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When I say powerful conversation, you assume…?

This is my fourth article in my Powerful Conversations series and writing it has really got me thinking, in a good way. I’m reflected on some of my recent powerful conversations and realised that these often rise from a place of challenge or a desire for change. There is a definite pull towards a set outcome and change I’m committed to. 

At this point, I’ve tuned into my intuition or inner knowing and I’m following a path that will see me create a space to speak, listen, feel, agree or disagree and then (hopefully) build a new agreement. Or at the very least, agree to reflect and reconnect with the idea of a new outcome next time.  I realise that conversations feel transformational even if the end goal is a long way away because investing time to be with another human feels good when I move from an open heart and mind.

Often when we approach a powerful conversation we have already made our mind how it will be:

This is all very nice so far isn’t it. But here’s the thing, often when we approach a powerful conversation we have already made our mind how it will be, what we will experience, how we will feel and if it will be a success. Feelings like stress, dread, trepidation can overtake what is really happening in the moment and diminish the opportunity to be seen, heard and understood from all sides. What if the biggest gift you could give to someone today was to say, “I’ve never thought of it like that, that’s really interesting, thank you for sharing.”

Breaking free of the old mould:

Without taking time to reflect, often we have framed the conversation in a certain way, based upon our own life experiences and through automatic lenses or a rigid perspective. I hear these words a lot, “I really hate confrontation, which automatically creates an assumption that the conversation will be difficult and painful.” When you show up from this place, it’s likely that you will appear defensive, rigid and closed, and it will show in your face, words and body language.

This is where the commitment to sustainable change becomes essential because without this approach, a resonate outcome for all will be hard to reach. It requires some inner processing and clarity because you are required to both stand in your own shoes and adopt a resonant perspective, as well as see the world through different eyes, only then are you freed up to truly listen and create. 

Karen’s work as a Certified leadership facilitator, coach and visualisation expert empowers you to have high level, powerful and expansive conversations.

Let me give you an example…

If I invited you to engage in a powerful conversation with me how would you feel? What would your first (automatic) response be? What would you assume about me, the conversation and its impact on you? Most importantly, would you be open to the experience?

It is true to say that nearly all humans I have ever met (including myself) have some kind of issue with the idea of power, they want more of it, they fear it, they dislike it, they rebel against it and so on.

Several years ago, I taught at my local university within the faculty of business and law, and asked students across two classes to bring examples of powerful campaigns in for discussion. Their response astounded me, every student from a class of 45 translated the word powerful negatively collecting images focused around nicotine, cancer, war etc. But hope was not totally lost, as one student showcased a different perspective on powerful. Her story communicated the positive impact loving your body (regardless of its outer form) can have on self-esteem. 

BUT the real takeaway from this article is this:

What if the request for a powerful conversation could be a spark that lit you and others up from the inside? What if my intention was to tell you what I saw in you, how you made me feel and how much I valued our relationship? 

These words stand as an invitation to create some space for heart-warming (and powerful) conversations with others – because who said that all powerful conversation need to be steeped in negative conflict? What if this could be a whole hearted and glorious experience for all, now that’s a wonderful perspective to adopt?

Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Before you dive in take some time to clear your assumptions and choose a perspective that excites you and makes you feel alive.
  • Then reflect on their impact on you, how they make you feel and what they bring to your day/week etc? 
  • When you think of this person or the topic that you would like to discuss, what do you feel, what do you believe and what do you want them to take away? By accessing your own feelings, you can really bring the conversation to life and that’s very exciting.
  • Then step into the circle, and honour their contribution – making sure you pay close attention to your own impact as you do so?

This blog is part of a Powerful Conversations series written by Karen Heras-Kelly. Karen is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Leadership facilitator, meditation and creative visualisation expert. Karen is the founder of A Tribe Called Woman and the Breathe Time at work project.

Building bridges one conversation at a time

Karen Heras-Kelly, Certified Coach & Leadership Facilitator at A Tribe Called Woman

Change begins with a series of powerful (often difficult) conversations. Opening a new dialogue and speaking words that can feel uncomfortable will open the space for transformation and move you closer to your desired goal and outcome. 

