Inspiring Advice From Inspirational Women

One of the main features of this blog is the interviews that I love to conduct with other professionals on the topics of careers, wellbeing at work and work-life balance. I've been lucky to interview some wonderful people and always enjoy learning from their trusted advice, motivation and encouragement. Among them have been some truly inspirational women who are carving out unique paths in the working world and who have offered some thoughtful wisdom that has certainly helped me and I hope has also inspired you as readers. So today, as it is International Women's Day, I thought it was about time to reflect back on some of my favourite tips and pull them together here to provide continued creativity, imagination and determination for all of us in our working and indeed our daily lives. Without further ado here are a few of my very favourite interview snippets!

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

1. ON VALUING YOURSELF AND KNOWING YOUR WORTH

From Business and Personal Coach Kim Morgan at Barefoot Coaching

When it comes to your career what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could go back and give your younger self?

That’s a great question but it’s hard to choose just one piece of advice as I think I made so many ‘mistakes’ along the way! If I had to have just one it would be - value yourself and what you are offering. That means:

  • Deciding on your fee structure and sticking to it
  • Resisting the impulse to over-deliver (giving away your time)
  • Believing that what you are doing is making a difference
  • Not discounting your skills and recognising all of the time, energy, training and investment you have put into being able to do what you do.

Read The Full Interview Here: Discussing The Power Of Positivity And Everyday Coaching With Kim Morgan

 

2. ON FINDING HAPPINESS AT WORK

From Happiness Consultant Samantha Clarke

Are there any key points that people reading this right now can consider to help them find more happiness in their own working environment?

  • Identify what’s authentic - take time to distil what really matters, what you need. Educate yourself or your team on your core values to make sure you are consistently embodying and aligning yourself accordingly. When things feel out of sync pay attention to it, interrogate it and hold yourself accountable to the changes that you need to make to put things right.

  • Build the right support framework around you - once you have clarity on your goals, there is no shame in reaching out and connecting to get help to take you closer to where you want to be. Either by getting a consultant into your business or investing in your creative learning or growth, perhaps on a retreat or workshop. Also look to see how you can help others, it’s a two-way street.

  • Don’t be scared to challenge the status quo - without innovation, your work life will become stagnant and not a true representation of the evolving individual or your company. Embrace change head on and any challenges to seek new opportunities.

  • Know your goals - map out the vision you have for your work/life. Is this path you are on taking you closer to, or away from these goals? How much progress are you making? Focus on noting down your wins and successes towards this goal as well as identifying where you might need to pivot, readdress, get creative and move through the friction and resistance that comes with change and action.

Read The Full Interview Here: Finding Happiness At Work With Samantha Clarke

 

3. ON STAYING MOTIVATED AND FINDING THE RIGHT SUPPORT

From the Founder of The Business Girls Network, Amanda Ayres

What is it that really drives and motivates you on a daily basis and how do you keep this momentum when feeling under pressure?

I'm a firm believer of supporting women and giving women opportunities. I think it's something that is naturally inbuilt in me and I do a lot of charity work too which supports this theory.

When I'm under pressure I go and exercise, just take some time out or reach out to the number of different people that support me. I think it's important to have a support network where you can get some coaching.

Recently I was so overwhelmed with the volume of work I nearly gave up. I think I had ‘start up fog’.  Nothing made sense to me. I took some time out and hey presto everything seemed to fall into place! 

Read The Full Interview Here: Amanda Ayres Discusses The Importance Of Supporting Women In Business

 

4. ON MAKING MISTAKES AND STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

From the Founder of letterbox florist company Beards & Daisies, Jo Lambell

How do you set about conquering your biggest fears and setbacks in your working life?

When I was working in sales there were always scenarios that took me out of my comfort zone, whether it was a project, a meeting or a presentation. It would be easy to play it safe when you have your own business as there's no one to push you or challenge you other than yourself. It’s cheesy but at least once a month I try to force myself to do something which takes me out of my comfort zone or makes my stomach turn with fear. For example going to a networking group where I don’t know anyone. ‘Living in fear of making mistakes, is the only mistake you can make’ is a great motto to live by.

Read The Full Interview Here: From A Passion For Florals To A Blooming Beautiful New Business

 

5. ON WELLNESS, BALANCE AND LOOKING AFTER YOU

From the Co-Founder of Work Well Being, Louise Padmore

If you could give one piece of starting advice to someone trying to find better balance in their lives what would it be?

My single biggest piece of advice to someone trying to find balance within their working life would be to trust your instincts and remain firm and courageous in your need for space and time for wellbeing.

I know that this is often much easier said than done but, for me personally, now that I look back there were lots of little warning signs pointing me to the conclusion that the path I was on wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t eating well, didn’t feel particularly engaged around those I love, was incessantly scrolling through my phone often even without any real sense for what I was searching for, wasn’t sleeping well and just generally had a sense that all was not right. I do think that perhaps if wellbeing during the working day had been made available to me, then things could have been different. 

