Would your business benefit from a Strategic Alliance?

March 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Being self-employed or working independently has many advantages, but one of the downsides for me, when I first ventured into this new found freedom, was the absence of someone to get creative with.  There were only so many hours in a day, so a limit on what I could achieve.

Consequently, through my network, I created a number of strategic alliances ie joint ventures and informal partnerships where I work with others towards a shared objective.  This includes combining expertise, designing new services and co-referring.  For an extrovert like me, it has been invaluable, not just because one of my business goals is to expand my client base, but also because I want to have more fun!

At The Athena Network we strongly encourage our members to work together to form STRATEGIC ALLIANCES.

We’d love to hear from you, if you are part of a strategic alliance with another Athena member. There are numerous examples within our network – here are just two:

Agustina Tulloch, Sarah Aspital, Penny Campbell and Caroline Shaw all have very different skills and are joining together to offer them all to you at an Afternoon Tea Spa on 15th March.

Josephine Blythe, June Dean, Ellie Barnes, Juliette Smith, Grainne Ridge, Stephanie Smith and Diksha Chakravarti are combining their expertise on 14th May to run their third Business Conditioning Workshop aimed at helping you improve the fitness of your business.

What might the benefits be for you in creating a strategic alliance?

  • Connecting your business with another more established brand could elevate your visibility in your network
  • You might be able to gain access to the network (including possibly the clients) of whomever you link with
  • You could increase your skills
  • It could give you greater buying power (thereby reducing costs)
  • Approaching new clients as larger concern when pitching, could increase opportunities for you.

Who do you want to connect with? 

Think about what you would like the alliance to accomplish before you start approaching people.

  • Perhaps another business in your market that is not a direct competitor would be a helpful link.  You could potentially market to the same customer base.
  • You might even want to create an alliance with a competitor.  I have a great connections with other Coaches.   I don’t have the same expertise as them, so am able to benefit my clients by referring.

How could the alliance work?

  • You and your partner(s) should get clear who is responsible for what
  • Ensure you communicate honestly and regularly with each other and think about how the alliance can become a win-win for everyone involved
  • Ensure your goals are aligned as well as your level of commitment (of energy and time)
  • Discuss any costs involved and ensure that each party has the same understanding

Then you could:

  • Link to each other’s websites
  • Develop joint marketing materials and/or include your material in each other’s mailings
  • Develop a workshop together then market the event as a team

and so much more.

Most of all though – HAVE FUN!

Juliette Smith, Relationship Coach

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

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Why wait for Valentine’s Day to be loving?

February 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Valentine’s Day may be an annual celebration of love but my invitation to you is to consider making every day a celebration of love, by feeling it and showing it – and not just to your partner.

Think about how love feels.  I could use numerous adjectives, but I think we all agree it feels good?Love

Imagine if you started “loving” everyone in your life – colleagues, your boss, the person at the supermarket checkout……They don’t need to know you’re doing it, but if the idea of feeling “love” for some people just doesn’t work for you, try substituting forgiveness, kindness, acceptance or compassion instead.

And why would I suggest that?

Think about how you feel when someone does or says something that you believe is wrong.  I’m guessing, the feeling is not so good.   Frustration, anger, resentment and other painful feelings are commonly experienced when our head tells us that the other “should” or “shouldn’t” have done or said something.  We judge others but we’re the ones who don’t feel great because of our judgement.

Many of my clients (both personal and corporate) often want to see a change in behaviour in another first, before they are willing to feel any compassion or kindness themself. They get stuck in the painful feelings, blaming the other person for them.  Can you see how that is a powerless place to be?  What if the other person can’t or won’t change?

You can choose to continue holding onto the negative feelings. They are yours, after all.  However, as Buddha said “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”  When you get stuck in a negative feeling,  you are unlikely to be hurting anyone but yourself.

If you try the opposite and focus on love, forgiveness and compassion, then your experience will be far more pleasant.Love2

Notice too when you feel anger or frustration with yourself.  Often we are our own harshest judges.  Try speaking to yourself with the same love and kindness you would speak to a small child or your closest friend, when they have made a mistake.

So this February, as you plan your Valentine’s surprise, how about spending the whole month loving everyone you meet (including the person in the mirror) and notice not only how it feels on the inside but also the impact it has on the outside.

Juliette Smith, Relationship Coach
http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

The Secret of How Much Time We “Should” Spend Networking

February 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Networking Tips | 2 Comments
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TimeHow much time should I spend networking?

