Join Us for Pod Club

Discuss pod casts focused on resilience, change, leadership, and just being human. Connect with others, and learn from each other.

Those of you that know me personally, know that in addition to being an avid reader, I’m a podcast junkie. At this stage in my life, I’ve found that a good podcast is a great way to connect with friends and colleagues. I’ve belonged to many a good book club and enjoyed the connection and very often found that over half the participants (sometimes including me) had not had a chance to read the book recommended. While that didn’t stop us from indulging in a good glass of wine and amazing conversation, I thought to myself what if we could have it all?!? With podcasts typically varying in length from as little as 15 minutes to as much as 45 minutes, they are an easy way to get in some new content while on your commute, daily workout, or while doing some household errands or chores.

Pod Club Content & Design

Pod club is designed to allow you to connect with new people over common content, explore new ways of thinking in a safe space, and just generally enjoy a nice afternoon or evening discussing something different. Podcast favourites that you will likely see in the rotation include things like: We can Do Hard Things (Glennon Doyle), Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead (Brene Brown), Freakonomics (Stephen Dubner), A bit of Optimism (Simon Sinek), and Choiceology (Katy Milkman) among many others. In fact, as an active participant, you will also have a chance to suggest our discussion topics and episodes. I can’t wait to see what other juicy stuff you have discovered!

Pod Club Logistics

We will start by inviting you to join us online and use the power of zoom to invoke discussion with small room breakouts. Our first meeting is Wednesday, March 30th at 8 PM GMT / 3 PM EST . We are aiming for monthly meetings targeting the last Wednesday of each month but this will be under discussion so please do message us if you are interested and the current timing does not work for you. With feedback from you, we will explore interest in an evening timeslot for our EST followers and some in person events. The club will be scheduled for 1 hour, in which you will be invited to consider thought-provoking questions about the content and then be invited to share your thoughts in small break-outs and in the larger group where possible. We will be inviting participants to join us in facilitation as we get more established so if you have a topic of high interest, don’t hesitate to raise your hand. In addition, we will keep the room open for up to an hour after the formal discussion to invite you to choose your own breakout room for further discussion if you wish! Join us at any point. Beverages of your choice are welcome.

Who is it for & How to get the Most out of Pod Club

Pod club is meant to be a low key way to connect. Anyone who is interested in the podcast selected and looking to connect is welcome to join. Feel free to invite friends so you can keep the discussion going outside of meetings – or use it as a great way to network. I always find my best networking happens over shared interest and authentic conversation so why not use it as a way to connect with others that are interested in being authentic, doing life their way, and leading us into the future with courage and fun. Topics are designed to appeal to a broad audience that are interested in learning, authentic connection, and understanding how to tap into all of the amazing parts of themselves.

How do I start?

To join our first Pod Club on Wednesday, March 30th, you can sign up at Eventbrite. The event is free but we are offering you a chance to donate to the British Red Cross, which helps refugees of not only the current war in the Ukraine but also the many wars globally that do not get as much press coverage. If you can’t make our first one but are interested in participating in the future, join our mailing list and please do add some notes about your preferred dates and timed – and/or reach out to me directly.

Why the Red Cross?

Like many of you, I’ve been heartbroken watching the war in the Ukraine unfold. It has allowed me to enter into many enlightening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful conversations with my global network. I recognise there is often disparages in the new coverage and the support for refugees that are of different colours, nationalities, and religious backgrounds among other things. Therefore, I wanted to donate to an organisation that supports the Ukrainians fleeing their country, the Russians that do not agree with this war and are also fleeing for survival as sanctions increase, and the many, many refugees fleeing conflicts in North Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia. I commend the brave people that are fleeing everything they know to start over with nothing and I hope our little group can contribute to making that transition at least one step easier. All proceeds from our first event will be donated to the fund minus any administrative fees charged by Eventbrite and/or any conversion charges if paying in a different currency.

Rules of Pod Club

  • Be respectful. All are welcome to express views and, at times, you may find others oppose your view. Please be curious and respectful of those around you. Differences in opinion are allowed and, in fact, welcomed. However, if your views are expressed in a way that is abusive to other participants, you will be removed from the club.
  • Be curious. The point of Pod Club is to explore the topics with others. Pod Club is a judgement free zone and we expect our members to be curious and discuss topics from a perspective of learning with an invitation to look at things from different angles. Please do share your opinions and thoughts as that is what will make this club truly enjoyable. Be ready to answer questions. Be ready to ask questions. Our goal is to try to understand and learn; not convince.
  • Connect. Do not sell. The Pod Club is meant to be a place of learning. We anticipate that we will have some amazing individuals joining us including business owners and corporate leaders. While that naturally may lend it self to some great business connections and networking, this club is not a place to sell or discuss business. Please do feel free to share your contact information if you see a synergy with a fellow member and also respect that this space is meant to allow everyone to relax so no pitching please.

Our First Topic: “I Don’t Want to Know…” on Choiceology by Katy Milkman

I thought this podcast was an interesting one to tackle as our first podcast episode. I love this podcasts style of sharing personal stories and then backing it up with the science of why we make the choices we do. While this particular episode focuses on why we avoid knowledge in areas like health issues and home maintenance, we will invite you to explore the topic as it applies to bigger and broader issues, as well as more intimate topics. We’ll explore how we can choose to “want to know” and how to manage that information once we become aware of it. Here’s a link to the episode on Apple Podcasts so you can listen before Pod Club but this is available on most podcast players so use the player of your choice.

How to Get Started

  • Sign in on EventBrite to attend our March 30th event to receive your link and make a(n optional) donation of 5 GBP.
  • Join our mailing list to receive updates about our next meetings and topics.

Or better yet – do both so you don’t miss Pod Club or any of the other exciting things we are doing to invite authenticity and connection into our lives, our teams, and our organisations.

Vision, Motivation& Navigating Change At the Ripe Old Age of 18

How helping young leaders set flexible vision can lead to greater career and life satisfaction

Aaaaah…. the things I wish I knew then. I am delighted to have been asked to speak and facilitate at the College & Career Institute this June, which will focus on helping young people ages 18 to 21 set their own career and life vision, understand their motivations, and learn how to navigate change. Today, I mostly work with leaders and entrepreneurs that are in the middle to top levels of their career to help them find and embrace their authentic leader within, identify what they want, and, very importantly, develop tools to overcome hurdles so they both define their own version of success and prioritise impactful steps that will allow them to achieve it. In thinking through what I could bring to our young leaders, I could not help but reflect on what a gift it is to focus on these tools at this age. The power of vision, understanding your motivation, and being able to navigate change is unbridled and opens up new dimensions of opportunities to allow you to choose your unique pathway to success.

