and start ringing, or even better FACE timing each other again instead. So that we have a chance to see and feel each other in a more full spectrum way, until we can next BE with each other, live, in the flesh, to do the same.
My additional thoughts to add to this:
1- Life would be SO much easier if people could just SAY how it is that they feel and what it is that they want and need, in our conversations about how we can be of service to each other.
That's though, if we even KNOW what we want in the first place, which in this day and age, especially for the younger generations, seems to be increasingly a problem to feel out, as the digital realm and the age of information takes us up into our heads and wires us to responding visually via screens and away from presence with self and self awareness within the present moment to being able to hear our own inner wisdom/higher wisdom, let alone from being able to feel, hear, see, sense it in physical presence and awareness of another in person. Yet self-awareness and being able to listen to the feedback of our senses, as well as our higher thoughts is key to being able to understand what it is that we truly want and need.
So many spiritual gurus and coaches spout the line about just be of service and then life/the universe will meet you back, and then so many well meaning humans pay it forward. And it's true, it will.
BUT, ask the majority of Dating or Relationship or Executive Coaches, in practical application, the average pair of people in any given relationship, are often getting stuck in a whole OTHER complex lot of dynamics, that sound a bit like:
-trying to show up in service to the other, yet either feeling like they're getting it wrong, or they feel not enough or are expected to be Psychic to work it out
-feeling like one or both parties are trying to manipulate or co-erce their way to getting what they want, as oppose to just putting their cards on the table
-STILL feeling at times like they're NOT getting what THEY want, while the other person IS and often like one party just takes, while the other gives. Or
-in this busy day and age of work and life, feeling like they don't get any quality time with the other. OR
even if they do
-feeling like it doesn't last or there's is little commitment to follow through, when some other commitment takes priority again and follow through never happens (and then both parties get caught up in a stale-mate of keeping score of the investments made or not and then withholding or investing themselves accordingly....called a stale-mate because there's no way to win, until one or both parties concede dropping the game.)
-And then there's learning to actually recognise what it looks like, when one party is just not returning any investment because they're actually just not that into the other, and don't want to hurt your feelings telling you so.
-And how to recognise what it looks and feels like (and how we express it it, verbally and non verbally) when someone really IS in total alignment with you and wants what you do too.
Some of those may or may not in reality be the ultimate truth of what is really going on. The only way to know for 100% sure though where you both stand and what you both need, is to be willing to have a conversation about it. To ask and to be willing to actually share with the other person how you feel and what you want and need TOO, AND THEN try and be of service to each other from THAT place of greater clarity and authentic transparency.
Relationships would be so much easier, wouldn't they, if we could just SAY how we feel and what it is that we want, as well as asking what the other wants and how you can be or offer that for them?
2- Life would be so much easier if we were better at reading the full range of each others' array of verbal and non verbal communication (in addition to becoming more self-aware of our own).
But in application, that's a little faster said, than done. Because, once you have developed heightened awareness and the ability to be aware of everything that is going on with the other, you then need to learn how to read and differentiate the various sources and types of steams of data that you're picking up on, and where they originate from. More than that, one of the first things we need to UNlearn is the "operant conditioning" learned tendency (eg assuming a cause and effect relationship between two things) to assume that, just because you feel something going on with the other person, means it must automatically be about you. Or that, because you're there right now with them, you must therefore have caused it. When so much of the time, actually, you didn't. They're completely caught up in their own "stuff" and it might not even be present tense "stuff"; it might be about someone from their past. And if not that, it might be about someone else in the present, who isn't in your view in that moment, but IS going through something in that present moment that, on an unconscious level, you detect impacting upon the person in front of you's energy and attention in the present, for example. And then, finally SOME of it might, in the present moment, be about you. Knowing all of that, does it make sense, or does it help grow our relationships, therefore, to be reacting to things that, often times, might not even be about us?
In reality, there are dozens of levels of awareness and levels of experience within learning what we now call "sensory", "emotional" and "intuitive" intelligence (e.g. the collective abilities to read other people and one's own reactions and responses, effectively.) While it's possible to accurately intuit what is going on with someone else in a split second, and you can get to the bottom of what you both they really want and need incredibly quickly, when there's enough trust and safety established between you both that you can just cut straight to the point, for those who weren't born under the intuition tree, learning to decifer what is what within the layers of sensory and intuitive awareness can take a hefty number of conversations and external feedback, before one starts to become truly confident in and trust in their ability to read others (and ourselves) well. Until BOTH parties involved are able to communicate at a level beyond getting caught and stuck in each others wounds and projections, and instead stay "centred" and connected to the ultimate truth of what the soulful objective is of the interaction in the first place.
But people who are clear in what they want/where they're at, and clear in communicating what their needs and expectations are with each other, are better able to give in service to each other, without ending up feeling in deficit or resentment. Thus, If we want to be better at human relationships of all forms in this life time, dare I say it that, then I think we have to be willing to work on both self awareness and communicating where we're really at, while staying in connection with the part of us that genuinely cares and wants to be in service to the highest potential of the other party and see them happy and thriving. And then:
3- We need to make TIME for each other to have face to face conversations with the people who matter the most to us (and the people we've made an agreement to be in service to), in which each party is fully present and non-distracted by "life"
it is very hard to do EITHER of the above things well, until we MAKE time to have such conversations, in a scenario in which we have deliberately allocated a decent amount of our time, presence and space to do so, via a medium (whether face time, or face to face) in which to do so. So much of the reason relationships, work and personal, are so under pressure these days, is because both parties are so busy being overwhelmed by the demands of work, business or life, that in reality, we DON'T actually bring a) the full attention to that interaction with any given person that they deserve or b) end up making time to follow back up and check in about it AGAIN, beyond the initial conversation. And the quality of our interactions and our present and potential future relationships suffer when we don't. And if you're anything like me, I imagine you wouldn't want people thinking that you don't really care, for all the wrong reasons, right? If you want to show that we care, then we need to make the time. And make the time to keep checking in, over time.
