What Holds us BACK to ACT?

December and the promise of a New Year brings with it a time of reflection. Reflection of what we have achieved in the year gone by (or perhaps postponed or held back on) as well as the resolutions that we make to ourselves for the year ahead… a year full of possibilities and opportunities…

It’s the best time of year to set clear intentions, to reignite a Passion or Vision for the future and to Dream …Dream BIG so that we can make the world awesome!

One thing I chose to do differently this year, just to push myself forward and to make sure that I no longer postpone or put things off, was to honestly ask myself…..

‘What Holds Me back to Act?’

When I reflect, I recognise one valuable distinction I have learnt from a system/typology that I now work with, in that I am driven by a lot of why, a little of what, but absolutely no how. What this means is that when I focus on ‘why’ I want to do something, I have clarity. But when I actually want go and do that something, sometimes I just don’t know how to do it! I can become confused, frustrated and potentially give up! I realise that I actually need to team up with those that know how….

So that is what I have done. I have teamed up with 3 inspirational women on purpose, who have aligned values and vision, so that together we can co-create quality solutions for the future. We share a vision to empower and create influential women of the world and, through Creative Collaboration, we have developed a Cohesive Leadership for Change program designed specifically for women. Launching in March 2015, the program creates the vital challenge and joyful experience of discovering ones purpose and stepping into ones individual and collective values and visions.

By teaming up in this way, I have also been inspired and motivated to finally act and launch my new business ‘Cultivate Connections’ on Friday 30th January 2015.

When I discovered what was holding me back and experienced firsthand what happens when I team up with those that complement my strengths and weaknesses, I thought perhaps I might not be the only one; that others might also benefit from teaming up too and that’s why I created Cultivate Connections – it connects people, services and businesses to ensure we have everything we need to ‘turn our Passions and Visions into Actions’… the What, the Why and the How and even the Where and the When…

So as the New Year approaches, ask yourself…

  • Do you have a Passion you want to enthusiastically pursue with others?
  • Do you have a Vision you want to share?
  • Do you have a Dream you want to make into a Reality?

If so, consider a collaborative venture and team up with those that have aligned values and vision. I can certainly declare that TEAMWORK really does make the DREAMWORK!

It is quite incredible. It’s not to say it’s without its challenges but it brings new meaning to relationships, to passions and visions, to ideas and dreams and to what is possible for our future.

Make a New Year resolution now to come along to a CC Event and watch this space, as booking details is coming soon….Taking networking to the next level, CC Events provides an opportunity to consciously Cultivate Connections and experience Creative Collaboration. For further details check out CC Events.

So as 2014 comes to a close, connect with your PASSION, VISION or DREAM and let’s get you collaborating with the right people in 2015…

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Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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Coming Together…

As we move from the generation of builders to baby boomers to generation X, Y and now Z our ‘cultural’ roles in society shift with new perception. As a result, there can be a tendency to be left feeling like we don’t know our ‘place’ in the world or that we have to do it all ourselves…. and we all know that doing it on our own can be hard work!

With any type of change comes an initial lack of clarity or uneasiness as we move outside of our comfort zone and when it relates to our role within society we can perhaps forget that we are actually here to come together, play together and work together. Because while we might think we have to do it all ourselves, the reality is that we are, in actual fact, built on collaboration. You just have to look at family. We are born into a ‘team’; we connect and collaborate with other ‘teams’ through marriage; and we procreate our own ‘team’. And we all know that finding the right team is when the magic begins….

So what makes a team work and create lasting magic? In my opinion it is absolutely, without a doubt, in the knowing of ourselves and the understanding of our role in the team and the role of others. So that we can realize, recognize and respect one another (warts and all!). But rather than connecting primarily with our roles from a ‘cultural’ perspective, which as we know can change quite quickly as the years pass by, I highly recommend that we instead focus on connecting with our role in accordance with our identity. That is, our role from a purpose driven perspective. Our core identity does not change; it only becomes clearer as time passes by (so long as we do the work!). This in itself would then ground us with a knowing of who we are, what we are here to give and what we can contribute as member of a team, any type or size of a team, be it personally or professionally. We would have clarity on our personal values and vision and team up with those that have aligned values and/or vision. And herein is the secret ingredient of a team that works and creates lasting magic – aligned values and/or vision. Even in times of stress or creative conflict, which will happen even with the best of teams, this is the glue that keeps you together. Who knows, perhaps society may even start to be influenced by this new perception of knowing ourselves, connecting and building aligned teams….