The College & Career Institute is Lighting & Blending Sparks

When I first spoke with Scott Heydt, leader of this programme and Founder of RefinED Character, about collaborating on this event, I was immediately drawn in by two things:

  1. The inclusiveness: I love that this event is open to both university students AND those stepping into trade careers. The learnings from this event will benefit all of our young leaders and this programme recognises the need to blend what was previously seen as separate tracks so that natural intersections and creative collaborations can fly!
  2. The creativity & intentional design of the programme: The current curriculum invites participants to explore these topics from multiple angles in fully immersive exercises so that learners of all type can embrace their unique learning style and truly connect with their vision, motivation, and key life skills to navigate change.

Scott has recruited a stellar team of experts and I am delighted to share the stage with a cast of characters that come from different industries, backgrounds, and interests, which will allow the participants to see how different people are living their vision in completely different ways first hand.

Why Vision Matters

Vision is the biggest, broadest version of what you want. It gives you room to explore, grow, and pivot while still having direction. Businesses use this to set the tone of their aspirations, their culture, and their motivations. My vision is to build a world full of spark. I believe that when you’re inspired, you do your best work and live your best life. I am fortunate that this works for both my business vision and personal. There’s nothing I want more than to send my two little girls off into the world aware of what lights them up and ready to grow that flame. In business, I get to do that in many ways from helping leaders find their authentic leadership style, to working with teams to build a collective fire, to helping small businesses set their initial kindling into a full blown blaze. My vision gives me room to decide HOW to build a world full of spark but makes it clear to me that I’m most sparked when I’m helping others to find their vision and take meaningful steps to achieve it. I didn’t know this at 18 years of age – and while that allowed me to find my love of solving complex problems and seeing through the chaos; it also kept me from understanding why that wasn’t enough for me to feel fulfilled in the early years of my career.

Knowing What Motivates You

I love asking people what motivates them. Sitting at one of my weekly run club workouts, I had an interesting discussion with a few of my fellow runners. One person was motivated by seeing her 5K race times continually decrease (continued improvement), another felt motivated by the idea of being able to keep up with others in the group (making the grade) and me, well, I’d be lying if I said a big part of it wasn’t the social coffee break after the fact. I’m very motivated by collaborating with other people so the weekly coffee breaks became a way to share and work together on what is usually a very solo hobby. Understanding what makes you tick can be huge in helping you make choices in your personal life, consider how you show up as a leader, and how you can best contribute in a team dynamic. Imagine the foresight you would have had if you knew what truly motivated you as you finished up your secondary education. It makes it so much easier to start to fine tune what types of careers and opportunities would be a fit for you.

Navigating Change

Change can be seen as scary or as a great opportunity. No matter how you look at it, your body will often feel change. You may experience it as stress, muscle aches, tiredness. You may experience it as excitement, movement, and aliveness. Let’s face it. Some of us are better at this than others. To navigate change – and even embrace it – requires understanding yourself, feeling confident and safe in key aspects of who you are, and having the right tools and methods to deal with the fear, doubt, and/or hurdles that may get in your way. I spent the early part of my career avoiding change and following the rules. It took me a while to realise that the reason I was so afraid of change was because I actually WANTED it. Doing my own inner work on this with the help of a coach and tapping into my mentors allowed me to show up differently with my teams and fellow leaders at work and in my personal live. !Viva¡ my inner rebel that now comes out to play quite often! I’m not afraid to explore, to learn, and to take risks.

If You or a Young Leader you Know Wants to Join Us

If you know someone ages 18 to 21 that would like to participate, please encourage them to apply here, as spaces are limited and the deadline is quickly approaching. I hope to see some of you and/or the young people you care about at the event June 12-16, 2022 in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania in the USA.

Stay Up to Date… Lots more to Come

And, if you want to stay up to date on this event, as well as our other upcoming speaking engagements, please join our mailing list. And, don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you are interested in a workshop or event for your organisation. Let’s get sparked!

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Seeing your Female Leaders

Avoiding bias in how you promote & see talent

According to Grant Thornton the percentage of female CEOs and managing directors rose from 15% in 2019 to 26% in 2021. 1 In light of International Women’s Day, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate how far we’ve come, and, also to recognise how far we need to go considering that nearly 50% of the world’s population is female. A number of studies and publications show the benefits of having females in the board room – and I would argue we could look at diversity in even broader strokes here – and what I find is that most leaders hands down agree that they want to embrace a more diverse workforce and leadership team. So, why do we fall short?

woman in blue denim jeans sitting on white wooden cabinet
Photo by Marcelo Chagas on

The most common issue is bias that exists in our organisational systems, our personal unconscious biases, and even in our team dynamics. So how can you avoid this and recognise the plethora of talent right in front of you? Here are three simple tips and tricks that you can start today. Though, I acknowledge this is just the icing on the cake!

  1. Consciously define leadership for yourself and your organisation. This means going beyond the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Quite often leadership criteria in organisations is based on the things that are externally seen and most easily measured. For example, someone who is very vocal is more likely to be seen as a leader than someone who is quieter as referenced in this 2020 study on the “babble effect.”2 Is someone who talks more a better leader? I would encourage you as an organisation to explore your values and invite your employees into the conversation on how effectively you and your leaders live them, as well as to identify what’s missing. In this process, broaden your definition of leadership and recognise leaders come in all shapes and forms. Tying leadership to your organisational values vs. traditional criteria can open up doors. Consciously defining leadership can help your organisation measure what criteria you are actually promoting and start to notice biases both in your identified criteria and in your performance. Awareness is a great first step. And, the great thing about this is you can look at the impact of this beyond just women and explore multiple angles of diversity.
  2. Embrace your bias as a person. One of my favourite books is Blindpsot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. What I love about this is it acknowledges that we all have biases. I had the pleasure of being in a workshop with Dr. Banaji years ago where she talked about her work with a CEO who could only hear tall people. It sounds crazy but a number of the CEO’s shorter employees stated that often times they would say something that would go unnoticed, only to have a tall person next to them repeat the same idea and have it heard. With third party observation, it was noticed to actually be true. By knowing this, the CEO was able to proactively change his behaviour and design systems around his meetings that ensured he heard all people – not just the tallest people in the room. For many of us when we hear we are doing something “wrong,” it can be easy get defensive and dismiss it. What if you went the other way and assumed it was true? What would you do differently? What could you design in your systems or your ways of working to ensure you were addressing it?
  3. Make space for others to shine. One of the most important things you can do a leader within an organisation at ANY level, is to let your people shine. It can be easy, particularly when trying to climb the ladder in your early leadership career to want to show how fluidly and easily YOU got things done so you continue moving up. This is very often a mistake for a number of reasons but one of the biggest is you close off opportunities for the people working for you and with you to showcase their leadership qualities. How can you create opportunities to allow your team to to be seen for what they are contributing to the organisation and the team? And how can you think purely beyond the numbers? Speaking first hand from my own experience, I so often see us underplay the people that are the quiet collaborators that often are they key to getting things done. On one of my global teams, I had someone I had secretly coined the “the whisperer.” I found that when the team was nervous about taking on a challenge and wanted to say “no” that the “the whisperer” often had a way of calming people in a quiet way that allowed them to step up to the bigger challenge. I made sure “the whisperer” was mentioned not only in our final success story but throughout the project as I gave updates on the challenges we were overcoming – and even had “the whisperer” present to management where possible to give them a voice. I wanted this important contribution to be noticed. Imagine what a team can do that feels safe and dares to be challenged! Now, that’s a leader!