It’s rare that a solution arises at the very beginning of a discussion, so leaders need to prepare themselves for the long haul. When it comes to many of the issues that are presenting themselves right now (race, sexuality, gender), wanting change isn’t enough, we have to be willing to pull up a chair and dig deep, together.

Part of the issue is that it’s hard to truly understand how it feels to be a woman today, if you are a man, because you are looking at the world through different lenses. However, by holding the desire to wish to understand more, you have already taken an important step. 

“You’re right, I don’t fully understand how it is for you, but I would love you to share your experiences. I really want to build a different reality alongside you, what do you need from me for us to create a resonant change?”

Then wipe the slate clean and get creative. What could sustainable change really look like, feel like, sound like? What is the end goal and what’s the next step? What is needed to stay on this new path, how will you know that your agreements are working? What will you do to realign when progress is halted?

I want to share a personal antidote here. After the death of Sarah Everard and the outpouring of grief that has happened in the UK, I went to a place of despair. I remembered my own experiences and envisioned a bleak future for my daughter. 

Our world needs to change, so I pulled up a chair, dug my heels in and began some difficult conversations with those I love. Starting with my husband and then my parents. To start with, I was (understandably) met with defensiveness. It seemed nobody wanted to really have this conversation with me, I held the space and I talked, sharing story after story. 

The energy changed and the conversations fell silent, I was wise enough to let things settle. The following day, I heard these words, “we are going to create a different reality for you, we are going to educate you and Mummy will guide you.” Hope landed in my heart and I added, “we are going to support you and talk to you together because both of us are needed in the creation of this new reality.”

My intention is for my daughter to know her worth and for her to be equipped to have her own difficult conversations, starting with “no.” And I plan to involve my husband in this vision because I want our discussions to be balanced and inclusive, for her to know that this is a conversation to be had with women and men.

I truly believe that the change we all seek is one of unification, one where we are educated and supported to listen, honour and create together. It may seem like a long arc, but by sitting down together we stand a chance of furthering change.

My top tips for furthering conversations in the workplace are:

  • Start at home, have difficult conversations with those you share your personal life with first and test the water, grow and share.
  • Meditate or practice mindfulness, connect to nature and get used to listening to your own inner wisdom.
  • Pull up a chair and listen, talk, reflect, listen, agree, create. 
  • Do not be scared to disagree and request space to reconsider and come back, and pull up your again, and start over. Often the answers we seek arrive after a good night’s sleep or while brushing our teeth!
  • Above else, be prepared to listen and then allow what people are saying to be heard, this will build trust.

Holding the space for ongoing conversations builds bridges and creates change

This blog was written by Karen Heras-Kelly, A Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Leadership facilitator, meditation and creative visualisation expert. Karen is the founder of A Tribe Called Woman.

The pain under the smile

Yesterday my inner peace was shattered in my front yard. We had spent most of the day in the garden enjoying the sunshine together as a family. Life was in the slow lane and we were all woozy from the heat. Walking into the front garden, we were alarmed by an ambulance and two police cars.

What’s your Intention?

When you set an intention for the day, year or your life’s fundamental purpose you are saying, send me more of this. Mastery of anything takes practice, so consider that by setting your intention you are saying, challenge and grow me in this way…

Why I no longer aspire to be Wonder Woman or any other pseudo-female

Who did you look up to when you were a child and what does this choice reveal to you? Who inspires you today and what’s the deeper meaning of those you follow? My childhood role model was Wonder Woman because I aspired to her beauty, intelligence and power. As an adult, I see a feminine warrior, fighting for justice from a place of compassion and heart, so it’s easy to understand why she had an impact on me. I also see the damage done by this outdated notion that women have to be and have it all, beautifully poised and groomed while fighting on the right side of the law.

NOW is the time for leaders to recover to self

Creative leadership has never been more important and the leadership being called for is harmonious, connected, intuitive and empowering. 

But here’s the thing, harmony does not come naturally to us humans. Harmony certainly isn’t an easy sell because to create harmony we must be truthful, often speaking words that make us feel uncomfortable and naming the elephant in the room. Note to self: harmony is not people pleasing, suppressing your voice to keep the peace and so on, it is taking an active stance in the ongoing evolution of our lives, businesses, communities and planet. Stay true to your values, use your body, mind and spirit to embody them and you will always find a way to communicate what matters.