So there you have it, there are 3 ways (at a little more) in which we can start to clear up the confusion with each other, in relationships of all kinds, about what it is that both parties actually really want and stay connected to what it is that both parties really need. Which not only shows them that we DO care, but is I think pretty KEY to maintaining the right kind of personal and professional relationships, over the long term. Not to mention, salvaging the right kind of personal and professional relationships we might otherwise resign to thinking that we've lost. Not always true, sometimes we just have to up our mastery, our A'game on the art of being fully "self expressed."
Until next time....
There is power in showing up as the whole of our authentic selves and being proud of ALL of it.
Have you ever had a moment where you were afraid to share in public, or share with someone who means a lot to you, or you hope might someday be more of a part of your world, a particular part of yourself, that you feared might not be that loveable? That you feared might scare them away? Shame (because that’s what it’s really about, underneath the worry and anxiety about what MIGHT happen) can be such an incredibly powerful DEMOTIVATOR and DETERRENT from putting our authentic selves forward, in all aspects of life.
The paradoxical thing is though, if you just try and move on with acting “as if” and constructing another version of you, that’s all very well for a start.
Then you might still be carrying the ghost of shame past, from times you might have been externally shamed by people you loved. You might still be projecting potential shame into the future that MIGHT come, if that person is not actually (you fear) able to love and accept your broken bits and mistakes. And finally, there’s the shame you yourself are holding about yourself in the present, while you judge the crap out of yourself for the times you felt you messed it up and should have done better.
All of which results in a whole bunch of fear....fear of what will happen when people find out who and what we really are, with our gaping wounds, fear of what we will lose and who will walk away or disown us because of our wounds and our past mistakes. Which results in altered action. Selective, carefully measured sharing. Not putting our needs or certain truths forward that might rock the boat. Or worse, catalyse the rapid progression, towards some negative relational end. It might have us avoiding certain people or places or experiences. Or playing out battles that feel so real, but if we could just see past the living movie that is our wounds, we’d see are completely not needed to have. Because, in the grand scheme of themes, another truth about how things actually really are, exists, beyond that very projection. Our projections about such things can then end up running our life. We end up giving them a lot more power than really serves.
Yet two things are the case. If we try and chop off and hide our wounded bits to be some “better” version of ourselves too fast, if we don’t take some time to heal and look at the wounds, we miss the golden bits within the experiences that are the very reason we are who we now are today and have the strengths that we do, not to mention have to give what we have to give. Sometimes we disproportionately underway the value of our broken parts, and the healing power within them, compared to the bright, shiny bits we know everyone will be all likes and praise for.
On a personal level, our wounds first need our love, acceptance and our gratitude for what we gained from them, before the projections will truly lose their vice like grip over our heads and hearts....and we get our power back. And the tricky thing, how can we truly expect to be loved for all of us, if we’ve taken some parts of ourselves and tried to literally hide them from view, behind our back (almost like hiding a wounded arm, with giant, gaping wounds needing attention, that are eventually going to have consequences for our health, plus we risk losing functionality of that limb in life, if we don’t deal with the wounds. Though while we might think we’ve successfully hidden them, the whole situation is somewhat apparent to the people watching us, who can see, feel, and eeew, dare I say it, smell that something is up. Even if they can’t initially work out what. How though, can they love us and help us heal, if we won’t let them see that our broken arm even exists?
It’s almost like we get a whole arm BACK, when we take the time to, whether alone ourselves or with people who can help, clean, sew up and treat any infection that’s set in on that hidden, broken arm.
When we take time to bring love, acceptance and gratitude to those parts of ourselves that we’re so afraid and ashamed of within ourselves, we get our power back.
We attract more of the right people, who will love and appreciate us for ALL of who we are when we do. And the ones who might already have wanted to love the shit out of all of us, can finally show up how we have been wanting/praying that they would show up all along.
The ones who are presently busy judging and hence cutting off the broken, mirroring limbs in themselves might well make a timely exit (and if they’re going to, well I always say, better to put all your limbs on the table up front and let the perceptions fall where they may, and if they’re going to go, then just get it out of the way BEFORE either of you invest the emotional equivalent of a house and land package in loving someone who would perhaps chose NOT to willingly stay, once you showed them how things really are. Who wants to keep suffering, feeling all the pain that comes, when you keep falling in love with a potential version of a reality and a future version of someone that doesn’t yet exist in reality? Or worse, get caught in the endless shame- grief cycle, trying to show up as some healed, perfect version of ourselves we would like others to believe that we already are, so that we finally feel “enough” for them. News flash, we’re actually, all already enough, for the right people.
It’s a FAR more powerful position to build a life from, when we present ourselves as the whole of who we are, broken limbs, diseases, failures, greatest griefs, little and extraordinary gifts, strengths, achievements, what we learned out of it and all.
Watch how fast too the haters we so much fear using those vulnerabale points against us, lose their power over you when they take a dig at or try and use your sensitive points as weapons and tools of manipulation over you, and you’re all Ned Flanders about it (e.g. all the gratitudes about ALL of it and how you're a better person now BECAUSE of it.)😂👌🏻
There is great power in being all of your authentic self. So be that gorgeous, messy, awesome, crazy, unique ray of light that you are. So love it all, give others a chance to love it all and then create your life from that place.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.
Plus being 40, Fecund and Freaking Fabulous for the % of Women who (by choice or circumstance) are exploring career, love and lifestyle, beyond the traditional life path of biological Motherhood.