It's nearly 9am. I have meditated, have coffee on the go and attempting to get back into a healthy routine. Gym was on the list for this morning too, but small steps and all.
It's wonderfully quiet, peaceful and the sun is beaming though the kitchen window onto the table top. Beautifully autumnal but warm as toast.
So, here I am in my kitchen drinking from my Guerrilla Experience mug. How lovely.
Today is World Mental Health Day and it feels the right time, and opportunity to pause and reflect on this journey that I am on.
Hand on heart the place that I am currently in is completely and utterly the best place I have ever been in. I'm not looking back, I'm not looking forwards, I'm just content and satisfied with where I am in this precise moment - sat in my kitchen. I'm not bragging, it's just refreshing to be able to say that. I haven't always been able to say that.
On January 25th 2016 I stood in the this very kitchen and planned, attempted and ultimately failed to end my life.
For an accumulative and collective bunch of reasons I had allowed myself to think, not only think, but rationalise with perfect clarity (or so it felt), that the best and ultimate solution to the pain I was feeling, and the disappointment I had brought to everyone around me, was to tap out. To let the world and everyone in it carry on without the burden of having to have me in it. It was a selfless act. Or so it felt. Anyone who claims suicide is selfish has a long way to go to understand what is going on in the head of someone contemplating this decision.
I don't want to fill this present space with dark details, but let me just say that, when you're a solutions person, as I am, sometimes you have to look at the worst case scenario. Sometimes it does genuinely feel as though you have no other option. Sometimes your brain exhausts you so much that it knows it needs to power down. Mine was a mixture of childhood difficulties and teenager difficulties, that ultimately lead to me running, very fast, into danger, carelessness and self hate. (side note: Mothers out there - you are doing an amazing job. You are enough for your children. Just as you are. Now, put your arms around your babies and tell them you love them and that they are enough as they are).
I wanted to write this piece as a reflection back from where I am today. Alive. Happy. Successful. Loved and loving. It is possible.
I can, without doubt, lay the responsibility of saving my life down to two people. One, my flatmate at the time whose innocence and wonderfully bright eyed freshness to London, at that time, acted as an unbeknown hitch in my plan. He was starting out on his journey here, the beginnings of a big city adventure that didn't need to be punctuated by, an ever burnt on image, of me, hanging in the kitchen over a pool of blood. I needed to be strong for him. So thank you Tom. To this day I'm not sure you know what went on that night, and the subsequent weeks, but please now know that your green green grass smile from Wales saved me that night.
And secondly, Dr Ibison of Minute Green Surgery, of NHS amazingness. When my back up plan also failed and my utter desperation and frustration resulted in me completely losing it (cos planning to hang yourself from the kitchen ceiling isn't, OK!) your pure love, warmth, time and patience got me into the care system I needed, and ultimately the medication I needed. You sat and monitored me all day with constant tea, biscuits and kindness, and eventually when you were able to have organised all your other patients, you came with me in the taxi to A&E and waited with me until I was seen. You did all the talking and offered me the simple maternal loving warmth, through your smile, that I had been lacking for so many years. You literally saved my life that day. Thanks doesn't cut it.
So here I am now. 37. Drinking coffee out of my 'exclusive' The Guerrilla Experience mug. The company that I have since set up with the most incredible woman, gobshite and friend - Teresa Klasener. Between us we have written a new set of rules on how to live and work - in fact there's only one - Enjoy it. Everyday we are laughing, and if we are not laughing, we are making sure as hell we will be tomorrow. That makes us sound like cartoon maniacs, but honestly, if it's not bringing us goodness, we are not doing it. Goodness no.
The Guerrilla Experience is simple. People need people. Who ever you are. What ever story you have been living, whatever script you have been acting out. Underneath it all, the (and yes, I will use this word) magic behind what happens when people are in ACTUAL contact with other people is literally life saving.
We are not attempting to 'cure' mental health - it's not something that needs fixing. We all have problems, we all deal with them in our own ways. But just keep an eye on it. Try not to get run over. Try not to get diabetes. Try not to have a heart attack. Try not to sabotage everything by ignoring your mind. It WILL help talking to someone. I guarantee it.
We are not attempting to save lives. We are just reminding you that more often than not, simple is best. Humans need other humans. We are not cyborgs or robots yet, so until we are, let's stop acting like them. We don't need to be the most efficient. We don't need to be the fastest, the smartest, the most successful. We don't need to 'hack' life. We don't need to be Google searching the apps, tips and tricks to be as good, if not better, than the next image in our feed.
Stop searching. Stop moaning. Start living.
The answer is not right in front of your face, it is your face. The skill is to just go find another. You don't even need to say anything/ Just smile, drop the shoulders, take a long slow deep breath, sit back and know, deep inside, from your gut, that you are going to be OK. We are going to be OK.
The person opposite you is as much of a fuck up as you are. Yes, you heard me. They are as much of a fucking superstar as you are.
The funny thing is, you already know all of this don't you? Yes you do! So, what's stopping you?
So what is Coaching anyway?