What I know to be true When you create space for your own evolution and travel within, you will know what is required and discover insights that support you and others, to find new pathways. Those seemingly difficult conversations emerge more easily from an awakened heart and mind. Please put the whipping stick down, get off the hamster wheel and create ‘breathe time’ in your day – over time you will emerge brighter.

To be connected we are required to be visible, to cultivate intimacy based on our interactions is a choice. To choose to stay open and look at life through different lenses and imagine what it is like for the other before we judge or critique them is a practice. It’s one that begins with being kind within yourself first and then expanding this olive branch out to others. To see people for who they really are rather than projecting your own issues or desires onto them. This requires you to be vulnerable and honest with yourself and each other.

A word about intimacy: True intimacy is created when we let go of the need to acquire. Although, we are still required to give and receive. It can be uncomfortable at first because it is not our primary language (secrecy is), but once we overcome our own fears of being seen and feel safe, intimacy brings us closer to life. It keeps us alive, vibrant and in wonder. 

Holding the space: Listening, sensing and then speaking creates powerful conversations that go somewhere – Karen in action pre Covid-19

Starting a new conversation: My conversation is always practical to start with and then elevation is required to tip the balance from surviving to thriving. There has to be time to recover, to reflect to reconnect within every workplace or else your teams will be adrenaline fuelled and working from their reserves. There is only so much the body can withstand, hence with the need to self-care and then share. The benefits of this are huge because when we unite together, transformation happens.

Companies with diverse, balanced and healthy teams perform better it’s that simple. But as a coach who specialises in supporting others, it’s unlikely that you will find leaders putting their hands up and asking for help – if this is not part of the cultural landscape already. Therefore, companies need to create the environment for well-being first.  

When good health is flowing, creativity, collaboration and problem solving takes on a new dimension. I’d go as far as to say that work becomes play, that fun is here to stay. Yes even in a global pandemic.

This blog is part of a Powerful Conversations series written by Karen Heras-Kelly. Karen is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Leadership facilitator, meditation and creative visualisation expert. Karen is the founder of A Tribe Called Woman and the Breathe Time at work project.

This is difficult and I can handle it

In 2008, I was knocked sideways in a hit and run accident. Stop, my inner voice -screamed from within.

Twenty minutes earlier I said these words, “Please God make this stop.” I was in a difficult spot in my life, working under the remit of an aggressive boss. My confidence was in tatters, I’d given up on my creativity and ability to walk away. 

I have never felt so useless in all my life, I knew that the only way out was to say “no.” And yet day after day, I did the same thing hoping for a different result. “I need to quit,” I’d say with tears running down my face. “Stick it out, you can do it,” said the general consensus. I wanted to believe them but the truth was, I was dying inside. I threw everything I had at it, but it wasn’t enough, it could never have been enough. The truth was that this job was not for me, my intuitive, deep feeling and sensitive nature was too heavily impacted. The cost was too great. 

I knew this within the first hour of walking the floor. My new boss greeted me with frantic eyes, the smooth facade and calm mask worn in the interview, now firmly discarded. It didn’t take long before that look was present in my own eyes.

What I now know, what this experience taught me:

We always know the way out or at least the next step. Our instincts are forever guiding us back home and no amount of pride, money, status and so on is worthy of our peace of mind, openness of heart, creativity and vibrancy.

Nobody really knows how I feel inside or what I am capable of, so this is my responsibility to discern. This is the true meaning of empowerment. 

I also discovered that all human beings, myself included need a level of respect and kindness in order to really thrive. And of course developing a respectful relationship within is an essential part of this journey, so take every opportunity you can to dive deeply into your own sacred well. 

I learnt how to walk again and how to walk away, and my journey took a more meaningful turn. I have made peace with this period of my life and I can see how it supported me to rise, shine, and expand. 

The injuries I sustained that day are serious and there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not reminded of the many lessons brought about during this cycle. My healing journey was (is) intense covering the physical, emotional and spiritual domains. I discovered the power of belief and how change can be brought about by planting small seeds, like for example working with a simple mantra. 

