Grow Your Colours….inside out…..thanks Disney Pixar!

imageI have long maintained that ‘the work’ we need to do on ourselves is an inside job.  We can buy ourselves some temporary self esteem boost (a la retail therapy) and perhaps seek solace in other people, which will only last as long as they remain a ‘shiny object’.  An element of growing our colours involves self acceptance.  In order to be our wonderfully and uniquely technicolor selves, we need to be able to self-accept.  This includes all of our shades and hues…the good and the great and the not so good too.

Talking of colours…what a wonderful film the latest Disney Pixar movie is.  The yellow ‘joy’, the blue ‘sadness’, the red ‘anger’ and the purple ‘fear’….all co-existing and in fact, the main source of conflict was when one tried to suppress the other.  The successful manoeuvring within the story, was when all were allowed to be…to express themselves.  What a great way to tangibilise our emotions and feelings, than by giving them a colour….indeed this is nothing new…I remember years ago that we used a form of creative art with young people, who were living in a therapeutic community.  Red was the dominant colour in most of their work…..not to say that anger was the main feeling….just perhaps the default expression.  How often can other emotions be expressed as anger?

I digress.  The main point of this blog is the relevance of working from the inside out.  The importance of not pleasure seeking external verification or gratification, in place of internal reflection and  rectification.  Incidentally, have you noticed how when a person is content, this shines from within them,, seeping through their pores and is almost palpable to those around them?  This cannot be feigned or fabricated.  Which is why I will always champion authenticity.  To be our authentic self, personally and professionally, we have to start on the inside….growing and accepting our colours….all of them.

Why I struggle with target markets……

…….I really do.  In spite of having secured a BA (hons) in Advertising, Media and Marketing and a complete understanding of the importance of target markets, I struggle.  In fact the basis of consultachameleon is of being non-specific, non-targeted.   Certainly in the field I am interested in, that of personal and professional development, the concepts I promote apply to everyone.  Everyone.  Now that’s a somewhat broad and pretty ill-defined sector.

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I suppose I should say at this point, that if you want to make money…quickly….you do need to define your target market.  You do need to identify the problem that your market is facing and be their solution.  You do need to speak their language and speak it in the places that they frequent. You do.  Being specific with your target market and being clear about who your core product is tailored towards is absolutely key….and is probably inextricably linked to one’s professional goal focus.  Perhaps this is the reason for my not-having-traveled-as-far-as-I-should-have reputation, which I attribute to the scenic route I’ve chosen, see that other blog post here: https://consultachameleon.com/2015/03/20/five-ways-to-value-the-scenic-route/

I can sense that this post may appear contradictory….after all, as someone who helps people to develop their brand, to be goal focused and to be clear about who they want to be of service to ……. what am I playing at, bemoaning target markets?

However it may appear to the reader, I cannot lie.  I struggle with it.  As a creative, free flowing type of being, I simply cannot let go of my belief that there are some common core elements to working with people that mean that although one size doesn’t fit all, much of what I do is transferable to many.  In fact, there are some key ingredients that go into everything….a bit like flour in cakes…. and because of this, my investment is in staying true to the chameleon brand….and it’s ability to shift and blend according to need, keeping a level of consistency in each colour.  As with most things….and especially in the world of the chameleon, this is all open to change and transience is unavoidable, so watch this space….will I fall for the calling of a target market or two?  🙂

Please know It IS ok to know sometimes…….

In the UK, there is a deep seated culture of not ‘blowing one’s own trumpet’.  This is accompanied by a polarised reluctance to admit when we do not know.  In personal development groups, I have spent a lot of time helping people to both recognise their own talents, skills, worth and contribution and also to know that it is ok to not know sometimes.  To not know does not mean that we are any lesser than….it doesn’t mean that we are valued any less.  It’s ok to not be ok sometimes and it’s ok to not know sometimes,  this doesn’t need to be anything more than that.  In fact, it’s the ‘making more of’ that generates anxiety and discontent.  Sometimes, we just need to accept….take a pause if necessary…then move forward.

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I am drawn to revisit these mantras of knowing and unknowing.  The trigger is a realisation of my ego speaking to me on a regular basis, listening to ANother who is presenting a show, or speaking, or lecturing, or in their written word and saying to myself ‘I know this’.  In fact, over time, it has become a standing joke between myself and my therapist friend (Kelly Solly of KTS counselling).  Ironically, another of my mantras is that you can’t unknow what you know….and guess what?  Now that I know I do this ‘I know’ thing….I always know I’m doing it.

