Values: How Important are They, and Where Do They Come From?

Values: How Important are They, and Where Do They Come From?

There’s a lot of talk in the professional development community about ‘values’ and how they’re the cornerstone of being an authentic leader or organisation.

Yes, I agree (to a point anyway). It’s a way of communicating, and a way of finding common ground.



Here’s How It Looks to Me


There’s something (somewhere) that’s more important than values.

There’s the place that values ​come from.

In those quiet moments, when we experience peace of mind, mental clarity and wellbeing; when we feel in harmony with the world, we’re experiencing the very essence of what it is to be alive. The peace and the joy and the creativity of being human.

There’s something about ​that​ place which is common for all of us.

It’s why we can enjoy a conversation with a stranger on a train or at the supermarket.

It’s why neighbours pull together in a crisis.

It’s the place I’m looking to connect with when I’m coaching.

When we experience ​that​ feeling, then we are all experiencing the same thing. And we might each articulate what that place feels like a little differently. When we’re asked to describe it, we will put different words around it, and if we’re asked what we ​value​ about it, then those are the words that will become our values.

We’re really describing a place, a feeling, an experience, something that is beyond words. Which is why the words change but the state of mind they’re describing is always the same.


I See It as a Place That’s Upstream of Values


Like snowflakes. They all become different, original shapes, and those shapes are beautiful, but if we want to make a snowflake machine, we need to understand what they’re made of, and how they come into form.

It can be interesting to look at the shapes, entertaining, engaging, something to wonder at.

Just as it can be interesting to explore what words best describe our values. Is it ​this​ or is it ​that?

What’s even more useful, though, is to know that the source of our values is always there even though the descriptions, the shape — the words — may change, just as the shape of a snowflake changes.


Life Gets a Lot Easier!


This is one reason my clients have so little to do.

What we explore together is way more valuable and life-changing than doing values exercises, or identifying strengths and weaknesses.

Rather than picking a handful of snowflakes and trying to keep them alive in a jar, they have the life equivalent of the ‘ultimate snowflake machine’. ​

Now, that’s a lot more fun to work with!

With love,



P.S. If you’d like to explore whether coaching can help you find that place that exists in all of us and will create the ultimate peace of mind, and the freedom to create your equivalent of magnificent snowflakes in your life and work, contact me and let’s see how to open up what’s possible for you.

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The Experience of Sadness, and the Infinite Nature of Love

The Experience of Sadness, and the Infinite Nature of Love

It’s been an emotional week, as you know dear friends. On Sunday evening I arrived back from LA. On Monday, we got up to find my dog, who was old and had been struggling with nerve damage in his back and hips for a while now, had got himself into an awkward position and no amount of trying could get him up.

I called the vet, sent my teen off to school and waited. I knew we had only days with him but the vet’s diagnosis was that our old fellow had most likely slipped a disc and had little or no sensation in the back half of his body. We took the decision that it was the right moment to end his life.

I held my dear sweet boy as he went, first, to sleep with a sedative, and then as his heart stopped and the life slipped from him. He seemed peaceful and, as always, he looked at me with complete trust and friendship.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been with someone, or an animal, at that point of death?

We can feel, almost see, the life evaporating out of the body.

It reminded me of breathing air in and out of our lungs, What comes from the atmosphere, returns to the atmosphere. Dust to dust we used to say at funerals, but it feels more like life to life. My lovely boy’s life energy returning to the greater life energy, to come back in some other form.

I’m not necessarily being literal; I’m describing how it feels (how it felt to me in that moment). We makes sense of god, spirit, or the great big nothingness in our own way. Whatever you believe, for sure there is a difference between life and death.


It’s OK to Be Sad


This dog has been with us since the children were small and we mourned and mourned him all week. Many tears were shed.

Later in the week I had a call with someone I buddy coach with.

“I’m experiencing you as very sad,” she said, and offered to sit with it, maybe talk about self-care.

“Yes,” I replied, “I am sad. But that’s OK.”

It seems to me that we don’t do that well with sadness, depression and the range of emotions that fall at the ‘negative’ end of the spectrum.


Why is that?


If we choose to have pets, it’s very likely we will experience their death before ours. It’s simple maths.

I talked about this with my 17 year-old. We don’t have to not feel the emotion — what would life be without loss?

We’ve cried and cried this week, and we’ve also laughed at all the antics our dog got up to, all the fun we had shared together. That reminiscing, surely, is a normal part of life?

Yes, we have a hole in our hearts in this moment — most likely we always will when we think of him.

But, our capacity for love doesn’t diminsh.

I don’t know whether we’ll get another dog. Or, maybe, I should say I have a sense we will get another dog, I’m just not sure when(!)