The lasts few years in particular have ignited an exploratory look at how we work – and I’m optimistic at how opening that door will not only increase our satisfaction with our work and performance as companies, but also in how it can invite us to open new doors for people that look different, sound different, and just are different. We have an opportunity to accelerate our learning and redefine what leadership is, what it looks like, and who we want to follow. May you be the leader your employees deserve and the organisation that succeeds because of the diverse talents and views you have been given the privilege of seeing grow and letting lead you.

If you as a leader, team, or organisation need help tackling these topics, do not hesitate to contact Livthentic for an exploratory discussion or schedule directly on calendly. We see a world where leadership isn’t defined by gender, shape, size, colour, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. We see your individual spark and want to help you grow it into a flame. You can also join our mailing list to be stay in touch or follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, or Instagram.

  1. Women in business 2021: A window of opportunity. (2021). Grant Thornton
  2. Testing the Babble Hypothesis: Speaking Time Predicts Leadership Emergence in Small Groups. (2020). MacLaren, Neil et al. Elsevier. Volume 31, Issue 5.

Barrelling toward failure

Setting goals that align with your vision for business and personal growth

A few years ago, I set a goal to run a marathon by the end of the year. It was a good goal in that with some regular training, it was achievable – even if at the time I could barely run a mile without being winded. I had two young kids – one not yet a year old – and was working in a very demanding corporate role. I was sleep deprived, still holding onto my baby weight, and pushing for my next promotion. And, the thing is, even with all of that going on, running a marathon could still be achievable. But, did I run a marathon? That is a big, fat nope.

Do you feel doomed to fail?  Setting goals that align with your vision is an important first step.  For goals and resolutions to work, we need to base them in WANT vs. SHOULD.
Photo by Kammeran Gonzalez-Keola on

So, what went wrong? And, how can you change the trajectory for yourself personally or your business? In my case, running a marathon wasn’t part of my broader vision. I was used to setting stretch goals and I thought if I set a really lofty goal, I would at least run a few miles every week. In reality, I never really wanted to run a marathon and my own self will saw right through me. What I really wanted was to be healthy again. If I had taken the time to understand that, I might have set a goal that aligned more with my life at the time. The reality was that spending a few hours running a week, let alone in a day, wasn’t going to happen, but a bit of yoga with a toddler climbing on me was very do-able, and a weekly Barre(R) class with my girlfriend very nicely ticked the boxes of having fun, being healthy, and enjoying my social life.

Whether you are looking at goals for your business or from a personal perspective, it’s important to understand your broader vision. Even when I started my consulting agency a few years back, I had a very basic website with a list of all of the things I COULD do (not great marketing I know). By not realising what I really wanted to do and clearly stating that, it made it harder for my prospective clients to find me and it, not only slowed my initial growth, it prevented me from building a business doing what I loved. While I have corrected for that and continue to fine tune as my vision evolves, it made me realise that growth – both personal and financial, requires seeing that long-term view and being truly connected to it. Who will your business be when it grows up? And, where do YOU want to be as it happens?

Here are some common areas we go wrong with resolutions and goals:

  1. Setting goals that are not connected to your broader vision. Look at your goals by envisioning your future. For example, twenty years from now or even fifty years from now, do you see marathon medals in your life? In looking at myself, I wanted more health, more laughter, more time with friends and family, more time working on things that challenged me intellectually and allowed me to connect with others. If you start in this broad space, it allows you to think more critically about the goal your setting. If my long-term vision includes a healthy me, it might mean I choose to run a marathon, or in my case, it might mean taking a smaller step that fit better with my lifestyle knowing that I’m playing a long game. Often goals that are not connected to a broader vision have the word “SHOULD” in front of them. For example: I SHOULD run a marathon vs. I WANT to run a marathon. I SHOULD take on business in this industry vs. I WANT to take on business in this industry. If you can’t substitute the word WANT for SHOULD in your sentence without feeling that tingling feeling in your gut (or feet or where ever it is that your personal “something’s not right here” detector goes off), it’s not part of your broader vision.
  2. Taking on too big of a step to start off. Stretch goals can be great in the right context but can also be highly demotivating if not aligned with your vision and broken into a first step. For example, your vision should be big. Sanofi Pasteur® states that they “work every day so that no one suffers or dies from a vaccine preventable disease.” Amazon®’s vision “is to be earth’s most customer centric company… “. My vision is to help purpose-based leaders and entrepreneurs change the world. However, changing the world overnight feels a bit lofty… Therefore, what’s one small tangible step I can take toward my vision and mission? An example for me was to identify a list of people I wanted to connect with in the first two weeks of starting my business. I cannot help leaders change the world if I’m not working with any of them. Making a list of people to talk to didn’t feel “sexy” but it’s in service of my broader vision and a great first step that can be measured in a relatively short amount of time. What’s one small step you can take toward your broader vision or goal? Build the momentum and go from there. Those first few steps did not immediately translate to my broader vision of changing the world but it was a do-able first step that I could commit to and in service to my broader vision so I felt more compelled to do it.
  3. Not allowing for flexibility/lack of control. This is very much connected to having a broader vision. The thing is no matter how much we plan, things come up that we can’t possible control for (hello Covid-19!). By connecting into a broader long-term vision, you can more easily pivot as you need to reach your goals. For example, when I started my business, I had plans for travel to connect with colleagues and help grow my opportunities. Covid-19 put a bit of a damper on that so I had to rethink my goal. Knowing that my long-term goal was to connect with more people and grow my business, I pivoted to using online means to connect and resorted to zoom coffee chats. It wasn’t quite the same but did it work? Yes. If you know WHY you are setting your goal, you are more likely to follow through and adjust as you need.
  4. Not building in enjoyment. Let’s face it, not everything we do is enjoyable – and sometimes you will have to do things you don’t absolutely love in service of your broader vision. I’ve shared before my not so love of accounting, but the reality is I have to know at least the basics to get things rolling and input at least some information so my accounting software and accountant can do what they need to do! In Katy Milkman’s 2014 study, 29% of participants were more likely to keep exercising when they paired the workout with an audio book that they would only listen to while working out at the gym(1). She showed that by bundling things we enjoy with things that we don’t, we are more likely to continue to do them. I use this concept with my accounting work. I only allow myself to binge on 1980’s pop music while updating my accounting inputs and/or preparing for my accountant during weekdays. What’s something you enjoy that you can pair with your goal to make you WANT to do it?
  5. Not recognising where you are & celebrating. So often, we hit our first goal and look at what we need to do next. We essentially move the goal post. Pausing to celebrate your achievements is critical and one of the things I work on most with my clients. As a high-achiever, I was always looking at what I could do more of, how I could improve things, or where I could be better? The great thing with this kind of thinking is that often you do progress. However, it often comes with a cost. For me, I lived in a very high stress, sleep deprived state, and this often resulted in a struggle to be fully present in all parts of my life. Improvement is great but it’s it’s important to also recognise what you are currently doing and being. When you take time to celebrate your achievement before moving on, it gives you a chance to reset and will allow you to both lead and contribute in broader and more creative ways to both your business and your life in general.

