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Standing tall, fidelity & a lesson for humanity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to talk about something we don’t talk about that openly.

 

I am going to talk about my experience of infidelity. But more importantly, I am going to talk about how my experience of infidelity has led me to understand something about humanity and how we can literally change the world.

 

Before I get to my realisation about how we can change the world, if we see things differently, it will help if I give you some context. And before I begin, I am talking about fidelity in monogamous relationships, where two people have committed to being exclusive. I am not open relationships where people openly and honestly have sexual partners in addition to the relationship.

 

I met my ex-husband, Nick, in 2000 through work. I had seen him in his office, in his suit, and his smile at me, in a dream I had had before we met. 24 hours after we got together, he said to me “I think you may be The One.”. I remember not replying, but thinking “I know.”

 

We were inseparable. We would go to bed early most nights and just cuddle and read to each other, all cosy in bed. He called me his angel. We were seen by others to be the “perfect couple” – well, to all bar 1 of my friends, who saw something but didn’t tell me.

 

We got married after a couple of years. Life wasn’t easy for us, we each had other challenges in our lives outside of our relationship, but our relationship was sacrosanct. It was home. We adored each other. He still called me his angel, but also now “his wonderful wife” to me and all who’d hear him.

 

We never argued – we had only 2 in the first 5  1/2 years of our relationship, because we talked about everything.

 

But then we had a difficult year. I had supported him through nearly three years of his nursing degree studies, helped by an inheritance I had. He realised a couple of months before his final exams that he nursing wasn’t for him. So I stood by him as he explored what he would do next. He decided he wanted to be a teacher instead.

 

He didn’t like London, so I moved with him to Sheffield, and was happy to do so, and he signed up for his year long teacher training there. We had been together 5 1/2 years at this point. He came home from his first day at University, and he was beaming at me, as he told me that when the students were introducing themselves to each other and talking about their lives, all he could really talk about was me – his “wonderful wife”. He had left the pub social early, because he just wanted to come and be with me. We were so close.

 

I had wanted children for 3 years, and he had asked me to wait until his studies were nearly over, so this was the year we could start trying.

 

And then things fell apart. Finding a permanent home had become difficult, and I wasn’t dealing well with that. He was working all the hours he could on his teacher training, and we just didn’t see each other. We stopped having sex regularly, but I had been promised we would have a baby, and I was frustrated after all the years of waiting. We started arguing. 6 months into his teacher training, we had a difficult weekend, and realised we were in trouble. We agreed we would hold on until the course finished, and then we would go into relationship counselling to help us get back to where we were.

 

Except the relationship counselling never happened.

 

His ex-girlfriend, Louise got in touch shortly after that weekend. I knew something was wrong from the email the sent to tell me that he had passed his teacher training. There wasn’t the usual sign off, filled with love. I was in Canada, for my best friends wedding, but was on a plane home as she was getting married because when I asked him if he was leaving me, he said yes.

 

I watched him lie to me about whether there was anyone else involved for 4 hours straight. But I knew something was wrong. So I did something I had never done – that is uncharacteristic of me to do, and that I haven’t done since – I hacked into his emails.

 

And there I saw it.

 

There were all sorts of emails, ones where he shared his writings from trips I had paid for to visit my loved ones. The one that really got me was the one where he laid out his plans for the next year.

 

When you become a teacher, you have to spend a year as an NQT – a newly qualified teacher – and once you pass that year, you are a fully qualified teacher. His placement was near us in Sheffield, and Louise was in Bournemouth. He had written her an email, planning out the whole of the next year, all the weekends he could make excuses to see her, and the ones he couldn’t because we had my friends visiting, and he was sorry to her about that. He had planned, in a cold calculated way, to stay with me for that whole year, so he could finish his NQT year before moving to be with Louise in Bournemouth.

 

When I phoned Louise, and shaking with nerves and British politeness “erm sorry for phoning…… but can I respectfully ask if you would feel able to step back so Nick and I can have a bit of time to work out where we are at?”, she shouted at me for phoning her because, as she put it, “what if one of the kids had answered the phone”. That added a whole other level of distress. Nick’s family and friends were right – she clearly WASN’T as lovely as me. Had he left me for someone lovelier, I would have understood it. So my confusion just grew.

 

When we were discussing the divorce, Nick blackmailed me, telling me that he wouldn’t give me the money he had promised in the divorce settlement – less than half of what I had spent on him and his education and his life, because it was all he could afford – if I named Louise on the divorce papers. She didn’t want her partner Craig – who she cheated on with Nick – to find out quite what she had done to him.

 

At one point in the conversations that followed, Nick explained to me that once, about 4 years after we met, he had told me that he felt I didn’t listen to him. I remembered the conversation. “I decided that you would never change and to go along with it” he said. I explained that very rarely can people look to change on being told something once, that it was duty to communicate with me, to tell me he hadn’t been happy again until I had heard. Maybe I didn’t know how to change, but I am and have always been open to feedback to doing the best I can – it was his responsibility to make sure I heard him properly, so telling someone once and giving up doesn’t give them a chance to understand. Despite this, he always treated me adoringly, so I had no sense whatsoever that anything could be wrong. On reflection, my sense was he was trying to come up with an excuse to justify what he had done.

At one point, Nick asked me if I wanted to try again. He said “I will try again if you want to. But can I ask you to make a decision quickly, because it’s not fair to keep Louise hanging on.” So it was clear to me who he cared about and and wanted to be with, that it wasn’t me, so I said no.

 

No-one could understand it. His friends and family all knew Louise from years before, she was an ex of his, and almost every single one of them said to me “we just don’t know why he’s left you – for HER?” None of them liked her. He nearly lost all of his schoolfriends because of it.

 

When they married, he took Louise’s name and became double-barrelled. He was no longer just Nick Hanlon. He became Nick Hanlon-Brooks.

 

It took me more than 10 years to realise that I had spent all those years living with post-traumatic stress because of that email, seeing how I had being lied to, and how we had finished – of how I had seen my dreams and the life and relationship I loved – literally vanish in a painful puff of smoke.

 

The impact of all of that – the shockwaves – it sent through me and my life are impossible to describe. I had money, and no commitments, and when friends suggested I go travelling, I couldn’t do it. I had nothing to hold on to. My whole life – all my dreams – had crashed and burned. But most of all, my ability to trust myself had gone too.

 

Some people when they are cheated on lose trust in men or women, depending on who they date. I didn’t lose trust in people. I lost trust in myself. And that had a serious impact on my ability to choose healthy relationships. I spent 7 years dealing with an abusive and aggressive ex, in the end applying to the Courts for an injunction to stop his behaviour – someone I would not have chosen if I had trusted myself to chose wisely. But my radar, which had been highly attuned to spot aggressive men (and avoid them), turned itself off after we separated. If I had got it so wrong with Nick, I wondered, then I must get it wrong with everyone.

 

Nick didn’t just lose my trust in him – he took with him my trust in my ability to choose wisely. Had we lovingly reached a point of letting each other go, respectfully – however painful that would have been – I would have continued to believe in myself, and my ability to choose well. I would have stayed strong in my belief in myself as a valuable and loveable human being.

 

Instead he blocked me on all social media, which I found out only by accident, which made me feel like there was something wrong with me for a decade, because why would he behave in that way but then refuse to talk to me – surely I should be the one blocking HIM? I contacted him 4 or 5 times asking for just one meeting – one question had remained unresolved and I just wanted to understand something so I could move on and have closure. He has consistently refused, so I didn’t know for a whole decade how to find a final closure around it all, despite trying a gazillion healing, coaching, NLP, and psychological techniques to do so. It had stopped me finding a peace and being able to fully move on.

 

And here’s the thing.

 

When we talk about the reasons why relationships break up, it’s just accepted that one reason is infidelity.

 

If, however, someone came and burned your house down, and your partner died in it, that would be seen a criminal matter. But we do this to each other emotionally – and it is ACCEPTED that we do. We have normalised the emotional equivalent of this behaviour in our world.

 

And what we are doing each other a disservice in this world. Because we are saying to each other “you’re just human. Go ahead. You don’t need to be bigger than this. You don’t need to do the right thing. He or she’ll just get over it.”

 

We stop ourselves and each other from stepping up into being the very greatest we can be. We don’t hold each other to account, we don’t remind ourselves that we can have courage, that we can be strong, that we are POWERFUL and able to love and respect others, and how actually, being kind and loving FEELS GOOD.