The love doesn’t go away — because when we talk about love we are talking about life itself — it’s what’s all around us, it’s what we are made of.

The feeling of love we have for our old boy is coming from the very essence of the presence of life itself.

And, when the new guy or girl comes along, we will open up a new space and fill it with even more love.


Love is Infinite


I remember when I had my second child someone said to me, “it’s strange, we think we we are full up with love for our first child, that there is no space for more love, and then the second one comes along and our hearts simply expand and more love pours in.”

Love is infinite, and the more we experience it, the more it will multiply.

And, from time to time, we need to mark the passing of the form that love takes with a deep, deep sadness.

With love,


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Living and Giving Without Expectations

Living and Giving Without Expectations

The idea of giving without expectations has come up a couple of times for me in recent weeks.

I was in conversation with my husband — he’d brought me a cup of coffee and I thanked him.

Although I was grateful, I was slightly distracted and I could see my words weren’t quite enthusiastic enough for him. The look on his face told me he had an expectation of greater appreciation.

We all do this from time to time — we act (often unconsiously) in the expectation that we will receive a response or a reward.

When we do this, our action becomes a ‘transaction’ — an exchange — I am giving you this so that I can get that.

What about those times when we do something without any expectation of anything pinging back? What doesn’t that look like?


Secret Santa?


Last week I had a conversation with a client about exactly this topic and why it might mean in a leadership context, including how it could impact his company and the quality of their service delivery.

He told me about a time when he’d worked in the hospitality industry where the business imperative to put a smile on someone’s face without them ever knowing why or where it had come from.

How beautiful is that?

And, what a great way to get our own ego out of the way.

If our objective is for someone — at home or at work — to never feel the container of the service, only the impact, what might that look like?


Removing the Expectation of Exchange


For most of us in a work scenario, we imagine that we’re in a transactional relationship: we do business for a fee, we turn up at a job for a wage.

And yes, it’s true, there is an exchange. When I go into the supermarket, I don’t expect to walk out with a bag of groceries that I haven’t paid for.

But what if we separated them completely?

We’re paid to turn up at work, and we do.

What we then do at work, or in business — the way we deliver the service — doesn’t have to have any entanglement with the payment.

Let’s mark them out as separate, for an experiment.

Just as the pint of milk might cost the same in the no-name discount store, or from the personal delivery to our doorstep by a friendly milkman, the payment does not relate to the quality of the service (or the product).

Why wouldn’t we always give the utmost that we could in any scenario? What if we did that without ever expecting anything back?

It might mean we do different things, or we do the same things differently.

For those of you with children you’ll spend many years of your life being under-appreciated for the things you are doing.

There are some things we do for the sake of it, we don’t them because they will make us happy, we do them because it’s the right thing to do and we can take pride in a job well done.

We do them for the love of the work. No matter whether there is a ‘thank you’ at the end of the day.


What Goes Around Comes Around?


I’m not sure I believe in ‘karma’ exactly but I do believe that going about our day with a smile, without expectations, and I believe that being the best person we can be is more likely to create a positive experience for those around us.

Maybe they will be touched enough, at an unconscious level, to create that positive experience for someone else?

The way we act can resonate with the deepest part of the people around us and create a ‘signal’ that goes out to create wonder in the world.


The Best (and Easiest!) Job Ever?


What if your only job was to go about your day, to do your best work, and to sprinkle joy wherever you went?

Would that change the way you showed up? Would it change the interactions you have and outputs you deliver?

It might be a very interesting experiment to try out for a week or two; even a day!

Let me know if you decide to give it a try and what happens when you do.

With love,



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How to Find More ‘Focus’

How to Find More ‘Focus’

One of the recurring themes I hear from friends and clients is that they want to be more ‘focused’.

They think that ‘focus’ is the key to sailing through their projects for the year, and feeling more accomplished at the end of it.

But ‘focus’ is a slippery target. What is it that those friends and clients are really looking for?

I was musing on this as I heard one client describing how he planned to bring more focus to his work this year.

“I know when I’m focused on something, I have more energy for it, and that creates a positive cycle for me where I get more done.”


I could see he believed it, but I’m not so convinced.


Does It Sound True to You?


You see, there are two parts to this idea of feeling focused and getting more done…

…there’s the feeling of focus — the idea that it’s better to be in the flow, to feel energised, productive…

…and then there’s the actual completion of things that we’re working on. The ‘getting things done’ part regardless of how we feel.

Often, people are looking for the first believing it will deliver the second.

What if they’re mistaken?

What if the two operate completely independently? What if we’ve simply confused the relationship between one and the other, imagining a link when there isn’t one?


Feeling Focused


There are times when we wake up, we feel energised, we have a great day and end up with a feeling of accomplishment.
And there are days when the work feels slower; when we have to just sit down and do it. Get a cup of tea and check things off the list one by one, not necessarily feeling like we’re doing much, just staying in the game one step after another.