Long story short, the more you understand what you actually want, the more likely you’ll set goals that work for you – that you will achieve.

Your future does not have to be defined in specifics such as the corporate title you want in 5 years. Look at it in broader terms. What do you want more of? What do you want less of? Jot down words. Gather images. Find a way to capture the feelings and things that inspire you in one place. As you grow, so can your vision – and this way you can invite yourself to explore, pivot, and redefine things as you find your own path toward success.

And, remember that if you do “fail,” it’s only a first attempt in learning. What are you noticing about the goal you set? What might need to be different for you to achieve it or how you might you pivot? My failure to run a marathon has not been the defining event of my life but joining a social running club that lets me jog my way toward health has been a game-changer.

If you want help defining your vision and goals for your business or from the broader view of your life, we, at Livthentic, are going to be updating ours the week of January 24th and would love for you to join us. By signing up for our mailing list, we’ll send you daily prompts to help you get started and provide some opportunities to connect and share informally. Or, of course, you can always reach out and schedule a free introduction.

(1) Milkman, Katherine L., Julia A Minson, et al. “Holding the Hunger Games Hostage at the Gym: An Evaluation of Temptation Bundling,” Manage Sci. 2014 Feb; 60(2): 283–299.

Christmas with Covid-19

When everything you planned goes up in smoke…

I’m two days away from freedom after testing positive with Covid-19. This post is quite personal and I think it’s worth writing about with the omicron variant gaining ground. I’m vaccinated. In fact, I recently had my third dose of vaccine. I’ve been generally careful – masks, lots of antibacterial gel – and like many, if I’m honest, I’ve also loosened up a bit compared to the early days of Covid-19 out of a need to strike some balance. The UK surpassed eighty thousand daily cases about a week ago so I’m not alone in my covid-19 jail. I have two young kids and my husband also quarantined with me waiting for our individual quarantine timers to end. While I’d like to pretend we are lovingly playing games and laughing 100% of the time, there is also a whole lot of siblings getting on each other’s nerves and two very short-tempered parents as we battle through this. We are pumping our bodies with vitamins and our home with antibacterial spray and fresh, cold air – and all we can do now is wait.

woman crying
Photo by Kat Smith on

At first, I cried. The flight that was scheduled to the USA for Friday had to be rescheduled. Plans had to be cancelled. Worst of all, I had to tell my daughters’ doting grandparents that there only grandchildren might not make it home to see them for Christmas – let alone at all for a few weeks or months. There are so many unknowns.

Next I went through the “what if” thinking. What if I hadn’t seen that friend? What if my husband had skipped that meeting? The problem with that was that I quickly realised I would probably never know exactly what caused us to catch covid-19, nor would it change where we were: flights cancelled, plans changed.

Then, I entered into the “I’m so lucky…” storytelling mode.

…at least I’m with my kids.

…at least the kids are healthy.

….at least our symptoms are mild.

As a professional coach, I hear clients do the “I’m so lucky…” game all of the time. It’s where you compare your situation to others in an attempt to numb your own feelings. The problem with this kind of thinking is that you don’t let yourself feel what you are actually feeling because, after all, you don’t have the right to feel sad “because you are so lucky.”

This is where I realised I could be lucky AND sad. So, I savoured the idea of a freshly made coffee (since I”m still fortunate to have my smell and taste) and a quiet Christmas morning with my kids, while also crying a bit thinking of the missed hugs from my parents, the loss of clinking glasses with my sisters, and the trip to the Christmas tree farm with the whole family that we would miss. The thing is, I am sooooo lucky AND I’m also soooo sad and disappointed. I can be ALL of those things at once – and sometimes the sadness can feel stronger than the happiness.

So, what should you do if your Christmas is disrupted by the dreaded ‘Rona?

  • Acknowledge how you feel. It’s perfectly okay to be disappointed and it often feels good to let that out. Whether that means talking with someone else about it, journaling, or using other means that allow you to express it – painting, writing a poem, do whatever works for you.
  • Let go of the old plan. Trying to recreate the roasted turkey you would have had with family may just cause extra stress and leave you longing more for the missed holiday celebrations. Do you really want turkey? If so, go for it. If not, as they say at Disney, “Let it go.”
  • Decide what YOU want. Rather than recreate what you know just because it’s “what you do,” create something that you WANT. If still self-isolating, consider what your perfect day at home might look like? Maybe you want to spend your entire day in your most comfortable pyjamas, or binge watch your favourite movie series, or eat your favourite childhood cereal for dinner, or try a new recipe. Rather than recreate what you know, create something completely new that satisfies a craving or longing you have.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help of loved ones and neighbors – whether that be asking them to drop something off for you, a request for a phone call or a pre-recorded message, or even for ideas on what to do for your new holiday plan. It’s easy to say “I’m okay.” It takes courage to ask for help. Be brave. Let people see you and help you design something that really works for you.
  • Share with an isolation buddy. Share your feelings and your plan with someone. Chances are you aren’t alone in having your plans interrupted. Consider finding an isolation buddy so you can share your feelings and experiences with them. Connection can be a powerful way to acknowledge how you feel and share in the joy of your new experiences – even if it has to be remotely. What if you take a picture of the clock to show you slept in and share it with your isolation buddy? Be there fore each other and hold each other accountable for embracing your new plans.

To those of you that are having to adjust plans, I’m sorry for your loss. I’m with you. I feel sad and disappointed. I also feel excited about waking up and letting my kids slowly open their Christmas gifts without a rush to go anywhere. I recognise I’m so lucky – and I also know it’s okay to be both lucky and disappointed.

Happy holidays from all of us at Livthentic! Whether you are making new traditions or recognising old ones, we hope you do something you WANT to do and love. We are taking a much needed break for the next few weeks and cannot wait to hear what you designed for your holiday when we get back. Please share it with us so we can celebrate you!

