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What is it about clouds?

I love staring at the sky on a blue-sky-fluffy-cloud kind of day. I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t stare at the amazing shapes they make and conjure up animals, faces, mythical creatures and more from the clouds. I used to lie down and look-up and wait for the right shapes to emerge.

I even went to an amazing piece of outdoor theatre as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival a few years ago which involved lying on giant bean bags staring at the sky while a slightly eccentric lady read anecdotes and scientific facts about clouds. Unfortunately for her the sky was a perfect blue with barely a whisp of cloud in sight 😅. She covered it well.

Watching the clouds form into unique shapes is something I’ve done my whole life. It’s not only about allowing my creativity to run rife. It’s also the feeling of being so small and insignificant compared to the incredible vastness of the sky. I catch my breath, I feel bigger, more spacious somehow, more grounded (funny that 😂). And I’ve squeezed it into tiny gaps, often almost missing the opportunity to notice them at all.

It’s easier when it’s warmer. I love grabbing a blanket and lying down with small to cloud spot even though she’s really too young and it usually ends (as most games do) with mummy as a human climbing frame. Or when I’m doing the washing up and staring into the garden and the sky beyond. Breathing space.

Today I spotted them on a walk, a brief moment in the midst of the latest game to get us round.

What are you missing out on because you’ve stopped noticing?

PS there’s no prize, but what did you spot in the clouds…?

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What I haven’t said before, what I’m saying now and what made that possible

Three years ago I left my last role in tax. In the time between then and this time last year, I  worked really hard to develop my skills in coaching, facilitating and leading online career change programmes.

In February 2020 COVID-19 landed in my home city of Brighton and Hove with a bang. I was meant to be performing in a musical theatre show with the fantastic community theatre group I’m a part of, and it looked increasingly unlikely we would be able to go ahead. Fortunately the local cases dropped off as fast as they arrived and we put on our production of ‘Kipps: Half a Sixpence’ to superb reviews.  

I was also meant to be co-leading another career change programme and by this time the cases were spiralling. Call it intuition or good-reading of the data, but I was already convinced the ‘lockdowns’ we’d heard of from around the world would only be weeks away at home. I had to make the hard decision to pull out of the course. I remember getting off the call, hanging my head in disappointment and bursting into tears at the sadness, frustration and fear I was feeling. 

It was a great decision for me, and for my family. I created time I will never forget for all the right reasons. Wonderful moments of connection, fun and creativity that I would never have chosen to make time for had circumstances not changed. I also fell into a black hole of COVID-19 disappointment, and turned to my own coach to tune back into creating my own life instead of letting lockdown life define me. 

I’ve spent the last six months undertaking further training and development as a coach, levelling-up my confidence and ability to show up in my business, in my life and in the world in a way that aligns with who I really am. I’ve created coaching relationships and support networks with incredible people. I’ve grown exponentially in this time on my own journey of personal growth too. And I am loving working with my clients and witnessing their own powerful transformations. I find it so energising and such an incredible privilege to see them rise in their power too.

I realised, as I did this work, I’d never announced that I’d officially left my career in tax. I very quietly changed my job titles and my personal statements because I was scared what people might think and how they might react. My journey of personal growth has brought a new confidence to own who I am and the contribution I make in the world. 

When my husband said to my daughter the other day “Mummy runs her own business”, I thought ‘oh, wow!’ I know it’s what I do and yet I’d never thought of it like that. Yes, I do – that’s what I do now! 

I believe life is an INCREDIBLE adventure and the possibilities are infinite, vast and exciting! I run my own business focussed on breaking through what holds people back from creating those incredible adventures and really stepping into the power of their dreams and visions for their future. I am incredibly excited about it! 

I’m going to be showing up a LOT more on social media sharing my own journey and inspiration for your own adventures along the way.

I have two spots available for 1:1 VIP Coaching. If you are interested, send me a message. I’m also really excited about my plans for Masterclass – watch this space!

Thank you to everyone who has, and is, supporting my journey and my adventures. If you’re excited about what I’m doing, send me a message and let’s talk.

