A Conversation Can Change Your Life

There’s nothing I like more than a good conversation, which is probably just as well considering talking and listening are at the heart of just about everything I do in my business!

So tell me, when was the last time you had a really good conversation?

Because even though you no doubt have lots of them during the course of your daily interactions, not ALL conversations are created equal and not all conversations can be classified as ‘good‘ can they?

While there are undoubtedly some conversations that turn out to be literally life-changing (… details of one of mine to follow!) there are others which, for want of a better description I’ll call ‘unsatisfactory’ conversations, usually characterised by a lot of one-sided talking and not much listening!

You know the type of thing… the conversations where you find yourself being spoken to rather than conversed with. The conversations where the other party is just itching to relate everything back to their experience and where what you say will have absolutely no bearing on their response because they already know what they’re going to say anyway! If you’ve experienced this you’ll know what I mean when I say I somehow feel a bit ‘used’ after this type of interaction.

A good conversation however, is something very different.

You know when you’ve been part of a ‘good’ conversation because of how it makes you FEEL. You walk away from it feeling heard, feeling understood, energised or inspired…. or any number of generally positive emotions! And THEN there are those special conversations you have with someone, where the next day…. or even several days later, you’re still thinking about that conversation because something in you changed as a result of having had it.

Conversation as a catalyst

A conversation can be the catalyst that literally changes your life – and when you have one of those you know just how powerful an experience it is!

The coaching conversation is an example of this – it doesn’t necessarily change your life (although it certainly can do) but something changes as a result of it.

I was talking about my business with a woman recently and when I told her that conversation was at the heart of what I do, she responded by saying, ‘Oh so you tell people what to do then, do you?’ Which first off made me smile to think that she immediately linked conversation with ‘telling people what to do’, but secondly, it made me realise that there are others who probably think the same and even if they don’t, they probably have no idea what a coaching conversation IS let alone how powerful it can be!

Conversations with potential

I love the feeling of potential at the start of every coaching conversation with my clients. There’s a certain power within it – a power to clarify, to heal, to transform. A power to connect us to our ‘spark’, our inspiration and our inner wisdom.

And best of all… to motivate us into action.

And yes, all that takes place within a conversation, so let me tell you a little more about how this happens.

A guided exploration

For a start, there is no set agenda other than what you want to achieve and what you bring to the conversation – which, more often than not, will include a head full of ideas, hopes and challenges all competing for attention and clarity. But ‘no agenda’ doesn’t mean there’s no structure to the conversation – there is, and it’s my job as the coach to guide the conversation and help you explore opportunities, obstacles, choices and options and find clarity, direction and commitment to take with you.

A client of mine once described her coaching sessions as being like setting off on a journey of exploration with someone you have absolute confidence in at the helm (me!), with no idea where it’ll take you at the outset but knowing you’ll be in a better place by the end!

The more coaching conversations I have, the more I witness the truth of this.

A thinking space

At its essence, the coaching conversation offers something that’s becoming increasingly difficult to find – a thinking space. A supported space where you can take a step back and see the bigger picture. A space where you can tap into your internal wisdom and listen to yourself. A space where you can clarify your own thinking, find new perspectives and experience moments of sheer inspiration best described as motivational dynamite!

Support, encouragement and challenge

So what’s MY role in this conversation, you may wonder? Well, my job is to support, encourage and yes, sometimes give a gentle kick up the you-know-what!

Questioning and listening are the two main tools of the trade required for the job – both of which I’m quite good at, as it turns out!

Coaching is about asking LOTS of questions – thought-provoking, inspiring, challenging, supportive and powerful questions hopefully, to help you uncover the answers which are right for you.

Contrary to what some may think, it isn’t about me telling you what to do or giving advice (unless you ask) but rather, it’s about helping you take ownership of your situation, come up with your own answers, and importantly, take the right actions for you.

Mindful listening

And as for the listening part – this is definitely the more challenging part of my job and requires far more than me pleasantly nodding along as you talk! It requires active, mindful listening…. noticing a sigh, a sharp intake of breath, an unexpected change of tone or emotion, all of which can provide as much, if not more information than the spoken word.

Listening allows me to notice all the important stuff lurking underneath… the excuses, the procrastination, the overwhelm, the crippling fears and the limiting beliefs which, unless challenged and examined, could so easily undermine your precious dreams and ambitions.

One important thing

So, that’s a very brief overview of the coaching conversation but if there’s ONE thing I’d really like you to take away from this blog, it’s this: the power of a coaching conversation is NOT in the conversation itself – it’s in what you DO as a result of the conversation.