 

We think it’s in human nature to hurt one another. When kids are horrible to each other, we say “Oh that’s just kids being kids.”. When businesses behave unethically we say “oh that’s just what corporates do.”. And so they just carry on because we don’t remind them of how much more wonderful they can be, how well they can behave, and how GOOD it feels to do so.

 

But I actually think there is a more powerful aspect to our nature that we could do with celebrating all the more.

 

Twice I have seen people collapse on the tube, and in both of those instances, I was amazed by what I saw.

 

Immediately – INSTINCTIVELY – people rushed forward to support and help the stranger who had fallen. Both incidences happened at rush hour, I didn’t see anyone check their watch and wonder if they would be late for work. In that moment all that mattered was whether this person, right here in front of them, was OK.

 

I really believe it is a natural instinct to be kind – to want to help – for most people. I think instinctively we know we are in this together, and would want someone to help us too if we needed it.

 

But here’s the thing. The more kindness we show to others, the more we inspire others to do the same.

 

The more we are honest with those who love us, who have given us their trust, the more courageous and kind we are with the people around us, the more we inspire those around to be the same, and it sends ripples through people as we help each other step up to being bigger and better in ways that help not just us, but eventually all of humanity.

 

The world needs us to bring kindness into all we do. We then help others bring kindness to all they do. Social scientists are proving that emotional states spread to people we don’t even know. There is a model called the 3 degrees of influence.

 

When we make another person unhappy, we are spreading unhappiness, because they will take and share how bad they feel and share it with someone else, whose mood will drop, who will also feel unhappy, who will then take that happiness to someone else. Social scientists have named this phenomenon The 3 Degrees of Influence. Happiness and positive emotion spread in this way too.

 

So spread kindness. And have the COURAGE and LOVE to start by spreading it at home. If things aren’t working out with someone who loves you and has given you their trust (in my case also my wallet), then do the right thing. Be the amazing person you are. Love them enough to tell them with love, and resolve this stuff completely first.

You can do it. You are big enough. And wonderful enough.

 

And if your friend is cheating on someone, love them enough to tell them to stop. To face the challenges in the relationship first. To be honourable to all the people involved, including themselves? Think that’s impossible? Husbands beating their wives was normal once, so was rape in marriage. I think this is the next social norm to tackle and make unacceptable.

 

Two people who get together at the expense of anyone else will never ever be truly happy. They might think they are, but deep down, their foundations have formed in a bedrock of destruction and pain and unhappiness and brokenness and shame and deceit and the loss of trust. No amount of double-barrelling will be a strong enough glue to stop that destruction and pain and unhappiness from finding its way out again eventually. And that will lead to yet more destruction and pain and unhappiness elsewhere. A relationship built like that will always be broken at it’s core because it was built on breaking others.

 

Would you wish that for yourself, or for someone you love?

 

I wouldn’t either. No one wins. Not ever, not truly.

 

Had Nick done the right thing, and resolved things with me first, had we decided to separate and only after THAT had he met Louise and got together with her, the foundations of their relationship would be built on love, not misery, pain, betrayal, deceit.

 

We need to stop staying silent when we see our loved ones hurt other people. This is a psychological concept called bystander apathy – where we will stand by and watch horrible things happen without stepping in.

 

Funnily enough it was Nick, who ironically trained to be a citizenship teacher, who would say to me “we are our brother’s keeper.”. And he was right. We need to look out for each and help each other be the best we can be. We have to make a stand for honesty and respect and loving open communication, for having the courage to do the right thing. And to bring kindness into all we do.

 

Being honest, courageous, strong and kind isn’t always easy. We ARE human. None of us is perfect. We are all constantly learning and growing and evolving. We fuck up.

 

When you fuck up, apologise. From the heart. And mean it. Sit in your discomfort, look the person in the eye and let them share their pain of what they have been through because of your actions. That is what heals, it’s what enables everyone to move on peacefully. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu showed us all how to do that with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

 

When we fall, the best way we can help each other is to remind each other of why we are brilliant and how awesome we can be. Loving each other and being compassionate when we fall, but not saying “it’s OK, you’re human, we fall.” Saying “we fall, but here – let me help you up again, because I’ve seen you walk, and you’ve got a pretty special walk, especially when you walk tall and with that big bold honest loving heart and that massive kind smile you have.”

 

And in the process we show others how to walk tall, with a big bold honest loving heart and a massively infectious kind smile too.

 

And that feels good right? Can you all feel it in the room right now? Can you all feel that desire to walk tall, with a big bold honest loving heart and a massively infectious kind smile too?

 

As you leave here tonight, take that with you and spread the vibe of standing tall, with big bold honest loving hearts and big kind smiles, and spread it to the people you meet, and they will spread it to the people they meet.

 

And then when enough of us spread that to others, we see the world change, because everyone else has remembered how GOOD it feels to be kind, and wants to do more of the same.

 

Do the right thing. Be the big person you can be. Shine your light, with love wherever you go, especially with all of those who love and trust you. Help others do the same.

 

Stop unkindness in all its forms, and revel in how wonderful kindness feels.

 

I write and talk about many many issues. My perspective on this is the first time more friends than not have said “you can’t about that”. Because of how many of them have cheated or been the “other woman” or “other man”.

 

I spoke to one friend who was “the other woman”, who despite her discomfort told me she was the other woman, and we just talked about what this meant for her and why, and all I felt was love for her because she could sit with it and be with it. And work through it. She – despite her discomfort – knew I was right. And wanted to use this as an opportunity to honour herself and others and grow.

 

We have to talk about this. Humanity needs it right now. We need to start believing the best in each other – especially given the way the world is right now – and drawing boundaries around what is and isn’t acceptable. We need to stop normalising a lack of kindness, respect and love in all it’s forms – and that starts with our personal relationships.

 

Imagine how much in world could change if we did that?

What the 75-year Harvard study on happiness can tell us about effective teams

The missing piece on mindset for women leaders seeking to break through the glass ceiling?

walk-through-wall-of-fearI am interested in limiting beliefs. The power of a positive mindset, strengths and the power of belief, attitude and willpower fascinate me.

How can one person from a disadvantaged background overcome all odds and become one of the most powerful people in the world, like Oprah? When another from an advantaged background can struggle to make it past first base?

I am fascinated because my own journey would have suggested that I should have ended up in jail, a lady of the night, addicted to drugs, unable to progress my career – let alone achieve all that I have in my own career so far. A violent childhood, maternal mental ill health, time in foster care, the occasional night on the streets which were the safest place for me some of the time, all should have combined led to my being a “failure” in life – so my psychology studies taught me. But as I also learned, I had what are known as “protective factors”.  I had two. When my mother was well, she was strong. She modelled positive beliefs in positive outcomes, and that anything was possible, if I applied myself to it. And I had a good education that was designed to empower my fellow students and I to be strong capable women in the world – no matter our background.

I meet many like me. Successful and hugely powerful women who are pushing the boundaries of gender equality at senior levels, however some are still harbouring the pains of their past – some held together with sticky tape, others gaping wounds that prevent women moving forward.

My experience of working with powerful women who wish to break down those artificial walls of protection – that act as a barrier to their success as well as any perceived pain – is deeply profound and poignant. Seeing women transform into a place of feeling safe being who they truly are, sharing their strengths easily and authentically – and encouraging others to do the same, being open and sharing weaknesses in a confident and humorous way – in ways that connect – is truly a privilege to witness. Seeing women comfortable in their own skin is seeing power in action. Glass ceilings seem to evaporate as they realise that they truly ARE good enough, and ARE enough and can do ANYTHING they set their minds to, no matter what the statistics may tell them.

Brilliant experts in the field of positive psychology such as Dr Carol Dweck and Professor Barbara Fredrickson are helping us to understand the power of mindset – how, for example, having a positive mindset focused on opportunities, solutions, strengths, possibilities, leads to more choices, greater collaboration and a sense of powerfulness. A focus on problems, threats and weaknesses all lead ultimately to a sense of isolation and helplessness.

Such is the power of mindset. But I think there is more to it than we are currently talking about. What if there is another layer to mindset?