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What’s your default?

I’ve never liked not being able to do something. I don’t like the feeling if I can’t. My heart-rate rises, my stomach churns and the resulting adrenaline rush messes up my ability to think on the spot. I just want to be able to do it, whatever it is. I want to get it right the first time and I get extremely frustrated with myself when I can’t. The standards I set for myself are extraordinarily high. 

It didn’t dawn on me until recently that I always have a choice when those moments occur. I can choose to accept that I can’t do it. To walk away. In many ways it would be the simple answer for me. Leave whatever it is unfinished and go do something easier, something else. Sometimes that’s a good choice – if I’m getting caught up in something small that doesn’t warrant my time and energy.

But I very rarely make that choice. My default is to find a way to do it. I struggle with it, I try stuff out and experiment (what happens if I do… some of it works and some of it doesn’t), I ask for help from someone I think might know how to do it and thank goodness for YouTube for those practical ‘how to fix…’ videos. I don’t give up. 

I always followed my default – why wouldn’t I keep going and push on until I can do whatever it is I think I need to do? Then recently I realised my default choice had become so default it wasn’t a conscious choice anymore. I wasn’t consciously choosing to push through and find a way, I was on autopilot. And the autopilot’s message was ‘what does this say about me if I can’t do it?  Who am I if I can’t do it?’

Using autopilot has led me to some fantastic results – my insanely high standards have helped me to create and achieve amazing things but the cost has been high. Pushing on through, working long hours, spending all that time and energy to be able to do it, losing my patience with unsuspecting friends and family in the midst of my frustration with myself, losing all sense of the significance or importance of whatever I’m trying to do (I mean, who really cares if I can make the perfect tomato sauce or not!), burning the proverbial candle at both ends – it’s had an impact on my health. I’ve made myself ill. Repeatedly. I’ve pushed myself so hard my body couldn’t fight off the common cold and I’ve ended up with chest infection after chest infection. Not great at all for someone who loves to sing. My family and friends have told me again and again not to push myself so hard. I’ve ignored them. Being able to do it all has always been the most important thing. Until now.

Before Christmas I tried to push on through some big physical and emotional stuff. There were things I was trying to do that I couldn’t do. I tried to solve problems that were not even mine to solve. I tried to push on by giving my projects even more time – staying up late, pressing in. Pushing, pushing, pushing. And then I stopped. I noticed the choice I was making. I knew if I kept on I would make myself ill. It was in my hands. It felt like I didn’t have a choice. And I did. 

So I made a choice. I stopped. I cancelled all my planned calls. I dropped everything that wasn’t truly urgent and important. I work for myself so I had the luxury of being able to set my out of office message there and then. I got really present to each moment of each day and I didn’t try to do the things I felt I couldn’t do. I knew this time I wanted to choose powerfully. For me.

It was scary. I felt sick as I shared what I was feeling with the fantastic community of high-performers I’m part of. Certain of their judgment. Maybe a few kicks in the backside to get me moving again. I felt so incredibly vulnerable. I felt like a failure.

It wasn’t like I imagined at all. I was surrounded with their love, support, understanding and the challenges I needed for later. I discovered my own power and energy from making a choice that really served me. My vulnerable, hard choice gave me time to rejuvenate, to refresh and recharge my worn out batteries so that I had new energy to tackle the things when I came back to play. 

Vulnerable and powerful. It’s funny how those two go hand-in-hand…

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Motivate me

Do you find yourself watching other people progress in their careers, set up their own businesses or change their careers?

Do you find yourself waiting for inspiration to strike?

Do you love hanging out on the sofa after work, tucking into your snack of choice, reassuring yourself that you’ll get some exercise/tidy the house/call your friend tomorrow when you feel more like it?

It gets tiring pretty quickly to wait for life to happen, and over time squashes you, the you who shines on your best day, until you’re barely recognisable. You need to start getting back into the drivers seat of your life. Cliche and cheesy and true.

Motivation is a lie. Motivation is simply the result of taking action.