My thanks go out to the many people who came to my rescue, to the surgeon who saved my leg, the nursing angel who allowed my Mum to stay by my bedside outside of visiting times – his name was Emanuel of course. And to Louise Hay for her book, “You can heal your life.” Her simple mantra, “I can handle it,” supported me through challenging times and still rings true today.

While I couldn’t handle the daily walk of fear that was the norm in that particular place, I could and still can handle the next phase of my life. And most importantly I can handle pain. 

Remember you are responsible for you, for your own truth and for listening to the wisdom of your own heart. If you say yes to building a life that vibrates with the song in your heart, you will find nirvana. And if you lose your way from time to time, you will discover that beauty and love exist alongside pain. 

When the tears arrive I know I am home in my heart. It’s really that simple. 

My message to you is this:

During the darkest times, when your heart is broken open, there is a gift waiting for you. You can always choose to learn how to rise, how to recieve love and dig for your life’s purpose. If you stay the distance, open up to the pain, the shame and wait for the lesson, you will grow and be given opportunities to share your wisdom with others. 

If you are reading this blog and struggling in any way, this question is for you:

What is your next step? 

Give yourself permission to feel your feelings without judgement

Today, I celebrated myself. I was able to feel stressed and anxious while also being aware of an outpouring of love. My daughter became sick very quickly and the strength of love in my heart and witnessing the love from my parents towards us, opened my heart. I cried tears of love – it was a moment of recollection, of deep gratitude, of coming home to myself and the truth about how loved we are.

Welcome

Whatever is present in your life, welcome it. Whatever you have, welcome it. Choose not to turn your face away, reject what has been given, no matter how harsh or unworthy you deem it or them to currently be.

Learning to dance in the storm

This is a blog about how feelings are healing, and how trauma was my gateway to unconditional love… It’s been one huge challenging year, full of ups, downs, twists and turns… I’d go as far as to say, it’s been one of my most challenging ones yet. 2018 will be remembered as the year that taught me to dig deeper than ever before and open my heart to unconditional love. In my work as a coach, it appears that I’m not alone in surviving the intensity of this year, and so I wanted to share some of my learnings and challenge you to reflect, and create new beginnings as we enter 2019.

Are you ready to shine as a leader today?

Who are you when you’re at your natural best, when you allow yourself to shine? What qualities break free in you and what’s your contribution? What conditions are required that allow you to step into your true essence? What lifts your lid and what closes you down? All important questions to sit with for a while that will help you to define how well do you know yourself as an individual and leader?

A Total eclipse of the moon

Today (31 January 2018) sees a total lunar eclipse occurring as a rare super blue blood moon appears in our skies. This occurance is like a spiritual microphone that will amplify any efforts already being made on our journey of spirit, so it’s an energetic shift that requires attention.

Listen to reconnect by Karen Heras-Kelly

 Wellbeing, mental health and how to start new conversations

Covid19 may have halted the way we live our lives, but it has also created wider opportunities to reset and re-emerge. We have all been given time to reset the balance within ourselves, to look at the old stories (and beliefs) we are recreating in life, to clean up, let go of judgements and step into creative leadership.

Perhaps this was the energy we entered into at the start of the pandemic, but one year down the line, our resilience and patience are being tested. So how do you truly support yourself and your people to rise through adversity in the here and now?

Let’s start with listening and everyday conversations:

  • If your people are sick in any way, it will be present in the conversations that are happening or not happening. 
  • Take time to make space for seemingly pointless, everyday conversations and listen with your heart for the cues that reveal where they really are. This does not need to be a complicated process, a simple, “how are you feeling today?” works well.
  • If you tune in, really tune in, you will often hear any words of distress hidden within seemingly everyday conversations. Often, by acknowledging what you are hearing and sensing, you can help someone to feel supported and encourage them to take a positive step.
  • If you listen with your ears what do you hear? 
  • If you listen with your eyes what do you see? 
  • If you listen with your heart, what do you feel when you engage with a colleague who is struggling on the inside?
  • And if you listen with your instincts what do you know? 