It is exactly 100 years since Carl Jung published his essay describing the collective unconscious and also discussing it in comparison to the collective conscious, a term first used by Emile Durkheim in 1893.  In a nutshell, ideas, thoughts and beliefs held by a large collective of people will pass into the unconscious mind – and in so doing will of course affect the decisions we make.

What this mean for mindset, women and leadership?

collective-consciousnessWhat if some of our mindset is based on beliefs held in both the collective consciousness and collective unconscious? What if we have taken on beliefs about what is and isn’t possible for us based on others’ beliefs?

This may not just happen on a psychological level. For those of us that are naturally empathetic, this may happen on an emotional level too – we may on a conscious or unconscious level feel the limiting beliefs of the collective – the limiting beliefs of the other women who have tried to succeed and haven’t quite yet broken through the glass ceiling.

There is now scientific evidence that we don’t just have a physical body and a mind, but that we also have an electromagnetic field – an energy body, as it were, and it is in this electromagnetic field that are emotions live. That’s why we can’t “find” our emotions in any physical part of our body or our anatomy, but we really can feel them. Those feelings flow through us, not stuck to any part of our body. Emotions are literally energy-in-motion (e-motion).

So for those of us that are empathetic, we are likely to “feel” more than others, and so also be affected by feelings in the collective consciousness and collective unconsciousness. Such as feelings of despair, helplessness and hopelessness of the may women around the world who feel unable to break through.

So what can you do if you are one of these women?

positive attitude reminderSetting the intention and affirming that you can elevate the success of your career free from any limiting thoughts or feelings faced by others in the collective consciousness or collective unconscious is an important addition to the mindset piece. The more women believe that gender is no barrier, the more that will be seen, known and felt in the collective consciousness.

I believe that we owe it not just to ourselves, but to the women we inspire to set the intention that our career can go as far and high as we choose them to free from any influence of what others may say. That is true leadership. Showing others the way.

 

 

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Elevate begins in April 2016. You can find out more here

Why I don’t recognise Hogan’s view on strengths based coaching, as published in the HBR

I was really intrigued to read the article, published in the Harvard Business Review, describing “how strengths based coaching can weaken you”. Written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan, it was carefully presented, and used some well-researched statistics. But, based on my own experience as a strengths coach, it didn’t seem to describe the whole picture.

Firstly, Chamorro-Premuzic describes a strengths approach leading to “the word “weakness” becoming a politically incorrect term in mainstream HR circles, where people are described as having strengths and “opportunities” or “challenges” — but not weaknesses. Some businesses are even planning to scrap negative feedback”.

This is, in my experience of using a strengths approach (including using Strengthscope®, a psychometric tool developed by Strengths Partnership), is simply not the case. I welcome a discussion when working with individuals and teams about areas that are less energising – which may or may not be weaknesses. If a strength that doesn’t energise the individual is not needed for a role, then it won’t be weakness. Or, the individual may have developed strategies to overcome any potential area of risk and so that non-strength isn’t a weakness. For example, an individual may not be energised by efficiency, however their energy for relationship building will mean that they are meticulous in responding to emails and calls in order to maintain those relationships. And so their low energy for efficiency simply isn’t a weakness.

However, a weakness is always an opportunity. An insighful conversation with a strengths colleague at Strengths Strategy this week highlighted to me how weaknesses are always an invitation for connection. In order to overcome our weaknesses most effectively, we either develop those areas (which means connecting with those who can help us, and as Chamorro-Premuzic himself says, this is what “high performing leaders” can do), or we reach out to colleagues who are energised in that area, and can help. Weaknesses are the ultimate team development, relationship building and collaboration opportunity – as long as we see weaknesses in that way!

The author highlighted that “meta-analytic evidence shows that negative feedback and lower self-estimates of ability do improve performance” but there is also evidence to suggest that a focus on weaknesses leads to actively disengaged employees.

I don’t know who Chamorro-Premuzic was speaking to in order to get his view on strengths based coaching, but none of the many exceptional strengths coaches I have met and work with would have taken that view. The ones I know are all comfortable with exploring weaknesses with individuals and teams – in fact my favourite work is seeing the transformations that happen when teams look at areas of weakness together and identify new strategies that lead them to success – using their strengths!

Another point Chamorro-Premuzic made was about how there is no scientific evidence that strengths work. There is plenty of evidence to show that a strengths approach work – including the review of decades of data collected by Gallup by Rath and Conchie in Strengths-based Leadership .

We have come to equate scientific evidence as being only robust if it has been independently researched and published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Whilst it is important to be rigorous in collecting and analysing data, because we are all as practitioners responsible for ensuring that what we publish is based on evidence, I feel that the application of the definition of science has become too narrowed.

It is all to easy to throw out valid data simply because “there’s no scientific evidence” or because it hasn’t been “peer reviewed”. But what does that mean?

Typing in “definition of science” into Google gives us this: science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”. Science, in its purest form, is about observation and experimentation.

If I give an analogy of the scientific approach of a child. My son, who is 6, is fascinated by nature. He has started to notice every time there is frost, now that it is winter. He knows that this means that it must be very cold outside. This – in and of itself – is science is action. My son is observing something  – a change over time – and reporting it to me.  Now imagine that all his kindergarten classmates do the same. Imagine too that they, as a class, might have an idea to bring in a thermometer and all measure together, the temperature each morning and note whether there is frost or not. And so learn and discover the temperature range at which frost is present.

The class experiment, if conducted over a set time, might qualify it for publication in the kiddie equivalent of a peer reviewed academic journal, however my son’s individual scientific observations and personal experiment are accurate – and valid – irrespective of whether a larger scale experiment has taken place to support what he has seen. And he will know that when he scientifically observes frost – whether or not anyone else agrees with him – he needs to put his hat and gloves on.

Whilst peer-reviewed data on the positive impact of strengths is being gathered, there is plenty of observed and measured evidence of the positive impact that a strengths focused approach brings to individuals, teams and to overall business success.

I have worked with many businesses that have all observed the hugely positive impact that a strengths coaching approach has brought, and that is science in action. In fact, I am yet to experience a case where a strengths focused approach didn’t work. I don’t believe I ever will. In one intervention I was involved in for example, employees taking part in focus groups all openly and emphatically talked about how it is possible to “tell” (observe) which teams had been put through the strengths coaching approach and which hadn’t, such was the positive impact and difference it had made to people’s lives. That to me is science in action – and all those within the organisation – were the scientists observing the impact of the intervention and noticing its impact.

Academic research is hugely important in verifying what we see on the ground, so it’s crucial that we continue to support research that helps progress and prove the positive impact that different interventions can make. And of course measuring the impact of interventions helps to build the business case, which in turn makes it easier for organisations to justify investing in such approaches.

However we can lose a lot of time waiting for the results of academic research when actually, we know and can see the outcome of any action we take, just in taking it. This doesn’t just apply to the wonderful work of positive psychology, this applies to everything we do, every decision we make in every area of our lives. And whilst we wait for the research to come out, individuals and teams waiting for it, can lose time being disengaged, unmotivated, having less confidence, delivering poor outcomes, and being unhappy at work – and all the negative effects that this can bring to health, relationships, teams and the business as a whole.

Also, we don’t always understand how or why something “works”, but we see that it does. That is science. Our desire as scientists is to understand it, and I applaud that. But I also welcome more space to welcome in what we observe works as being valid too – without the need for scientific data to back it up, because we are all, ultimately, scientists, like my 6 year old son. And a strengths coaching approach is something that I, and everyone I have ever worked with, has observed “works”, without the evidence of a peer-reviewed paper.

It is time to reclaim science as a common sense approach that we can all access – to realise that we are all scientists. Then businesses can get on with getting in the best approaches to build stronger, happier and more capable workforces, and can grow their businesses as easily and quickly as possible.

This is how innovation works, and how leaders in the field succeed. They are willing to try something that may not yet have the academic evidence to show it works, because they, as a scientist too, have had an idea or observed something. They may fall, or they may fly. But when they fly, they are the ones the rest of us look up to – and it is because of them that the research into their success follows.

 

What Multipotentialites Need from Coaching – and Are Coaches Ready to Deliver?

“A what?!” I hear you ask already. As we begin a whole New Year (and a very happy one to you, while we’re on the subject), I have been pondering this question at length.

Firstly though, you might be in the majority of people who will want to know what one is!