If you go to the gym and get a personal trainer, you know they’ll support, encourage and ultimately enable you to achieve your fitness goals using the best motivational techniques and latest industry know how. And so it goes with Coaching. Think of it as a spin class for your mind. Personal Coaches support, encourage and motivate you to get what you want out of your life using all the latest science, tricks and strategies that they know works. So if you want the fitness to do a a half marathon, go to see a Personal Trainer, but if you want to find the motivation, go and see a Personal Coach.
Ok, but how is all that possible?
We’ll do that by Speed Coaching. That’s being Coached by up to 5 of our amazing Guerrilla coaches, each with their own unique expertise, insight and life experience of their own. Like Speed Dating it’s a social, informal experience and you get the chance to hop from one Personal Coach to another, airing your ideas, gaining new insights and courage. With 3 three coaches, plus 2 group coaching models you’ll get different styles, different questioning and a chance to unpack and really explore your thinking from every possible angle.
There’s plenty of evidence around too that supports the effectiveness of these faster sessions. Coaches are primed to cut through, separating the wheat from the chaff. There’s energy and dynamism. Teresa Klasener, Guerrilla’s founder has coached many 15 minute and 30 minute sessions - way shorter than the usual 60 or 90 minute ones - and is always amazed at the quality of the interactions.
“The apparent lack of time, actually enables you to be even more focussed on listening. As soon as you start, you’re locked on, building trust and empathy actively focussing on solutions. Theres a really energy in the room”
Roxanna, who was coached for 15 minutes at Women of the Word WOW Event, by Teresa had this feedback:
“To be honest Teresa, I found our chat to be completely not what I expected in a really great way! I found it really empowering to speak to you and hear you have confidence in me (even without really knowing me.) I spoke to you about thinking about applying for art therapy and I am happy to tell you that I am mid way through my application and am applying for September! So yes, I did find it very effective and supportive- Thank you!! “
Get your tickets on Eventbrite, then come along on Friday 11 May, from 7pm at Conway Hall, Holborn. There’s a bar and lots of warm, engaging Guerrillas
So now, what’s stopping you?
if you ask a woman outright if she has any issues to deal with that are exclusive to being a woman, almost 99% of them would (initially) say noRead Now
Statistics, research and measures all show that having women on the board or in leadership teams improve the profits of a company by up to 80%. Quite frankly, hire a woman and your ROI is a given.
In addition to the numbers that count, legislation to create gender parity supports the reduction of the gender pay gap, the right to request flexible working and anti-discrimination on the grounds of gender. This is all great and necessary as we are a long way from creating an equal society and work place, and I have a whole other blog primed for why and how we better achieve that through company values and culture, but, right now, I want to address what women can do directly to influence this shift.
I deal with lots of people and many of them women, and if you ask a woman outright if she has any issues to deal with that are exclusive to being a woman, almost 99% of them would (initially) say no. But once I start to explore their story, their obstacles and their desires, it becomes apparent that being a woman makes for a very different workplace and life experience. The language and infrastructure of business, the social norms in the boardroom, the out of office culture is starting to shift a bit, but is still an exclusively male domain. Young women can adapt and fit into this world, there is a sense of dynamism attached to it, a competitive nature that Gen X/Z can exploit and explore but, as our life outside of work starts to influence our priorities, it becomes a situation of ‘if you’re not in, then you’re out’. This change can come as quite a shock to the twenty-something females as they progress in their career, I’ve seen it a lot.
Much of the latent discrimination faced by woman is their capacity or potential to have children, this is irrelevant as to whether they actually want children, or have a partner who choses to be the lead parent – the point is, if you are a biological oven, then your promotion and recruitment is considered differently. Fact. I have spoken to leaders in small and large organisations, mainly men, sometimes women, and in all countries, and they have the view that somehow a woman is going to be less committed to work because they are (or might become) a mum. Which of course, is bollocks.
A person’s desire to work hard and contribute to an organisation, is in the hands of that organisation – the values and the culture it breeds – and that’s not just about making sure they follow the line of the law, but about making every employee understand their contribution and support them to deliver it. This is not influenced by whether they have a terrible illness, dependent parents, children or an alcoholic partner because we all have our fair share of personal responsibilities, but how the organisation works for its people.
Women, on the other hand, you could acknowledge that it IS different being a woman, and sometimes it’s harder, BUT those challenges can only be overcome if you identify them first. Having the ability to say this stuff out load and talking it through in a safe place is one of the most rewarding experiences my female clients enjoy. Together we wade through the emotional and angry verbal vomit, have a bit of a laugh (and maybe a cry), consider what is from within and what is from without and then start to align some strategies and practical plans that we can implement to start making some change. This could be dealing with our own areas for development, and/or developing techniques to influence change in others. We track the progress and flex the style and techniques according to the situation. Sometimes these things are major and sometimes they are minor, but Women Coaching is about identifying and acknowledging the differences and making them work, because being different to a man is not about being less than a man.
Thanks to resident Guerrilla Barry for kicking us off with our first blog. Amongst all the Coaching and People Development we do, we're taking on Identity Coaching as our personal crusade. It'll all make sense when you've read the blog but in a nutshell ... why not live the life you deserve to live? Be the person you are? Everybody else is taken.