Do not automatically trust what you necessarily see (especially through a screen) or what someone is saying, it’s not easy to ask for help, to say I’m struggling when mental health is an issue. This is the time when ironically, we want to hide, pretend and shut down, it’s a time when the pseudo ego can take over. 

But here’s the truth, the time to act is before someone goes into survival mode. In many ways, a proactive strategy is required, as when survival mode is in place it’s going to take more focus to rebuild your people.

Creating an open space to listen builds bridges from here to there – Karen in action during a feminine leadership training pre Covid19.

Build in time to have an everyday, Powerful Conversation and create an environment of safety because job insecurity is creating extra pressure and anxiety. “Hey, I wanted to check in on you today, how are you feeling at the moment?” If you have any data you can add it, “I’m noticing you’ve been quiet in zoom meetings, so I wanted to connect?” Ask about family, animals, hobbies, their favourite food, music, anything other than work and allow yourself to relax into the conversation to see what is needed.

Remember it’s not your responsibility to fix, however by listening you are creating a bridge from there to here and strengthening your relationships.

This blog is part of a Powerful Conversations series written by Karen Heras-Kelly. Karen is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Leadership facilitator, meditation and creative visualisation expert. Karen is the founder of A Tribe Called Woman and the Breathe Time at work project.

My story of wellbeing in COVID times…

My story of wellbeing in COVID times… This is a blog about self-reflections, awareness and acknowledgment. It has been written as a bridge of light for anyone who is feeling lost, alone and unsure of their next step. It also provides a healthy boost if you are committed to making an ongoing journey back home to your true self.

Waking up from the neck down

We’ve been sold a dud, led astray if you may by philosophers, psychologists and prophets. Teachings have told us that body is unimportant, yes it’s important to stay healthy and fit, but mind is the king and body the lesser queen or perhaps the sckully maid.

If it’s anything other than love, you are at war…

What does a white woman know of racism? I’m surprised to say, I know more than I realise. Last week set off a time bomb in my inner world, a vibration which was slow to start began growing, a small ember took hold and the heat started to build. Some of the stories in this blog have surprised me because they have been lying dormant for a long time, but as I wrote, memories of times where I experienced racism and sexual discrimination flooded in.

What are you hungry for…?

In my work as a coach, I never know what new topics will come to the table when I work with clients. And yet one essential ingredient is being able to listen with the intention of opening up new possibilities for them, even if this is simply the development of a new perspective.

What we can all learn about Megxit – a Certified Coach’s perspective

I have found myself gripped by Megxit the last few days and as a Certified Coach and Communications Expert of 23 years, I believe this situation is one that offers a lot of learning for us in all areas of our life, especially in the workplace… This blog is dedicated to creating real-life conversations at work, however it can be used in any area of conflict that may be happening in your life right now… Here goes.

Breakdowns and breakthroughs are essential change makers

In my own personal feminine quest to live, lead and love as an empowered woman, I discovered I was scared of my own lovability* (see my definition of lovability at the end) and the softness and power of my own heart. Today human lovability is often referred to as vulnerability, we’ve covered the deeper meaning with another word, which explains why there is so much confusion in our interactions. How often do you say exactly what you mean in one day?

The danger of women v men and how we bring true balance into the workplace

The tide is turning in culture, the way we view ourselves and each other. Press for Progress, Me too and Time’s up campaigns fuelled by Oprah Winfrey’s speech at The Golden Globes are creating a growing global awareness around issues of sexual harassment and gender in equality, and putting increasing pressure on Business to change.

The witch is back and she’s practicing magic in a coven near you!

In a world that is obsessed with controlling time, I have an urge to escape to a place that is held together with a different thread. As women, we are natural harmonisers and our instincts when followed can lead us away from danger, as well as into resonance places – when we follow our longings and share our stories with others, the atmosphere pops. I, like many of my kindred sisters and brothers, have a longing for more of this and I am happy to report that there is a new form of uprising happening in pockets of our world that is bringing people together to celebrate the beauty of life.

What’s your dream?

I dream of a world where we are not persecuted by our gender, social status, colour, creed, sexual preferences and of course, where we remove our own self imposed restrictions too. I dream of a world where we take responsibility for our words, actions and power, where we keep showing up and creating more of the good stuff, together.

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