As ever, I’ve gone deeper with this.  There was a time when I needed to know that I knew….because I all too often felt like I didn’t know.  In fact, I landed at University, aged 21, having left school at fifteen years old, wanting to run a mile because I felt like I didn’t know anything.  I wasn’t rich, I wasn’t posh and I wasn’t well educated….so what was I doing there? (Subtext:  this was at a time when only certain members of society headed for a degree programme…not people like me, I believed).  I sat in the first seminar and listened to the academic, I listened to the students, I listened to the questions and I thought ‘I know this’….not the facts necessarily..but I GOT IT…I got the gist.  I could make sense of it.  I knew it.  Unexpectedly, I felt like I was in the right place.  Back then, I needed to feel that.

Now….as a grown woman of significant life experience, professional and academic stature, why do I still say ‘I know this’?….I don’t need to…in fact because it’s my ego and I’m moving with spiritual purpose, it’s a thorn in my side….

Going deeper still, I am taking this blogging opportunity to make peace with this.  ‘I know’…yeehaaaa, let me do a little inward jog and click my heels.  Hallelujah, it’s been a long and sometimes lonely road.  And sometimes I don’t know…yeeehhhaaaa….I’m alive, still learning, still growing, hallelujah.  It’s a win-win situation.

So, my dear ego….thanks for gatekeeping and trying to balance my multiplicit perceptions all of these years but you can relax now.  It’s fine.  I’m ok with knowing….and I’m ok with not knowing too.

Hallelujah.

Follow the leader?

Okay….so the next stop on the Chameleon train is a special guest speech about business leadership at the MployMe business and enterprise conference.  Read more here about the speaker line up: http://www.mployme.org/#!speakers/c1ke1

Getting into the zone about what I will be speaking about, I began to think ‘who are the leaders anyway?  And who decides that they are leaders?’  As usual when I’m in the contemplative planning stage, I thought of key words and googled associated images…it gets my creative juices flowing.  These are the images I chose and my interpretation of their meaning:

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The leader at the centre of the organisation….with the rest of the team as captivated audience.
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The leader in it’s purest sense, leading from the front….pulling the rest of the team along…they dutifully and it appears confidently, follow.
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The leader, larger than life, leading from the side…directing the rest of the team towards the vision.
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The leader inviting interaction from the team, buoying them up, building momentum……procuring support and membership.
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The leader, directing from behind….shepherding the team towards the vision, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction.
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The leader, using strong arm tactics to keep the team in line….making sure their voice is heard and the team do as directed. The team dutifully do as told…head down, no interaction.
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Leader, leading from the front….and from a place of warmth and passion…..seeming to be beckoning to the team ‘come on team, let’s go’.

What is key to this process is the awareness that there is not one type of leader….and what I have found interesting is the role of the leader is in part dependent upon the culture of the team….and the expectations of the team.

I’m not a fan of ‘how to’ when it comes to people based stuff…whatever we do needs to be genuine, it needs to be congruent, it needs to be real. I’ll give you an example that illustrates this and the former point: I always say thanks to the wider team when we achieve an organisational success.  The success is a shared experience…just as the effort made to achieve it.  There’s two things I’ve noticed about this.  Firstly, that the team will often respond to a thank you email with ‘well done Jo’….the second is that other leaders will state that they need to do more of that type of thing themselves.

There’s two reflections I have about this.  First….team….I really, really, really mean it when I say ‘didn’t WE do well’….second, leaders….the recognition I give to the team is not a ‘note to self’, it’s a genuine and natural response to our success.

In view of my resistance to ‘how to’ guides, I’ve created a ’10 ways to Grow Your Business Leadership Colours’ for anyone who emails me at joanna@consultachameleon.co.uk to request one.  These are ways….not rules, not laws – ways.

The other key aspect to this topic is that business leadership does not necessarily involve team leadership….so I suppose I need to be clear that much of what I will write and speak about does involve team leadership.  With further reflection, I can recognise the transferable skills to leaders without a team.  Whenever do we ever work in absolute isolation?  And if I’m honest, at the very core of my ‘ways’ is a fundamental commitment to treating people as unique individuals, to investing in their growth and development and to being respectful of them as people…beyond their job titles.  As a business leader, with or without a team, these ‘ways’ are, in my view, essential ingredients for transparent business partnership, where integrity is a key driver.

As I launch myself into this creative phase of conjuring up my speech for the MployMe event, organised by the dynamic Winsome Duncan, I look forward to my own growth and development through the process. ‘Tickets please!’

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Would you like to learn 7 ways to grow your colours to success?

Have I said before that I love how the creator works? I’m sure I have. It wasn’t that long ago that I posted a comment in a Facebook community I’m involved in (https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoachesSpeakersAndAuthors/?ref=ts&fref=ts) where I asked members to define what success means to them. Now here I am, on the eve of my first proper TV appearance. Ok….so it’s not mainstream TV and I say ‘proper’ because I was an audience member on the talk show ‘The Time, The Place’ in the 1990’s…does that count? Mainstream or not, this is a proper gig.

