Midsummer

Maybe it’s due to the longer days, increased daylight (and sunshine!) and the chance for the first time in many years to take time out with my spouse, just the two of us, away from work, parenting and caring responsibilities, offering the opportunity for a much needed regroup, refuel, reconnect and reflection this midsummer.

The past year has been a challenging one – it hasn’t gone as anticipated. I think after the pandemic, I like many was banking on a greater sense of calm and stability possibly even predictability. However, as a parent the past twelve months have stretched me in a new way; supporting a pre-teen daughter (not unusual for Gen-X women) to transition into senior school, and come to terms with new friendships, new routines, new demands and expectations. As a spouse supporting my husband on the ongoing build-out of his business through the current financial downturn presented what feels like daily challenges. On top of this, also dealing with the increasingly unpredictable changes in the needs of older friends and family and their care. All in addition to running my own business.

I took the opportunity on my break to revisit my values – these are the foundations on which I build my vision and all that I do is anchored in them. And what I realised was:

I am committed more than ever to looking after this ageing body and soul of mine and my wellbeing. But keeping the focus, commitment and enthusiasm isn’t easy and I lapse regularly. However, now I have the awareness to know when this is happening and reach for the oxygen mask with compassion.

I am feeling my increasing desire for adventure when it comes to travels and new experiences – with my family and on my own. And I am paying attention to where this might lead over the coming months!

The value that stood out strongly for me in my reflections was collaboration. Especially, when it comes to my work, my major insight was that whilst I enjoy my one-to-one coaching and consulting work and am committed to continuing with it, I love collaborating! For the past three months, I’ve focused on investing in some amazing collaborations which are starting to bear some wonderful fruit and are resourcing me in a different way. You may have seen from the Wise Sherpa website; I have recently included my inspiring collaborators’ details:

Philippa Gillstrom and I are collaborating around our passion to support women leaders in midlife through our Wiseacious programme that we are evolving. I love collaborating with Philippa – her energy and enthusiasm are boundless. She is laser sharp on self-awareness; what she brings to the table and what she wants!

Jane Sethi and I are co-facilitating our first virtual 8-week mindful self-compassion programme and it’s proving to be a really rich experience. What I appreciate and admire about Jane – is her serene calmness and wisdom. Whenever I spend time with Jane I am much the richer for it.

Deborah Jones and I have known each other for many years – through some of life’s major highs and lows. We’ve always wanted to collaborate and 2023 is the year where we finally have the chance to do so. Deborah is a true expert in her space of group coaching and leadership. She brings not only brilliance and compassion to all that she does in a truly humble way.

I’ve also realised that I value spending time in teams not always leading or coordinating, but collaboratively supporting. So, I’ve spent the past few weeks as an exam invigilator at a local school and it’s wonderful to be part of a team who care passionately about young people and how they can have a positive, supportive experience when it comes to exams. I was curious if this would be possible, but it has been a privilege to be part of a team collaborating in a very different way.

As part of leaning into my collaborative value earlier in the year, I walked away from a chair position. Not an easy decision but the collaboration wasn’t working for me. In the midsummer of my life am learning anchored in my values, when to stick and when to say goodbye. Sometimes, it’s harder to do than others and I do still find I’m talking myself into things but much less frequently as more than not I catch myself. Crucially, I’ve also learnt that this saying is so true: “As one door closes, another opens”. As I stepped away from one opportunity, I was approached for another and this was made possible through collaboration. I am delighted to share that I am now a member of the amazing advisory board for Noon – a powerful movement driving change for women in midlife and beyond led by the inspiring Eleanor Mills.

The final part of my collaboration puzzle is an experimental self-managing mastermind group – Tellus Global – that I am part of. The seven of us met on a coaching programme several years ago and held our first in-person retreat in March. A self-managing group (which is what Tellus is) is an exciting experiment for me and for the rest of the team. Whilst I’ve been part of organisations that have surfed on the edges of self-managing, this is the first time I have truly been part of such an experimental approach! I am feeding and nurturing my need for learning and growth with the support of the group.

So, what else have I concluded in my time out? An end-of-calendar year/New Year reflection and planning process with regular check-ins throughout the year, I’m left wondering if a midsummer reflection process may just work better for me as it aligns with when my energy and attention are at their highest. So the challenge I have set myself is to repeat this exercise for the next three years at the same time to see what shifts in the midsummer of my life. I’m excited to watch this space!

To learn more about my work with organisations and individuals, email me at rebecca@wisesherpa.co.uk.

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