Read The Full Interview Here: Discussing Work Wellbeing With Louise Padmore

 

I hope that the great advice from these very inspirational women sparks encouragement and a sense of support within you this International Women's Day. If you're after more motivation take a look through the many other What Now interviews to get some more top tips for work and life here: The Interview.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Louise

 


Useful Work Tech Tools Actually Worth Your Time

MAKE 2017 MORE PRODUCTIVE WITH THESE USEFUL APPS AND ADD-ONS ...

There are literally hundreds and thousands of productivity-enhancing apps, add-ons and other technology services that promise to make your working life that little bit simpler and a whole lot easier. I often try out new bits here and there that I hope might make life a little more streamlined and efficient. However, I also delete or dismiss many things along the way as I just don't find them all that enhancing or useful. Like me, the last thing any of us need is a whole load of unwanted apps, emails or services clogging up our already overloaded daily online lives.

Image Source: Unsplash

Image Source: Unsplash

Over time there are a few things that I've tried and continued to use and love. Apps and other online services that actually really help me out and I hope might do the very same for you. I thought I'd start sharing some of these as and when I have a list of favourites worthy of a mention. So starting today, check out my current recommendations, plus let me know any failsafe, can't live without apps or tech that you use on a daily basis that you think myself or other readers might also fall in love with.

1. Grammarly

As I often spend a large proportion of my day writing blog posts, proposals and lengthy emails this free spelling and grammar checker that you can install as an extension to Google Chrome (as well as use it in many other ways) is a godsend. I only use the free version and should probably think about upgrading to premium to get more of the very beneficial features. However, the free extension alone helps me out no end. 

Grammarly checks your grammar, punctuation and style as you write and if there are any mistakes to be fixed it will underline them in red and a little red circle will appear for you to click on to view and make changes to any errors. Seeing as Squarespace, the platform I use for this blog, has no built in spell checker I find this extension absolutely invaluable. It works across everything I do online and I love it. It also emails you once a week with a little update on how many words you've written which I think is quite a nice added and motivating feature!

2. Unroll.Me

One of the biggest distractions in my day, and I'm sure in many other peoples, is the dreaded email. I especially hate all of those nonsense emails that I get throughout the day from things I may have subscribed to ages ago and no longer have any interest in - or even from things that I'm interested in but don't want to be distracted by too many times throughout the day or week. Plus there are all the irritating things that you inadvertently get subscribed to just because you happen to have ordered or attended one thing, one time. This leads to way too much time just trying to clean up my inbox in order to even have a chance of tackling the actual important stuff! So step forward the very useful free services of the email 'unsubscription' service Unroll.Me which trust me is very, very handy.

Unroll.Me is a quick and simple way to clean up even the messiest of inboxes. Sign up with your email and it will instantly provide you with a list of everything that you have ever subscribed to. Simply go through the list and check the boxes to say whether you wish to add emails from each company to one easy daily digest or 'rollup' as they call it, whether you wish to unsubscribe altogether or whether you wish to keep the emails coming to your inbox as usual. This makes such a glorious difference to my daily email influx and is such a simple service that I've personally found incredibly beneficial.

3. Wordswag

The usefulness of the Wordswag app will depend on what you do for a living but if you spend a lot of time on social media, writing blogs or other articles online and like to share things like beautiful quotes or wish to overlay a title on a beautiful image as part of that, then this will come in incredibly useful - especially on the go from your phone. The app costs £3.99 but it's worth it. In my opinion this is one of the most user-friendly apps for words and imagery with some of the best results. 

4. Pexels and Unsplash

When I started this blog I really wanted to try and use my own imagery as much as possible. I love beautiful photos to accompany a post and spend far too long worrying about how something looks instead of just getting down to business! As time went on I realised that not having the right photographs was sometimes holding me back from just cracking on with getting my ideas down on the blog and out into the world. Plus as I often talk about work related subjects, creating my own suitable imagery can be a bit of a task. There are only so many ways that I can personally think of to photograph my own desk!

When I don't have personal, good quality images worth sharing to accompany an idea that I still want to share with the world, I now turn to either Pexels or Unsplash for royalty free stock photographs that are actually nice enough to headline a professional and creative post. These sites have really helped me out since using them and if you're in need of something similar I'd recommend trying them out. You don't even have to credit the photographs or photographer (I just do it to set them apart from my own imagery in line with my disclaimer!)

 

Which online tools or apps do you find most useful in your working lives? Anything you'd recommend me giving a go next for a more productive, inspired and creative 2017? I'd love to hear your favourites too!