I’m thrilled that I’ve been invited to speak about ‘success mindset’ on the ‘Mindset Makeover’ show hosted by Tope Songonuga. So, as I prepare myself to speak, beyond wondering what to wear…..my mind drifts to the subject matter. The success mindset. What is it exactly? Where to start? Well, I’ve recently been listening to an audiobook by Whitney Johnson called ‘Dare, Dream, Do’ and it is absolutely epitomises the many versions, the many layers, the many facets of success. Of one thing I am certain, success is relative. A bit like one person’s junk being another person’s treasure! As a mum, a homemaker, an employee, a business owner, a writer, amongst many other roles, success can sometimes feel elusive, can sometimes feel compromised and stretched to say the least….yet my success is MY success.

I’m a juggler, a chameleonic shapeshifter, who enjoys feeding many seeds and tending them according to my vibe. THAT is my success and I know that for some people, my version of success would be a complete nightmare. One other thing I am sure of, is taking the plunge to be successful is born from a courageous mindset….the courage to take action to ignite the flame within. What am I suggesting? Yes, I am suggesting that success is a choice…it’s a conscious decision to follow one’s own God given passion…to live authentically. Having the courage to live in accordance with one’s own version of what it is to be successful, is success in itself. To that end, success is perhaps a process rather than a destination and is not defined by abstract objects such as that house, or that car, or that anything….or perhaps that is what success means to you?

Tune in to the show tonight to hear more and to gain a free copy of ‘7 ways to a grow your colours to success’, please email me at: joanna@consultachameleon.co.uk. For more about consultachameleon, visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ConsultAChameleon?ref=ts&fref=ts. Here goes…..

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Breaking free from a monochrome life

imageThe main aim of the work I do, is to help/cajole/encourage/inspire people to grow their (techni)colours and move away from a monochrome life.  The monochrome life is one that is governed by a prescribed set of rules and where our identity is a narrowly defined shadow of the ‘real’ person (often-aching-to-get-out) trapped inside.  The monochrome life is narrated buy ‘shoulds’ and ‘woulda-coulda’ and characterised by a measure of frustration and discontent, expressed as an inner scream and an overbearing sense of feeling misunderstood and discontent.  In this world, the secretly-sought-after life belongs to ANother and is trapped behind the screen of often self imposed norms and expectations of our so-called comfort zone.  So passionate am I about this, that I am writing a book about it: ’52 ways to grow your colours’.  Of course, a blog is not the place for listing 52 ways (hence the need for a book!), although there a few key points that serve as a springboard out of a singular, indistinct existence:

Exercise right brain thinking – get creative, be creative, play and see the adventure in life.

Create a vision board – don’t overthink it, just let your imagination run free…how could your life look? Without all the shoulds and all the ideas that you may hold about what you think you deserve, or what you think others would say or do….what would your life be?

Allow yourself to ‘not be ok’ and know that you are always ‘ok’ – being ok with our own ‘not ok-ness’ is essential.  So what if we feel a bit off…if we have to cancel our participation in something that others ‘expect’ us to be at…so what if we have a duvet extra hour, or morning, or DAY if that’s how we feel.  Who wrote the script that said we can’t?  When did the expectations of others become more important than our own feelings and inclinations?  Self acceptance and embracing one’s own ideosyncrasies is extremely powerful and is key to growing our colours.

Finally (for now)…. Listen to the universe – that person inside is sending out vibrations about how they want life to be…even if you can’t or won’t hear them and the universe is reflecting these messages back into your life…even if you can’t or won’t hear them!  There are omens everywhere…everywhere…guiding us, chiding us…we need to create a mindset to receive them and well….receive them.

Some of my other blogs offer more guidance on living in our colours and of course for a more comprehensive (but not exhaustive) guide, ’52 ways to grow your colours’ will be available soon, so as they say, watch this space. image

Five ways to value the scenic route

imageAbout ten years ago, someone told me that I “should be further along” than I was. Over the years, this well meaning (I’m sure) comment has continued to resonate, particularly as I. (and people around me) get older. Life has the potential to be fast-paced and if we’re not careful, we can believe it is happening ‘around’ us and perhaps even ‘to’ us, rather than a time and space that we are engaged in. We can perceive our experiences, especially those that have been challenging, or have dominated our time, as obstacles…as barriers to our progression – either in the moment, or as a retrospective account. I’ve noticed that the retrospective account will often be accompanied by either a woeful or apologetic tone…rather than being presented positively. As I’ve had plenty of time to ponder what it means to not have got as “far along” as ANother perceives I should have, I conclude these things:

1) There really are no ‘shoulds’…especially when referring to another’s life. I remember years ago when I facilitated personal development groups with women, who to all intents and purposes were ‘stuck’…how many of them referred to the ‘shoulds’ that they had become imprisoned by.