So who are you? What are your strengths, your gifts to the world?

Through participating in the Living Attributes program “Know yourself, discover your purpose”, facilitated by Elizabeth Ellames, I have revealed that my gift is courage (from the Latin word ‘cor’ meaning heart: to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart) and I love to connect people by sharing knowledge. I am a Collaborator, Facilitator and Rock Star Connector. And in gaining clarity, I have come together with three amazing women, Elizabeth Ellames from Living Attributes, Cherie Rowett from Heart Choice Enterprise and Lisa McAskill from Lisa McAskill Presenting; all three women living on purpose. We all share a vision of ‘Creating Influential Women’ ™ and are working together to develop a Cohesive Leadership for Change™ program. I’ve never felt more alive and fulfilled than when I’m acting on purpose and collaborating with others that have an aligned vision, and this is having a ripple effect throughout my entire life.

So IMAGINE…. discovering or honouring your purpose, values and vision…. connecting with the right team …. and realising your dreams….

Love

Connect with me today and let’s get you collaborating with the right team…

Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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Emotional Intelligence

Does Emotional Intelligence matter more than IQ?

At school and university I was diligent and disciplined and graduated with straight A’s and high distinctions. At work I consistently deliver beyond expectations. Yet all through my life, I can honestly say there is one thing that consistently challenges me and, at times, holds me back from true success – the ability to manage my emotions and my relationships, especially in times of high stress.

Emotions play such a large role in thought, decision making and individual success yet at school or work we are never encouraged to talk about them or learn how best to manage them. Perhaps it is assumed, we will learn all we need to know from our environment growing up. But what if this is not always the case…. What then?

Are we left with our lot in life? Left being labelled the impulsive one, the shy one, the loud one, the sensitive one, the calm one, the angry one, the argumentative one, the aggressive one or the highly emotional one, which is ironic because we are all highly emotional – it’s just what we do with them that counts!

What if we acknowledged emotions, learn to understand emotions and harness them in such a way that it makes our life even better?

I recently attended a presentation based on the contents of the book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman and I was relieved when I discovered the Amygdala hijack! Finally here was an explanation to my instinctive ‘fight or flight ’response and the guilt and shame of past behaviour was somewhat lessened; not only because there was an explanation but there were strategies you could put in place to manage it too; it would just take discipline. In short, when the amygdala, located in the primitive or reptilian part of the brain, perceives a threat, it can lead that person to react irrationally and destructively, without thinking. And it’s in these situations, self-control and effective strategies are crucial. Whether you’re the person being hijacked or witnessing a hijack, being present and showing empathy will get you to the other side, and hopefully without any casualties or near death experiences!

As Daniel would say, ‘Emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened in all of us. It involves self-awareness and impulse control, social awareness and empathy’. Just like learning a new skill or new talent or building a muscle, being disciplined around your emotions will change your relationships and change your life.

What are your emotions telling you right now?

Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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The Confidence Gap

What do you say to yourself first thing in the morning? When you want to apply for a new job? When you want to ask a question or share your view in a group? When you want to talk to someone for the first time? Or when some new opportunity emerges in your life?

Are they words of encouragement; words of assurance; words that help you to act, to ‘lean in’ and take the ‘road less travelled’?

Or perhaps not….

If you are anything like me, some mornings I just want to keep sleeping! But most mornings I do start the day with one thing I am grateful for, even if it’s the comfortable bed I had the privilege of sleeping in. I also make sure I set an intention do at least one thing towards my dreams and desires, even if it’s simply taking the first small step. Despite my best intentions, however, there are many times when I think I’m not qualified or not smart enough or I don’t recognise my true value. Sometimes I even feel like I’ve missed out on some great opportunities or even given up some things because of a lack in confidence.

So where does this lack of confidence come from?