This is a question we are regularly asked when we meet people and talk about their businesses.  In fact, it was a question I asked myself when I started up my own business in 2010.  I was so busy thinking about all the “work” I had to do, networking was another item on to the already burgeoning “to do” list that we each have as busy business women.

I knew I “should” be doing it so I started going along to various networking events.  As I walked away from each event, with a handful of business cards, I mentally crossed off “networking” on my “to do” list and moved on to do something else.

Those of you who know me will be aware of my views on the word “should”.  If ever I feel I “should” do something, loud alarm bells start ringing in my ears!  “Should” is a word of obligation rather than motivation and, as such, is one of the most energy-draining words I know.

It was, therefore, not much of a surprise that I neither enjoyed networking nor found it useful for my business.  And yet I was spending lots of time on it!  Does this sound familiar?

Get rid of the “should” in your networking

To change the way I was thinking about networking, I asked myself what I wanted from networking.  Think about all the things you are looking for from meeting people.  (Let’s presume that everyone wants to grow their business, so take that as a given.)

Do you enjoy listening to people? Does being with people give you energy? Do you get better ideas when you talk them through with someone? Do you like helping others? Do you work well as part of a team? Do you like being accountable to someone? Do you benefit from taking time away from your office?  Do you want to make new friends? Do you want to connect with businesses that compliment yours? Do you want to meet people in the same industry or profession as you? Do you want to learn new skills to help you run your business?

Once you are clear about WHAT you want from networking, you can look at how important those things are to you and your business.  This supports the prioritisation of the networking activities.

Finding the time

In The Athena Network, the networking is centred around creating relationships.  These relationships allow us to collaborate, inspire and learn.  It is through those relationships that we and our businesses grow.

But how much time does it take to create a strong relationship?

The truth is “it depends”.  Typically relationships develop with time and intensity.  Athena Meetings are designed to provide both time and intensity – working on personal and business development together.  So, by just attending a monthly meeting, your relationship with each person will grow but at a fairly slow rate.

But really great networking is SO much more than attending a meeting.  Here are some of the characteristics of our most successful networkers:

  • They are great listeners
  • They think about how they can help you BEFORE thinking about how you can help them
  • They are punctual and respectful of your time and commitments as well as their own
  • They are passionate about their businesses
  • They keep in touch when they’re NOT promoting something (as well as when they are)
  • They have a “go to” list of connections that they readily recommend to anyone
  • They have their eyes and ears open for opportunities for others, even when they are not “working”
  • They are seeking and are open to feedback about themselves and their businesses
  • They set bold goals for themselves and their businesses
  • They know there is always more to learn from others (irrespective of how long they’ve been doing it)
  • They are willing to share their expertise without expecting something in return
  • They are genuinely interested in other people and their businesses
  • They do what they say they’re going to do

This is what great networking looks like.

Here’s the SECRET

You “shouldn’t” spend ANY time networking.  Be yourself,  Love what you do, Respect others, Be interested, Listen.  The way you are with people says volumes about you and the way you do business even before you get to a meeting.

If effective networking is creating relationships and creating relationships is about who we are and how we treat others, perhaps the questions we can all ask ourselves is

“When I am not networking, what on earth am I doing?”

I’d love to hear your  views.

Stephanie

www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk

What Choices Will You Make in 2014?

January 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Life offers us many challenges – a traffic jam when we’re in a hurry; rain on a wedding day or perhaps worse; illness or loss.   It can feel like these things are happening “to us” – as if we have no choice and are the victim of some kind of outside force.

Sometimes the challenge comes from another person.  How often have you felt upset by someone else’s actions or words?   In these situations too, it can feel that you are being “done to” and are consequently powerless.

How would your life be different if you had a choice in all these situations?  What if you weren’t a powerless victim but powerful beyond measure – always able to make changes and never without choices – regardless of the situation?

The good news is that you already are.  We all are.

ChoicesWe always have a choice about how we see a situation, and how we respond to it.

For instance, we could see a traffic jam as an inconvenience – because we might be late, or we could see it as an opportunity – perhaps to listen to an interesting radio show.  Either way, the traffic jam won’t change.

Our choice of perspective though, could mean the difference between arriving at our destination relaxed or stressed.