Motivation. What a beast. Sometimes it feels like motivation is there in droves and other days it feels like it’s left the building. What if it isn’t motivation that’s holding you back? What if it’s as simple as you not taking action?

Mr Motivator is a slightly mad, Lycra-donning fitness ‘guru’ of sorts who shot to fame on a TV breakfast show in the U.K. back in the 1990s. The idea of a Mr Motivator is brilliant – somehow having someone there with the promise of being motivating you takes the pressure off you to be responsible for your own decisions and your own lack of action. Now all you have to do is wait for Mr Motivator to show up and you’ve got it sorted. And for personal fitness it can work amazingly well. It’s like having someone on your side to keep you accountable (dare I say it, like having a coach cheerleading you on).

Except of course two people can watch Mr Motivator and behave completely differently. The first person, let’s call her Sally, watches our Mr Motivator and enjoys laughing at him leaping around while tucking into her bowl of crisps/bag of chocolate buttons/popcorn (delete as appropriate). At no point does she choose to join in and experience the action. Person B, let’s call her Ellie, watches and immediately jumps up and joins in with the exercises.

The Oxford Learners Dictionaries defines motivation as: ‘the reason why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way.’ What if your reason for ‘doing something’ or behaving in a particular way was as simple as ‘because you chose to’? That’s all. You choose to say ‘yes’ or you choose to say ‘no’. That’s it. Wow, simple.

Action is simply a choice. Motivation is irrelevant.

What happens when you take choose to action, and you take it, is that you create momentum. Yes, it turns out my teachers were right and physics is useful after all. Any action you take towards a goal creates momentum. You choose whether to ride the momentum, like a ball rolling down the hill, and keep choosing action over inaction. One small step at a time. More action continues the momentum which makes you feel motivated. Inaction, and the choice you make not to take action, will eventually cause the momentum to stop and you’ll stop feeling motivated. Until you choose to take another step forward.

Don’t wait for motivation. Keep it small and start.

I get stuck in the inertia of inaction more times than I would like to admit. The truth is that I choose not to. I give myself reasons and excuses why ‘now is not the right time’, ‘I don’t feel like it’, ‘there are other things I should be doing’. None of those is wrong, and they are reasons I’m creating to support my lack of action.

Take my last blog post. It chose not to write that for a long time. There was always a reason. And often it was the excuse of not having enough time. Then I reminded myself of the idea that breaking big goals down into small steps can help you sneak past your brain’s fear centre (the dear old amygdala). So I set an alarm for ten minutes. When it went off I was already in the thick of writing so I reset it for another ten. It took me two lots of reset timers and I was done.

Action led to more action. It created its own momentum. Motivation was simply a choice.

Are you stuck and feeling unmotivated? Here are 3 things you can play with.

1. Choose. Choose to take one tiny action. Make it so small you actually want to laugh. If your goal is to go outside more, just open a window and stick your head out (safely, hold onto something and don’t lean too far). If you’d like to get a phone call out the way, get the phone number. Or just dial the number. It’s only a choice.

2. Get someone in your corner. Find someone to keep you accountable. Tell them of the choice you’ve made and the steps you’re going to take. Brainstorm the steps or the first step if you find yourself getting stuck in overthinking. Find someone who can support you, and challenge you. And start to notice what you tell yourself.

3. Do something. Doing anything differently will shake things up. Make the choice and do it. My favourite Yoda quote is ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’ Say ‘yes’ and do it. Lean on the support you’ve created for yourself in step 2 to get you over the line.

All great journeys begin with a choice and that one first step.

Have fun – consciously choose to act today in one very small way.

Louisa x

PS When you’re ready for transformation and change, let’s talk about the ways I can help you build your confidence, create your vision and increase your impact on the world.

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4 Ways to Uncover Your Gold

You let yourself play small because deep-down you think that’s all you deserve. So you settle for less than is actually possible.

You compare the ups and downs of your messy and chaotic life to the highlights reels of other people. You feel insignificant and incapable, so you stop seeking opportunities to grow.

You are so worried about making the right decision you end up stuck like a rabbit in the headlights, choosing nothing and watching the days tick by.