Firstly, growing up and learning to conform rather than identify what in actual fact I stood for certainly set up a habit of self-doubt. Not clearly knowing what my beliefs and opinions, passion and strengths were set up a pattern of always trying to work out what other people wanted me to be or deemed acceptable; rather than just acting on my own intuition. I end up living in a reality of comparing and contrasting and harsh self-judgement, where I tell myself I’m not as talented as others and stop myself from living my full potential.

As I dig a little deeper, I also uncover that, as a woman, it’s actually true that there’s a gendered disparity in confidence; men overestimate their abilities and skills while women underestimate them. In fact, we’ve known this for some time: “imposter syndrome”, a phenomenon in which high-achieving women believe “they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise”, was first written about in 1978.

To add to this phenomenon, we also still live in a culture that gives women little reason to feel self-assured, despite living in the ‘lucky country’.

In 2014 Australia, if you are a working female you are more likely to earn less, more likely to be discriminated against and less likely to be the boss. According to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report, Australia ranks 24th in the world, behind Cuba, Nicaragua, Burundi and South Africa in the gender stakes.

In America, Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, shares some interesting facts about leadership equality in her book ‘Lean In’. Over half of all professional entry-level roles are filled by women, but only 21% of senior management roles are held by women globally. On corporate America’s Fortune 1000 list, just 4.5% of the CEOs are female, and the pay gap hovers at about 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. Other barriers women still face in the workplace includes “blatant and subtle sexism, discrimination and sexual harassment”. Facts that can be backed up by another source who shockingly states that the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a woman can be fired if her boss finds her attractive; that a New York court decided that unpaid interns can’t sue for sexual harassment; and the Paycheck Fairness Act was defeated by Republicans who claimed women actually prefer lower-paying jobs.

Similar patterns can be seen in the UK with only three women heading FTSE 100 firms and the overall gender pay gap stubbornly stuck at 18.6%.

And to make things even harder, confident women at work are still labelled “bossy” and “bitchy”, to their own detriment, unless they can “turn it off”. One of the most compelling studies that underline the obstacles women face, though 10 years old but still rings true is the Howard/Heidi study. Two professors wrote up a case study about a real-life entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen, describing how she became a successful venture capitalist by relying on her outgoing personality and huge personal and professional network. The professors had a group of students read Roizen’s story with her real name attached and another group read the story with the name changed to “Howard.” Then the students rated Howard and Heidi on their accomplishments and on how appealing they seemed as colleagues. While the students rated them equally in terms of success, they thought Howard was likeable while Heidi seemed selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” Sandberg’s conclusion: when a man is successful, he is well liked. When a woman does well, people like her less.

As a woman and someone who likes to be liked, no wonder I find it difficult to be confident at times!

So what’s the solution?

Never letting an obstacle or challenge stand in my way, I remind myself of these simple but powerful steps adapted from my experience:

  1. Let the current culture drive you; ‘be the change you want to see in the world’
  2. Define what you stand for; if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything
  3. Give your attention to others; look to where you can help rather than compete
  4. Carry yourself with confidence; your posture and behaviour changes your attitude
  5. Make a 5 minute start on the first step; confidence is built on accomplishment
  6. Accept that very often good enough will do; give yourself permission to be human
  7. Frame mistakes as valuable feedback; Fail your way to success

Most importantly, I surround myself with other empowering individuals and build a support network. I call upon my courage to be confident and to express that confidence in a way that creates meaningful change; a culture that values self-assured women and men equally.

I will leave you with one simple phrase I use whenever I need a confidence boost, special thanks to the twins from MKR…..

“WE’VE GOT THIS”

Together, let’s change the culture of confidence.

Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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Competition vs Collaboration

Recently in the workplace, and in life, I have been exploring the concept of competition and collaboration. What I have observed is a significantly higher tendency towards competitive behaviour as opposed to collaborative efforts. This left me asking the question why? Is competition really good for business or is it simply a ‘traditional’ way of operating that requires some much needed attention and re-direction?

According to Wikipedia, “Competition occurs naturally between living organisms which co-exist in the same environment. Competition, in biology, ecology, and sociology is a contest between organisms, animals, individuals and groups for territory, a niche, for resources and goods, mates, for prestige, recognition, awards, social status, for leadership. Competition is the opposite of cooperation. It arises whenever at least two parties strive for a goal which cannot be shared or which is desired individually but not in sharing and cooperation”.