Even with more challenging life experiences, we have choices.  We can choose to see the loss of a loved one as unfair or perhaps even devastating.  Alternatively, we can choose to focus on how grateful we are that someone was in our life.

What we think, doesn’t necessarily change the situation but it can make all the difference to how we feel about it and thus, to what we do about it.

It’s all about the perspective we choose.

In 2014, how could your life be different if you change the way you think?

Here are two exercises.  Do both of them daily for the month of January and let me know what’s different in a month’s time.

A Gratitude Diary

Find three things every evening that you are grateful for and write them down.

I have kept a gratitude diary for a while now.   I started a few years ago when my Coach suggested it as a way of dealing with a situation I was feeling angry about, but could not change.  After just a few days of keeping the diary, I noticed I felt less angry.  Instead of my head being full of angry thoughts which would make it difficult to sleep, I would be focussed on the blessings in my life which relaxed me.

Even now, with that anger long gone, before I sleep, how ever I am feeling, I still find something to be grateful for.

Those I love often feature on the list and if my day hasn’t gone too well, I focus on gratitude for the skills and qualities I have that helped me through it.

This exercise is an excellent way of ensuring our state of mind at the end of the day is positive and there’s also a lot of research indicating that feeling gratitude is good for our health.

A Daily Commitment

Each morning make just one commitment and stick to it for the day. 

It could be a change in behaviour; such as drinking just one cup of coffee rather than six
or
It could be a commitment to a particular state of mind such as finding at least one thing to appreciate about anything or anyone you feel annoyed with.

Every evening, make a note of the commitment you have kept and acknowledge a skill or quality you have, that helped you keep it.

I look forward to hearing how you get on.

Juliette Smith, Relationship Coach

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

Making Conflict Work For You

November 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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sisters_fightingWhile conflict is often seen as a source of tension and stress, it can in fact bring the opportunity to improve self-awareness and growth. 

High-achieving women will identify conflict as the chance to draw on their creative resources and to set a new way of thinking.  Here, leading relationship coach Juliette Smith explores how successful women manage conflict, transforming it to a positive force.

The idea of conflict means different things to us all – something to be avoided as it is bound tightly to painful childhood memories or an opportunity to get one’s own way, regardless of the cost. And yet with the right mind-set, it is a dynamic that can be managed successfully, be it in the office or at home.

In my 14 years of coaching, the most successful and stress-free women are those who have learnt to approach conflict without fear or rigidity.  Instead they approach it with positivity, flexibility and an inclination towards a win/win outcome. Conflict brings up the need to question or challenge the status quo which can take courage, and amongst the many benefits is the opportunity for real growth and change.  It takes courage to consider one’s own role in a disagreement but to create a healthy interaction, that’s the place to focus.

Women, in particular, seem to have a superior grasp of the skills needed to turn what could be unarmed combat, into healthy conflict.  They see an opportunity to maximise the creative resources of all concerned, set a new way of thinking and even strengthen the relationship.

Tuning in to change

Successful women have a heightened self-awareness and will therefore notice their own thought patterns and work to change them, if they are not helpful.  Approaching a conversation with an assumption that it will be difficult, is likely to evoke a negative emotional reaction which could put a positive outcome at risk before a conversation has even started.  High performing women will ensure their vision of the interaction is one of ease, leading to the desired successful outcome.   If you often have negative thoughts about a conversation, a meeting or even a specific person, try this and see how your feelings change.

We all make judgements and assumptions about other people but often fail to notice how negative they can be.  My more successful clients are prepared to challenge their own judgements, replacing them with open-mindedness and a willingness to listen and learn.

Hold on to clarity of intention

Many a time I’ve seen clients so attached to winning an argument or getting their own way, they lose sight of the other person, the relationship or the bigger picture. As employers, mentors, entrepreneurs, mothers, friends, partners, the most inspiring women share a commitment to support those around them, as well as themselves. Their focus will be to nurture and develop the relationship, actively seeking a creative approach to a challenging situation.  The desire to find a better solution opens up new possibilities.

Look for common ground and shared values

When two impassioned people are communicating, more often than not, there are shared values and often even a shared goal.  Discovering this common ground provides a solid base for connection – an art women have a natural gift for. We are naturally more inclined towards collaboration; women I consider as highly successful will assume or foster a shared commitment to finding a solution, searching for and acknowledging common ground, coming back to it, if things get tough.

