BEING IN CONVERSATION.
HOW DID THIS COME TO B?
One conversation at a time over many years.
As an 11 year old, a classmate of mine asked “can I talk to you about something?” and there it was, the first request for an independent perspective to what was at the time a challenging personal problem for my peer. In that moment I had no answers for this person, which is as true now as it was then.
Since then there have been many conversations with family, friends, teachers, colleagues, coaches, mentors, in many different locations and contexts. Below is a partial representation of a life history to the now of Being in Conversation.
Conversations over the kitchen table
In the early years of conversations growing up in Northern Ireland there were regular conversations across the kitchen table with my mother. What this looked like was me asking questions (since some-how I felt my mother had answers) such as why are we here? What is it to have faith? What is life about? How is it that life goes on forever? You know, the normal sorts of conversations that 10 year old’s have. My mothers gift to me was time, deep listening, with an open, non judgmental style. As partial memories of those chats come forth, it is clear to see now, how she reframed many of those questions back to me....and what do you think? Sending me inside for answers, seeking truth from within. Lying awake at night my mind would often ponder the concept of eternity. My father often told me that I was thinking too much. Yes dad, you were correct.
Through too much thinking and the discomfort generated through that process habituated in the teenage years, there was huge resistance to accepting life as it was. I wasn't enough and neither was life as it was. So the search began. There had to be more to life than this!
Moving out of home to study at uni there was more independent living and new conversations with a more diverse groups of people with different opinions, lifestyles and experiences to me. People were a fascination to me.
As Head of Business studies in a large grammar school in Derry for a few years, there were, as well as conversations about the topic of business, conversation with young people about their struggles with self-confidence, their striving to be included, to be seen, to succeed and this awoke me to the beginning of seeing patterns of struggling in mind. From that insight came a curiosity to discover more about how people came to have different worries, coping strategies, different types of desires and wants and ways of functioning in the world, some that worked well and others that created cycles of suffering.
It was around this time that I attended a program called Investment in Excellence where they taught about the functioning of the brain and how we had a mindset. To see that it was my mindset and thus my responsibility to manage it was a real aha moment! And from there, sparked a desire to develop on purpose.
Talking the lead in conversations
It was also around this time, that my first formal opportunity in a leadership role arose to take a stand in the workplace for something that mattered to me. I intentionally chose to challenge the hierarchy. It was terrifying and yet liberating to find my voice! On reflection this was a growing up, a switch point for me. It was the moment of noticing the truth within me and speaking from that place rather than feeling constrained to stay silent, to follow what we might call the social norm, conforming to the culture of how we do things around here. As a result of taking the lead, systems were changed and a new model of operating was implemented for teachers coming after me. Through conversations we can influence.
Currently as a mentor for the University of Ulster there is joy in continuing to support young people to reconnect with their inner knowing as they make decisions about their studies and future roles for themselves.
Small business conversations
What followed the classroom conversations was a decade working in small businesses in NI and Australia. Working in small businesses was an environment for me to fast track skills on how to effectively have challenging conversations with customers, supplies, workmates and learn ways to find solutions and resolution for all parties. The breadth of opportunity to build skills in logistics/warehousing, customer service, marketing helped me to appreciate the interdependency and complexity of systems.
And yet despite the many challenging, enjoyable, informative years working in small businesses, there was an internal questioning happening which sounded like - is this it? A desire to be part of something bigger, a longing to know what do people do in those big tower blocks, a drive to extend my networks and to specialize in something rather than be a generalist.
Having spent over a decade in a large global multinational organisation leading Talent development across ANZ and later Talent Management across the ASEAN Countries, my time in this role focused on developing leaders, teams, and individuals contributors.
So whether it was facilitating leadership development programs, career development workshops or career/performance coaching the role offered the opportunity to work with individuals, teams, people leaders and strategic leaders at all levels of the organisation to support them as they searched for clarity on effective strategies they needed to thrive, as they reflected on what type of leader they wanted to be (leading self, others or the business itself) and as they worked to overcome the common leadership transitional challenges.
During this decade a lot was learnt from conversations with the people at Vital Smarts (the Crucial conversations people) and Franklin Covey and through becoming accredited in facilitating development models such as DISC, MBTI, and Genos EI meeting my goal to become a more effective talent development specialist.
My global network expanded during those formative years too, working in a global talent management team, and regularly running virtual development sessions across global businesses and multiple time zones. Through all these experiences of coaching, mentoring, facilitating, teaching there was the realisation that people, no matter where they were from, what culture they had grown up in, what jobs they did, were simply human beings doing the best they could with the resources they had inside themselves.
For all the complexity happening in the work environment, with multiple systems, timezones, cultures, technologies and talent development frameworks it was apparent (through my personal development happening at the time) that going inside was where the gold was. The only way to change anything as humans was to work from the inside out. And the ONLY person that I could change was me. This set off a drive to fast track my personal development, and through this decade the commitment was made to really ramp up the investment in self development. How could I influence and lead others if I was not first committed to my own development?
Intentional development conversations
Access to leading-edge thinking in development became available through studies with The Coaching Room in Australia. The managing partners, Jay Hedley and Joseph Scott, have a generosity of spirit that has been liberating for me. Through coaching, mentoring and training with Jay and Joseph, came an introduction to developmental psychology. What started as a way of learning became a way of living the models.
So, after many years of focusing on development, physically what was being experienced was a constant state of weariness and exhaustion. There was a longing inside to stop challenging and pushing myself. I was so over developing and reinventing myself. Now was a quest to simply be me.
And this led to the commitment to a personal inquiry with the teachings of the Moments Awake process for awakening. A process created for humanity to clear distractions that keep us asleep to reality. Through inquiry conversations and much time in silence (the ultimate conversation) life is now much clearer.
Now What? was a phrase heard in mind often. For me, sitting with the now what, became a knowing, a moving out of a corporate role into private practice. To offer a NOW WHAT? process to individuals who were at key transitional points in their lives and were asking, now what? Being in conversation is a way of paying it forward, offering others the opportunity that was given to me, to gain clarity, on what is true for them.
The process of humans developing although natural, is not always easy or enjoyable! It can be uncomfortable, confusing and challenging. Being in conversation with an experienced practitioner can provide support and clarity to individuals as they transition through stages of development. As you read this, if you feel moved to be in 1:1 and/or group conversation, please connect in.
All the best for now,
Certifications & Education
Moments Awake # STAGES of Human Development Certification for Coaching
# Integral-Semantic Facilitator
# Master Practitioner of Neuro Semantics & Neuro Linguistic Programming
# Meta Coach training with the Meta Coach Foundation
# Genos Emotional Intelligence Practitioner # MBTI Facilitator # DiSC Facilitator
# Advanced Diploma in Metaphysics
# Post Grad Education in Economics # Business Degree
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