The dissatisfied boy reading the bookMultipotentialites are individuals who have a diverse range of interests, and can be successful across different professions. Famous multipotentialites include Michelangelo, Galileo, Gloria Steinem, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Noam Chomsky, Jane Asher and Oprah Winfrey.

It’s easy in a world that rewards specialists and experts to think of multipotentialites as “jacks of several trades”, however they are seen to be “intellectually gifted”, able to learn a wide range of subject areas rapidly, and are hugely adaptable. However there is one aspect of multipotentialism that makes coaching a multipotentialite – or polymath – particularly interesting.

Multipotentialites are true innovators. They can, as Emilie Wapnick so brilliantly describes in her TEDx Talk on this, “combine two or more fields and create something new at the point at which they intersect.”

Because multipotentialites thrive on working on several diverse projects, and goals, simultaneously, some of which will come together, choosing just one can feel really hard to do.

How do I know this?

Because I am one.

For me it looks like this. I am mainly a psychologist, an accredited executive coach and a trainer, but I am also a cake baker who makes delicious cakes that are organic and free from cane sugar, wheat and dairy – and I use my speaking and training strengths to talk about business and economics. I am an ex-Pharmacy student in love with natural medicine, and have even written a theorem about side effects when using pharmaceuticals or natural medicine – drawing on my fascination with geometry. Not to mention my work as a writer, healer, and teacher of intuitive disciplines.

When people ask me what I do, I usually answer with one or two of the 6 roles I currently have, depending on who I am talking to. That’s just the ones I can name. You can imagine what fun some coaches have had with me in the past. “If you were to focus on just ONE goal/area/interest, which ONE would it be?” has been the general gist.

The thing is, it just doesn’t work like that with a multipotentialite. And it isn’t always easy being one.

  • Other people often think that we can’t make our mind up about the career we want to go into and are unfocused – rather than the reality that we are fascinated by all of them and have the energy and drive and motivation to put into each. Simultaneously.
  • We switch attention (become bored) easily once we have learned what we need to – this can make us look like we jump around, and this can make completing things a challenge at times.
  • It can be frustrating not always being able to explore all interests, because our working lives may require us to focus just on one area. This can leads to anxiety, low-self-esteem and disengagement.
  • It can be hard to identify a clear life purpose. We can feel like failures because we haven’t worked out what we are going to do when we grow up. Yet. As Emilie so beautifully describes.

A much more helpful approach I find when coaching multipotentialites is to firstly enable them to recognise that they are in fact one – that there isn’t something wrong with them, or that they are “unfocused” or “scattered”.

polymathSecondly, I create the space for them to explore each of their interests, and to consider how they come together, rather than trying to separate them out. “How do these seemingly different fields come together for you, I wonder?” is a question I love to explore.

Thirdly, I explore what is driving their current focus, and whether this is comfortable and aligned with their direction, or whether they are at risk of doing what they feel they have to do – which can lead to disengagement. The client can then use this awareness to determine whether a re-focus is required to bring more balance to The Force*.

(*I also have an almost academic love of Star Wars. Did I not mention that?!).

 

We are only at the beginnings of exploring what multipotentialism means for business – and to learn about how to best harness the innovative, creative thinking that multipotentialites bring. I look forward to seeing what we will all discover – business leaders, psychologists, coaches, specialists and multipotentialites alike.

 

Join me for Elevate – a 6 month Mastermind (or Genius!) Program for Women Leaders choosing to take their heart’s work to the next level. Starting in Spring 2016.

*Gulp*……a coming out to all the business folk in the house

Connections-IndexTo some of you reading this, this won’t be a surprise at all, but to some of you, this may well be news.

I have been completing my qualification in Executive Coaching,  and something has been coming up…..rumbling away. And as much as I have tried to ignore it, it seems like it won’t go away.

In my work, I see a lot of disconnection – people afraid to feel at work, to be truly themselves, to stand up and speak when they disagree with a decision even when for ethical reasons. “Play the game”, one of my banking friends has always been advised – and advises others to do the same. In the process, I see people switch a part of themselves off . They stop bringing their most creative, talented selves to work and so don’t really progress in their careers as quickly as they could.

Training, facilitating and coaching individuals and teams to transform whatever limiting thoughts, fears or experiences are keeping them disconnected fires me up. Witnessing clients connect with who they are, their strengths and passions, what drives them, and what they are capable of achieving is fires me up more. Being connected requires a willingness to understand and be open about all of who we are.

So the rumbling I have been having has been because I have realised I haven’t been allowing myself to be fully open about what I do and how I do it. I haven’t allowed myself to be connected to all of who I am. Perhaps when I tell you why, you might understand.

Despite being a psychologist with a love of science (I originally started a degree in Pharmacy), often when I am training or coaching or writing, angels show up.

There. I said it.

I see angels.

I don’t just see them. I talk with them too.

I can’t help it. I first saw one as a child, but then in 2006, a massive spiritual awakening led to me seeing them all the time. I took time out from my work in the business world to learn about them – and not just angels, but all sorts of aspects of metaphysics and energy work. I believe in, and connect with “God” – but not in a religious sense. I see an energy that I call unconditional love, and work with some clients who wish to clear limiting beliefs with that energy, when they ask me to.

I took some time out to not just learn about this, but taught (and still do teach) about energy healing, angels, Reiki, ThetaHealing, meditation, intuition, and learned and studied the energetics of colour.

And then was arm-wrestled back into business – a world I didn’t think I could work in again – by a dear friend who saw how I teach Angelic Reiki, and realised I am a great trainer. When I asked him how I should introduce myself, he asked me to tell them the truth. So I did. The training courses, conference talk and the problem-solving sessions I have run in his company have been some of the most remarkable – and life changing – courses I have designed and delivered.

But I have returned to the rest of the business world with my “psychology” hat on, still afraid to be honest about all of what I bring. I have been coaching and training, including for a well-respected business school, focused on the psychology behind learning, change, strengths and engagement.

I just haven’t mentioned that when I coach or train business clients I often see angels show up. The first time it happened during a coaching session, I was at a very traditional bank, delivering sessions to a well respected senior team. To my surprise, as they walked in and sat down, I saw their angels working with them, doing healing, helping them to feel more at peace. All the while, I had my “coach” hat on – supporting my clients to understand their strengths.

I love using creative tools and techniques – especially Gestalt approaches – in my work supporting clients to achieve their goals. Interestingly however, clients often report being surprised that they feel more at peace and more relaxed, in addition to clearer about their next steps. This is why.

ba-690x345I can’t hide it anymore. I have felt like I can’t fully be myself, and it is a tiring thing to hide a part of who we are. Even though it is scary to be so open (“will anyone ever hire me again?!” my gremlins ask), I can’t support others to connect with who they truly are – and in so doing unlock their genius – if I am unwilling to do the same myself.

So here it is. As vulnerable as I feel sharing this, this is who I am.

A business trainer, an executive coach, a leader, an entrepreneur, a writer.

And an angel whisperer.

 

The 3 most powerful words in manifesting (that will surprise you…….!)

6_(4)I have just discovered something REALLY amazing about manifestation. There is a magic phrase, which if you use it will really help you to achieve your dreams.

 

Before I tell you what it is (because it might surprise you), let me share with you what it isn’t. It isn’t:

 

 

 

“I can see myself doing…….”

“I can feel myself being……”

“I know what I want for myself”

“I know the answers”

“If I set the intention to……”

“I will visualise my success.”

“I just need to revisit my vision board….”

 

All of these phrases are useful and helpful in their own way. But I don’t know about you, despite my Herculean efforts at times to manifest the desires I intended for myself, they wouldn’t come about.

 

Ah ha! I laugh. I think I have found out why.

 

I am about to launch a completely new business. It is doing something I LOVE and I will be setting it up in a completely new way – a fully conscious business, that brings together all that I love and teach – but here’s the thing. It’s a total surprise to me that I would be doing it, and is 100% not what I have been imagining myself doing.

 

I will be baking.

 

Not – as I have worked hard to do over the last seven years – teaching, writing, healing or meditating. Not directly, anyway.

