Taking a moment to reflect I can honestly say that the finest words I have ever spoken were to say “I will go on furlough”. The opportunity to press pause, stop, reflect, reset and get to know the real me (thank you Dishy Rishi for funding this experience initially) truly is the most cherished experience I have had to date. Most of us wait until retirement or a lottery win for this kind of experience, but I had been given it at the spritely age of 40 something and boy was I going to make the most of it.
What did I unearth about myself?
The first was from listening to the audible version of ‘The Chimp Paradox’. After having an unread copy of it on the shelf for a decade, something lured me to give it another go! Getting to know my chimp, manage it better and appease it has really helped me to understand my reactions, my emotions and me. Until this moment, I had truly believed that the event causes the emotion. What I now understand is that I choose my emotion and reaction to the event; ground-breaking for me. No more do I say things like, “oh that made me angry”, because I choose whether I get angry. I have empathy not the other way around.
The second was whilst listening to one of my favourite podcast shows ‘Feel Better Live More’ I will always remember the below line from an episode with Gabor Mate:
Going into the pandemic I was “Little Miss Busy and Social”. Always arranging socials, or catch-ups with friends from over the years. And when I wasn’t doing this I would be on my bike, in the pool or running. Some days when I woke up I visualised my day ahead and it was crammed every minute right up until bed time and I hadn’t even got out of bed. So, on paper, lockdown should have been an absolute disaster for me.
But like the line says, I observed the real me during lockdown. I shut my front door where I live on my own and I loved it: the peace and harmony, not seeing anyone and having no commitments whatsoever. Me and my chimp were happy, harmonious, safe and at ease. I realised quickly my chimp is actually quite territorial.
The new me and Compass For Life
Let us quickly rewind a decade to when I met Floyd Woodrow (CEO of Compass for Life) when I was working at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and how I was quickly brought into this giant man’s thinking and philosophies. Over the years, I had kept in touch with Floyd and whenever a meet up or conversation was offered I grabbed it with both hands. For one thing, he had amazing taste and knowledge of some of London’s finest dining experiences but deep down I always knew I would get an indirect coaching session from him and that was always a bonus.
Just two weeks before the first lockdown I brought Floyd into the company I was then working for to do the keynote session at the staff conference. For 90 minutes not one person looked at their phone or whispered to the person next to them, because they were hanging on every word and inspiring story Floyd shared. We all had the opportunity to reflect and come up with our Super North Star. For me I simply wrote down:
Motivational Angel – which basically meant to me that I wanted to support, encourage and motivate others to believe they can make positive changes which would lead to them feeling healthier and happier. I had started to have a taste for this myself and was regularly getting feedback from people that they find me motivating and that I help them to introduce healthier habits. But how far was I actually going to go on my journey towards my Super North Star? Was it just a nice idea or could this really happen? Of course, what I didn’t know at the time what was just around the corner (PANDEMIC).
Lockdown gave me the opportunity to crack on with my journey, to unearth what is important to me: what are my non-negotiables for my own and other people’s behaviours, and to have time to explore my Super North Star. So, during the summer of 2019 and feeling the healthiest and happiest I ever had, I set up my own business which is called… Healthier Happier You.
I had done it, I had set up my own business I was going to be a motivational angel (credit for that name given to Rob from the gym)!
When I shared my plans with Floyd (a man of his word) he said at the right time he would bring me in to work with him and his team of Navigators. True to this I was invited to join his prestigious team. On our first Zoom call, as everyone introduced themselves, I was nervously awaiting my turn. I followed a fighter pilot, a hostage negotiator, a psychologist and the list goes on. What on earth was I going to say? Well after a deep breath, I shared my journey to setting up my own business in lockdown having followed my Super North Star.
Floyd kindly interjected that building my mental and physical resilience has led to me to performing in long distance triathlon at the highest level for an age group athlete and how like a fine wine I continue to improve with age!
April 27th 2021
This marked a significant day in many ways for me. Not only was it my first outing as part of the Compass for Life Navigator team, but it was my first outing in nearly 4 months following more COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The car was packed, the location put in the sat nav and off I went with a mixture of emotions including – “oh crumbs the M25”, slight nerves, maybe a bit of imposter syndrome, but there was definitely excitement brewing. Years ago, I wouldn’t give a week on the road, meeting new people and delivering to an audience a second thought, but this two night trip was beginning to feel like a three-month expedition. Because lockdown helped me unearth that I am actually a complete home bird who loves her comforts and little routines. Strange as they may seem to others, I know for me the way I approach each day is what brings me in sync with myself.
Pirbright Army Training Centre was my destination for my debut with the Navigator Team with Compass for Life. My role was to deliver to a group of soldiers who trained new recruits.
Using the four cardinals, Compass for Life supports all who it works with to discover their Super North Star, their Ethos, their Strategy and (here is where I come in), how to develop their Warrior. The Warrior is key to our mental and physical resilience and how we look after ourselves to ensure we are able to navigate our journey towards our Super North Star.
So, what happened?
Well, I made it around the M25. I was then met by a nice man in uniform who helped me sign in, and showed me to my room. Not quite the Marrriot I had been used to in previous work trips. However, I didn’t let my shock show that I even had to make my own bed, I just did it! Then it was off to the Officers Mess for dinner where I met the team who were so welcoming and really took me under their wing. I immediately felt at ease. I even recruited a running partner for my session the following day, thankfully they were familiar with the camp so knew where the running track was!
The next morning, I woke really early, had a good old stretch with some yoga then absolutely smashed my run session. I believe now it was all the excitement and nerves increasing my adrenaline which made my little legs run faster than usual. Porridge fuelled I then entered the lecture theatre. Instantly my heart sank a bit at the swarm of people in uniforms. So, I stopped, took some deep breaths, acknowledged my feelings and quickly went to talk to some of these uniformed soldiers to remind myself that they were just human. I definitely hadn’t polished my boots enough and the dripping of toothpaste on them was awkward, and the fact I don’t even own an iron did hang at the back of my mind seeing how smart everyone looked.
But deep breaths, reminding myself that I am living proof of what I am about to talk to everyone about helped me to use my emotions and hormones positively and that I was going to smash my session!
I then delivered my session and honestly was buzzing for the whole thing and for about 5 days after. I had rehearsed it so many times in the previous weeks when out on my bike or running. Of course, there were bits I missed out, bits I added in, but the outcome was that people had new information. New information that would help them develop their physical and mental resilience. To become better Warriors than they were at the start of my session.
The imposter syndrome has faded since Floyd invited me back the next month and the next and now includes me regularly in working with the other Navigators in the military, education establishments and international businesses.
Being a part of the Navigator team has been more amazing than I ever thought. Getting to meet so many new people, influence them to make positive changes and to get out of my comfort zone is taking me further on my life journey and I look forward to continuing it!