Being curious and listening

Conflict can be transformed when at least one party seeks to find out more and to understand by asking questions – neutral questions of genuine curiosity.  By making sure we understand what the other person really wants, needs and feels, we can show empathy which creates connection rather than conflict.  As intelligent, ambitious women are hungry to learn, they will consider the possibilities another point of view can create, and how these ideas could be valuable, which puts them in a position of strength.

Getting emotional

We have all been there – that moment when we need to take a deep breath before responding to a person, a situation.  Where successful women have the advantage is understanding and – in the main! – controlling their own emotions, which makes it easier to empathise.  They know that moving away from criticism, accusations and blame and towards solving the problem is what works – another way of creating  connection rather than separation.

Ultimately, the most successful women I’ve worked with tend to be more self-aware and prepared to leave unhealthy conflict behind in service of a more positive outcome for everyone involved.  Owning their own reactions and a commitment to honest, effective communication transforms conflict from a source of tension and stress to an opportunity for creativity and connection.

Juliette Smith

www.juliettesmith.co.uk

Is there More for You to Learn?

October 1, 2013 at 8:31 am | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Whether as a business person or as a human being travelling this life, there is always value in learning.

It gives us the opportunity to expand our perspective which, in turn, gives us more choices.  It helps us deepen our understanding and consequently have a greater chance of making informed and appropriate choices for ourselves.Jefferson

Intrinsic in The Athena Network’s raison d’être is support for our members’ learning and growth through training and development.  Hence our delivery of two training sessions at every meeting; a free networking strategy training for every member and the support for our members who offer training as a way of sharing their knowledge and expertise

How much training, development or coaching have you benefitted from this year?

If the answer is none or little, I encourage you to think about the difference it would make to you, your life and your business.  For instance, would the following changes in your life make a difference to your success and happiness? And if so, would some support in achieving them be of value?

  •  Decreased stress levels

Knowing your weaknesses and doing something about them will reduce stress, as will focussing on your strengths.

  • Increased emotional intelligence

Being aware of and able to manage your fears and emotional reactions could lower stress levels. Effective business leaders need to be able to manage their emotions and not let them get in the way of making sound judgments

  • Improved work life balance

Prioritising what is truly important to you can have significant effects on your health, your family, your success and your fulfilment.

  •  Clear plans for the future

If you know where you’re heading and why – it’s much easier to be clear on your goals.

  • More motivation and energy

Finding the time and motivation for exercise and healthy eating, can appear a challenge but can you afford not to?  What gets in the way of you prioritising this?

  •  Easier attraction of more clients

If you already have more than enough clients – congratulations.  However, if you think there are more clients out there for you, but you are challenged to reach them, perhaps it’s time to find out how, by doing something different.

  •  Clarity on how to network successfully

Many people think they know how to network but rarely reflect on how their current approach to networking could be improved.  There are countless ways of learning more about networking.

If you’ve still not made the above changes on your own, why not seek the support of someone who can guide and motivate you?  Even if you learned to do just one of them differently, it could change your business and your life.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.

We’d be happy to introduce you to numerous experts who can help you.  The Athena Network has them in abundance.

Alternatively, just click here for a great place to start .

Juliette Smith, Relationship Coach

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

Would You Feel Better Letting Go Of Guilt?

August 30, 2013 at 11:56 am | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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The sounds of the summer are starting to fade.  Looking back at the great expanse of time some of us see as “the low season” (ie August!), it may just be that you, like me, didn’t get anywhere near as much “done” as you had hoped.

“I feel so guilty” are words I often hear from colleagues (and in my own head too) because of time apparently “wasted” and tasks left undone.  There is often self-reproach for spending too much time on social media, not replying fast enough to emails, not following-up networking contacts…the list goes on.   In my clients too, there is often guilt as they look back at their behaviour and its impact on their relationships.

The trouble with guilt and regret is that both are debilitating and of no use.  iStock_000005994502XSmall

To stop them, we first need to look at their cause.

Guilt is generally the product of a clash between a belief and an action.  To relieve the guilt, one of the two needs to change.

Obviously we can’t change the action if it’s in the past.  So, as there’s no point agonizing over the unchangeable, it’s therefore useful to consider what beliefs are creating the guilt, and check them out.

Let’s take an example of something I heard recently.

“I feel so guilty because I spent too much time mucking about over the summer and not getting the important stuff done”.

Whatever she did or didn’t do can’t be changed, so what beliefs are there, creating the guilt?