And, after you take a much needed rest, if you feel ready to design a business, career, and/or life that you love, please do schedule your free consultation. We are already scheduling into the new year. Enjoy your holiday!

Reducing the Noise

Setting achievable goals for you, your staff, and your family so that you can enjoy your holidays – with less stress.

As we round out the end of the year, there is the never ending noise of the to-do list, the obligations, and the must-dos. There always seems to be more than I can possibly accomplish – whether that be personally or professionally. In some of my early corporate days, I recall that end of year dance where we had to make sure proposals and purchasing orders were properly timed to ensure the right amounts hit our current year budget and others fell into the new year. I would carefully be managing the financials while trying to wrap up our end of year tactics, fine tune our next year forecasts with senior management, and preparing for our larger government bids in the new year – all while ramping up our private marketing strategy. In the mean time, there were family gatherings, outings with friends, and holiday shopping to do. I would push and push – only to arrive in mid-January feeling like I was run over by a truck.

angry black woman screaming in room
Photo by Liza Summer on

So, the big question is how did I eliminate that type of stress as I advanced in my career? The truth is I didn’t – entirely. However, I do now know how to reduce it for not only myself but my employees, coworkers, and family. Here are some tips I use.

1) Connect to your vision to remember what’s important. When asked what was most important on my list of things, my first response was always, “well, all of it.” As a recovering perfectionist and overachiever, it took a long time to do things differently. However, if you really peel back the layers and think about what you really want, it becomes simpler. Connect to your long-term vision. Visualise your company (or yourself) 10, 20, or 30 years into the future. What are you celebrating and most proud of? Who are the people you want with you in this celebration?

I remember the year I had my first daughter. I was working as a new product launch leader and my manager at the time said what do you want to look back and remember? In that moment, I knew that spending time with my family was more important than having the perfect forecast or getting through the 100 things on my to do list. Even just that little question, made me really acknowledge what was absolutely necessary and to what level it needed to be addressed.

2) Say no. Once you have connected into your vision, what can you say no to? Often times, it can feel really hard to say no. As an entrepreneur, this was one of the hardest things for me to adjust to. There’s always that little bit of fear in the back of my mind wondering what if I don’t land the next gig? The truth is, saying no has not held me back, it’s actually helped me grow. First, and most importantly, by saying no to the things that are not a great fit to my vision and goals it frees up my time when things come up that are more in line with my vision so I’m better set up for growth in the areas I WANT to grow vs. just winning the next gig. It gives me choice. And, second, in all honesty, people want to work with and be around someone who’s confident in their future vs. coming at things from a place of fear so saying no can actually attract more business.

3) Let go of perfection. This one was tough for me and still remains an area of growth. It’s so easy to keep re-doing things until they are “perfect.” (i.e. Let me just look at this project one more time.) What’s enough? I’ve found the best way to let go is transparency – even with my clients. For example, I worked with a recent corporate coaching client to help them design their deliverable around their holiday break. The client agreed to share a high level outline of the project so that his executive team could feel comfortable with where the project was moving without requiring all of the details to be completed prior to the holiday – and it allowed his team to gain visibility to some of the supporting tasks that would be required in the new year. Often times, we have to speak up for what we need. Don’t be afraid to design with your clients, managers, and staff. As a leader (or parent) in particular, being open about what CAN be accomplished while holding your lines for things like time off sets an example for your staff (and children) so that they know they too can prioritise themselves. The key to this working is not to leave people with last minute surprises. We all know things can change so if something comes up that might move the line on a previously agreed deliverable or timeline, try to give a heads up so all of the people involved have a chance to modify expectations or even better help out and step up where needed.

4) Set bigger goals. This might sound counter-intuitive but instead of making a goal for the “perfect” dinner or hitting $1M in sales for the year, look longer term and bigger. For example, what if your goal for holidays with your family was experiencing more laughter? Then, a burnt turkey or an over salted soup become the perfect fodder to help you reach your goal. Trust that your vision is bigger than one mistake or one missed opportunity. As a business, what if you celebrate your near $1M in sales for this year, and set your long-term vision to have $10M in the next 5 years? Imagine how much more motivated your staff will feel to hit your big numbers in the next few years when you are toasting them at $990K for their efforts vs. beating them (and yourself up) for “missing” $10K this year. Sometimes when we get caught up in a smaller detail, we lose sight of all of the other things around us. Choosing the perspective to look at the near $1M in sales as an accompishment can make a huge difference in how you approach your next year.

5) Celebrate the wins. As in the example above, celebrate what you DID do. All too often we focus on the missed opportunity over the accomplishment. Celebrate your wins – both big and small. And, sometimes, that means celebrating a “no” over a “yes.” Take a minute to recognise what you are most proud of? Reflect back to where you are today vs. 10 years ago. Are you better prioritising time with family? Did you double your sales to $990K? Did you connect into a network that will better set you up to do more of your “dream” work? What are you grateful for and how can you celebrate it?

Overall, remember that the end of year will move fast.

Your mindset matters.

While a lot of things are outside of your control, mindset is one thing you can control. Who do you need to be as you go into this end of year? I often keep a little toy figurine of “Poppy the Troll” from the Trolls movie on my desk to remind me to connect into my playful side when I feel the stress coming on. Sometimes, having a song, a quote, a picture of an actor who’s energy would be helpful for you is a great way to remind yourself to stay grounded in what you want.

And, if you are still having a hard time, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Livthentic, we work with leaders and entrepreneurs to help them connect to their vision and operationalise it, and this often includes digging more deeply and getting good at saying no when things do not align with your vision.

Please do subscribe to stay up to date with our blog and download our “embracing imperfection” calendar as a way to practice letting go and tapping into bigger goals and more freedom.

Are you going to be all American and say YOU CAN DO IT?

Leading with and embracing cultural differences.

As I was talking to a prospective client in London about leadership coaching, he asked “Are you going to be all American and tell me ‘you can do it!'” As he said it, he put on a goofy smile, giggled, and said the words with an excruciatingly fake positive voice. I laughed. He was not the first, nor would he be the last to confuse me with an overzealous cross of a cheerleader and a kindergarten teacher – shaken up with a dash of the cartoon character Homer Simpson.

In chatting with him, it brought me back to early my days of managing global cross-functional teams. In one project in particular, I was managing a team of volunteers to create a global corporate best practice and I had team members from every time zone. (Scheduling those meetings was pure joy! ha!) I remember coming out of the first few meetings feeling really confused. We had a clear vision and mission. We had established clear work streams and leaders. Each meeting ended with a clear list of actions, deadlines, and accountability in proper RACI form. And, yet, the outcomes post-meeting never seemed to match. It took a whole lot of one to one discussions to get us on track.