 

The company I am starting, and what and how I will be baking, will embody everything I do and believe about how we are here to be the change. It will embody everything I have come to understand about health and the planet and life and how amazing our bodies are. So I WILL be teaching and writing and sharing and meditating (baking is mindful and meditative at times). I will be bopping around dancing (maybe even in my trainers) to happy tunes at other times, whilst waving a whisk in the air (another fave is raving). I will at times be helped by the love of my cute little munchkin and his love of baking too. My love of healing will go into everything I create, so that the people who eat my goodies will, if they so choose, receive unconditional love and whatever healing they need at that time.

 

When I have shared my vision with friends, they have all been overjoyed, because of how it is the perfect combination and expression of all my gifts, my heart, my love and my passions.

 

So how did it come about? How did I connect with manifesting such an amazing opportunity?

 

It was with three simple words.

 

“I don’t know”.

 

“I don’t know” is one of the most powerful phrases we have access to. Sounds like a crazy juxtaposition, doesn’t it?! Being able to say “I don’t know” changes everything in your life.

 

One of the amazing ways we have learned to limit ourselves in life is to “think” about the answers that are right, or logical, or make sense in some way to our cognisant minds. Our school system teaches us the rules of chemistry, physics, biology, French, german – and the core dates in history when significant events have transformed our lives forever. We are used to thinking. We are taught that knowledge is power, and inherent in that is a suggestion that a lack of knowledge is a lack of power.

 

I have spent years thinking about what I could be doing, then doing it, in a kind of logical order. My thoughts would NEVER have encompassed me building a baking business. So it took for me to exhaust every possibility I could think of with my mind about what I should do next – especially when I was struggling to get my work out into the world or not earning enough to live on.  When we are anxious, our adrenaline response puts us on high alert and we think and think and think to try to find the answer that will keep us safe, make us look like we are doing something proactive to change the status quo.

 

the-magic-art-of-letting-goAnd yet, in letting go – in truly surrendering – by saying “I don’t know”, we connect with our hearts. However the way we say “I don’t know” is what matters.

 

I am not talking about the type of frantic “I don’t know what to do!!!!” that comes from a panicked mind, worried about looking like a failure or a mess. It is the kind of “I don’t know” that means “you know what, I have thought of everything I can and right now I just don’t know what the next thing to do is” – and then taking a deep breath and not worrying anymore – but just carrying on with your day.

 

It’s OK not to know the answers. In that place of not knowing we create the space in our hearts for our next steps to truly and beautifully land within us. It is in those moments, that the truth of our next steps may drop in and surprise us, as we are connected with the answers we have been seeking.

 

It took 7 years of building my career as a spiritual teacher and writer before I finally let go. Had I stayed in my head-space, I would still be trying to teach and write (which I still do). Now though, my life is about to be enriched doing something that I never realised could be a career. The flow I am in because I have let go is remarkable and I feel truly humbled.

 

As Joseph Campbell said, ‘We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.’

You Can Change The World

2012-08-19 08.27.43I had an experience as a teenager that was quite unique – that I am sure that most of you won’t be able to relate to.

My mother was embarrassing.

When she was well, in addition to the eccentricity, she wouldn’t understand normal western ways of living and behaving due to her peasant farming Slavic background. She would ask for “Durex” loudly in her heavy Serbian accent in shops when she meant “Duracell”, would wear bling gold, and would breathe in front of my friends….you know, the stuff we worry about as teenagers. What made it worse was that she was – well – into natural stuff. Like organic food and natural toiletries, which was so unfashionable.

This was in the late 1980s, when to get hold of organic food and natural toiletries meant going to one of three shops in London. We drove all the way to Southall in far West London one day in the late 1990s, when my mother read an article about a plant-based range of cleaning products called Ecover – there wasn’t anything like it in existence at the time. We bought it from the importer because it wasn’t in the shops yet. It is now the leading brand of such products in the UK.

My mum’s perspectives bothered me. I was a teenage city girl living in trendy London, who worked Saturdays in a chemist, and used my shop discount to collect one of each of a whole range of cheap body sprays and all sorts of shampoos and conditioners that promised me magic hair. I didn’t want to smell natural. Being with my mother, that meant smelling of garlic, that mega-unfashionable immune system boosting natural antibiotic, and cardiovascular gem. Urgh no. And my mother would grow her own organic vegetables in the back garden using manure. When she offered me home-grown vegetables, I would in my loving, thoughtful teenage-daughterly way, turn my nose up because I didn’t want to eat anything a slug had shared.

It took me a while to realize that my mother was a trend-setting ultra cool genius – some time after she had passed in fact, bless her wise heart. Oh how she laughs from the “other side”. She taught me the power of listening to your truth – no matter what anyone else says – and the power of money.

Your most powerful tool for change

We are often brought up to believe that the most powerful contribution we can make to facilitating change that betters people’s lives is to vote for who governs us. There is however something far more politically powerful. You can facilitate much greater change by voting in another way – with your pocket.

How you spend your money literally changes the world. Let me give you some examples. Anita Roddick, with The Body Shop, turned consumer’s desires to use toiletries that had not been tested on animals into a global phenomenon. It’s success has waned since it was sold to L’Oreal; many loyal consumers have chosen to spend their money elsewhere. U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. [1] Every time you make a choice to buy organic food, that counts as a vote that shows you are interested in food that is grown in more environmentally conscious, sustainable ways, free of GM (genetically modified foods, which are engineered in a laboratory to be resistant to pests, or give a greater yield, or terminator seeds that won’t re-pollinate, meaning seeds have to bought from the companies year after year, amongst other actions) or the use of pesticides that are potentially harmful to health.

Genetically modified food is being shown to cause serious health problems. All wheat is GMO – it was originally genetically modified to ensure tougher yields over 100 years ago, before the need for labelling. I know many people – I’ll bet you do too – that are wheat intolerant. GMO is being shown to cause immune system, heart, and hormone problems as well as cancers. At the time of writing, 85 scientists in the UK have joined together to campaign to stop the use of GMOs because of the lack of scientific data about the long term health implications. Not to mention the damage it does to the ecosystem, animals, plants and land. Some suggest that the reason for the weather changes in some parts of the world are to engineered weather that Monsanto is involved in – creating weather patterns that destroy food crops, making us more dependent on “weather resistant” GMOs. Think that’s ludicrous? The Chinese Government in 2014 openly artificially generated snow in China, so if China is publicly doing that, what can other Governments and corporations do?

At the time of writing – many major food producers use GMOs, especially GM soy. This includes Kellogg’s, Heinz, Hellman’s and Cadbury’s. In fact, unless food is organic there’s no guarantee that it IS GMO free.

img_6836smFood suppliers want to meet your needs, and have you shop with them, so they oblige by finding more food producers of organic food. That means that more food producers who produce food organically are needed. So you actively vote for the reduced use of pesticides. This benefits not just consumers, but farmers who are encouraged to become organic….and are less exposed to these chemicals too. There is less chemical run-off into the water table under the fields, and so less chemicals going into streams and rivers. There is less evaporation of chemicals in the water into the skies, meaning purer rain water.

You change how land is used in a way that supports sustainable life on the earth just by what groceries you spend your money on.

 

It is the same with toiletries and household cleaning products. I remember asking my chemistry teacher, when I was 17 years old, why we didn’t use washing up liquid when we washed up the glassware that we used for experiments. She told us that it takes 26 rinses to wash off the phosphates in the washing up liquid (off glass ) and so the experiments become inaccurate. I remember even then thinking….umm that will be on dinner plates and go into our bodies…..and through our bodies into our babies and the land. It seems that lots of us have been catching on to an awareness that natural products benefit us all.

The US natural and organic hair care, make-up and skin care market expanded by more than 60% in the five-year period ending 2010. At that point the industry was worth close to $8 billion and is forecast to hit the $11 billion mark in 2016. Green products remain popular, despite the economic recession.[2]

Money, Medicine & Sacred Numbers

At the same time, there has been an increase in the awareness of the power of natural medicine, and the big companies want in on it – they want to make sure you continue to spend your money with them, so they will oblige informed consumers.

“It’s no coincidence that four of the six letters in health are ‘heal’.”
~ Ed Northstrum

Calendula flower essential oil and tinctureNatural medicine works in very interesting ways. When I first when to University, it was to study pharmacy – I loved learning about the body and was fascinated by what other substances do within it. I had worked in a chemist part-time from when I was 14 years old, and by the time I was 16, I had learned what all the drugs did in the pharmacy, could tell you most of the contraindications, and knew my way round generic and brand names like I had learned a foreign language perfectly. I failed my first year of Pharmacy studies twice in a row, partying like I had never partied before. I don’t think I was meant to be a pharmacist. However my love of medicine has never left me.