In short, we are all born with a natural instinct to compete, but again is this really good for business or life in general? And can we change our habitual nature with emotional intelligence?

“The primary belief that drives competition is that it helps the crème rise to the top, it drives excellence!”

If I think back to my childhood at school, I can see where the idea of ‘excellence’ started with grades, exams, assignments and contests. If you were caught sharing knowledge or collaborating with others, say during an exam or an assignment, this was considered cheating! We were taught from a very young age to compete with one another and to take pride in being the top of the class. And the only way to get there was to know it all…yourself.

Therefore, it’s clear our education has encouraged our natural instinct to compete but again does this really work in life in general? Competition is completely the opposite to most of the aims of building communities, whether as teams, organisations or families. And isn’t this the main driver behind life in general … to build communities?

So while I agree that “competition can help promote curiosity as we see in all the extraordinary innovations in the business, scientific, sport and academic worlds, if unchecked it can also drive a close minded, un-sharing mindset where the focus shifts to defensiveness and protecting what we have”.

What is collaboration?

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals. At the conceptual level, it involves Awareness, Motivation, Participation, Negotiation, Exchange, Reflection and Engagement. Now doesn’t that just feel better!

The aim of collaboration is to produce synergy and coherence, or in other words, cooperation and unity; outcomes that are only possible by working with others. Effective collaboration, however, is hard to achieve, because various businesses, teams and people have different aims, traditions and styles of working. Overcoming differences to create productive collaboration is a key challenge and you can only do this by realising you don’t have all the answers and you don’t need to know it all. As an alternative you recognise the gifts and talents each team player brings and respect that each person has an important part to play in achieving the task at hand or the shared goal. To relate it back to exams, it’s redefining the word cheating into a belief that cheating is in actual fact the act of not sharing! If someone asked you what you thought about a particular question on the exam and you didn’t share your thoughts this would be labelled cheating! Imagine what this belief would create in our society….

So my conclusion is this ….a touch of competition is healthy and can keep us striving towards new discoveries and innovations, yet as they say “two heads are better than one”. And in the sports industry, well, there can only be one winner. However, when it comes to business and life in general, and the type of people you want to work with, be led by and surround yourself with, the world needs more collaboration and team work and less competition and conflict.

So what can you do today to be a better team player?

Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’

Throughout our lives we are faced with things that we fear, that frighten us or that simply present the unknown. This can cause us stress, anxiety or, at worst, create phobias. Simply put, fears can impact the quality of how we live our lives.

Over the years I have been fearful of things like the dark, the boogie man, heights and even spiders and snakes can send a shiver down my spine. I have been afraid of many things and continue to be challenged on a daily basis yet most of the time I always find a way to turn fear into curiosity and face my fear with courage, confidence and creativity. Eventually I become eternally grateful for the lesson it brings and the daily reminder to trust in life and love.

One of my biggest fears that I have had to face recently, as strange as it might be, is my emotion. I am a very kinaesthetic and sensitive person, so I feel everything and experience a range of emotions every day, to which I can choose to react or respond. Past experience would indicate I react more often than not, creating negative outcomes and a continuous cycle of blame and regret. I have tried to suppress my emotions, run from them and fight with them at times, but all to no avail. In fact it’s only made it worse.

My epiphany came when I recently took to the water to start boogie boarding and learn Stand-Up Paddle boarding. Firstly there is just something peaceful about the beach and the sheer size of the ocean reminds me of the bigger picture. The irony of it all, of course, is that the element of water actually represents the emotion of life.

Stepping out into the ocean to catch waves with my boogie board, I remember thinking to myself, if I swim out deeper; I can catch the bigger waves and have a better ride. Only to be hit the next moment with thinking about the possibility of sharks and the strength of the tide. ‘I’m just not sure if I’m safe’, I would say to myself. What’s the worst that could happen I thought? What’s the best that could happen if I conquer this fear?