Louise

 


Taking Ten Minutes To Feel More Focused

A TEN MINUTE GUIDED MEDITATION TO HELP ALLEVIATE STRESS AND FIND FOCUS

With the long weekend within very visible reach today here in the UK I'm sure many of us are looking forward to logging off and forgetting about work for a few well-rested days. But what happens when you just can't switch off? When your mind is still swimming with thoughts of many things that need to be done, when messages and emails keep on pinging through on that inordinate mobile phone, when the lure of social media keeps you constantly alert and on your toes? Well sometimes we all need to just take a few peaceful minutes to refocus...

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Today I wanted to share with you a very simple, ten minute guided meditation that anyone under pressure can simply sit and absorb right here and right now to help them feel more grounded. I honestly don't believe that you need any prior knowledge or experience of mindfulness or indeed the many types of meditation in order to take this ten minutes for yourself and gain great benefit.

For today, the day before a long weekend when no further stress or pressure is going to be needed by anyone, I don't want to share a long and fact filled post about stress or the many benefits of mindfulness and meditation. There will be more of that to come on this space over time anyway so never fear! I simply wish to share this quick guided practice that I've personally been loving so much in the last few weeks. If you can spare just ten minutes today, or at some point over this weekend, to sit still, close your eyes and experience this then you may just feel a teeny little bit of that stress and those nagging thoughts dispersing. Even if it's just for a short time, it's still got to be worth a try hasn't it?

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have, click the play button below to get started, and I wish you a happy and rested weekend.

Louise

 

Learning From The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Course (SIYLI)

THE EXPERIENCE AND AN OVERVIEW OF THE TWO DAY PROGRAM AND ITS KEY POINTS

So a couple of weeks ago you may remember me writing that I was going to attend the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Course at Google HQ in London. A course dedicated to understanding and implementing mindfulness and wellbeing in the workplace through practising a series of personal development exercises and tools. It was Louise from Work Well Being who kindly introduced me to this course and I’m so thankful to both Louise and SIYLI for the opportunity to attend and take away a number of fantastic tools for my on-going work and life toolbox!

There’s so much I’d like to share with you following this two-day intensive and extremely informative session. Amongst other things we journaled, we practised meditation in various forms and we discussed and tried out different conversational and listening techniques, looking at how we might implement them in the workplace. I would certainly like to cover a few of these topics in greater detail in some future, separate posts. 

For today I thought I’d begin with an overview of the two days, a run down of what was covered and some of my personal thoughts and feelings having let the learning start to settle in over the last week or so. If you’re considering taking part in a future course then I hope you’ll find this an interesting and useful insight. 

Search Inside Yourself

SO WHAT DO YOU EXPERIENCE ON THIS COURSE?

The course is designed to bring forward techniques to help manage the fast paced environments in which we often find ourselves at work and in our lives, in a more thought out, mindful and meaningful way. Helping us to step back and work through problems that perhaps don’t have an immediate solution, to try and find a little more peace, self-awareness and understanding in difficult and challenging situations.

Over the two days our two experienced tutors, Laurie Cameron and Simon Moyes, assisted and guided us through a number of practical exercises as well as sharing their knowledge and expertise. They also discussed the neuroscience that is steadily becoming available to explain and complement the meaning behind mindfulness training and the given exercises.

In a theatre style, conference setting, we were talked through a number of slides, interspersed with opportunities to get up and partner with fellow attendees and practice differing exercises. There was plenty of opportunity to share how we felt about each exercise, ask questions and take short breaks to absorb each step along the way.

The course is designed to make you feel very safe and at ease. Don’t think that you’re going to have to stand up in front of a group of strangers and divulge personal information about things that bother you at work and in life. You do work in pairs at times but in a very safe environment and when it comes to feeding back to the group and the tutors it’s very much up to you whether you choose to bring forward your thoughts and feelings or if you wish instead to sit and absorb from others around you, as well as reflect on each moments revelations for yourself.

 

PERSONAL THOUGHTS AND MY EXPERIENCE

Personally I very much enjoyed actually sitting back and taking it all in without feeling the pressure to be sharing to social media, taking photographs or commenting in any way if I didn’t feel the need – a common blogging problem at most things I usually attend, and although that’s not something that I dislike at all it was nice to have a completely absorbed and in the moment approach instead. Reminding me that perhaps I need to behave in such a way far more often! After a little persuasion to my mind and body, I was gradually able to find myself truly in the moment and take in what was happening instead of negotiating external pressures and ideals.

When we began our first exercise, a short attention training exercise designed to help us focus our wandering minds, I could physically feel my digitally strained, computer and iPhone focused body and mind fighting against me! My back and shoulders were tense and angry; the mind was still lost in a myriad of early morning commuter woe, concerns over where my phone was in my bag and why couldn’t I remember the name of the person sat next to me, again?! As well as, had my current blog post published itself as instructed whilst I was on the train and when would I get a moment to check and share it to social media. These are the sorts of things that bother me daily! My mind definitely didn’t want to focus and my body was letting me know that it had no interest in sitting up straight and focusing without causing me a lot of tension and unwanted pain. Initially I thought to myself that this had the potential to be a very long two days!!