Meadowsweet is an example of the power of natural herbal medicine. Each plant medicine (like chamomile, or peppermint – which you will have heard of) has, in some cases, over 100 different plant chemicals working together to support health and wellbeing. Meadowsweet contains salicylic acid – a precursor to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). So both aspirin and meadowsweet can be used for pain relief, reducing fevers and inflammation. Whereas a side effect of the prolonged use of aspirin can be stomach ulcers, one of the main reasons meadowsweet is used is for treating stomach ulcers It contains natural plant chemicals that treat and support many bodily functions all at once.
Many pharmaceutical drugs are actually based on a natural medicinal herb, where one plant chemical has been isolated, and then made into a pill. So instead of getting the natural combination of many plant chemicals working together in a herb, you get just one chemical by itself.

nature_phiIf you remember the importance of The Golden Number – Phi; the number of love, then perhaps the plants contain a combination that the body can use, because the body is attuned to work well with all that is in harmony with it; that works with 1.618. Perhaps the combination of plant chemicals in plant medicine working together form a “perfect harmony” in nature; a Golden Spiral that the body knows how to use.

If you remember the amazing statistic that 99.99% of the human population could fit into the volume of a sugar cube, and that we are mainly space – or energy – it goes without saying that treating the energetic body is a more powerful form of healthcare. That is what homeopathy, EFT, Reiki, spiritual healing, ThetaHealing, kinesiology, acupuncture, shiatsu, and all forms of energetic medicine do. The physical body responds to what changes in the space within around a person when these forms of healing are used.

Science struggles to prove these forms of treatment are effective – because science often does not have the tools to do so – yet. Or the evidence that is out there has not made it into the mainstream yet. But there is plenty of evidence available – one of my favorites is a Gregg Braden video on YouTube that shows healers in China praying over a woman with cancer – and you can see the tumor on a scan literally reduce and vanish. Homeopathy took me by surprise – in fact the strongest physical response I have ever had to a medicine was from taking homeopathy.

High street pharmacies now sell – some even produce – natural remedies such as the herb echinacea, known to support the immune system – as standard, along with homeopathy and food supplements. Those of you who have sought alternative and complementary methods of healthcare have supported this change. Conventional doctors are training in acupuncture, and complimentary therapies are increasingly available in traditional western medicine hospitals.

How we produce and grow all that we use also matters. If we grow food because of a love of the food and what we do, the food is more likely to grow with the influence of that love – and within the parameters of the Golden Number, which the body recognizes and responds to. Food – like us – is mainly composed of water, and Dr Emoto’s work with water crystals shows the importance of all that we connect with being done from a place of love – with the Golden Mean of 1.618. Growing food organically, and in ways that are sustainable, is more likely to support the production of food that expresses Phi. Food grown for the sake of making money, without love, without a connection to nature, may not have access to the love that helps the water within form perfect geometry that the body recognizes as balancing and harmonizing. Of course, if the body comes across something that it recognizes as not good for it, it will do what it can to neutralize it – it will treat it as a foreign object.

There are other ways too that individuals – like you and me – have been changing the way that business works and the world is.

There was a huge outcry at the use of so-called “sweatshops” to produce clothing, often using child labor. Many companies have taken steps to demonstrate that they are more socially responsible. That is because we have been calling for it.

Your vote at the polling station may not change big governance in any significant way, but your vote with that immensely powerful tool – money – is world-changing.

People often say “oh, but it is so expensive!”. We have lost touch with the true cost of producing food, with the drive to make everything cheaper. I made sure that my son and I ate an organic diet at home, even when I was on social security benefits. Lots of people questioned that with me. Aside from the fact the benefits don’t give you much to live on at all, we kind of rationed the food out – and I didn’t spend the money on very much else. I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol, do drugs, party, or buy clothes. I lived with one ill-fitting bra for a year, with an extra bra for another 2 years, most of my pants had holes in them, we often walked instead of getting the bus to save money on transport, but we ate organic and used cheaper chemical free toiletries and cleaning products as well as natural medicine. I have made a commitment to buy organic fair-trade clothes as much as possible for me and 100% for my son. I know it is possible, if that is what matters to you. I often exchange natural treatments – giving a treatment using a skill I have in return for one from a practitioner whose skills I don’t have.

love-moneyNot having a lot of money doesn’t mean you have to give up on what matters to you. Your principles are your principles and your power is your power. Your buying power is immense.

Solar power, wind power, underground heating and cooling exchange systems for heating and cooling homes, and electric cars are all becoming increasingly popular, because people are choosing to find more sustainable ways of living well.

The shift in our values, and in our consciousness is causing massive changes in big business, that is growing. Meditation and yoga are now valued by many big corporations such as Apple, Yahoo, Google, Virgin to name a few – who provide these regularly for their staff. Paid time off work is given by many companies who wish to support their employees to give back to their local communities by doing voluntary work. Hewlett Packard ran a forgiveness programme for staff, and the ANZ Bank in Australia hired a woman named Sonja Stojanovic who openly aims to “bring more love into the workplace”. These companies realize that in order to be truly innovative, they have to empower their staff to feel truly at home, able to express their authenticity, and creativity and wholeness. That means creating happier workplaces. My guess is that Reiki attunements in the workplace aren’t far behind.
I really believe that it is through us changing what we value, that we influence the big companies – who have the power and resources to make big changes in how the world is run.

Energy flows where attention goes

You don’t just change the world by how you spend your money practically. You change the world because of where you put your attention. You are a powerful Creator in the world – so every time you spend your money, you are giving something your attention, intention and power. So what you put your money into grows more powerful. So, do you want to put your money and make more powerful those companies that destroy the planet, its animals and people? Or do you want to make more powerful those companies that love the Earth and love you? It’s your call. It’s in your power to change the world.

You literally are changing the big companies, how money is used, and how the world works. As my friend Magnus Tapping said, “Buy the change you wish to see in the world.” How you do so literally changes the world because you are a Creator and you are amazing.

Ridiculous yachts, private planes, and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.
~ Richard Branson

Without question, the balance of power on the planet today lies in the hands of business. Corporations rival governments in wealth, influence, and power. Indeed, business all too often pulls the strings of government. Competing institutions-religion, the press, even the military-play subordinate roles in much of the world today. If a values-driven approach to business can begin to redirect this vast power toward more constructive ends than the simple accumulation of wealth, the human race and Planet Earth will have a fighting chance.
~ Ben Cohen

Exercise

Write down your answers to the following questions.

▪ What are your values in relation to the world around you? (eg health, environment, kindness to animals)
▪ How do you take action now in your life, to express those values in your life?
▪ What other steps could you take to come closer to reflecting what matters to you?

Now make a commitment to follow at least three of those steps from now on as consistently as possible.

[1] Organic Trade Association’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey

[2] Packaged Facts 2012

Copyright © Danica Apolline 2013, 2014
Extract from The 8 Magic Keys to a Wonderful Life by Danica Apolline

What is the greatest power you have?

love-is-freedomThis weekend, I went to see the film Mandela, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, and it triggered in me a powerful reflection of where we are at in the evolution of our planet. Those of you who know me will know that I have a particular love of Nelson Mandela. I was first inspired by him as a teenager, watching him leave 27 years in prison a peaceful man, and shortly afterwards reading his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

I have followed him closely, and as many of you will know, feel that he gifted us with one of the greatest ways of finding peace through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I feel a huge love for Walter Sisulu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, amongst the greatest contributors to Mandela’s greatness, and was blessed to be able to go to Walter Sisulu’s memorial in London.

Yet there was something – or someone – I had not given the attention that was also deserved, and who really stood out for me whilst I watched the film. Winnie Mandela. Nelson’s second wife, a strong, determined, powerful woman who many in South Africa looked to, and still hugely respect. She is called “Mamu Winnie” by many – Mother Winnie. Watching her story unfold through the film, I was reminded about something very important – I was inspired to think about our greatest power.