If you are tired of playing small, playing the comparison game or being stuck in the headlights of analysis paralysis, then you need to start changing the way you think about yourself.

Don’t wait for the right time. The right time never comes.

You grow most at the very edges of your comfort zone. Staying small and safe doesn’t serve anyone. Least of all you. If you want to stay safe, paralysed by the thought of what other people might say if you step out into the unknown, then go ahead. You can stay there, safe, in your low-risk, low-impact life. For ever.

And you get to choose.

I know what that feels like because it’s also been my story. I’ve played small too because underneath it all I worry whether I deserve more – am I enough? Will I have enough to offer? What will people say?

I’ve fallen headlong into the trap of comparing my journey in life to other people’s journeys. I see their highlights, not the lowlights, and fool myself into thinking I’ve so much less to offer the world than they have so I may as well not bother. At least then I won’t look like an idiot when I fail. (And yes, I often think in terms of ‘when’ for failures – and ‘if’ for success – anyone else?)

I’m also the self-professed Queen of Must Make the Right Choice. I forget there is no right or wrong choice. Only options.

But, I also know I get to choose whether I stay stuck or move forward, risking messy failures and screw ups. When the opposite is to stay small and live with the thought I would never know what would happen if I tried, if I really played big and reached for those gloriously proverbial stars, it’s a no-brainer on paper.

It’s a harder path – and the journey is a LOT more fun.

Here’s a little story to inspire you.

The historical story goes that a beautiful monastery in Thailand was at risk of attack from the Burmese army. This monastery was home to a beautiful giant golden statue of Buddha. The monks covered the giant golden Buddha with clay to protect it from plunder by the army. The army saw only a giant clay statue and left it alone. Over time the story of the covered statue had been lost until finally all the monks in the monastery believed the statue to be made of only clay.

Several hundred years later in 1957 a group of monks was in the process of relocating the monastery. One day, as they moved the giant clay Buddha, a monk noticed the clay was cracked. When he investigated more closely, he saw gold light appearing at the place the clay had broken. He chiseled away at the clay until he uncovered the truth. The statue was, and had never been, clay – it was made of solid gold.

I am like the golden Buddha statue (albeit I am much, much smaller). I am not clay. I am gold.

The biggest layer of clay covering the gold of who I really am has been all my own work. I’ve piled on layer upon layer of my own limiting and negative thinking over the years – most of it totally unconsciously. Comparing myself to others has not helped. Other layers of clay have been added by other people (teachers, family, bosses, society, the media, organisations) and too often I lose sight of the gold of who I am when I’m being myself on my very best days. That gold is me.

YOU are not clay either. You too are solid gold.

When I’m standing in the truth of who I am it makes taking leaps and risks and facing challenges easier. It creates new possibilities. I can play bigger without fearing what other people will say. This is true for you too.

It’s not easy to chip away at the clay to find your gold. Using a hammer and chisel is hard work, and careful work to avoid damaging the gold underneath. And it is simple. Start chipping away at the clay.

Here are 4 things you can do.

1. Ask. Ask other people what your gold is. Don’t literally ask them that or they’re going to look at you strangely. DO ask them what are my biggest gifts? What is it about me that lights up others? What’s unusual or unique about me?

2. Rediscover. Remember what you loved to do when you were growing up. What did you spend all your spare time doing when you were 5, 10, 13, 16, 20? Spend some time trying those things out again.

3. Get curious. Take action and notice what happens when you do. Action comes first. It was the action of chiselling the clay that revealed the gold statue. Try a new way of thinking, a new course, a new route to work, a new way of behaving, anything. Follow your curiosity.

4. Apply. To transform your life and uncover your gold, you must apply what you learn. Information alone is nice and not enough. Experiment with what you’ve learned. Ask yourself how you can use what you learn, and then use it.

Chip away at your clay. Uncover your gold.

Have fun – you only get one go at life. Make it a good one!

Louisa x

PS When you’re ready for transformation and change, let’s talk about the ways I can help you build your confidence, create your vision and increase your impact on the world.

Story of the Golden Buddha, from the movie ‘Finding Joe’.