Part of it was personal preferences. Don’t discount those. No matter what culture you come from, we are individuals so it’s really important to design with your team ways of working and ensure that EACH team member is heard. I have made the mistake of skipping this step and learned the hard way how important it is to check in with the team members that start off quiet and seem to agree with a head nod. Trust me when I say it’s worth slowing down and to have the one to one meetings to really check in before you finalise your team’s ways of working.

The other part of it was cultural differences and norms that occurred not only between countries but even within specific offices. I was able to uncover this with a very complex request: “Tell me what you just heard in your own words.” These conversations were enlightening.

One of my favourite discussions was with a colleague from the Mexico office. He told me that the first thing I needed to understand was that if anyone from his office said they were doing something “ahora” (which directly translates to “now” in English), it actually means they would get to it sometime or more likely… never. In that office, it was the equivalent of saying I’ll add it to the bottom of the list. That certainly changed my optimistic thinking about my last meeting when I had a very enthusiastic “lo haré ahora” from another team member. An immediate phone call was needed.

My French colleague invited me to recognise the importance of coffee – and it required sitting, not walking with an oversized Starbucks coffee. The culture of that office required a personal touch for the big stuff. Important decisions were made over a strong espresso sitting eye to eye from each other and giving each other space to be heard before you moved. Obviously this wasn’t possible for every little thing but it was an important realisation that when I needed broader buy-in at the senior levels, I needed to get on the flight and work my taste buds up to some of the strongest coffee I had ever tasted in my life. (At the time I was more of a coffee drinking simulation than an actual coffee lover. I have a different appreciation for the dark liquid now!)

One colleague reminded me of the importance of punctuality. In the US office, it was a norm for meetings to start five to ten minutes late because we never accounted for the travel between meeting rooms (or bio breaks for that matter) in our schedules. In our Beijing office, however, it was as sign of disrespect to be late – particularly if there were more senior people in the meeting – and, let’s face it, they were often calling in during the late evening taking time away from their families to participate. Therefore, it became really important to make small changes. We had to agree on real start times and keep to them even if others were late. It sounds small but it made a world of difference in the interactions from the team members I had from that corporate region.

As a leader, one of the best lessons I learned to engage my team was to slow down to speed up.

I had to trust my curiosity and have conversations not only about cultural norms for that country, region, office – but also personal preferences. Taking the time to have these conversations made huge differences in how people contributed and the outcomes. When it comes to people, details matter. Engagement comes from caring about the people on your team, designing with them, and creating a shared goal and plan.

If you are currently leading a team that seems to be struggling and you can’t understand why things are not panning out, start with some curiosity.

Ask EACH team member:

  • What do they want to see in the mission, vision, and goals?
  • What are their unique superpowers and talents?
  • What types of support do they need from you and the team to be their best?
  • What are they hearing from you and the team in their own words?
  • What aren’t they saying or telling you?

And if you are feeling stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out. Strong leadership can be learned. I have quite the bloopers reel when it comes to leading teams (ask me about a text message, a picture of a cheeseburger and working too late next time I see you over a drink… ha). However, the beauty of those “failures” is what I have learned and who I am today. I am a stronger, more powerful leader. I left my last corporate role at a fortune 500 company leading some of the most complex projects and teams in the company because I was achieving results. My approach embraces people. It let’s me be curious, adjust, and learn. And, as a bonus, the people that I have met have led to so much more enriching relationships in my life – both personally and professionally. It’s okay to fail, to change, to learn, and to grow. Just ask my pal in France who was appalled when he suggested a coffee and I told him that sounded great AND my next meeting started in five minutes. (Cue roaring laughter.)

Thank you to my colleagues that engaged, that trusted me with their needs, that took the time to enlighten me, and co-designed with me. And to my former managers, mentors, and sponsors that let me play and learn: Thank you for letting me fail with you at my side in the early days. My success is your success.

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The Perfection Trap

Letting go of perfection in all places can lead to near perfection in the important places. Learn some of my tips and tricks to be imperfect, impactful, and successful.

I’m guilty of falling into the perfection trap. It’s still a path that I fight daily – though I’ve come a long, long way and I’m proud of that. In my early days in marketing, I can remember combing through data, cross-functional partner interviews, sales feedback, market research, and market analysis to pull it all into one succinct strategy and – more eminently – a presentation for management. In those days, it was common in my organisation to present to my manager first, then my manager’s manager, and then finally our division head. I remember getting feedback on using the word “a” versus “the,” changing a color from blue to red, adding a line, emphasising the third word, etc. etc. We were all so focused on having this perfect presentation. By the time I walked into the room with the division head, my head was swimming with all of these tiny, itty-bitty changes and I would almost forget my main point. What was my message?

It took many years, a lot of perspective, and two kids (if I’m being totally honest), to realise that not only was perfection getting in the way of my happiness, it was getting in the way of my effectiveness.

Perfection in every place means you lose impact in the important places.

Today, things are different for me. Don’t get me wrong, I will still likely proof read this blog one too many times before setting it free for your eyes, but now, I have tools to help me find balance and stop.

Here are some tips and tricks I use to avoid getting caught in the perfection trap:

  • Start with the end. What is your end goal or message? If you could only accomplish one thing today or land one message with your audience, what would it be? Does it align with your vision and mission? This is really great if you are getting ready for a presentation or sales pitch. Bullet point out your main take away messages and focus on the one or two slides, or talking points that land that part of your message. All other supporting material and slides combined should take less time to put together than the one or two important ones. When you first start working with this concept, you might even challenge yourself with a timer and have a little fun with it. You will get better the more you practice.
  • Ask yourself where are my expertise unique and necessary? If you are anything like this perfectionist, delegation can sometimes be hard but it’s important. Just because you may be able to do something better, ask yourself if it’s really necessary? Go back to your end goal (see first bullet) and ask yourself which pieces of the project/task in front of you can you best contribute to support your objective. And, then write down somewhere, “It won’t be the same as I would do it.” As you practice this more, you will find that sometimes the end result is actually better than what you would do when delegated – and sometimes it’s not but there are other benefits. What gift are you giving to others when you delegate? My kids now have to tidy their room before bed. When we first started this, I used to grit my teeth at what the end result looked like. However, over time, they have gotten better at it and they feel proud and responsible for contributing to our household. Plus, I get a few minutes to chat with my partner while chaotic cleaning, dancing, and the lyrics of the Frozen sound track float down the stairs.
  • What am I not allowing myself to do or experience by achieving perfection? I love this question. If I find myself getting caught in a cycle of over-analysing, over-designing, or over-organising, this question is always a showstopper for me. Spending too much time on one project is very often at the expense of another one – or worse at the expense of my family. I remember getting caught up in a video project I was editing last week, and, as I heard my daughters laughing in their room, I was reminded that bedtime stories with my two favourite little people was more important than the “nice to have” video I was working on. Often, the need for perfection comes from the voice in my head that prevents me from achieving my values and goals. In business speak, it’s the shiny, quick win opportunity that distracts you from your mission and goals for the year. That video was not the most important thing for my business mission and goals but completing it was a quicker win than my long-term strategy. I was able to re-focus and enjoy a bit of Harry Potter with my eldest AND get back on track with the important parts of my business goals the next day.
  • Would I pay myself for this? It’s helpful to have in mind an hourly rate for yourself (even if salaried). When I’m working on something that has me spinning in circles, I often ask myself would I pay myself by the hour for this? If the answer is no, it may be that where you are is good enough or that the need for delegation applies. I now outsource my scheduling, my accounting, and a few other basic business functions so that I can focus on the things I love like coaching and strategy building. However, this can also apply to your personal life. Even today, while noticing my house was drowning in some misplaced toys and piles of paperwork, I allowed myself only a few minutes to tidy up a few bits and bobs while my coffee was brewing and then I called it good so I could get to this!
  • Celebrate the journey. Consider what’s important to you (or your business) and celebrate when you are honouring those values and drivers. I keep a list of my five most important values in front of me and I do a midday and end of day check in. Am I honouring my values for adventure and learning new things? If no, it’s often because I have let things like perfection get in my way. If yes, I celebrate and recognise it so that imperfection starts to feel better and more normalised over time. For me, celebration is often in the form of a good cup of coffee or some extra time with family. Some of my clients have started weekly check-ins with a friend to celebrate where they were each able to “let go” each week and honour their values. Celebrate what you learned and experienced on the journey, not what you did perfectly.

