The beauty of working with a coach or mentor

Before I dive in, just a note about language: I’m currently pondering my own relationship with the words “coach” and “mentor”. I believe they’re different, but I also believe I do both. So please forgive that I use both in this article. Other business mentors or coaches probably have different opinions on this distinction.

As I return from maternity leave, I’ve had some pretty good reminders of what it’s like to start up in business. All that excitement, but also all those questions you have: Should I do this thing? What about that? How do I prioritise? Who am I targeting? What should I focus on?

And on and on…

Just like when I first started out, I’ve had to become my first client again. I sit with my own questions, and I ask myself what I’d ask a client. What’s really important this year, this month, this week? Who’s going to benefit most from my work? How do I really want to show up?

It’s incredibly easy to get taken over by questions, fire-fighting and comparison, or even imposter syndrome.

Here are a few ways working with a good mentor or coach can help:

They’ll hear what’s really important to you.

A good coach is trained to hear what you’re saying beneath the actual words you say. You might feel like you’re just talking or perhaps have a bit of verbal diarrhea, but those of us with an attuned ear hear so much. And we reflect that back to you. Or we ask a pertinent question. We help to guide you towards clarity.

They’ll help you stay focused and accountable.

Usually, with all the listening and the questions and the talking, we reach a point where we know the focus you need. You see it, too. There’s a first step, and a second, and you take it from there. A good mentor will help you find a way to take that first step, and stay accountable a few steps down the line, so you don’t get distracted by things that aren’t on your important list.

They’ll see things you don’t.

A fresh pair of eyes on your business and your personal strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable. A business coach will spot opportunities you haven’t, and will share insights on your business structure, marketing, customers, brand and more (depending on their unique skills). If you run your business without a partner or business manager, this can give you so much: more money and profit, more energy, more enthusiasm – and less time-wasting.

You’ll learn how to work through decisions and problems.

Sometimes, you might work with a mentor to get through a big change or a big decision in your business. But if you work with someone over a longer period of time – say six months or more – you learn so much about how to approach different situations. Making one decision is great, but learning the skill of decision-making has a long-term payoff. A coach has insights and questions and ways of thinking about things that will boost your business skills for years to come.

They’ll champion you and your business goals.

The thing about having a coach is that they’re on your team. Which is exactly what you need if you’re a business of one! Friends and family are great, but coaches have the professional and business knowledge so that they not only boost your mood, but also get you doing the best things for your business. It’s such a relief to know someone is on your side.

I could probably go on and on! Depending on where you are in your business journey, there are loads of ways a business mentor or coach can help you. If you’re starting out, they can help you get going. If you’re building on the early years, they can help you find your stride. If you’re considering a shift or pivot, they can help you see and make that transition.

There are so many options

There are loads of business mentors and coaches available these days (certainly many more than when I started in 2014!). Find someone you like, who has experience that will help you, who says the things you need to hear.

If that person is me, or could be me, I’d love to hear from you. I work with business owners (mostly women) who are in various stages of business, usually creative. I help them to understand themselves and their businesses better, in order to make better business decisions.

Get in touch and set up a free chat to find out if we’re a good fit!

(Thinking of becoming a mentor or wanting to improve or establish your mentoring business? I’m going to be launching some resources for you later this year. Get in touch to get the info when it’s ready!)

Behind the scenes: my Creative Business Day Retreat

Earlier in May, I hosted a wonderfully nourishing Creative Business Day Retreat at Paus, just outside Cambridge.

Having created and hosted six retreat weekends over the last five years, it felt like high time to offer a day retreat that would inspire, remove challenges, and rejuvenate!

The day started with tea and coffee, and a few introductions. I had a very prompt group (or should that be lots of luck with the traffic!) so we had plenty of time to chat and get to know one another.

My job at any retreat is to listen deeply to the needs of the women who gather and make sure they leave with some insight, clarity and practical suggestions for actions to take. So as I guide everyone through introducing themselves and their businesses, I’m listening out for themes and clues for what they really need.

I use meditation to help us all get really present, and to bypass the monkey minds that keep us stuck in fear and old habits. At my weekend retreats, I lead groups through regular meditations and longer visualisations, but as this day retreat was shorter, I kept things pretty focused!

Another tradition of the retreat is the gift of a star with a word on it. It’s a little bit of magic, but also an important symbol: a token to remind guests of their insight and clarity when they leave. Each word is carefully chosen, but ultimately goes to the person who needs in most.

Once we’re all settled in, I lead the group through some writing prompts. For this retreat, it was all about where you are now and where you want to get to. After we spend about an hour digging into some pretty big questions, each person has the opportunity to share with the group, and get some coaching from me.

This is where we really uncover the things that have held us back, that we haven’t been able to see before. Yes, there were tears. Yes, my hormones meant that I was also tearing up! But it’s good. These shifts are important.

Writing prompts sound very simple and straightforward, but the truth is there’s a lot of power behind them. I go deep – asking things in different ways and looking for fresh perspectives. It’s rare that guests don’t find something useful during these workshops.

After a delicious and nourishing lunch, guests had access to the incredible outdoor hot tubs at Paus, as well as time to reflect on the insights of the morning.

We had a little closing ceremony, including a meditation and some declarations of things we’re leaving behind as we go onwards. And of course some happy-sad goodbyes!