The most obvious ones are

  • what she did was “mucking about”
  • she didn’t get the important stuff done

First of all I asked her on both counts whether the statements were totally true.   Was she really mucking about, or was she relaxing and taking time out? Did she really get NO important stuff done?

Then we looked at what was implicit in the beliefs.  Is mucking about so bad?  Was what she was doing so unimportant? 

Turns out she had been spending time with her children.

See where I’m going……………?

It’s really helpful to become aware of our beliefs and thoughts, challenge them, check them out.  Often they are either not 100% true or we are choosing to focus on the negative rather than an equally plausible positive.

We can choose where we focus our attention, but often guilt is such a habitual response, we forget that we have a choice about where to focus.

When mistakes have been made and we’re really sure that what we have done was not for the best, the place to focus is the future and how we can do things differently.   For the most part, I feel grateful for the mistakes I’ve made in the past because, by learning from them, they’ve made me who I am today.

When I think about it differently I can see that most of my summer “mucking about” allowed me to relax, rejuvenate and reflect.  This means I am going into the new autumn season with renewed enthusiasm, creativity and energy.  I didn’t get as much “done” as I would like, but the time was certainly not wasted.

Focussing on an unchangeable past with remorse is not going to change it.  But focussing on what we can learn from it is more likely to result in renewed positivity (rather than guilt) and consequently is more likely to mean an even better future.

Juliette Smith

Relationship Coach

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

It’s Just as Important to Invest in Yourself as Your Business

May 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Articles | 1 Comment
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If you’ve ever flown, you’ll remember the part of the safety demonstration that says “If the cabin air system should fail, oxygen masks will be released from the panel above…..pull the mask towards you………place it over your mouth and nose …….. Make sure your own mask is correctly fitted before helping anyone else.”

The point of this is the same as in life – to stress that we cannot support others if we are not in a good state ourselves.   What good are we to our family, our business and all the other areas of our life, if we are not looking after ourselves and making sure we are in the best possible physical and emotional condition?

This question makes me think of all the things I find it easy to say yes to, when I budget my time as well as my finances – things like:

  • Keeping my website dynamic
  • Travelling to networking meetings
  • Tweeting and blogging regularly

…..all for my BUSINESS

However, the things (and I know I am not alone in this) I find it hard to say yes to include:

  • Organising to see a back pain specialist (and buying a new office chair!)
  • Finding a mentor
  • Taking a lunch hour

…..all for ME

So why is it so hard to prioritise the investment of time and money in ME like I do for my BUSINESS?  Like me, do you find that question hard to answer?  Instead of answering it, I suggest you redirect your focus and imagine what could happen to both you and your business if you were prepared to put the same amount of energy, time, love and money into YOU as you already put into your business.

I started to create a very compelling picture of what my business would look like and how I would feel within it if I made some key changes.  Even asking the right question made me feel more motivated and inspired.

I truly believe we would all be far better business people and, more importantly, we would feel so much better about what we are doing if we really looked after ourselves, aimed at maximising our potential and felt confident doing it.

Here are some of the ideas I came up with to help achieve all three of these goals.  For me, they are a work in progress but doing much of the following has already made a difference to both ME and my BUSINESS.

  • Time poor? Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant and/or a Bookkeper and get some Time Management Training
  • Tired or in pain? Organise a physical check-up; enjoy a massage; get that niggling back problem sorted out; go see a Nutritional Therapist or Naturopath
  • Feel a bit stagnant, not developing? Look into a business training course; do a workshop or seminar; find a mentor
  • Feel stressed or nervous? Organise some reflexology or hypnotherapy and treat yourself regularly to a candlelit bath containing your favourite essential oils
  • Need motivating? Attend a Conference with like-minded professionals
  • Want more confidence and to feel better about yourself? Talk to an Image Stylist and treat yourself to a make-over
  • Want to improve your relationships or make a really big change in your life? Hire a Coach
  • …..and finally, a personal favourite of mine……Want to smile more? Take a dance lesson; get away for the weekend; buy yourself some flowers; go out for dinner or on holiday with a bunch of strangers new friends (!) (trust me – this one really works!)

Looking after your mind and body and developing yourself really will help you flourish, which makes it far more likely that your business will do the same.