It’s all about the A word

What we’re talking about here are ACTIONS because without them, it will always remain a conversation about ideas. Sometimes those actions will be of the one small step variety…. and other times they may be of the giant leap variety, either way, there will be forward motion taking you ever closer to your dream.

Which brings me nicely to the life-changing conversation I mentioned at the very start! I can still remember the conversation I had more than 12 years ago with one of my very first coaches. It was the conversation that was to become MY catalyst… the conversation that shifted my thinking, feeling and behaviour and ultimately inspired and empowered me to take action and set me on a new journey to becoming a solopreneur.

Without this conversation, I doubt I would ever have made the changes I yearned to make – changes that enabled me step into the work I longed to do, and start a business that brought (and continues to bring) increasing joy, fulfillment.

So when I say a conversation can change your life, I’m not joking…. I’m living proof of it!

Have we had a conversation yet?

Not ALL conversations need to be powerful or life-changing though! For a start, it would be pretty exhausting! I also delight in the more casual interactions I have with women in the prime time ‘tribe’ and yes, social media is one way of doing this, but for me, nothing beats a conversation as a way of making that connection real. So if we haven’t yet had a conversation, book a welcome call right here and let’s rectify that as soon as possible.

Speak soon!

The 3 R’s Process – Reflect, Review and Realign

the 3 R'sIt’s THAT time folks…. when our thoughts turn to the brand new year looming large on the horizon!

I know, I know…. there are 101 things to do, buy and organise at this time of year but a little time spent thinking about your business NOW is time you won’t regret… which is more than can be said for all those mince pies!

When I say ‘thinking’ about your business, I don’t mean planning – I mean getting yourself ready to plan. There’s a distinct difference between the two!

I’m bang in the middle of what’s best described as my regular, ‘end of year reflections’. This requires a LOT of thinking about my business, along with a fair bit of dreaming, evaluating and most of all, questioning:

How satisfied am I with the way things are going? What could I have done better? Do I feel on track and on purpose? What lessons can be learned? How do I best respond to what’s now calling me?

All of which combine to form one all-encompassing question:

What needs to change?

Because something always needs to change! I’ve never reached this place and thought, ‘well everything’s trucking along tickety-boo, so let’s just keep everything the same....’ Have you? No, I thought not – and there’s a very good reason for this.

WE are constantly evolving and changing

…..and because our business is a direct reflection of who we are, when WE change, it makes perfect sense for our business to do the same…. after all, as solo business owners, we ARE our brand!

Being in alignment is key

So I like to think of this reflective time of year as a natural opportunity to move both my self and my business back into alignment. But of course, to be able to do that, I’ve got to first identify exactly which bits are OUT OF of alignment – which bits no longer ‘fit’ and which bits have become pinch-points and which bits I need to let go of to make space for something new that DOES fit!

To actually get this information, I work through a process I refer to as the 3 R’s: Reflect, Review and Realign. (Catchy eh?)  Having worked through this process for a few years now, I can honestly say that it works for me every time.

The ABC principle

The 3 R’s process is based on the ABC principle – Awareness Before Change. I’m not one to dwell on the past but there’s an ENORMOUS amount to be learned from looking back over the last year, to help me get a real feel for what’s IN and OUT of alignment, so that I can make meaningful adjustments rather than blindly carrying on in situations that just aren’t working for me.

There are two parts to this awareness – heart awareness and head awareness.

Heart first

I’m with Michael Gerber all the way when he says,

“Traditional, head-centred, static business plans don’t work. A plan that starts in the head, with logic and reason and thoughts, lacks passion and excitement and purpose.”

I’m with you all the way on this one Michael!

The best way to reconnect with our all-important ‘passion, excitement and purpose’ is by doing some internal groundwork first…  by going ‘within’ and tapping into what’s calling and THEN get ready to respond to what excites and inspires.

I’m talking here about feelings. The feelings that tell you things have somehow moved out of sync. The feelings encouraging you to make a change in direction…. the feelings urging you to step up and create something completely new.

Never underestimate the power of your feelings!

Your feelings are precious indicators that can help inform your decisions about the way forward for you and your business.

It makes absolute sense to start with your feelings, with the emotional connections you have to your business because these are the things that connect you to your natural energy and to the brilliant vision you are trying to build.

It’s about taking some time to acknowledge the things you are grateful for and to focus on the abundance that is already present but often overlooked in your life and business – the things you enjoyed, the times when you where totally in flow and effortlessly in your element.

  • What went well?
  • What lit you up?
  • What felt easy and light?
  • Which activities felt most aligned with WHO you are?