But by the end of the first day, and without realising it had even happened, each exercise and meditation, the calming, streamlined and more focused approach, had already had an incredibly positive effect to both mind and body. Physical pains and mental chitter chatter had started to ease, and that night I slept like an absolute dream – something that I’d been struggling with in the lead up to that week. So the foremost thing that I took away from day one, aside from a heady desire to share each and every little morsel I had learned and an excitement about just how much of it really made such perfect sense; is a feeling of greater peace and an ability to actually rest.

 

SOME OF THE TOPICS THAT WE COVERED

Emotional Intelligence is really the key to the course and the skill upon which you are trying to build. Self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy and social skills all collide to enable us to better interpret our own emotions and those of others around us. We looked at this in greater detail, trying to grasp ways of improving our emotional intelligence and how we can apply this in both the workplace and in life.

Mindfulness is such a growing topic and beneficial skill. But of course it’s easy to be mindful when everything is calm and you feel collected and on top of things. The true trick and challenge is learning how to maintain it when that calm, stillness has been well and truly disturbed. When everything is coming at you at once and you need to make decisions despite pressure and stress being ever present. Through learning how to cultivate the mind, set an intention for what you wish to achieve, apply focused attention and invite an open awareness of yourself and your surroundings, learning how to be a little more mindful in your everyday work can really enable the following:

  • Stability in the midst of a storm - sit like a majestic mountain.
  • You become more aware of what is happening and why, training the witness, the observer in you.
  • Paying attention in a different way, with calmness and a greater clarity.
  • Understanding and choosing to respond in an optimal way even amidst the craziness of life.

It’s like training the body in the gym, but training the mind instead. It takes practice, repetition, to build a muscle that will react in a certain way when you need it to. The brain and the mind are just as susceptible to such training and this course gives you ways of building upon that.

Leadership and how we can try to lead with greater compassion was also a key theme. How do we influence others as well as ourselves? How can we lead with a desire to help someone else succeed and communicate in a more insightful and compassionate way?

 

WHAT SORT OF EXERCISES DID WE TRY?

Attention Training: Clearing and focusing the mind through meditative exercises to help bring about a sense of self-awareness with more clarity and calmness.

Journaling: Free flowing, writing without self-censorship. Allowing the pen to keep moving no matter what and getting everything out and down onto paper.

Mindful Listening and Conversation: Learning how to stay present and focused on what the other person is saying. Actually really hearing the other person, not letting the mind wander and not interrupting.

Mindful Walking: Truly experiencing walking, the environment around you and having an awareness of the movement that you are making.

Empathetic Listening: Active or reflective listening where you are listening with true empathy. Learning how the person is feeling about something that has or is happening to them without projecting your own thoughts or feelings.

 

THOUGHTS SINCE FINISHING THE COURSE AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE!

This is potentially the sort of course that you come away from full of ideas and new experiences that you can’t wait to implement but low and behold, life kicks back in and a few weeks down the line you find you haven’t really had the time to give the course or its techniques a second thought. Except something about Search Inside Yourself really stays with you.

Firstly the team don’t just send you off into the big wide world again without checking in to help remind you of what you learned and what you might have forgotten to look back at and hopefully start feeding into your everyday life. There are a number of resources available and each week for a month following the course, you receive an email with various prompts and advice. Checking in and helping steer you back on track. Alongside that you are invited to attend a webinar at the four-week mark to reconnect with the course leaders, solidify where you’re at and where you wish to be going forward.

Secondly the benefit of this course is that many of the techniques stay with you and they tap in at moments when you most need them. Of course meditation, mindfulness and other techniques that complement these ideas require regular practice in order to really gain meaningful benefit and make a real difference. Yet just gaining a greater awareness really helps on a day-to-day basis when you start to feel the strain of a heavy workload or a particularly stressful situation.

I took so much from the two days and will certainly be working further on everything I learnt going forward. I will definitely share a little more about some of the techniques in future posts as promised. For now I hope this has been a useful starting point and overview.

If you’re interested in learning more about Search Inside Yourself please visit the website to find out more: Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. There are many upcoming public programs happening worldwide this year with further courses in Europe including Amsterdam, Helsinki and Paris. Take a look at the calendar to learn more and to register if you're interested in taking part for yourself: Public Programs Calendar 2016.

Farewell for now everyone and enjoy your day.

Louise

 

*My place on this course was complimentary as part of working with the program to learn more about these techniques that I feel are so relevant to the work I love to share on this blog. All opinions are completely 100% my own and if I hadn't enjoyed the program and felt it was worth sharing with you then I wouldn't be writing about it here today.