Then the following week, I was in the ocean one morning as I was learning to Stand-Up Paddle board; unsure of my balance and fearful to fall in, I would tense up and start thinking about those sharks again. I kept hearing my instructor say, “relax, be one with the board and feel the water as it ebbs and flows. The more you relax, the less likely you will fall in and the more enjoyable the ride will be”.

Seeing the synchronicity of my experience in the water to my fear about emotions, I started to realise that I needed to relax and accept my emotion. Feel it and face it with curiosity rather than judgement, and explore it and master it in order to conquer my fear. Why am I feeling this? What can I do about it? How can I use this to make my life better?

Slowly but surely, I’m starting to master my emotions. I realise it’s what drives me to connect back into myself when I’m preoccupied with the outside world or too busy to stop and take a breath; it’s what teaches me to care about others and be compassionate, it’s what motivates me to want to make a difference to the world we live in so our children and our children’s children can live an even better life than us.

So my epiphany was that my fears actually teach me how to live.

So why are we fearful?

Past experiences can teach us old habits or the unknown can make us feel out of control or out of our comfort zone.

What can we do to conquer our fear?

ACCEPT IT: Rather than supress it, run from it or fight with it, accept the fear for what it is, feel it and face it.

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EXPLORE IT: Discover the REALITY that lies behind it, underneath it, what drives it or what the fear is there to remind you of.

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MASTER IT: Make it work for you to push you past your comfort zone, to learn something new or to even master your dreams and aspirations. What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen if you conquer it or let it go?

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So what fear do you have that, once conquered, could change your life for the better?

Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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What is Your Intention for 2014?

With the ‘silly season’ behind us, January is a time of rest and reflection. To set new intentions for the year ahead and to honour the year that was. For me, my intention for 2014 is to start to ‘Cultivate Connection’ and build quality relationships both professionally and personally. The experiences of 2013, I have to say, were rough and tough. It showed up all my “stuff” that demanded some much needed attention, pronto. The year highlighted the absolute necessity for me to start relating to people differently; to respond more and react less; to go within rather than seek external validation; and to transform my co-dependent behaviour into healthy relationships.

I ask myself, what is co-dependency?

If you feel that you are not good enough, you compare yourself or search for acceptance from others, you constantly feel like you are the “victim” yet feel guilty when you stand up for yourself; you are reactive, you notice unhealthy habits or have repressed anger, these could be just a few red flags you are co-dependent on someone.

“Co-dependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships and often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.”

It’s important not to confuse co-dependence with caring. There is nothing wrong with nurturing; we are all interdependent, however, in short, the needs of the co-dependent are constant.

Low self-esteem and poor boundaries are two of the main symptoms of co-dependency. Co-dependents look to others for the answers and have difficulty seeing others as separate individuals, with their own feelings, needs, and motivations. They feel powerless or incompetent and at the same time responsible and guilty for others’ feelings and actions, which accounts for the high reactivity, conflict and caretaking in co-dependent relationships.

How can I overcome it?

It’s a common saying that you will largely be over your co-dependency when you recognize just how good you are!

It’s always nice to be recognized from a respected peer, friend or family, yet, in order for you to be independent and to build quality relationships you must first give at least 80% of your total recognition to yourself. A simple concept, yet at times, this can be easier said than done, because if you are anything like me, I can be my own worst critic.

In Co-dependency for Dummies, Darlene Lancer states that just a little self-examination, and redirection, may have you on a more fulfilling path. Awareness is a major first step to a new concept, and awareness alone often alleviates many symptoms. If you would like to know a little more, I recommend you watch a short 5 minute video about the 4 A’s of recovery: Abstinence, Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlU1bTlrGMY. I personally relate to the notion that recovery is a life long journey and love the part about taking risks and learning from them to create a positive upward spiral along the way.

For me, 2014 is the year to be disciplined when it comes to my thoughts, feelings and behaviours; to force myself to go within for the answers, recognition and acceptance. I’m going to take the risk and set healthy boundaries for myself and for those in my life. It is imperative for me to look after my own needs first and foremost, because only then can I be of true service to others and build quality, healthy relationships.

What is Your Intention for 2014?

Courtney ‘Co-Creator’ Wilson

m: +61 (0)417 107 888e: courtney.connect@outlook.com

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