2) Every experience has value. It shapes us and defines who we are. No apologies necessary!

3) Experience and time help us to build our platforms, to decipher and fine-tune our craft/skills/talents. To find out what we do NOT like. Even my young daughter knew this…when she told me proudly, aged seven, that she was collecting things that she CAN do (referring to the vast amount of extra-curricular activities she does).

4) ANother does not truly know our heart….it is for us to discover what makes us ‘motor’…what fills us with joy and what truly can be determined as ‘success’ or ‘progress’.

5) The scenic route (as I like to call it), can be wonderfully beautiful, exciting and can remind us of what an adventure life can be. The scenic route enables us to discover new paths, carve out new beginnings and well….enjoy the ride.

So, next time you bemoan your restrictions, barriers and distractions and perhaps feel like you may not be where you ‘should be’…take this advice: put your ‘shoulds’ in the bin…and LIVE.

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What is your brand-child?

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imageThere is something fabulous about building a brand.  Creating an idea and nurturing it into reality.  The brand is born in the heart, in the brain….in the imagination and literally birthed into the world.  Incubation may take many months or even years (my own view is those that consciously are incubated for shorter lengths of time, are likely to be rooted in a very distant past) and birth experiences may be variable.  There may be lots of anxiety attached to announcing the birth of ones’s brand.  Will it be accepted?  What is it’s identity….and will it be excluded or marginalised in any way.  How will we feel if it is?  How will we manage our feelings if our ‘baby’, our brand-child, is rejected?  The notion of rejection is crucial…it is this anxiety that reveals why I’m referring to the brand-child in this way.  A rejection of our brand, can be…

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What is your brand-child?

imageThere is something fabulous about building a brand.  Creating an idea and nurturing it into reality.  The brand is born in the heart, in the brain….in the imagination and literally birthed into the world.  Incubation may take many months or even years (my own view is those that consciously are incubated for shorter lengths of time, are likely to be rooted in a very distant past) and birth experiences may be variable.  There may be lots of anxiety attached to announcing the birth of ones’s brand.  Will it be accepted?  What is it’s identity….and will it be excluded or marginalised in any way.  How will we feel if it is?  How will we manage our feelings if our ‘baby’, our brand-child, is rejected?  The notion of rejection is crucial…it is this anxiety that reveals why I’m referring to the brand-child in this way.  A rejection of our brand, can be experienced as a rejection of us.  Of what we stand for…of who we are….of (perhaps) our life’s work and all the blood, sweat and tears that have been poured into it.  ConsultAChameleon is unapologetically my brand-child.  It is the professional translation of my life experiences, which I can trace right back to childhood.  It represents the resilience that I have relied upon, that has enabled me to survive.  It is my mantra of ‘How can I help? What do you need?’, as opposed to imposing a prescription that may not be fit for purpose.  ConsultAChameleon is my brand-child, with a long incubation, a slow labour and painful yet exhilarating birth.  It is absolutely liberating to own my brand, in its totality.  To acknowledge it’s doubters and to still believe in it, to still love it and nurture it.  To still develop it and grow it’s colours.  The power and relevance of story is not to be underplayed….what is your story?  What is your brand-child?  Are you a proud parent?

Is your story one of triumph or tragedy?

imageThe value of ‘story’ seems to have increased ten-fold in recent years.  It’s become a useful marketing tool and a great way of identifying with a wider audience and demonstrating how lives can be enhanced through use of a product or service.  I have long promoted that ‘the greatest tool is self’ and that reflection and personal development are key to ensuring that ‘the greatest tool’ is it’s most effective.  In fact, my doctoral research study was narrative based and it was there where I really got to grips with the power of story.  The focus of the study was on how entrepreneurs and leaders of charitable organisations, experienced climates  of financial austerity and continual contextual change.  A recurring theme was that of resilience…the seeds planted – sometimes many years before – were often grounded in a bed of pain, hurt, rejection, abuse or some other potentially traumatic event.  Yet, somehow these seeds grew through the challenge and were transformed to become useful in negotiating the sometimes rocky terrain of personal and professional life.  What could have been woeful tales of tragedy, became inspirational and triumphant stories that enabled the development of fantastic coping mechanisms.  The story tellers had used their stories to propel themselves towards betterment…with an awareness that things could have been so very different, if they’d have ‘followed the script’.  Resilience, flexibility, courage and self awareness were the gifts that came through like one of the contributors stated:  ‘the Phoenix that rises up from the flames’.   Acknowledging story is part of the success…that everything that went before is what brings depth and colour to the present day….not as a tragic mishap but as a route to triumph, to be shared and celebrated.