 

And yes, you know already know what comes next…. it is just as important (if not even MORE important) to examine the outcomes that did NOT meet your expectations, so you can learn from them and help you make decisions on what needs to change

  • What caused you to feel most disappointed? Why?
  • What felt like an uphill struggle? Why?
  • What was it, specifically, that made it difficult?
  • Where did you feel you were just not ‘in sync’?
  • What no longer feels authentic?

 

The mindset piece….

I guess this is the bit that straddles BOTH heart awareness and head awareness and as we all know, often to our cost, the stuff that goes on INSIDE our head has an enormous effect on…. well, just about EVERYTHING!

Your thoughts and beliefs are incredibly powerful. They can take you to a place of positivity and empowerment or a place of devastating negativity and powerlessness. So no review could ever be complete without taking an objective look at what’s been going on inside your head and what effect that’s had on your actions (….or more likely, LACK of actions!)

  • Where have you become tangled in the ‘mindset weeds’?
  • How have fear, procrastination, self-doubt and perfectionism impacted on you?
  • What behaviours have tripped you up in the past year? How?
  • What techniques have helped you to quiet the voice of your inner critic?

 

Facts are feedback

The phrase ‘there is no failure, only feedback’ is one of those much quoted gems worth remembering here because the facts – good or not so good – will put you in a position of power. These facts, when combined with your intuition, will help you create strong, aligned decisions and solutions.

It’s time next to turn your attention to the tangible, evidence-based bits of your business and the measurements which are significant to your business growth – the audiences built, clients served, programmes run and the revenue generated from each of your services and products.

Amplify. Eliminate. Create.

One of the simplest, quickest and most useful exercises I know for getting a clear sense of what’s in and out of alignment is by reviewing the key areas of your business in turn, and running them through the ‘amplify, eliminate, create test’.

Take some time to work through the key areas of your business

  • Audience building/Client attraction
  • Adding value/Being of service
  • Marketing, visibility and promotions
  • Sales conversations
  • Programmes and services
  • Personal development

 

…..and for each area ask yourself:

  • What was satisfying and enjoyable in this area? What felt easy?
    AMPLIFY: Do more of them or improve them
  • What’s draining me in this area? What’s sapping my time and energy? What feels hard and is causing resentment and doubt?
    ELIMINATE: Let it go, outsource or do less of them
  • What’s missing here? Is there something I’m excited by, keen to make, do or try? What feels as if it has real potential?
    CREATE: Start doing these.

 

So, for example:

  • Maybe that opt-in you’ve been using is no longer resonating with your audience and it’s time to introduce a more aligned, more enticing resource.
  • Maybe your heart is no longer in running your Facebook Group and it’s sapping your time and energy so you decide to let it go.
  • Maybe you’ve been ‘hiding’ behind your laptop too much and it’s time to get visible by creating monthly videos for your community.
  • Maybe you realise how much you absolutely love group work and perhaps decide to introduce a Mastermind element to your services.

 

Personal reflections…

Having concluded my personal 3 R’s process, the biggest take-aways for me are these:

  • If it feels hard, feels misaligned, feels like a should rather than a want to, it’s probably not right for you
  • Business planning and strategy is really important but it’s not the place to start
  • Start with your feelings, your desires, your vision
  • Listen to the guide within first and foremost and follow your heart
  • Respond to what’s calling you
  • If what you’re doing doesn’t actually align with who you are, your results are likely to be short lived
  • Letting go of ways of being and doing that no longer serve you, opens up a space for something new

I feel a whole lot more in balance now that I’ve completed my 3 R’s and having reflected, reviewed and realigned, I know exactly where I most need to focus next year. Now I know the most important actions I want to take…. so planning is going to be a doddle!

And you?

Do you know what’s calling you? Or what’s waiting for you next year? Do you know what you want to amplify, eliminate or create in your business next year? Fancy trying the 3 R’s approach for yourself?

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z of being a PRIMEPRENEUR: J is for JOURNEY

Welcome to the A to Z of being a PRIMEPRENEUR – a series of short, one-minute videos illustrating the joys and challenges of starting a later life business!


It seem as though everyone on reality TV these days talks about their ‘journey’ and it’s become a bit of an over-used & cliched metaphor but it is so appropriate for this A to Z that I felt compelled to use it anyway!

Ask anyone who has embraced their entrepreneurial spirit later in life and they’ll tell you that it is, without doubt, an amazing journey in which they’re required to navigate their way through completely new and uncharted territory!

For Primepreneurs, it’s a bold, transformational journey of personal exploration, discovery learning and growth as they dig deep and do things they’ve never done before or perhaps didn’t even believe they were capable of doing!

It’s a journey in which the process is as important as the outcome and who they become is as important as the business they create.

As always, I would love to hear from you, so please tell us about the twists and turns of your journey in the comments box below.