Completing Stuff


And then there’s the activity of completion. Of picking off small chunks, single tasks that we know will contribute to the larger whole. Writing a single paragraph, making one phone call, arranging one appointment, taking that half hour out for a walk.
We can wait for the feeling of focus, or we can do it anyway, regardless of how we feel. And it’s those who choose the latter path who end up getting more done.

Because there is zero relationship between the feeling and the outcome.

You might feel focused, the activity you’re doing might help settle the noisy voice in your head enough to allow a sensation of calm productivity to rise up, but it might not. You might end the day feeling as if you didn’t get much done when actually you did.

The feeling in no way represents the result.


Here’s My Advice…


Here’s my advice if you want to create more focus in your life and work:
“Make sure that you know the difference between a feeling and an outcome.”

And make sure you’re focusing on the right one of those — because one will lead to results and the other will keep you trapped in a conversation with those imaginary dragons in your head.

Which do you choose?

I’d love to know if focus is something you’re looking to achieve this year and whether (or not) you can see the difference I’ve outlined above.

Let me know!

With love,


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What Are You Committed to? (why it matters and how to know)

What Are You Committed to? (why it matters and how to know)

One of the exercises I ran with those who attended my ‘Plan Your Year’ seminar at the beginning of the year, was to look back at the year past and note down all the things they did with any consistency.

What we do is often a reflection of our priorities, whether it’s conscious or not and, therefore, I wanted those who were attending to list out the main things they spent their personal and professional time on, especially the things they did regularly and repeatedly.

For example, for me, my professional list will include my regular weekly writing, talking to clients, a new coaching certification (and joining an advanced programme), setting up new and experimental online and in-person workshops, the Impact Circle I chair and my contribution to organising and speaking at RSA Coaching Network events. These are some of the things that come to mind that I’ve done with a fair amount of regularity throughout the year.


I wanted participants to do this because:


• what we show up to do without a lot of thinking doesn’t take up ​much mental space. Therefore we sometimes downplay our achievements. One of the participants said, ​”Wow, I didn’t think I’d done much this year because I’ve been in transition but when I list it out I can see that I did way more than I thought!”​

• what we show up and do without a lot of thinking is a reflection of where things come easily to us — which, again, reflects activities we don’t have a lot of thinking about. I write regularly for example and, of course, sometimes I have a passing thought about whether it matters, whether I’m expressing what I mean, what people will think, (how many typos I’m making!!), etc etc. BUT those thoughts flow in and out without sticking around which means I do the writing, post it, and boom, it’s done. #next.

• it’s interesting to reflect on what we did and how some of those things came about. Often it’s a different list than we might have created for ourselves if we’d projected forward at the beginning of the year. As Thomas said, ​“I didn’t achieve ANY of the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year.”​ Here’s the thing though, I seriously doubt he sat around the whole year doing nothing. What did he spend time on? What presented itself without him thinking about it? What things became a priority because they were effortless and felt right? It’s too easy to beat ourselves up for the things we ​didn’t​ do, rather than focus on the things we ​did​.

• when we want to add something new to the mix, which of course is part of the process of reflecting and renewing, we need to make space for it. There are only so many hours in the day and the more we try to cram into that time, the more something will give — either we’ll start to feel rushed, we won’t complete everything, or we’ll begin to cut corners. As humans we’re not great at estimating the time that something will take, therefore, if you want to add something new, you have to re-engineer what’s already taking up time in your day. Whether that’s as obvious as cutting down your hours on Facebook or cutting back on some of the activities that no longer feel like the fit the person you are today.

• I wanted the participants to see that achievement and productivity can be easy. One of the participants said that she didn’t feel it was an achievement if it wasn’t ​hard​​, and I know from the comments in the chat and the emails I received afterwards, that she wasn’t alone in this.


But why does it need to be hard?


What if achievement and success were meant to be effortless? What if we were meant to be in flow more of the time, rather than battling those imaginary dragons I so often write about? What if the year ahead was easy? What kind of difference would that shift in perspective make for you? I know for me, when I’m not spending time engaging in those battles with the imaginary dragons I get ​a lot ​more done!

• I wanted the participants to be able to make a conscious decision about what they wanted to leave behind so that we could move forward with some new intentions and direction for the year — without over-planning what those would be!

If you want to set yourself up for success this year, then who not run through this exercise? If you were to do it now, what would that list for you?

And how does the list inform your year ahead? How can you move ahead with more intention and more creativity? After all, you can spend your time in your head ​thinking​ about all the things you want to do, or you can spend time having fun and actually doing them.

Which is it going to be?

With love,


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