Perfection is hard to overcome but as you take small steps on the journey, you will find that by letting go in some places, you are better able to focus on others. Finding success and happiness often means you need to let go of things you have done your whole life if they aren’t in service to what you really want in your long-term vision. This can cue up some fear for many of us (especially if it’s ingrained in an organisational culture) but with some open conversation, this can also be overcome. Engage others around you to help you in your goals – potentially even clients. I have had open conversations with clients, where I tell them that I can charge them for perfection for every step along the way but it will cost a lot more, or we can agree that I won’t overcharge them and we will design a deliverable list that allows for us to hit the impactful pieces at each step. This allows us to get to the end goal in a smarter, efficient, and more flexible way for both sides.

The greatest gift of taking this journey, though it was scary at times, is that I found that I was closer to perfection than I had ever been on the IMPORTANT things – with less effort. I feel lighter, more fulfilled, and excited about what I’m doing – and my clients feel it too. And, while I admit, there are moments where the perfection trap still ensnares me, I can break free a lot faster using the tools I’ve learned along the way – and then I celebrate those learnings and my freedom!

If you would like to dive deeper on how perfection is getting in your way personally, celebrate what you’ve learned thus far, or develop ways of working for your business that will help you be effective and imperfect, we at LivthenticTM are only one free 1 to 1 meeting away where you will get one hour of uninterrupted attention on your areas of curiosity.

Also, join our mailing list to receive our newsletters. The current newsletter will provide you with some additional tools and resources on the topic of perfection, as well as help you stay up to date on what’s coming soon.

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Riding the Entrepreneurial Wave…

Sometimes we need a little more than logic. Tips and tricks to building resilience during the slower cycles in your business.

This week was hard. One of the biggest challenges for me in leaping into entrepreneurial work was accepting that it has cycles and that it has a direct impact on my financial situation. Even though I know that there are busier and slower periods and I have done the work to predict them, it still makes me grit my teeth, my heart plummet, and my stomach tie itself in knots when the income also follows that cycle.

Late July/early August is a hard time to sign any coaching and consulting projects. Most people are already dreaming of their holiday and doing everything they can to tie up loose ends for the big projects at work. My strategic plan and sales forecasts were ready for this but, apparently, my body wasn’t quite on board.

I can still remember that feeling of my sweat glands going into overdrive as I peaked at my business revenue for the last few weeks. My breathing quickened a bit, my stomach started punching me on the inside, and I could feel the weight of my heart dragging itself toward my gut. My head quickly kicked in: You knew this would happen. It’s fine. And, yet, my body was not quite ready to hear logic.

Has this happened to you? It’s frustrating to say the least!

So, what did I do? Well the first thing I did was simmer in it, which I don’t necessarily recommend. I let my body overtake logic. In my body, I could feel the presence of a cheeky child pulling continuously on my arm and relentlessly saying, “Naa-na-na-nah-naa-na. You aren’t doing enough. Do more. Do better.” And then I heard the sinister sneer of another voice saying, “You aren’t enough. This won’t work.” Some coaches call these saboteurs or your inner critic. But, basically, it’s the voice in my head that gets in my way and blocks my thinking so that I lose sight of my vision. And, even worse, it often has me doubting myself and my abilities.

Recognizing that the simmering wasn’t working, I did a few things that really worked:

  • I connected with my own coach. Yes, even coaches have coaches. In fact, having experienced life with a coach, I now don’t think I would ever go without one. Check ins really help. My coach helped me to connect into the part of me that knows what I’m capable of, that can embrace the logic, AND feel the emotion without letting it overwhelm me.
  • I talked about my feelings with my community. I am fortunate to have built a community of fellow coaches, entrepreneurs, and business colleagues. In an early morning meeting, I admitted that I was having a wobbly day when I first spoke. What was really powerful about that is that this group recognised that what I needed was space and they “sat” with me (virtually) and gave me a few minutes to feel the untruths my body was signaling, which allowed me to acknowledge them and move forward.
  • I reconnected with my vision. Over a year ago, I was challenged to give myself a simple way to connect with my vision – not the book of a business plan I wrote, not the to do list – my vision. I painted. That painting is sitting on my desk to remind me of where I want to go – where I WILL go. Today, I took a few moments to allow myself to connect into that space of creativity, freedom, calm. I reminded myself that there is no such thing as failure, only learning. And, while laughing, I gave myself a good old kick in the bum and reminded myself to “Simmer down.” The journey is long and I’m having too much fun to let those old party poopers in my head crash this party with their unsavoury gossip and untruths!

If you are currently in the entrepreneurial space, here are some tips and tricks I would highly recommend to prepare yourself for the waves of your business cycle.