The day retreat was such a lovely way to celebrate my last in-person work before my maternity leave, and I loved spending the day at Paus.

If you’re interested in my next Creative Business Retreat Weekend in March 2020, I currently have two places left.

And for more information about future events, you can sign up to my newsletter.

Fancy a private retreat or workshop for a small number of friends or colleagues, get in touch!

Here’s the thing: places we get stuck (and how to get out of them)

I’ve noticed in working with creative entrepreneurs, especially designers and makers, and in my own work, there are certain places where we get stuck. Because we’re individuals, they’re nuanced, but there are definitely themes.

I’ve collected five of the most common blocks to doing our best work and shared some of my thoughts on how we get un-stuck. This list is not exhaustive, and so I’d love to hear your experiences of what gets you tied up in knots and how you untangle yourself. Pop a comment below or email me!

 

Worrying about what other people think

Okay, I’ll admit this is a lifetime’s work for me. I’m a people-pleaser, and every year I think I’ll kick this habit, and every year it is stubborn. So my experience is that it’s a practise. A long one that you have to do every day. I remind myself that I’m not here to please people. It’s not my job to make everyone happy. It’s my job to tell the truth, to be myself, to offer business practises and services that I believe in.

Worrying about what other people are doing

There’s the pleasing, and then there’s the comparison. There are so many books I wish I’d written, courses I’d love to run, events I’d love to host, conversations I’d love to have. And when I see other people doing them, it physically hurts sometimes.

And then there’s seeing other people doing things I hadn’t even thought of! Should I be doing that? How can a change my business strategy to include that, because it’s obviously working? Wait. This is always a signal for a pause. To get off social media, to take a walk, to remind myself of what’s important to me.

Comparison is another life-long lesson. But my best advice is to allow yourself that pause to come back to yourself, and to remember that you have to do what’s right for you.

Note: if either of these first two are big for you, consider Self Care on Social Media for Business Owners. We’ll get you some healthy boundaries around social media, comparison and those silly shoulds.

Creative self-doubt: this font or that? This format or that?

In the last 3 days I’ve had emails from coaching clients double checking their new designs. What do I think of the fonts? Are the colours right?

I can help with these questions for my clients because I already know the answers to the following:

  • Who are you designing for?
  • What do they care about?
  • What’s the most important job for this product / service / offering?
  • Do the design choices reflect these things?

Ultimately, feeling confident in your designs requires courage. It’s never easy. There is often doubt and fear lingering around. It’s about having enough of a connection to what you want to create so that you can push through the doubt.

I could write a whole other post (maybe a book?) on listening to the inner signals of what is right and what is fear, following our creative intuition. All I’ll say now is: I know you have a wise inner creative within you, one that knows the answers.

There’s not enough money

If you’re stuck in the “not enough, not enough, not enough” loop, I recommend logging off. Turn off your phone. Close down your laptop. Stop looking at the to-do list. For 15-20 minutes.

Instead, boil the kettle, make a tea or lemon and honey, and sip it. List a few things you’re grateful for, the prosperity you’ve already received. Go to town if you can. Be grateful for the kettle, electricity, and the chair you’re sat in if that’s all you can manage. This is the seed that shifts the worry and lets your brain know you have resources to get through the hard patch you’re in – or realise you’re not in a hard patch at all.

Alternatively, I also find just walking round the block for 20 minutes can shift the overwhelming not enoughness.

Trying to push through when really we need to rest and reset

This. This, my friends, is a theme amongst hard-working, gifted, creative, ambitious (mostly) female entrepreneurs and creatives. There’s a tendency to push and push and push. We think that’s what we’re meant to do – keep going forever, no matter what.

Your energy isn’t infinite, but it is renewable.

If you’re trying to get through an impossible to-do list. If you keep getting hit in the face by a wave coming towards you, with no chance for a breath before the next one hits. If you are so tired that sleep doesn’t even touch the sides (as it were). If you can’t remember what a clear head feels like.

You. Have. To. Rest.

Rest actually speeds up the creative process. Did you know that? It also speeds up success of all kinds. Because we don’t waste precious energy trying to do stuff that isn’t working when, if we had the mental clarity, we’d know that a thoughtful pivot would yield results.

I don’t write this to be facetious or to over-simplify the complex process of building a sustainable and profitable business. Business isn’t simple, but nor is it as complicated as our fear-based brains like to tell us.

So I write this to offer practical steps to get yourself out of stuckness and closer to your dreams.

I can’t wait to hear what works for you!

Jenny x

 

A few offerings

If you’re getting stuck, you might like:

  • Self Care on Social Media for Business Owners. If I could release creatives from comparison and the distraction of social media, I know that the world would be better off. We’d have more true connection, more amazing products and services, and generally more happiness. Be part of this movement to create healthy relationships with social media, especially for business owners. Lifetime membership is £140+VAT.
  • My January retreat weekend. Yes, you’ll rest and reset. Plus you’ll get time to reflect on your business and make an amazing plan for the year ahead. These retreats change lives, I’ve been told. Places are available for just £700, and you can book a place for a £250 deposit.
  • One-on-one coaching. Let’s get into the detail of where you’re standing in your own way, or coming up against obstacles you can’t figure out yet. Create your own unique plan of six sessions for £750.
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