Oxygen is not the only thing we need on our journey and, if you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions. Just click on the relevant link to start making those changes.
Juliette Smith

Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant

Bookkeeper

Bookkeeper

Massage Therapy

Back Pain Relief

Nutritional Therapy

Business Conditioning Workshop

Essential Oils

Confidence Coaching

Reflexology

Hypnotherapy

Greek Island Personal Development Course

Image Styling

Inspirational Conference for Business Women

Professional Make Up Artist

Relationship Coaching

Holidays and Weekends Away

Beautiful Flowers

Dinner Party with New Friends

Time to Step Up and Be the Best You Can Be

April 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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After my article last month about “The Woman in The Mirror”, a few women have said to me how they would love to inspire others but are nervous about what others will think of them if they start announcing how great they are.   Won’t they sound arrogant?

I’ve said this before, but it cannot be said enough – particularly to women.   Who are you being if you are not being the best you can be – both in your business and your personal life? And what’s the point of your brilliance if you don’t share it?

Think about what what compels you to do business with someone else or refer them on?  Would you go to (or refer to) the person who doesn’t say much about her skills or the one who is confident and clear that she is excellent at her work.   Would you refer to the one who is self-deprecating or the one who is enthusiastic and happy to share her testimonials with you?

Be your gorgeous, talented and fabulous self

Be your brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous self

Now think about how you present yourself – your skills, qualities and values and how others with therefore see you.  Do you do present yourself in such a way that it will inspire others?  If not, why not?

Today would be a great day for you to step up and start being the best “you”, you can be and let others know how great you are.

Here’s a really useful exercise to help you start the process:

  • Write a list of your qualities, skills and values – if its comprehensive, it will be a long list.
  • Then give yourself a mark out of 10 for how well you live those qualities, skills and values on a daily basis.  Notice where the mark is less than 8/10.  That’s where to focus on improving.  You’re not being the best you, when your mark is low.
  • You’re aiming for a 10/10.  Most of us can’t live like that every day, but if we keep aiming for a 10/10 and learn from the times when we don’t manage it, we’ll keep on improving.
  • Keep hold of the list and refer to it often – it will act as a really useful compass.
  • Now think about how you can let others know about how those qualities, skills and values make you and your business worth referring to.

Remember “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ……..  As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Marianne Williamson.

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

Be Inspired by The Woman in the Mirror

March 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Articles | 1 Comment
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President Obama recently unveiled the statue of Rosa Parks, a woman who, by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement and an inspiration to millions of people since.

Other inspirational women are not difficult to bring to mind.  Just think Malala Yousafzai, Jessica Ennis, Katie Piper …….. and you get the picture.

With International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day and Inspire 2013 around the corner, it is not surprising that we are turning our minds to women who inspire us.

Inspiration means literally “to breathe in and be filled with Divine Truth” although perhaps a more modern definition is more recognisable: “an action or influence that results in feeling stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”.

But you don’t have to be a political activist to be inspiring.

I am inspired on a daily basis by my clients – men and women –, who find the courage to ask for support.

I often speak to women particularly, who have put themselves second in service of their children and/or their marriage, only to wake up one day, look in the mirror and realise they’ve forgotten who they are.  They want to find out.  Their love of their family inspires me but even more than this, their courage and determination to do the work it takes to really get to know themselves is a privilege to witness.  To see them strive to be the best they can be and live life fulfilled is truly inspiring.

Be Inspired by Yourself

Be Inspired by Yourself

I look in the mirror often – not just to brush my teeth and put on my make-up!  When I’m not feeling particularly proud of something I’ve done or said, I take a long, hard look in the mirror to reconnect with who I really am.  Self-forgiveness is a key to moving on.  I then remind myself of my values, my strengths and what I feel proud of.  I fail, I make mistakes, but I also strive to be the best I can be, by endeavouring to get up from falling after failure or disappointment, and hopefully learning something new before I move on.

When did you last take a good look in the mirror and keep looking until you felt inspired by the person in front of you?  I hope it was not too long ago.

It may not be our role in this world to change the political landscape, to write a globally known children’s fantasy story or to become a global pop icon breaking the boundaries of fashion.  However, I truly believe we can all make a difference and inspire others on a daily basis by being the best we can be.  Smiling at the person in the street, thanking a fellow-driver for letting us pass, or forgiving a loved one for their outburst are all within our capabilities.  These actions can go a long way to inspire others to feel something positive.

In the words of another global pop icon “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change”.

Juliette Smith

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

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