  1. Know your cycle. A little dose of logic does help. Do the research. Look at the data. Talk to others in your field. All industries have cycles and if you know your slower and busier periods, not only can you better mentally prepare for it, you can also build this into your strategy so the highs and lows are potentially less severe. Also, consider adding your holiday time into the cycle and your strategic planning. Depending on the length of your sales cycle time, even a small break could feel like a bit of a blip. Planning for those breaks will better ensure that you take the time you need and are well rested to bring all of your greatness on the days you do work!
  2. Invest in your mental strategy. When you work on something that is your “baby,” it’s not surprising that the emotions, self-doubt, and negative speak can be strong at times. Make sure you have developed techniques to get yourself back on track mentally. This can come from working with a professional coach, mental fitness programmes, mindfulness, or investing in available literature that focus on these areas (and really committing to the learnings and actions you take away from them). Find what works for you and consider it a required part of business not an optional treat.
  3. Build your community. Whether you are an a solopreneur or run a business of millions of employees, it can be lonely. Find your people – the ones you can have courageously intimate conversations, the ones that you trust to tell you the truth, the ones that you know will hold you in the low times, and those that will celebrate with you in your successes!
  4. Find your voice. Be open. Okay, so maybe you don’t want to go into a sales pitch and say I’m doubting everything I ever did in life. However, how would it feel to go into a meeting and to ask for a minute to truly “arrive” because you had a tough morning. If you are feeling bold, maybe even invite others to do the same? Take a few deep breaths, connect to that vision, and then go get ’em!

To my fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders, congratulations for all of the brave steps you have taken thus far. I hope you celebrate your courage and resilience as you experience and prevail over these times of uncertainty and self-doubt. Paddle that surf board out with confidence knowing that you will catch your next wave.

If any of you need help building mental fitness techniques to ride the waves more fearlessly, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Livthentic TM. Schedule a free 1 to 1 to discuss your needs as a leader, as well as any questions you have around your business strategy and building your business.

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Living Abroad during Covid-19

From Expectations and Disappointment, To Experience and Joy

Cue three years ago in June of 2018, my husband and I were Americans walking into our new life in London. We were jet-lagged, scared, and excited all at the same time. We had two toddlers (ages three and one) that had suddenly decided that clubbing at 2 AM was a thing and we were still fighting for our UK bank account, which meant (gasp) no internet or television, and the only people we knew lived in our corporate world. We had planned and dreamed of this moment for years – both exploring ex-patriate opportunities with our respective companies and it was finally happening! We craved the adventure of it all!

Lisbon, Portugal

And, while there were nights that my children felt like small beasts trying to eat me alive and I craved a hug from my mom more than air itself, we were ready. We were happy. We visited La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, spent an extravagant two weeks in Greece, hiked Krka National Park in Croatia, tasted port in Porto, enjoyed Christmas markets in Germany, and skied in Austria (which for one of us might have meant sliding most of the way down on our behind… but that’s a story for another time. Ahem). We learned new corporate rules, new culturally appropriate greetings (weather, always the weather first), and how to make friends in a city swimming with people. We navigated the smoldering hot tube stations in summer and learned to keep a jacket handy for the inevitable 10 degree shift in temperature when we emerged at the overground train station. We were living our adventure! New foods, new languages, new stories! As we meandered into a restaurant or baker, the locals would kindly share their beautiful traditions, their personal journeys, and their tasty homemade goodies. Our kids enjoyed extravagant views from our hiking backpacks and would often nod off for a nap finding themselves in a new place. My favorite quote from my then four-year-old on a trip to Lisbon was “Mommy, what world are we in?” We rolled with naps and a missed turn on the road. We raced across new cities for toddler potty breaks and we laughed about it all over a local glass of wine.

Then, Covid-19 hit. Cue lockdown.

At first, like most people, I hoped for a flu-like cycle and that by summer we would be back to normal. When science and experience proved that theory wrong and weeks turned to months, I started to feel the squeeze of the walls of our small London home. Where was my adventure? My husband and I fought. We tried to homeschool two young kids who could not be less interested in zoom. We video chatted with grandparents, aunts, and cousins who were missing hugs and the small moments that come from in person exploration together. And, my kids became so British that my name changed to “Mummy” as zoom-led phonics and the British version of “Paw Patrol” ruled our roost. Rather than enjoying the tastes of my British adventure, I felt swallowed whole by it.

And, then the pivot happened. What was I here for?

Every day that passed was a chance to wallow in what I was missing or a chance to create my adventure.

Sure, I could not hop on a plane to a new country or enjoy the warm sun of southern Europe, but I was here, in another country. The chapter I had written in my head needed to be edited and fact-checked with my reality. What was my new adventure going to be? We started with exploring new neighborhoods – a long bike ride or run toward London Bridge, noticing a gate to enter the bank of the Thames River and letting the water nip at our toes. And, as lockdown eased, we expanded our reach – a morning trip to find dinosaur bones at Crystal Palace, a long weekend in Brighton, a week at the Isle of Wight, a week in the Lakes District – all here in Great Britain. We found adventure in cooking – perfecting our soft pretzel recipe to get a taste of home and trying our hand at quiche with two kids that initially thought cracking eggs meant impaling their hand through the table. We bought a caterpillar kit and raised butterflies. We painted. We collaborated with others to create fancy dress/costume parties on a zoom call and embraced the make-up skills of a then 3 and 5 year old. (You’re going to have to get to know me better to see THOSE pictures!)

Is my adventure perfect? Absolutely not. I still have my lows. There is depression, loss, and sadness at times. However, if I’m being honest, my up all night raves with my toddlers when we first moved here, were not exactly living the dream either. What I realized is that the difference is in my choice. I can choose to focus on lack of sleep or the missed adventure in Switzerland, or I can celebrate the adventure in the place that I’m in. I can relish in the deep, lifelong friendships that formed with a global cast of characters that helped me flourish during this really difficult time. I can celebrate how I honored my value for deep connection in the relationships that were forged and strengthened – and in the ones that felt faraway at moments but lasted and emerged in a new, beautiful place. I can mourn the loss of the adventure I wrote in my head AND be delighted and surprised at what emerges in the actual journey.

So, for those of you on your adventure or exploring the idea of living abroad, I can promise you one thing: It will not be what you expected.

Even without Covid-19, nothing is ever quite what we think it will be. However, if you want to move or live abroad, do not let the fear of disappointment distract you. If you truly know what values and drivers are compelling you take that step, you will find a way to connect to them, to flourish, and to find something even more beautiful than you had ever imagined.

Note to readers: To those already living abroad, if it’s feeling hard and you are having trouble connecting to your why for being there, I’m here. To my global explorers still noodling the idea of living abroad, I’m here. And, to my fellow leaders with employees living abroad, help them connect to their why for being there, and know that I’m only a click or phone call away if you need a helping hand. Schedule a free Spark session if you want to chat. And if push comes to shove and you really need a laugh, maybe… just maybe… I’ll break out some of my awesome make-over photos from my adventures with my now four and six year olds over the last year! Cheers to adventures!

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Get Sparked! If you are currently living abroad and it is feeling hard or you are thinking about moving abroad and are not quite sure yet of what your unique drivers are, don’t hesitate to reach out to explore what’s important for you and how to connect to that in different ways. The more you know about what you want, the more enriching the experience will be. For my organizational leaders, let’s design something that helps your employees living abroad connect to their spark and find their adventure again!

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