Winnie Mandela was brutalised before and during Mandela’s imprisonment. A strong, intelligent, bright woman, she spent 16 months in solitary confinement in a cockroach infested concrete box of a cell, during Nelson’s imprisonment. She was beaten, assaulted and abused by the prison officers – in addition to all that she experienced, living with 2 small children and no income at times, separated from the husband she adored, regularly harassed by the apartheid police. Mandela had his compadres with him, however hard his imprisonment was – he always had people (and love) around him. She was deprived of that solidarity, that togetherness. She reacted accordingly, and Naomie Harris gives a truly phenomenal Oscar-winning performance as a woman battered by the Apartheid regime – and what that did to her.

Winnie Mandela turned to hate. She was so angry and bitter about all all she lost, and as a leader in the ANC resorted to championing the “fight”. She authorised the brutal executions of informants, and became quite militarised. She wanted others to hurt as she was hurting. She wanted to cause others the pain she felt. She represented the anger and rage of the oppressed black population, and they looked to her as someone who understood them. In that rage, South Africa was on the brink of civil war, until Mandela – bringing a message of peace, equality and reconciliation – changed that. Mandela himself said that “the only victory they ever had over me was what they did to her”. When he separated from her because of the damage her rage was causing the ANC movement, and his desire for peace politically, it is said to have been one of the most painful times of his life. Nelson adored Winnie.

So how does seeing this help us understand our greatest power?

I was reminded, watching Mandela, that both Winnie and Nelson suffered hugely at the hands of the Apartheid regime. But that each chose a different response. Mandela, for all his imprisonment, knew that the only way to true freedom was to forgive and to let his anger go.

Mandela realised that choosing peace was the only way to freedom. Mandela showed us that our greatest power is the power of choice.

Choice is your greatest power. It is an even greater power than love, because you must first choose to be loving person.

– Caroline Myss

We are living in a time where there is so much that we read about – as conscious souls – that can make us angry. I meet healers and therapists who would rather be angry about the behaviour of large corporations, or the problems of capitalism.

If we choose to build a world based on love, then we must first choose to be loving – and that means to all those who we perceive might be causing us a challenge in our lives.

There is no room for victimhood in the age of love we are co-creating. There is no room for anger or rage that seeks to destroy. In order for all of us to know and live true FREEDOM, we have to feel and live a freedom in our hearts, knowing that we create our world with that inner freedom – and to have an ability to feel love for EVERYONE. We have a truth, an inner love that will always be with us. And that feeling of freedom brings us choice – the choice to love.

We choose:

  • who and what we love
  • how we love
  • how we evolve
  • what we give our attention to
  • what we believe
  • what we spend our money on
  • where we work
  • what we do with our lives
  • how to be the change we wish to see in the world.

As soon as we realise that we are truly free, we can make choices that align with what we believe matters. What matters to you? Do you believe in a world based in love? Then act accordingly. Buy organic, buy natural products, buy fair-trade, buy organic cotton, buy the change you wish to see in the world. Love everyone, no matter who they are – for everyone is an invitation to love, even those who we see cause pain to others. Those people are our greatest teachers, for they are showing us that we have a choice about how we live and we can take the invitation of the Universe and be FREE.

That is what seeing Mandela reminded me of this weekend. Resistance and “fighting” for what we believe matters feeds the energy of the “oppressor”, as Winnie’s story shows. Being in your freedom is an expression of your power to create the world you choose, as Nelson taught us.

So how do we do that?! How to come to feeling free?

We look at all those we feel angry with, and we ask ourselves “What good things do I know about myself because of them”. Once you know that they have taught you that you are strong, determined, bright, capable, compassionate, loving, loveable, and everything else you are because they have shown you, you can then thank them for their lesson and, with your intention, in a prayer or meditation, set THEM free. In setting THEM free, you will be free also.

Are you ready? Are you ready to shine your light, free, and inspire others to do the same?

 

Please sign this petition encouraging Sir Richard Branson to publicly invest in Zero Point (Free) Energy Devices – free energy – for all. 

Danica will be launching more information about The 8 Magic Keys to a Wonderful Life Program on 28 January 2014. Sign up for more information! 

Mandela’s invitation to the coming evolution (LOVEution)

889430_dcf5_1024x2000In the last week, we have all received a powerful invitation. You may have noticed it flutter its call to you, or maybe just gazed at the beautiful request thinking about how pretty it looked, but resisted opening the envelope.

 

We have all been invited to reflect upon what it takes to be a leader. Not just a strong leader or a powerful leader, but a GREAT leader; an AWESOME leader, a world-defining agent for change.

 

This invitation came in the passing of one of the very greatest leaders this planet has EVER seen, and yet – outside of South Africa – his passing has been relatively little noted. There haven’t been the crowds and the huge outpourings of grief that occurred when Princess Diana died, or the huge jubilant celebrations when William and Kate married of little George was born. We have all just lived through the passing of a man who has transformed the world with the most remarkable insights and wisdom – and taught us literally what we need to do ourselves to make the world a better place, yet it seems like few people are feeling it, going to the South African High Commission or sharing his wisdom. Could it be we are a little cautious of getting so emotional?

 

I think not.

 

I have been really struck by how relatively little media coverage there has been considering his achievements. There has been little discussion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an emphasis instead on how he was a real person, that he was flawed, that he made mistakes. Of course he was human, but in downplaying his impact on the planet, we aren’t all connecting together to celebrate and eulogise him as we have others – celebrities.  Had there been footage of crowds gathering in London, or people lining up to sign books of condolence, many of us would have thought “oh I must go and do that” and we would have been swept up in a wave of emotion and expressing and sharing of Madiba’s awesomeness and what he achieved – and what he showed us.

 

There is a reason for us not being encouraged to do this.

 

2We would think about something very important. The very vision that Mandela fought for. The passion and total belief that led him to sacrifice 27 years of his life in prison. The concept of freedom.

 

Thinking about our freedom can make some seemingly powerful people feel very uncomfortable.

 

A powerful IT consultancy, The Gartner Group, has predicted that within the next 12 months there will be a movement bigger than Occupy, and a change in how we use money within 7 years. For us to reflect for more than a second on Mandela’s phenomenal achievements might make us think about our freedoms and lead to this movement a little more quickly.

 

For Nelson Mandela taught us all – gave us an approach – for how we free ourselves from oppression and tyranny. Why would need to know how to do so?

 

We can think that apartheid is a problem that only South Africa had, where blacks and whites were separated, and the white minority ruled and oppressed the black majority. However the meaning of the word apartheid isn’t just confined to the colour of our skin, or to our race. Apartheid is a separation of any kind for any reason.

 

We currently have our own apartheid. It isn’t just confined to Western countries; it is an apartheid that defines our relationships with each other across the globe. The apartheid we all live with is based on power, and it has a tool with which it is applied. What is the tool for separation that is common to us all?

 

Money.

 

Now before I begin, let me tell you this isn’t a rant about money. I don’t believe money is a “bad” thing. I feel it is easy to think the problem in the world is money, however I see money as a tool – simply a tool that expresses and reflects our relationship with ourselves, each other and the planet. Money is often used as a tool to express love as well as a way of defining old paradigm expressions of power. But there is something here that is relevant to us that Madiba taught us all.

 

We can be disconnected from each other based on how we see and experience money. Lynne Twist, in her remarkable book The Soul of Money describes how one executive might have made 7 million dollars that day, yet feel like a failure because his golfing buddy made 10 million.  Twist describes something very powerful – that we have a fear of there “not being enough”. That fear of there “not being enough” drives a lot of what happens on our planet. Corporations are built on the requirement that they grow, but continual growth means using up all the planets resources. We only have limited set of basic human needs to be happy and healthy – so in order to grow, corporations have to create a situation where you believe you need what they have.  In the 1950s, Dr Seuss wrote a book called The Lorax. It has since been adapted into a fantastic film – a wise and powerful depiction of what happens when someone decides to make “thneeds”. (something that people want but don’t really need).

 

Such is the drive for us to be controlled, that some corporations are using such extremes ways of making sure that they have power and control.

Monsanto, for example, is using weather patterns to affect the ability of crops to grow naturally; so that we then turn to them for their “weather resistant” crops once ours fail……..and their pot of money grows in their process. That’s why we had 8 months of winter in Britain last year. Pharmaceutical drugs create rather than treat illness, making some people dependent on medicine, seeking to cure problems caused by toxins in our environment – that corporations have put there in the first place……and pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders get rich in the process. We have a wonderful resource to keep ourselves hydrated and healthy – the solvent which all healthy chemical reactions in the body take place. It is called water. Many corporations take that pure water, add sugar (which suppresses the immune system), some colouring agents, and leaves little pure water for the indigenous communities who rely on it. Our teeth rot using these drinks, and our bodies struggle to cope with the acidity in it that can clean jewellery. Wheat is the original GMO – hence so many wheat allergies, because our bodies cannot process GMO foods, treating them as a foreign body, and so we have a strong immune response instead. Foods get covered in pesticides. Thought patterns that keep us small are added to the collective consciousness to keep us shopping, and stop us thinking, feeling and listening to our hearts – that bit’s easy (and why meditation is a powerful counterbalance). When you think of seeing planes land or take off, do they have white plumes that come out of them? No. Yet there are white plumes in the sky, specially woven to drop aluminium and radioactive strontium into the air, on our bodies, into the soil and water supply. People in several parts of China live with constant dangerous smog – so that you can wear your cheap clothes and buy lots of thneeds. Our soil, water, skies, food and very livelihoods are all compromised because of the drive for power and control and money.  Subliminal messages in films, and on telly – in the music we hear, and on the clothing brands we buy (eg Obey) are all part of a huge effort to keep us small. We are encouraged to play war games, but our minds do not know that the on-screen killing is “pretend” – and sends messages of “die!” into the collective consciousness – which contributes to the energy of war and suffering. We are told we must get a mortgage and ask for permission – and pay – to have a home. When surely, by our birth we each have a right to a piece of land on our home planet that is ours without having to ask anyone for permission or make an exchange of money (or other things) in order to receive it.

 

Success is based on numbers; of people, or money made – rather than happiness created. Bhutan is the one country on Earth where happiness is measured as more important as a measure of success than GDP.  This causes separation – for these measures all make people feel afraid, and as though they can never have enough. Incomes are kept low, people indebted for life through their mortgages and approaches to money. If we don’t have money, we dream of having it so we can buy stuff, and if we do have it, we only want to hang around with others who do to avoid remembering what it might be like to not have it, as though it is a terrible thing to live a simple life.

 

Even us spiritual folk are affected. Those of us who work with “high end” clients, driven by numbers that bring wealth and good fortune and more stuff (but this time it’s spiritual, like a gazillion crystals, so that makes it OK) and separation from earlier experiences of fears of poverty. Or those of us who work on a donation only basis whilst resenting those who do earn good incomes for not being “spiritual enough”.

 

THIS is the apartheid of our time. This is what we came here to collectively overcome. This is what we came to END.

 

MandelaWe have come here to remember that we are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE, as Marianne Williamson wrote in Return to Love. We have come to remember that we are enough and that we have enough. We have created a world of inequalities and circumstances of fear that keep us small, that keep us from standing up and being counted and saying NO! And even if the “powers that be” say no to our requests for peaceful justice and equality, then doing our thing anyway and creating something NEW. And – most importantly – doing so from a place of peaceful empowerment, and compassion for those who have created these systems of oppression and repression. We are here to end separation, and to do so means not making ourselves separate from those who have oppressed us, but taking their needs into account, understanding their fears that have driven them, healing what needs to be healed and then moving forward together. That is what the great Mandela taught us in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Healing, not hatred. Restoration, not retribution.

 

Some people would say that all we need is love, and to be at peace and meditate to create a new way. I would say this is a wonderful illustration about how everything is possible – and is so powerful too. inspiration is the greatest way of inviting others to do the same. But as long as we keep our knowledge of this world’s apartheid to ourselves, for fear of what others may think, it keeps its power. And part of saying “yes” to a wonderful new time of peace and love and kindness and wise living in balance with each other and the planet, realising that we have “enough” means saying “no” to what we have right now – a society built on apartheid.

 

A-Beautiful-World-is-aliveWe all have a right to:

  • Clean water and clean air
  • A piece of land on which to live that is ours simply because we were born, with no need to exchange money or goods for it
  • FREE education
  • Healthy, organic sustainably grown food
  • To work doing something we love, but not every hour we can in order to keep our jobs; so that we can spend time with our loved ones too
  • Happiness
  • Great health
  • Live a life free of the stresses of artificial systems of monetary pressure
  • Organise ourselves into small and large communities to bring love and peace and change and transformation

 

There is so much we can do – and that we will be invited to have the courage to do in the times to come. Here are a few things you can start to do now to pave the way for the beautiful transformations ahead.

 

  • Start growing your own organic food. Even if you live indoors, you can still grow some food on a windowsill. Or form collectives to share food.
  • Only buy natural toiletries with no chemicals in them – every time you buy something with chemicals in them, you pollute yourself, the water system, and encourage chemical companies to make more. People have to manufacture those, and the process of making them poisons the people who make them and produces toxins into the air and water supply
  • Only buy organic food for the same reason. Insist on organic, in fact.
  • Make ethical choices about how you use your money – on gifts, clothes, your utilities.
  • Buy alternatives to sugar and wheat – the most corrupted food produced that significantly affects health, and props us poverty around the world. Make your own awesome cakes using alternatives like xylitol.
  • Make presents of homemade organic cookies or scarves or something that isn’t made of plastic
  • Ask yourself, every time you buy something “do I really need this?” If the answer is “yes, but I really really WANT it”, then think of who may be struggling to breathe fresh air or drink clean water because of its production.
  • Find out about alternative forms of energy.
  • Explore investing in a reverse osmosis water filter to keep yourself healthy
  • Research the REAL alternatives to fossil fuel – free or zero point energy. It is, once you have made a simple device free. These are currently “illegal” because they threaten the power that oil companies have. But if we all learn about them, and start making our own, as a collective we will be a force to be reckoned with. Also underground exchange mechanisms that provide free heating or cooling to your home once installed.
  • Throw away your playstations and games consoles so as not to add to the thoughts of death and dying in the collective conscious. Hang out with real people.
  • TELL PEOPLE ABOUT HOW THE WORLD REALLY IS. Not in an argument, not worried about whether they will believe you or not, not attached to whether they will listen to what you have to say or dismiss you as mad. Whenever we hear something – even if we consciously dismiss it – our unconscious still hears it. It will help awaken people. Just say it simply, invite people to check what resonates with them, and share what you have learned and uncovered.
  • GIVE PEOPLE HOPE. We came here to TRANSFORM this world to a world of PEACE. We WILL DO IT – we ARE doing it – and we will MAKE THIS WORLD AMAZING. Sometimes transition can be a little rocky, but if we stay true to what we believe, we will together overcome anything and BUILD A WORLD OF LOVE.

 

mandela-3_2757067bSo here is our invitation. Here is Madiba’s call. This is a time for us to remember what GREATNESS is, and this GREAT leader showed us all what happens when we stand together, no matter what for values we BELIEVE IN. It is not in current political and economic system’s interests to highlight Nelson Mandela’s inspirations, achievements and AWESOMENESS because we may be truly inspired to realise that it is OK to say NO to separation, and to awaken to realise ONE PERSON CAN CHANGE THE WORLD – and what if that person was YOU? What if you were to stand up and be counted as someone who CARED about equality, justice, freedom, love, fairness, a RAINBOW WORLD, not caring about the false trappings of fame and fortune once a famous leader but of what matters in our hearts. That is what Nelson Mandela taught us, the news won’t remind you of that, the current system would hate it if you were to WAKE UP and realise you are being suppressed – and that you can stand and inspire a new way of living and being.

 

Madiba showed us how to find the COURAGE to look at our darkness and look at ourselves and see the Light, and the freedom that truth without punishment gives us. This was the journey of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 

REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE because that was Nelson Mandela’s GREATEST gift. The light he shone didn’t exist just in him, it exists in ALL of us – all he did was show us how to shine it.

 

You are here to be part of the movement of CHANGE where we all stand together and EVOLVE, FREE of the symbols, attitudes, beliefs and tools of suppression.

 

The planet deserves to be MOVED by this great leader’s legacy. Listen to the stories, read his book, see the film, REMEMBER the Light within you that is the same as the Light within Mandela. REMEMBER that if you believe in yourself fully, and are prepared to do anything to make the world a better place, then you too will leave behind a legacy. You too, like Madiba, will have been part of the whole world evolving, its people FREE. That’s his invitation. Do you feel, in your heart, his loving call?

Messages for NM outside hospital